On the Road, Again

  
It seems that cases of wanderlust are spreading among us as surely as cases of — well, you know. Even a casual glance at recent blog post titles suggests a certain restlessness: “Give Me a Road Trip Any Day”; “Rambling Through the Month of May”; “Running on Rhythm”; “Americana on the Road.”
As I’ve done my own day-dreaming about where I’ll go when free-wheeling travel again becomes possible, the urge to re-post one of my all-time favorite ‘travel’ stories became too strong to resist.
Some of you have read this tale before; others will find it new. In either case, I hope you enjoy it. It’s said that humor is the best medicine, and I suspect we all could use a dose or two at this point.

Floydada, Texas is cotton country, although it’s also known for good pumpkins, and likes to advertise itself as the Pumpkin Capital of the US.

It’s a flat, expansive piece of Panhandle real estate, a land marked by impossibly distant horizons and barely distinguishable days. Strangers develop a habit of looking around, as if to orient themselves. Even Texans who’ve grown up with the wind, the dust, and the storms say it aloud now and then, as if to remind themselves: “This place will run you nuts, if you let it.”

By the time things settled down, people wondered if Sammy Rodriguez and his brother Danny hadn’t been run nuts because of just those circumstances: too much wind; too much work; too little ability to get their bearings while facing the limitless horizons of life.

Whatever the cause, when they disappeared along with eighteen of their relatives, Floydada Police Chief James Hale heard about it as soon as some of the Rodriguez’s kinfolk tracked him down to report the missing brothers. The family members mentioned to Chief Hale that the men had been saying some strange things. “They made statements like the Devil was after them, and Floydada was going to be destroyed if they stayed here,” Hale said.

Later, someone remarked that Floydada wouldn’t be much of a loss if it was destroyed, but he said it quietly, and away from the crowds.

After more than twenty years, people in surrounding towns — even the Baptists, Methodists, and Pentecostals who tend to take their religion pretty seriously — still keep clippings about the story close at hand. When I saw the article tacked onto a refrigerator in Idalou, torn rather than clipped from the newspaper and starting to yellow with age, it still bore witness to the best part of the story: every living word of it is true, perhaps excepting those conversations the preacher had with the Devil. But no one’s sure about that.

The broad outlines of the story were clear. The Rodriguez family fled Floydada in five or six cars, abandoning one in Lubbock and a second in San Angelo. A third was found in Galveston, filled with clothing, purses, wallets, and other personal items. Eventually, all twenty people crammed themselves into one car and headed east toward Florida, only to be stopped short in Vinton, Louisiana.

Main Street ~ Vinton, Louisiana

The troubles in Vinton began after a campground owner called police to say the group had tried to commandeer an RV. When a Calcasieu Parish deputy stopped their car, the driver seemed willing to answer questions, but when he got out of the car, he was clad only in a towel draped around his mid-section. Vinton Police Chief Dennis Drouillard said, “When the officer went to ask what was going on, he jumped back in and took off.”

The group not only took off, they took off down Vinton’s main street at speeds approaching 90 mph, until the car plowed through a fence at the baseball park and hit a tree. At that point, fifteen adults and five children piled out of the 1990 Pontiac Grand Am.

“They were completely nude,” Drouillard said. “All twenty of them. Didn’t have a stitch of clothes on. I mean, no socks, no underwear, no nothin’. Five of them [the children] were in the trunk. The Lord told them to get rid of all their belongings and go to Louisiana. So they got rid of all their clothes and pocketbooks and wallets and identification and the license plate off their car and came to our gorgeous state.”

The car was totaled, but the injuries were minor. Sammy Rodriguez was booked on charges of reckless driving, flight from an officer, property damage and assorted minor traffic violations.


Like the police, city prosecutors found themselves bemused, and tended toward leniency. In exchange for Rodriguez paying a $650 fine and picking up the $975 tab for fixing the fence and a telephone pole, they dismissed charges of criminal damage to property.

In a fit of good sense, no charges were brought for indecent exposure. As Court Clerk Mary Vice said, “The statute states that for indecent exposure, you have to be exposing yourself in order to arouse someone. That wasn’t their intent.”

Magistrate Kent Savoie gave Rodriguez 90 days to pay for the fence and 30 days to pay the fine. He was ordered to spend 17 days in jail, but after being given credit for six days served, the balance of the sentence was suspended.

Once the proceedings ended, Savoie asked Rodriguez, pastor of the Templo Getsemani Assembly of God Church, why he and his nineteen relatives left their clothes behind in their flight from Texas. Rodriquez said he had a vision from God on August 17, telling him Judgment Day was at hand, and he and his family were to go to Florida. At some point in the journey, they became convinced the Devil was in the details of their clothing, so off it came.

Whatever Savoie thought of the response, he seemed to accept it. “I don’t know what possessed you to do what you did, but I’m relying on the statement you were told to do so by some higher being.” By that time, Rodriguez had been thinking things over. “It wasn’t God, sir,” Rodriguez answered, his voice nearly inaudible. “I would like to apologize to the people of Vinton and Floydada for everything, and I ask for their forgiveness.”

Rodriguez said he planned to leave immediately for Lubbock and then Floydada. “When I return to Floydada I am pretty certain that I will no longer be the pastor of my church, unless the people there can forgive me,” he said. “I plan to look for a job as soon as I get back.” Rodriguez’s wife’s family sent her a plane ticket, and she returned ahead of him. A relative drove the other 18 people on to Wauchula, Florida.

And that would have been the end of it, had not a fellow named Chris Stuart heard the story ten years later. Deciding he had enough material for a song, he went to work. In the end, he wrote a memorable one — good enough to be included in a collection of Car Talk Car Tunes put together by National Public Radio for their popular Saturday morning show hosted by Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers.

Whenever I listen to the song, I laugh. I wouldn’t be surprised to know God laughs every time he hears the story, and taps his toe to the song. Let’s face it. Humans can be good for a laugh now and then, even when we’re trying to be serious.

 


Twenty Naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac

I was thumbin’ my way down to Baton Rouge, standin’ on the side of the road,
When a car pulled over and a voice cried out, “We’ll take you where you want to go.”
I jumped inside, but to my surprise, they were naked as a poor man’s toes.
It was a tight situation when the whole congregation said the devil was in my clothes.
Twenty naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac,
Brothers and sisters shoutin’ in the back,
Elders in the front, choir in the trunk,
Twenty naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac.
The sermon that morning was on Adam and Eve and the ways of the dreadful snake,
Everybody was clappin’ when the preacher pointed at me, my body began to shake.
I threw off my shirt, and my shoes and my socks,
My jeans and my BVDs.
We were all in the nude, shoutin’ “Hallelu!”
and singing “Somebody Touched Me.”
Twenty naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac,
Brothers and sisters shoutin’ in the back,
Elders in the front, choir in the trunk,
Twenty naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac.
We had the cruise control set to fifty-five, when a Smokey got on our tail,
He pulled up beside, his eyes got wide, and the siren began to wail.
We ran off the road toward the tree of life, Lord, the future was looking bleak,
We hung on and prayed, everybody was saved, ‘Cause we all knew how to turn the other cheek.
Twenty naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac,
Brothers and sisters shoutin’ in the back,
Elders in the front, choir in the trunk,
Twenty naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac.

 

 

Comments always are welcome.

105 thoughts on “On the Road, Again

    1. If Turner can have their classic movies, I surely can have a classic blog post or two, and there’s no question I’d put this one on the list. If nothing else, it’s a timely reminder to evaluate the voices clamoring for our attention.

    2. I remember this too, and it’s completely unforgettable–yet once I started to read it again, there was no stopping until I reached the inevitable end.

      1. And isn’t that just the case with so many books we re-read, or movies we repeatedly watch. We know where it’s going to end up, but the getting there is just as interesting. Of course, just as no one steps in the same river twice, no one reads the same book again, either.

  1. I don’t think Willie Nelson can top this tale of being in the road again. Twenty people crammed into a Pontiac sedan . . . wow! Thanks for sharing the cute tune as well.

    1. As the saying goes, sometimes there’s just no accountin’ for folks. Even in the days when drive-in movies would have a flat price per car special, we never managed to get that many friends in one! If we had, we might have ended up with a cool song, too.

  2. A good story is a good story and often they are better with the second read through as is the case with this one. Every time you write about Texas I’m reminded of the year my husband and I gathered two weeks of memories traveling the back roads down there. So thank you for that.

    1. The back roads of Texas still are wonderful: filled with strange sights and fascinating people. You’ve mentioned that trip before, and that makes me happy; it’s an indication that the two of you really did enjoy your time here. You should come down again, and we could do a little traveling.

  3. I remembered the story, Linda, but I laughed just as hard by the time I finished reading it again!! The song pushed me over the edge (or should I say – off my chair!) Thanks – yup I needed that!

    1. That laughter’s what I was hoping for, GP. Staying sane in crazy times isn’t always easy, but just like a kind gesture or an understanding word, a little humor always helps.

        1. I was ready to read this one again, so I thought others might enjoy it, too. I’m glad you did. I hope you’re safe and well. I’ve been tracking events across your county, and thinking about you.

  4. I do remember that story and I enjoyed reading it again. I just finished a TV show on USA network called “Briarpatch” that took place in Texas where the people felt that the town would (and did) drive them nuts.

    1. Your mention of “Briarpatch” reminded me of the Uncle Remus stories I grew up with, and the wonderful way that Br’er Rabbit tricks and escapes Br’er Fox by pleading, “Don’t throw me into that briar patch.” It sounds like Briarpatch-the-town wasn’t quite the refuge that Br’er Rabbit’s turned out to be.

    1. There’s so much to love about this tale, from the simple absurdity of the flight itself to the measured and reasonable response of the town officials. Besides, the song that resulted from it all is a perfect road song: a good tempo, memorable lyrics, and a melody that’s easy to sing along with. You could sing it on your way to Alexandria — just keep your clothes on!

    1. John, I’ll confess I’ve spent some time imagining the details of just how that trip went — not to mention trying to find out how things evolved after everyone either returned home or reached Florida. A few years ago, I found the church, but no one ever answered the phone. If I ever get to the Panhandle again, a little more investigation will be in order.

    1. Story-telling’s one of our favorite sports, and there are plenty of stories to be told: some true, some true-but-embroidered, and some as much legend as fact. They’re all enjoyable, and this one’s been a favorite for years.

  5. A stranger tale I have not heard. Goodness. 20 nude Pentecostals in a Pontiac…and the kids in the trunk. How did anyone survive it—the smell for starters? Yikes. I want to know what happened when he returned to Floydada. And the rest of them in Florida without any belongings, no ID, … certainly there is more to this story.

    We are on the road again. No problems going across Nevada. Hardly anyone here. But beautiful scenery and a burger at an open cafe.

    1. I spent a little time trying to find out what happened when the good pastor returned home, but wasn’t very successful. No one ever answered the phone at his church — reasonably, perhaps — and by the time I unearthed the story, even some of the Floydada officials I reached never had heard of it, although there were people in Vinton who remembered the incident. Thank goodness for newspaper clippings and the internet!

      Just be careful out there. You never know who’s going to show up naked, trying to commandeer your home. One of the advantages of boondocking may well be the isolation!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Dor. I still can’t quite get over how perfectly the song captures the tale, and adds just the right kind of humor to it: a kind, and somewhat bemused humor, rather than the snarky crassness that’s so common today.

  6. Some stories are so good they become classics and no matter how often revived, they elicit smiles.
    A good one, Linda. I like the law suit about the 24 rare and expensive cigars that were insured by the owner against fire. After consuming the cigars by smoking them, he took out a claim. It is also funny, no matter how often I replay the video clip.

    1. Lawrence Durrell used the phrase “the essential comedy of human relationships” in his Alexandria Quartet, and I’ve never forgotten it. It certainly applies to the this crew, and to your cigar smoker, too. Not everything that humans do is amusing, but it often is, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying those moments.

    1. There’s nothing like a Texas tall tale. When it’s true, it’s even better. There are characters galore roaming around; like botanical sports, they tend to attract attention, and the Rodriguez brothers were very ‘sporty,’ indeed!

  7. I don’t remember reading the tale before, so it was an amusing fresh start to Sunday morning DownUnder in Melbourne.

    Thanks for sharing again.

    1. And now it’s Sunday morning here, and there’s nothing amusing about the news. In a way, this is my little way of pushing back against total gloom and doom. No one needs another list of virus statistics or another riot report — there are plenty of those. But this? It’s a one of a kind, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  8. I remember this story from your first posting, but it was great comic relief when I read it again.
    I was out in this part of the panhandle once before, when I was in high school. My grandfather had been hired by a couple of the chambers of commerce to do a feasibility study for growing cabbage instead of cotton in order to make cabbage cigarettes. Yes, cabbage cigarettes. He had samples and asked me to smoke a few and let him know if I liked them…luckily, they were never produced.

    1. Cabbage cigarettes sound like the Texas version of Iowa’s cornsilk. The old jokes about kids out behind the barn smoking cornsilk were reality-based, no question about that. I never tried it, partly because I never met anyone who seemed to enjoy it.

      I remember my surprise when I came across huge cabbage fields between Uvalde and Brackettville. I never had associated Texas and cabbage, but I’d never been that far south and west. It was an interesting sight, that’s for sure.

  9. I’ve never heard or read this story, but there is a certain charm to it. Gotta laugh at something today, might as well be some naked Pentecostals. Or maybe I’m chuckling at the memory of Pontiacs.

    1. My family favored Oldsmobiles over Pontiacs, and my mother grieved when her last one bit the dust. In truth, with all the steel in that car, the time came when she wasn’t strong enough to open the door. Still, those old GM products were sturdy enough to haul quite a load — if not twenty Pentecostals, then twenty teenagers on their way to a drive-in movie, with a few willing to hide in the trunk. Fiberglass just isn’t the same.

  10. Linda, this one’s just as delightful the second time around! I still get a kick out of the mental picture of 20 naked Pentecostals squeezed into a Grand Am. Having lived in West Texas for about a year, I can readily see where somebody might go nuts looking at all that flat, dusty acreage! Thank you for resurrecting this one from your blog library to amuse us once again (and the song’s a hoot, too!)

    1. It hadn’t occurred to me when I posted this that today is Pentecost; the Rodriguez family certainly was spirit-filled, although not in the way some of our more staid denominations would recognize or sanction. No matter. The authorities who finally put an end to their little trek were wise enough not to throw the book at them, and it seems that it ended well enough. If it hadn’t, there no doubt would have been more newspaper stories.

  11. Having just returned from that land of wind and dust and never-ending horizons, I can see how it might drive a soul a little batty. But maybe not this batty! Very amusing tale – thanks for reposting!

    1. I have a feeling these folks weren’t singing “Miles and Miles of Texas” as they cruised along. At first I couldn’t figure out why one car got abandoned in Galveston, but then it made sense; they wanted a day at the beach before hitting I-10 to Florida. Everyone wants to go to the beach: perhaps especially folks from the Panhandle.

      I don’t doubt that your trip across that windy, dusty land was far more enjoyable. If nothing else, you could keep your clothes on!

    1. Isn’t it, though? When I think about the characters I’ve known and the stories I’ve come across, it strikes me that many of the most memorable are rooted in Texas. There was a lot of wackiness during my years in Berkeley, but it was a predictable wackiness. There was nothing predictable about this.

  12. I remember that story, and your retelling is great, what a tale! There’s “quirky” and then there’s “Officially Weird as All Get-Out” !!
    Now, ‘fess up, did you photoshop in that Lagniappe Food Store?!

    1. I wondered if anyone would catch that! No, it’s not photoshopped. Vinton’s not in the heart of Cajun country, but the influences are pretty strong. There’s “Lagniappe this” and “Lagniappe that” just as there’s Evangeline everything once you get into the historically French parishes (the Louisiana designation for counties). Having retold this story, I’m eager to make a trip to Louisiana myself. There still are some places I want to visit; I love Texas, but Louisiana can turn my head.

  13. The statute states that for indecent exposure, you have to be exposing yourself in order to arouse someone. That wasn’t their intent

    The statute should speak to whether anyone was aroused – one way or the other. Does a “ho-hum” warrant a fine?

  14. As a Pentecostal, I was complimented that you said Pentecostals take their religion seriously. Thank you, Ma’am, thank you. I’m smiling at you. It reminded me of a time with fourth grader class in which I had a boy named Eugene. I couldn’t get a “what happened at recess” story straight. The kids agreed that I could ask Eugene because he “always” told the truth. Someone also said that Eugene’s family loved God – “they really love God” they said. Well I must admit I am a master of funny jokes on my own people. I have shared many of them. But twenty naked in a Pontiac? I can’t compete with that one, neither the twenty part nor the naked part. Oh, I forgot that I am Baptist now. I find some funny things there also. Thanks for another read through of this story. You have written lots of things I would enjoy again. Keep them coming.

    1. One of the things I like best about the song that was written about this little saga is that it didn’t poke fun in a mean way, and that’s the tone I tried to take in telling the story. Every denomination on this earth has its quirks, and enough funny stories to amuse generations of church supper attendees.

      Did you ever listen to Garrison Keillor’s stories from Lake Wobegon on Prairie Home Companion? He could skewer my denomination — Lutheran — as well as anyone, and be hilarious in the process. I found this marvelous piece by him that I think you’ll enjoy. By the time I finished reading it, I was laughing and nodding my head in agreement.

      1. You always add such flavorful spice. Thanks. “Peas add too much color to tuna salad!” I just had to giggle by the time I reached #3, and #4 did me in. I loved the Pentecostals in a Pontiac. Heavens, one cannot be Pentecostal at 86 without finding humor in it. No, see I forgot I am Baptist again. I’m reminding myself. The Baptists took me willingly, and they treat me as one of their own. I’m still joking. I’m as hard to get rid of as those Lutherans, you know, it takes fifteen minutes to say Good-bye.

        1. I was sure that would tickle you, Oneta. Reading that reminded me that Lake Wobegon’s Lutheran Church is the Third Lutheran Church because being The First would be prideful, and the Catholics worship at Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility! There are a lot of Keillor’s monologues on YouTube, like this one. They’re great to listen to when nothing on television seems to fit the bill.

  15. This is one of my all time favorite posts. The first time that I read it, I was amused and shocked. I really thought that this had to be some sort of folklore tale that someone in west Texas had concocted. But I still hesitate to believe that folks could be that nutty about religion. However, thinking back about the Jim Jones affair and the folks that drank cyanide poison in Kook Aid, I have to admit that this story actually must be true. There is one thing that I’d love to know. What happened to pastor Rodriquez and did he actually go back to Floydada? And when did the nude escape take place.

    1. I don’t know much about what happened afterwards. I found a listing for the pastor’s church in Floydada, but no one ever answered the phone when I called. He and his wife did go back, but that’s all I know for certain. By the time I heard about their flight to Florida, it was an old story; it happened in 1993. The AP wire story where I found a lot of the details still is online; this should be all the proof you need that it really happened!

  16. That is an amazing story and a very funny song. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I still can’t get the image of twenty naked people in that little car out of my mind…..

    1. I’m not sure I’d want a photo of that scene, but it would be fun to get a dozen artists to paint it from their imaginations, and see what happens. The longer I live, the more certain I am that there’s always a story lurking around, and the best ones are just waiting to be discovered.

    1. Yes and no, re: the images. The one of the road leading out of Floydada and the one of Lubbock are vintage post cards; I added the text to the one of the road. The grain elevator is a photo processed to look like an old post card, while the photo of Vinton is just a photo. The last little graphic is from a free clipart site.

      Since all this transpired in 1993, there weren’t any photos to be found; that was long before the introduction of the iPhone.The AP picked up the story, but I couldn’t find any photos in archived articles. Things certainly have changed.

  17. Great story, Linda. I had a Pentecostal girlfriend when I was in high school and we certainly had some good times in my old 54 Chevy, but it would be really hard to fit 18 more in the car, even naked. –Curt

    1. Even if you used the trunk? I’ve been trying to remember how many we could cram into a car for one-car-one-price nights at the drive-in movies. You weren’t supposed to use the trunk, but I can’t swear that we didnt’. Still, I think the top would have been about thirteen.

      1. I have a very dim memory of slipping into a drive-in theater in the trunk of a car, Linda. I have a clear memory of slipping through the back fence, however. :) My little buddies and I would walk the 2 1/2 miles to the drive-in on warm summer nights. The theater had a bench in front of the snack bar that had speakers. Pure heaven. :) The walk home could be a little scary, especially if it had been a scary movie. We’d walk the whole way trying to scare each other. On another note, they have reopened a drive-in theater in Medford for the duration of the pandemic! –Curt

  18. Two laughs in one evening! Why thank you very much Linda! I was interested to read the expression “run you nuts.” Up here we say “drive you nuts.” This reminded me of travelling to Australia, where a grocery clerk asked my “How are you going?” instead of “How are you doing?” Of course, there is no right or wrong in this, but I am intrigued by how much it catches my attention. Language is endlessly fascinating!

    1. What’s even more interesting is that I never heard ‘run you nuts’ until I moved to Texas. In my Iowa years, the expression was ‘drive you crazy’ – yet another variation on an obviously common theme. In the same way, I hear “How goes it?” or “How ya doin’?” equally. Of course, these days we’re just as likely to hear, “Whazzup?”

    1. The song’s a gem, and it’s on my current playlist. Upbeat and cheerful is my choice of music these days. There’s enough Sturm und Drang in the world as it is. I don’t need Wagner! If anyone’s going to be riding, I’d prefer it be these folks, and not the Valkyries.

  19. What an odd story, well-told. And the song is a perfect ending. I had to look back to find the Lagniappe Food Store in Vinton – the “something extra” in this post.

    1. I’ve always assumed that the Lagniappe storefront belonged to a grocery store. On the other hand, there’s a Lagniappe specialty foods business online, a Lagniappe Gift Shop at the Delta Downs racetrack, and a number of Lagniappe bakeries. Mark Twain would be delighted to see his ‘new’ word so well used.

      I rather like that this happened long enough ago that cell phone photos and videos weren’t possible. It’s much more fun to fill in the details with imagination than to be confronted with repetitious memes on social media.

  20. A wonderful story, Linda. As Ann said, truth is stranger than fiction, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turned out that those Pentecostals made the trip after being inspired by the song…

    1. Inspiration is a wonderful thing, whenever and however it appears. It never hurts to evaluate the source or the nature of what inspires us, I suppose, but still: I suspect the charm of this story lies in its ability to remind us of those times when we were tempted toward such a journey — or even engaged in one!

  21. Oh my goodness – people are just a never ending delight! I do remember this post, but you are very correct that it’s a classic & should be reposted periodically. Thank you!

    1. If it weren’t true, it certainly would qualify as a Texas ‘tall tale’ — the sort that gets told and retold around the campfire or at the boat ramp. “Well, that’s something, but do you remember when…” is one of the best lines in the world. It means there’s something good coming, and even if it’s being retold for the umpteenth time, everyone still laughs — because it’s still funny!

  22. Twenty naked Pentecostals in a Pontiac. Oh, you could use that as a great prompt for a story but it would take a mighty creative writer to come up with something that would beat this story! I do remember it but not so clearly and on a day like today when the world seems to be blowing up, it sure is good to have a laugh!

    1. It’s got a lot of the characteristics of any good vision quest saga, including the ‘sadder but wiser’ ending that often accompanies them. I suppose there’s someone out there who could create such a story, but why bother? This one’s perfect as it is. In fact, anyone who wanted to write fiction could find a few clues about what makes for a good story just in the details of this one. It always brings to mind that wonderful saying and song.

    1. ‘Nutty’ is an apt word to describe it all. You’re right that there could have been a much unhappier ending. It’s a good reminder that tragedy and comedy are more closely related than we sometimes remember — there’s a reason those two masks are tied together.

  23. I loved the story Linda, and all the way thru I was getting that dejavu feeling. And, I couldn’t figure out if this was a retelling I recalled or if it was from hearing the song on Car Talk. Probably both. I’ve always loved the way you weave the tapestry of a story…

    1. I suspect even people who didn’t know the backstory had the song linger in their mind once they heard it. It’s such a great story, and a fun one to remember. I’m glad you enjoyed the re-telling!

  24. I don’t recall seeing this post, and I am sure I would remember it even with my feeble memory muscle, so am glad that you gave it a second showing. I had to go to YT to find the song as it didn’t work here for me for some reason. I am pretty sure I heard it on Car Talk. I miss that show.
    It is amazing what gets into some folks. At least they all came out of it more or less okay. Did his church forgive and forget? It’s good that the authorities thought better of severely punishing anyone. Imagine the consequences today if a car full of naked folks included children. And compared to Jim Jones and David Koresh, this was a pretty harmless cult.

    1. I don’t think I’d call the group a cult. It sounds to me more like a family gone off the rails, like the one in Paul Theroux’s Mosquito Coast . The kids might have found getting to ride in the trunk quite an adventure, though: at least until the chase began.

      I don’t know anything about what happened afterward, except that the pastor and his wife did go back home. In a way, I’m just as glad. The story feels perfect as it is, and besides — any sequel probably would be pretty mundane, and not good song material at all!

  25. LOLOL… Oh, dearie me. Lemme catch my breath here.
    What a hoot!

    I remember when you originally posted this. It’s just as funny now, as it was then. Lord, we do need a laugh in these stressful times.

    Twenty naked Pentecostals… I’ll be snickering all day!

    1. I’m really glad smart phones and such hadn’t been invented when they took their little trip. Theater of the mind is a much more satisfying way to envision everything that was going on.

      I am curious why they headed to Florida. If I were to chose a place to wait for the apocalypse, I’m not sure that would be it. On the other hand, if they were headed to Key West, it all makes sense. Maybe the good pastor had been locked in his church office listening to “Margaritaville”a few too many times. Things like that do happen, after all!

  26. Our memory of past travels sure can get us through this the strangest of times. While I long to travel freely again, I’m ok with the staycation (kind of a banal word). The isolation aspect just reinforces the need for solitude and the value of living in the slow lane.

    1. Of course, too much slow lane has some real downsides, too. It’s a pleasure when chosen, but I’ve watched too many friends and acquaintances lose jobs, get furloughed, or be forced to close their businesses. Once this is over and life begins to pick up again, I suspect many people are going to be shocked by how much has changed, and how far the economic consequences have spread.

  27. Goodness that’s a load even for an old Pontiac! Have never heard this tale. Funny! Can only imagine from just spending a few days in W Kansas that the wind and dust can drive one nuts! Where you can stand and see tomorrow and yesterday. But I do love it at night when the stars are clear down to the horizon and so bright.
    Kansas is getting back to normal! Wylie and I never quit traveling the backroads.

    1. Your mention of western Kansas makes sense. It’s been a while since I’ve been in those ‘wide-open spaces,’ but I’ve read some of the journals of pioneer women who lived on the prairies and plains, and it’s clear the psychological toll could be as difficult to deal with as the details of making an everyday life. The view is great, but it seems that something akin to vertigo set in now and then. It sure wasn’t an easy life!

      I’m really glad to hear things are beginning to open up there. We were a couple of lucky ones through all this — backroads and outdoor work turned out to be real blessings.

  28. This is awesome! I loved the old pictures; they completed the story so well, that felt myself being there at those days. The song with distinct beat was to my mind. It was a coincidence, when listening this country music, that just today our national public broadcasting company (YLE) begins to present the history of country music made by Ken Burns. It has 9 parts and it contains interviews of more than 80 artists! Thank you. Happy weekend.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it — it certainly is quite a tale, even though it’s not as well known as some of our nation’s “tall tales.” That Ken Burns documentary is wonderful; I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I’ve watched it twice now, just because there are so many interesting details — and good music — it’s hard to take it all in at once.

  29. I sure do remember this. Laughed at it just the way I did the first time I read it. So true that laughter is good medicine. Thanks.

    1. The best part of the story is that there’s that song to bring it all back. I confess I listen to the tune from time to time, just for the grins. The squirrels do their best to keep me amused, but they have a short attention span, and soon go back to their peanuts!

    1. I’d say it’s late 1950s. You can tell it’s a ‘linen’ postcard from the texture; those were produced from about 1930 to the 1950s.

      Collectors apparently call these ‘big letter’ postcards, for obvious reasons, and I found one from Amarillo that was produced in 1960. I suspect there was card stock around at the time, and it was used until it was gone. I remember them from my childhood in the 1950s. We’d collect them as we traveled. Once upon a time, I had one from Minnesota. It’s the second one on this page, and I bought it when we were visiting Bemidji to see Paul Bunyan.

    1. Even though the song made National Public Radio, it was many years ago, and most Texans don’t know the story, either. It’s a great one, no question about that. When we were teenagers, we used to shovel a good number of us into cars for the drive-in movies, but we never made twenty. I can’t remember what our record was; I think it probably was twelve. If the good pastor and his kin hadn’t had five kids with them, I don’t think they could have made twenty, either!

    1. It’s quite a tale, isn’t it? It reminds me of a time when common-sense solutions to complex — or flat weird! — problems were possible. It’s a story with no bad guys, when you get right down to it.

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