The year was 1960 and I lived in Minneapolis but my heart was still in my hometown of Staples. Every Friday evening when the whistle blew at the shop, where I worked, I would point my old 53 Mercury north and go home for the weekend. Home to my family and her. Her, being the girl I would later marry. I worked the evening shift and I didn’t get off until midnight so the trip was a long, lonely one of a hundred and fifty miles in the dark. She was only a senior in high school that year but she would wait up for me at home. Oh, her mother wouldn’t allow me in at that time of the night, so I would drive slowly by the house and toot the horn and she would shine her flashlight out her bedroom window in acknowledgment. Somehow I always felt better knowing I was back home with the ones I loved and she was still there waiting to see me too.
I was hooked on country music back in those days and on that long trip home my radio would be tuned to W.D.G.Y, which back then was the twin cities country music station. The farther I got from the cities, the fainter the radio would get and pretty soon it was nothing but static and I would twist the knobs trying to get just one more song but in vain. At last it would die out and so I would shut it off. The last forty miles were in silence. No 8 tracks or cassettes or disks in those days. I had a buddy who had a Chrysler product that had a turntable under the glove box and it played 45 records. Talk about distracted driving, flipping records while you drove.
I still like that old country music I used to enjoy and now with a satellite radio it’s always on in my car. Sometimes I have to humor Pat when were traveling and try something else but always when I’m alone the dial goes back to “Willy’s Road House” and those oldies but goodies. County Music for some reason isn’t always about the best of times. Back then though, times were good for me and I just enjoyed the music for what it was and not for what it said.
Fifty years later and shortly after my wife passed away, I was coming back from the cities one lonely night on that same old road, while I had been down there visiting my son’s family. The old country classics were on and a man by the name of Faron Young came on singing that timeless classic “Hello Walls.” It went something like this. “Hello Walls, how’d things go for you today. Don’t you miss her since she up and walked away? And I bet you dread to spend another lonely night with me. But lonely walls I’ll keep you company.” I switched the station.
For so many years it had been just a song about someone else’s bad luck but now fifty years later it was so relevant. She hadn’t walked away, she had just gone away but never the less the song still fit me like a glove. Time and old age have healed my heart now and I can listen to that song once more. My walls are not so lonely anymore. Pat, and my family see to that. But I write this for all the lonely people out there who have only the walls to talk too and no one to sit across the table from. It’s my hope that soon, you will have more then those walls to keep you company.