We buried Davis Reid Smith, Jr. today at Oakdale Cemetery today, October 1, 2018, and as we all stood around the Moody’s Funeral Home tent, I remembered stories. If we could have all told stories about this man, we would be there until next week. I have been writing a book about growing up in Ararat that I call 64VW after my first car, a snow white 1964 Volkswagen. There are several Reid stories in that book. Here are a couple involving Reid and his ability to drive.
When it snowed in Ararat, the last place to melt on the road was in front of my parent’s home because trees blocked the sun from the highway. This led to many interesting traffic hazards over the years as the cold spot caused a slick road surprised many people. The 64 VW traveled well in snow, but nothing travels well on ice.
One day while cleaning the snow off the car that was as white as snow, I heard the Ford pickup truck of Davis Reid Smith, Jr. coming up the road from far at the Holly Tree straight away and into the next straight in front of Junior Epperson. The Scales curve came up next. Reid often turned to go down the road to the Gates homeplace that he owned as his mother was a member of the Gates family, but this day he kept coming. The sound of that Ford truck was unmistakable to the trained hear and by that time I had recognized the sound of it.
I looked up and realized the road in front of our house was covered in snow and ice. Reid came through the Scales curve as he always did, way too fast. I thought to myself that this is going to be interesting and raised up to watch what happened.
Reid could drive. He had a very loose way of holding the steering wheel. No doubt he would have been an awesome race car driver. He popped over the hill and hit the slick spot on the road. Luckily, nothing was coming in the other direction as I saw an amazing driving maneuver. Reid came by me completely sideways, staring directly at me as he did so. He threw up his hand as he slid right by our house. He hit the clear road on the other side of the zone, straightened up his truck, and continued up the road.
This was not the first time Reid experienced driving challenges coming out of the curve in front of the Scales house. Between our house and the Scales house was the home of Merdy King. King dug wells for a living. In front of his home were some very prominent oak trees that are now huge.
For years, Reid told me he once put a car in the trees in front of Merdy King’s house, which is next door to my parent’s home. I laughed this off, but one day while going through the microfilm of the Patrick County newspaper, The Enterprise, from before I was born in 1960, I came across a couple of photos of a car sitting in the trees in front of Merdy King’s house. Low and behold, Reid had been telling me the truth. He came around the Scales curve a little too fast once with no doubt an empty car. He somehow managed to run out of the road, hit the side of the road, got airborne and landed in one of the trees in our next door neighbor’s yard. This accident hurt Reid pretty good, but practicing good old boy logic, I expect he went home and reported his car stolen, to avoid legal ramifications from his attempt to fly an empty moonshine car.
I had many adventures with each of Reid’s sons growing up. One comes to mind was my first drink of alcohol. At Christmas one year, Reid asked us boys if we wanted some egg nog. Being a bit naïve, we agreed to have a cup to celebrate the holiday cheer. As we eagerly took a gulp, it became clear that it was not much egg and a lot of nog, laced with moonshine. I remember a group of boys going for the water faucets in a hurry as when the egg nog hit bottom in our stomachs, it began to burn like nothing I ever experienced in my life. We practically knocked each other down trying to get some cool water in our mouths to ease the burn.
Off all the people I have written about in my books, Reid Smith is one I wish I had written about more. He liked that idea too. His wife, Sadie Willis Smith, not so much. Reid’s son, Joey told me once I ought to write about us growing up, but he would have to kill me if I did. I might need to risk it!
So, I remember Davis Reid Smith, Jr (November 8, 1935, to September 28, 2018) today. He will always be a legend in my mind.
A book I might risk my life to publish ;-)