Author: Rhynes, J.D.

The story of riding a freight train for three days and nights, and "a hole in the road"

(Editor’s Note—Those who look forward each month to the old Mountain Man’s tales here at the Welcome column were disappointed yesterday when they discovered that JD had a pinch hitter...thanks Yvonne for a great piece. Since Mr. Rhynes never, ever, ever misses his fourth Thursday of the month deadline we were certain something strange and out of the ordinary had occurred and, as per his note of explanation below, we were right…

Rick; I forgot to include the four sevens in your e-mail address. But you
can see by the above heading that I did send it yesterday morning at 9:52
AM. Or I think I did. Come to think of it, I started composing this
message Tuesday evening. Now it's all coming back to me slow but sure. It
was about midnight Tuesday and while I was setting here at my computer

composing this message, I seen a strange bright light in the sky in the
backyard above the pines. I went out back to see what it was, and I saw
this strange bright light hovering over the pine trees about 100 feet in
the sky. And then for some reason the next thing I knew I was setting
here my desk when the phone started ringing on Thursday morning about
1030. I answered it and you asked why I had not sent you my welcome
message for today? I assured you that I had, and when I checked my sent
file on my computer, sure enough there it was, only minus the four sevens
in your e-mail address. My question to you is this; what happened to
Wednesday? And how did I get here my desk on Thursday morning? Am I going
crazy here? And how did I get this strange glowing tattoo on my hands
that are slowly fading. On my right hand you can barely make out the
letters EADG, and on my left hand the reverse GDAE. Wait a minute! The
first bunch of letters is the tuning on the fiddle strings, and the
second bunch is the tuning of a bass strings. Was I abducted by bluegrass
aliens? And why does the tune Wheel Hoss keep renting my mind at warp
speed? Thank God you called when you did, because if you had not who
knows how long I may have said here in a coma like state? Your buddy JD
No on to today’s…or rather yesterday’s Welcome form our friend.)

I remember the exact time and place that I heard this story from my
good friend Ray Park, it was at Jack Sadler's picking party when the
idea of forming the CBA was first thought of. It was a warm summer
evening, and the hour was close to midnight and we were all outside
sitting in a circle playing music and singing. The majority of the
folks in attendance that night were all from the southern part of the
United States and for some reason, we got to telling stories about
when we all came to California, and how we got here. There were a lot
of memorable stories told that night that I could really identify
with, because even though I was only three years old when my family
came to California from Arkansas I can still remember 90% of the
things that happened to us on that trip. My mom and dad and I came to
California in a 1938 Ford four-door sedan, stuffed with all our
worldly belongings. All of our clothes were in two suitcases in the
trunk of the car, and all our blankets were folded and stacked on the
backseat, and covered with an old quilt. That was where I was perched
to view the entire trip from Arkansas to California on "the mother
highway of America"Route 66.

The two most memorable stories for me, that was told that night was
told by Jack Sadler's brother-in-law Tom long, and my good buddy Ray
Park. When asked how he got the California Tom replied, rode a damn
freight train from Oklahoma to California. The only car I could get
on was carrying lumber Tom said, and there was barely room to stand
up and I rode that damn train for three days and nights standing up.
By the time I got to California my ankles were 12 inches in
diameter! Tom said his feet and ankles were so swollen he could
hardly get his shoes off and it took a week for the swelling to go
down. Tom long was one of the most naturally funny men I ever met in
my life, and you had to be there to really appreciate how he could
tell that story in his country boy Oklahoma drawl.

But my favorite story of the night was told by my buddy Ray Park.
When asked how he and his family came to California, Ray replied.
Well, Mama and daddy loaded the car with some blankets, some canned
goods and a basket of food and stuffed all us kids in the back,[at
least five, and maybe more, I can't remember exactly how many Ray
said] and headed to Russellville Arkansas to fuel up the car. Ray
said I remember my daddy asking the guy in the service station, how
do I get to California from here? The station attendant said, well
Mr. Park I have been told that you go down to Highway 66, turn right
and follow the baloney skins and bread wrappers, and that will take
you right to California. So, that's exactly what we did Ray said.
Ray said it took a day and a half for them to get over into Oklahoma
because his dad would only drive about 35 miles an hour top speed.
Ray said we were going down the road when they came to Henrietta
Oklahoma. Ray said his dad was driving through town at about 20
miles an hour, when all of a sudden his mother yelled; Bill stop
this damn car there's a hole in the road! Ray said he can distinctly
remember his father saying, surely they wouldn't put a hole in the
road. He said his dad Bill slowed down to about 5 miles an hour, and
slowly crept up to that hole in the road, all the while his mama was
yelling stop this damn car Bill Park you're gonna kill us all! That
"hole in the road"turned out to be an underpass under the railroad
tracks. Ray said he remembers his daddy saying as they drove
underneath the tracks real slow all the while looking up, my lands,
what will they think of next? Like Ray said, you have to remember we
were from the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and nobody ever told us
about putting a road under a railroad track. And that's how Ray told
the story of "the hole in the road". He had us all in stitches that
night there on Overlook Mountain high above Los Gatos. What I
wouldn't give to hear him tell that story once more.
Posted:  10/25/2013

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email