Home Opinion Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: A Glimpse of Hell

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: A Glimpse of Hell


I HAVE GLIMPSED into the belly of Hell, and the result is that I firmly resolve to amend my life. Amen.

Hell, in this case, was the giant Walmart store in Gulf Shores, Ala., just a few blocks from the Gulf of Mexico. It was a Sunday afternoon and thousands of families had descended upon the store to buy ALL of their supplies for the coming week in beach houses and condos which line the coast.

We (daughter Julie, Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy, age almost 16, and I) had foolishly returned to the store to get a few items which we forgot a few days earlier when the store was emptier. But this time the store was so bad — with lines of impatient families waiting to get into more lines of impatient families stacked up at overheated checkout registers — that we abandoned our cart and we fled the place. That was when we decided that summer wasn’t the best time for our annual visit to the coast.

Other than the visit to Hell, there wasn’t much excitement.

UNLESS you count the Beautiful Blue Beach Umbrella.

We put it up and it worked perfectly. It gave us shade when we needed it. When we decided to go in for the day, we tried to take it apart. No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t make the umbrella fold. Julie tried; no luck. Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy tried; no luck. Me? There’s no need to recount how hard I tried to fold the umbrella but I DID have a solution. I marched over and put it in the trash can.

Other than that there wasn’t much excitement.

UNLESS you count our creepy grocery store experience.

We just wanted a package of sliced deli meat, but instead we got a grocery store meat market manager who followed us around for 30 minutes explaining the different kinds of salami. I was beginning to believe we were on some kind of practical joke TV show when he finally gave up. We bought sliced turkey.

Other than that there wasn’t much excitement.

UNLESS you count the time my cheap beach chair collapsed.

I was sitting in the shade of our Second Beautiful Blue Beach Umbrella about 15 yards from the water where Julie and Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy sat in low yellow chairs with their own feet in the waves. I was minding my own business when suddenly the seat tore apart and dumped my bottom on the sand. The chair had a bar under my knees and that blasted bar now kept my now numb feet from touching the sand. I squirmed around helplessly for awhile.

But, I told myself, surely the girls will turn around to check on me in a few minutes and they’ll see that I’m in a pickle.

Luckily I had just poured a beverage from St. Louis into a plastic cup. I sipped and patiently waited for one of the girls to turn around. When the beverage and my patience ran out I began shouting at them. But the waves and the beach crowd noise drowned out my yelling. I endured this until the beach umbrella shade moved away.

I dreaded the spectacle it would create if I rolled over on my side and tried to wiggle out of the chair. It would have been a disturbing show for the hundred or so people sitting nearby and who were already nervously watching to see how my situation would develop.

Finally I got the attention of an attractive lady who was walking past. “Ma’am,” I asked politely, “Would you please tell that woman in the yellow chair to look at me?”

The lady went to Julie’s side and I could see them talking. Later, Julie told me the woman said something to the effect “That elderly gentleman over there is in distress and wants your help.”

My girls turned around and had a good laugh for 10-15 minutes. “No pictures,” I told them sternly.

Julie got behind the chair while Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy pulled from the front. Suddenly I rolled loose head over heels. My flight was stopped only by jamming my nose into the sand.

By this time we’d drawn a sizeable crowd. Many of them rudely applauded when I was finally able to get to my feet.

Always before we’ve made our Gulf Coast pilgrimage in late September or early October. This time, in addition to horrendous crowds and terrible traffic, our condo cost almost three times more. We learned not to go out to eat until at least 8:30.

And the best Beautiful Blue Beach Umbrellas get picked over quicker.

ONE LAST THING. Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy brought four or five bathing suits. None of them were grandfather-approved.

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HE SAID: “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” Mark Twain, humorist

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SHE SAID: “I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.” Queen Elizabeth II, monarch

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ANIMAL CRACKERS.  Victory in my Bluebird box. It has been a bit more than two weeks since I looked into the box and espied four tiny eggs. When I got back from the Gulf last weekend I looked again. Nothing there. No chicks, no eggshells.

The good news is that often a Bluebird couple will have a second set, and the first bunch helps with raising the second. Being the eldest of 10 children I can tell you that this sometimes happens in nature.

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WORD GAMES. The twins: Part and Parcel. I’ve heard of them many times but I never really understood what the speaker meant.

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THINGS I LEARNED from opening (and believing) email: “Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.“

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