When I was in fourth and fifth grade and we lived in the house where I read the Little House books, my friend Alissa Butler lived at the other side of our widespread and rural school district--it was nearly twenty miles from my house to hers, but I would sometimes ride the bus home with her on a Friday night. Generally, we holed up in the attached garage, which was a furnished rec room with an upright piano and a flippable chalkboard on wheels and we played "school" or "work" for hours and hours and hours.
Alissa's mother worked from home tying flies, which she sold to local fishermen1. She kept the feathers and fur she used for tying flies in cabinets with clear plastic drawers and to keep the pests away, she used copious amounts of mothballs. The garage/rec room reeked of that camphory smell and whiffs of it permeated most of the rest of the house as well. I loved it. Absolutely loved it2.
Anyway, on two of the rare instances when Alissa and I ventured outside her house, we wandered a little ways up the road to Hanky Panky Road where her uncle or grandfather had a "sugar shack" for making maple syrup. (Though, at that age, I had a vague notion what "Hanky Panky" might winkingly refer to, it was not until just now that the inherent humor in placing a "sugar" shack on Hanky Panky Road occurred to me.) It was not sugaring season, so there wasn't much to see--though we tried peeking in the cracks between the worn boards and were treated to a view of dimly lit, dusty equipment--and we wandered back to the Geeky Kid Paradise that was the garage/rec room at the Butler's house.
A few years later, living in a different house, some assortment of my family members were gathered around the TV for the NBC show Real People, when "my" Hanky Panky Road was featured in the funny photos portion at the end of the show. I could scarcely contain my excitement. (Okay, okay, I didn't even make a show of containing my excitement.) Hanky Panky Road was famous3!
A few decades later, living in my grown-up house about an hour away from where I lived in fourth grade, Daughter-Only and I set out on a mini road trip in search of Hanky Panky Road--this road I visited twice (by foot) when I was nine or ten and never since. I didn't look it up first on Google Maps, just set out to find it from memory. And, this probably goes without saying, but I could scarcely contain my excitement when I got it right on the first try. (Okay, okay, I didn't even make a show of containing my excitement.) Hanky Panky Road was right where I left it!
Alissa's Uncle Grandfather's sugar shack wasn't there anymore, though. There was something even better--right there at the corner of Hanky Panky Road and whatever road leads you there--was a Chevy Nova, which looked as though it had last been driven around the time I had last visited Hanky Panky Road (circa 1979) and it was for sale. Being the conscientious blogger that I am, I remembered that TangledLou had mentioned a certain fondness for Chevy Novas in a recent comment, so I snapped a couple of photos.
Sure, she's a bit of a fixer-upper, but aren't we all?
I say we all get together and take up a collection and send this beauty to TangledLou. Who's in?
1. Later, after I had lost touch with Alissa, my Pap would take a fly-tying class from Alissa's mother and set up his own clear plastic drawers of feathers and fur and hooks and mothballs. Being limited to a corner of their already cramped living room, my grandfather never achieved the mothball scent saturation Alissa's mother did. (Irrelevant aside to that irrelevant aside: my Nan consistently called it "tie flying" rather than "fly tying.")
2. Though I did sometimes feel bad for Alissa, whose clothes, notebooks and paper lunch bag--and even, on one horrifyingly memorable occasion, the Pringles inside her lunch bag--carried that smell as well. Fodder for the mean girls, who seized on every opportunity to taunt and torment.
3. For the 27 seconds it appeared on national TV.