Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
Before I move on, I want to catchup on some stuff and events I didn’t mention before. I’m trying to be as linear as possible, but sometimes I forget stuff or will remember something after I’ve written about that time period. I guess that’s the same thing as forgetting but I digress…
One such event was my first trip to Walt Disney World. This was back in Orlando around 1972 when we all lived on Nana avenue, remember? I am pretty sure that Grandma Faye was alive then too. In fact, the whole Brinson family was here – Bill, Faye, Marsha, Clarice, Phyllis, Barney and Barrett. I was styling in my what would now be a vintage Donald Duck hat and uncle Barney sported a goofy variation, I mean a Goofy variation. I only know this because of pictures I’ve seen from the day. I know I was being pushed in a stroller for some of the time as I vividly remember going on the Haunted Mansion and being absolutely terrified. For some reason, I thought one of the hitchhiking ghosts was the spirit of the Statue of Liberty! What? I don’t know, weird kid thing. It is now one of my favorite attractions at any Disney Park and this memory is part of what makes it special. As we left the ride I heard a ghostly voice moaning about them needing another ghost and maybe it’d be one of us! Then some tiny lady was telling us about death certificates! Screw that! Down in the stroller I was using my little hands to help us move away from the cursed place! It was like Fred Flintstone and his feet-run car, only it was my hand-powered buggy! I was finally assured they were nice ghosts and I calmed myself. Future drama queen! This was my initiation into a lifetime of Disney love that continues to this day.
I also want to talk about my extended Davis family for a bit. I can honestly say that I love every single one of them as if they are my blood family. No exception. It’s not really fair that they all knew that I wasn’t George’s real son, while I was left in the dark. It was apparently George’s decision not to tell me. I didn’t even know until 1980 that George was not my real dad and what seemed important to him was that I WAS NOT Davis blood. I never felt like any of the Davis’ nor the Williams’ or the Krinales’ family members other than George made me feel not welcome or like I wasn’t part of their family. Now don’t get me wrong. They are all NUTS! Crazy as loons, most of them! Not all of them mind you. Some have turned out quite nice and treat me better than some Brinsons do. So, without further ado – Meet some Davis’.
Steve was the youngest of the bunch. He was also my namesake as George had changed my middle name from Wingate to Steven. I was mildly scared of Steve sometimes, he has a tough exterior, but was also a very sweet man and I have mostly fond memories of him. He never really “grew up” as he lived with George and Gloria all the time I knew him. That is except for when he stayed with us. I also have to admit a slight attraction to Steve. He was a pretty good-looking man. He was hot, actually. I suppose I’m glad I’m not related to Steve by blood or it’d be even weirder. Steve could also be guaranteed to have some nudie mags in his room. I would always raid his room when he wasn’t home. He had Hustler which is really dirty. These were better than the ones Mama and George had.
Mary was George’s youngest sister. She was married to James Williams and eventually had two kids, Earl and Denise. Early on they lived outside of Savannah in Bloomingdale. They lived in a trailer out in the middle of nowhere with only a never-seen next door neighbor and their donkey. I spent a lot of time out there with them because Earl and I were pretty close as playmates. They finally moved into an apartment in the city before cousin Denise was born. Early on I perceived Mary to be grouchy and easily irritated. In fact, the character Roseanne Conner always reminds me of Mary even to this day. The more time I spent with her, the better I got to know her and I realized that “crabby” was just her style. I remember Mary most for her kindness to me. She seemed to always have my back, whether it was a special present like the Choose Your Own Adventure Book set she gave me one Christmas, or when she came over and we made blueberry muffins when all other adults were passed out in the bedroom. She helped me get the tick out of my belly button one summer when they were rampant. She took me to the blockbuster movies of my youth. George didn’t give a shit if I saw them or not. I would daily look through the newspaper to see the current movies showing. There was a period I wanted to see The Rescuers so bad. I tried to tell George how good it looked and that I’d die if I didn’t see it. He kept walking by me, smoking, and said dryly that I wouldn’t die. Pardon my French, but what a fucking asshole! If not for Mary, who knows when I would have seen Star Wars, The Black Hole, Raiders, E.T. of our childhood and other classics. Mary would do the parenting and work necessary to have children. Not just treat children like a nuisance who should be seen and not heard as was Georges attitude. I used to think that even though it was a long time off, I knew Mary’s death would hurt. I cried back then just thinking about it too much. I wasn’t wrong. It hurt.
George was born second. According to Steve (how he would know as he wasn’t born yet, I don’t know), Gloria considered naming him Jesus as she wrongly considered him god’s gift to the world. That explains a lot. Why he had children or adopted me, I will never know as he seemed to despise being around children of any kind.
Ivy was the first-born Davis sibling. She was my favorite probably because seeing her was always a special occasion. She was married to Charles Krinale or “Buddy” and they had a little girl named Summer. Summer was my best friend growing up. When she was in town, with or without her mom and dad, we were joined at the hip. George was also crazy about his niece Summer, which worked in my favor most of the time. George also had a weird rule that I couldn’t go anywhere unless I “was invited”. Seriously. He wouldn’t drive me over to grandma and granddaddies to see Summer unless I was invited first. Grandma and Granddaddy naturally didn’t think they had to “invite” me, for me to come visit, so they never called. I would sit by the phone and wait for it to ring, hoping it was someone who could get me over to see Summer. Those were bittersweet days spent waiting but eventually I got over there and it never seemed to be a problem again. George made up shit as he went along, he probably forgot he ever said it was a rule.
I could go on and on about Summer and I’ll be talking a lot about her in future chapters. There is one early, early memory of a road trip I have to tell. Ivy and Summer were in Savannah for a visit and needed to drive their car back to Washington DC where they currently lived. Now this was no ordinary car, it was a bright orange Volkswagen Station Wagon! Complete with AM radio! Little did I know (SPOILER ALERT) I’d be driving it around Phoenix later in life. I was going to go with them and stay for a week to visit. We left early in the morning in a packed to the gills car and set out. Summer and I rode in the back and had lots to play with. It seemed like we were stopping to eat all the time which I loved. Summer and I would often get to pick out some truck stop candy. I always got dinner mints (I was weird) and Summer got candy corn. We also encountered snow which I hadn’t seen since Augusta and didn’t remember it being so white. The freeway we were on was temporarily closed and we had to wait in the car for long stretches. The snow continued but we eventually we got to D.C. The Krinales lived in a trailer, a doublewide I think. Summer had bunk beds and I took the top. The first night wasn’t smooth, as I got homesick for my mommy. Ivy did her best to calm me as I cried that I wanted to go home. She tried to convince me the gas stations were closed and I calmed down eventually. Summer and I played most days with other kids in the trailer park, but Ivy took us sightseeing some days too. I have very vague memories of seeing the White House from outside. We also went into the Smithsonian where I remember huge crowds and aunt Ivy pointing out a bullet hole in a stuffed real elephant. Maybe a moon rock too?
I do know the best thing about my trip was my introduction to Koogle peanut butter. It came in cool flavors for the time, like chocolate and banana and shit like that. It was so good. Summer taught me to put it on my French toast, which I still do to this day! We ate dinner every night at the table which we rarely did. One night we had spaghetti and I made an attempt to show them how we put spaghetti and sauce on our garlic toast sometimes. They good naturedly passed on my idea as unacceptable table manners.
It eventually came time for me to go back to Savannah. Ivy and I would be driving south and George and Clarice would meet us halfway. I will never forget seeing George standing there, with that humorless, asshole face he always had when he was sober. I felt like I had done something wrong. Mama was glad to see me, but she was acting weird too. I think George made her nervous too. We said our goodbyes and I hugged Ivy goodbye. “Take me back with you” I thought to myself. I climbed in the backseat of Georges Chevy Caprice Classic. The joy in my mood was gone and I didn’t know why, it was just a dark cloud George caused when he was around. It reeked of cigarettes and beer in the car and it was such a stark contrast to the nice smells I had been around the past week. I felt depressed before I knew what depression was. George was a downer. He wasn’t happy unless he was drunk. Being high wasn’t enough. There was Jim Beam in the trunk and we stopped every dozen miles for him to have a snort. Mama wasn’t much of a comfort because like I said, I think she was sometimes just as scared of George as I was. That was a long trip home.
Luckily, Summer would be visiting us in Savannah in the summer months for years to come. I’m closer to her than any other Davis, as well as many of the Brinsons. She was a bright spot in my life with George and I wish she could have lived closer to Savannah and be around more.
The other side of my DNA provided some nice Florida visits. My granddaddy Bill and I were still extremely close and I also was becoming fond of step grandma, Marilyn. I was sent many times to see them in Orlando where they still lived on Nana Avenue. I flew a few times, but due to the incredibly cheap adults on both sides, I took the train for most trips. I have such sweet memories of heading out to the Amtrak station early in the morning before the sun was up. It was always foggy and cool out, being Savanna. You could usually smell Union Camp the paper mill in the air. While it was a nasty smell, sometimes it could be comforting when not at its strongest due to its familiarity.
Wait! I’m rambling again. For the visit I’m talking about now I took a plane. I was probably too young for the train yet. But six seems young for a plane ride too. Did I walk?
Anyway, I somehow got to Orlando and was staying with Granddaddy and Marilyn for Easter of 76! We wouldn’t be spending the whole time in Orlando, as apart would be spent at Granddaddies cabin on Lake Harney near Sanford Florida. I loved hanging with my granddaddy and I loved to go to the store with him. My favorite was Kmart. Granddaddy would always buy me a toy or some candy when we went. This particular visit to Kmart, I saw an Easter basket I loved! It came with a doll in it! A long-haired brunette with a red dress. She was beautiful. Granddaddy saw me looking and asked me if I liked it. I told him I would love to get an Easter basket like that and he just smiled. Well, Easter morning came, and wouldn’t you know it, the Easter Bunny himself had gotten me the basket with the doll! I was so happy! I played with her and cut her hair short with Marilyn’s help. Life was sweet for a week…
… but then George and Clarice got there to pick me up. As I saw them pull up the driveway, I felt the darkness creep in just like the end of the DC trip. Dread. Scary and unknowing. George’s moods swung like a pendulum and he took them out on whoever was around. He saw me with the doll and had a fit! He didn’t say anything in front of me or take her away, but I heard arguing and George ended up at a hotel. He was so joyless and miserable, a real downer. To say I was scared of him isn’t enough. Anyway, by the time we got back to Savannah, my doll had disappeared. I did have a nice surprise waiting for me in my room. The Easter bunny had also visited me at home! I got two baskets that year! Score! I have grandparents on both side that made that Easter special – The Brinsons for my doll and not judging me, for loving me anyway. For buying me the doll “Because he liked it” – And the Davis Grand folk who was responsible for the second basket waiting for me. Thank all ya’ll!
We were still at the snake-river house but would be moving soon to the yellow brick house. I had my sixth birthday in the backyard of Granddaddy and Grandma’s house on Alabama avenue. I see pictures of that party and have no idea who some of the kids celebrating with me are. I call them mystery children who were never seen again, like the Cunningham’s oldest brother on Happy Days.
In June of 1976 we moved into the house on 199 Oatland Island Road with its yellow bricks and big back yard with the swing set. It was previously owned by a family named Seago. While we rented the snake-river house, George had a mortgage on this place. The Seagos were divorcing and that’s why they were selling. Weirdly enough, the mother Sandy and her two kids Janet and Mike ended up renting a place in the house next door to us! Janet became a babysitter for us, and Mike, who was younger and kind of a bad boy took me under his wing sometimes. The people who lived below them owned the house and they had their own daughter and her kids living with them. The Scarborough’s was their name. The little girl was Michelle and the little boy was Chris. I would eventually get out and explore the neighborhood and the residents of Oatland Island. After we lived there, that house had lots of ghosts. Let me tell you about it…
© 2017 Barrett Dylan Davis and Blacksheep. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Barrett Dylan Davis and Blacksheep with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For inquiries contact Disnyhaunt@gmail.com