This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 8 No. 3, "Growing Up Southern." Find more from that issue here.
Love Hurts Forever
When I was 17 teen, and Liveing in Dickson, Co. (a very Small Town – poup. 20,000), the thing was to drive Around in your car haveing Fun like, chaseing girls, showing how bad your car was, chaseing more girls, drinking beer, wine, + takeing or smokeing dope, + chaseing more girls? This only happened on Friday nights, but Saturday nights was a little more special — on Saturday night you done everything you done on Friday night, but if you hadn’t caught a date by 11:00 at night, you could always go to the skating rink and get a date for the rest of the night. Well this Saturday night Bob, Steve, Billy, Phil, Mike, Elton & myself all had to go to the skating rink! You see on Saturday night at the rink, they skate until 12:00 midnight, then the live band sits up on the floor, and the skating rink turns into a “wild” Dance Party. By 12:00 Steve, Phil, Mike had dates and left. By 12:30 Elton, Billy had to go home, so that left Bob & myself to get dates; now Bob is kind of weird — meaning just dum; for myself I take it a little slower, I like to look around before I approach anyone, but this time I saw her before seeing anyone else; she was leaning against the wall with some other girls. I turned to Bob, and told him he had to fined another way home, then I turned around to fined her, but she was dancing with some dude, but I wasn’t giving up, I started walking toward them, and stop right beside them and told the guy thanks for watching my girl and he stepped back from her, and I stepped in and started dancing with her & he walk away. Now she stopped dancing and said “Why did you do that” and I said keep dancing, and she did, & I told her my name & she told me hers, Well, we danced, & talked intill the dance was over, then I took her home in my car; when we got to her Mother’s house we made plans for another date Sunday night, and then we kissed and said good night, and she got out & went in, then I pulled out of the driveway and went home.
After 3 or 4 months of dating we were very close, we had made beautiful love many times, been to the drive-in, (It was called the Hot-Pit when I was growing up), been to Nashville & Memphis, Tenn. many times — we was together more than married people was, in till I got a job to support myself, & my dates! I worked for my brother-in-law which own a construction comp., and we worked at Clarksville, Tenn. on a college. On payday (Friday), I asked my brother-in-law for my paycheck at lunch time, where I could cash it where I could buy some lunch, but he was drunk, and started saying bad things about my girl to the other workers, so I took my check from him, got into my car, and went to cash the check which was S246.37 and drove straight to my girl’s house, and told her that I moved out of my Dad’s house (you see my sister and brother-in-law lived with my Dad). So my girl asked me to stay with her, & I did.
My Dad called every day, but I always told my girl to tell him I wasn’t there, intill one day I talked to him. He wanted me to come home, but I told him not intill we talked first. He said he would pick me up & I said, No, we would meet somewhere, and he said O.K.; we met at the coffee shop; after a long talk I decided to go get my stuff & move, but when I got home I called my girl and told her I was going to stay home, but would see her that night. When I saw my girl that night we went dancing at the skating rink, when we were dancing to a slow dance I told her I loved her, & wish we could get married, but I couldn’t afford to get married because I didn’t have a job anymore; I took her to her house about 3:00 in the morning, and we dated 3 or 4 more times intill she had a car wreck, and I went to the hospital to see her, and she told me she losted the baby, and told me to leave before her mother got there, because she didn’t like me anymore, so I left, and didn’t see her again intill I meet her husband. But now she divorced, and I still wish I could dance with her one more time at the skating rink and tell her I still “Love her very much!”
Home Run Lie
Back when I was 11 or 12 yrs. old, I wasn’t Really interested in sports At All, and when I did play I was so Nervous because I was scared I’d make a mistake, that I wasn’t any good so I didn’t play sports that much. Well It started one day, you see my Dad was a member of the V.F.W. Club, and the members decided to start a little league baseball team, and since my Dad thought I would enjoy it, I got signed up without me knowing anything about it! By all the practice all us kids had the coach knew I wasn’t any good but every game we would play I was always sitting on the bench. But I had a plan. I would tell my Dad not to come to the games, because by him being there would make me nervous, and I couldn’t play good, but really I didn’t want him to know how rotten I was! But the last game of the season the coach put me in, I played right field, and I’m glad no balls came to me, but I still had to bat. The pitcher threw the first ball, I swung with all my might, and I missed the ball, 2nd pitch I swung and hit the ball, but it went foul for strike 2, 3rd pitch I swung and missed the ball for strike 3 (I’m out)! When I went home later my Dad asked me did I play tonight, and I wanted to make him proud of me so I told him I hit a home run, and my Dad patted me on the back, and said Good Boy! The next morning my sister told me that Daddy sat by the radio last night and listen to the whole game. But my Dad never said anything about that lie I told him about “Hitting the Home Run!”
Danny Gafford is now 24 years old. He has been imprisoned on Florida’s Death Row for the past five years. (1980)