Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of My Mother – Exordium

(In this episode, the RT begins a series of stories about his Mother, who gave birth to him and helped mold and shape him into the person that he is today)

Preface – Gypsy Railroaders

Those of you who have seen the Steve Martin move, “The Jerk”, will likely recall the opening line: “I was born a poor …” (OK, we’ll stop right there).

My story begins in a similar way: “I was born a gypsy railroader.” At least that’s what my Mother, Gerry Lou, always said about our family.

My Dad, Robert R. McClanahan, was a railroad man to the core. He ate, slept, breathed, dreamed and bled railroad. And he was determined. And he was determined to accomplish three things: 1) to marry Gerry Lou, 2) to provide for his family, come hell or high water, and 3) to run the Cotton Belt Railroad. By the way, he accomplished all three, but it took a long time.

Each time a Dad moved up the ladder on the railroad, we moved on to the next place. We did a complete orbit of these United States west of the Mississippi. So, we traipsed across the country carrying Mom and Dad’s two most-prized possessions: a live banana tree and a slightly-bent steel flagpole, respectively.

This is the story of the McClanahan Gypsy Railroad Family. Well, mostly it’s crazy stories about my Mother, coupled with a few less-crazy stories about my Dad. I started writing after Mom passed away, but have refrained from publishing any of it out of respect for my Dad, lest he think that I was being disrespectful to my mother. With his passing last month, I am now free to share these wonderful stories with you, Dedicated Reader.

A few things you should know about Gerry Lou to help frame these stories:

  1. She was her Daddy’s favorite. He doted on her a lot.
  2. She read voraciously. Everything from The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire to The Bible to what would today be called “prepper” literature to anything and everything published by the John Birch Society.
  3. She knew everything. Or most everything. And what she didn’t know, she made up. And it was hard to tell the difference.
  4. She was brilliant. She may well have been crazy. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the two apart.
  5. I miss her terribly.

The stories that follow will be in no particular order, since I’m sharing them as I become satisfied with the first draft. I’ll try to include dates so you can order them properly, at least until the wall-size Gerry Lou Life Planner hits the market.

Story One will follow soon. Happy reading.

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