My Hometown

My Hometown

Uncle Ronny

“Ramble On, and now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song,” I sing along with on a Friday afternoon as I use two pencils to hit my desk, doing my best imitation of John Bonham and clearly showing everyone within an earshot that I am more than ready for the weekend.

But this isn’t just another Led Zeppelin song to me; this one holds a special place in my heart.

Back when I was entering my teenage years, I started hanging out more with my Uncle Ronny.

He is my father’s brother and the black sheep of my family, but not so much that they didn’t trust him with his nephew; he was just a bit different than the others.

The majority stayed in the town where I grew up, worked at the same blue collar jobs, and lived the small-town life - Ronny was far too adventurous for that.

He left home at 17 for the big city and never really settled down.

Once a month in the summertime, Ronny would pick me up on a Saturday night and we’d head out to the big city to check out the local dirt track races and demolition derby’s.

He never hesitated to light up a cigarette, give me bits of wisdom from the school of hard knocks, and open my eyes to an entire world as far removed from my country upbringing as possible; influencing who I would become today unbeknownst to me at the time.

On those hour long drives into the city, and back out to drop me off at home after the races, Led Zeppelin was always the music of choice in his Camaro and “Ramble On” became my favorite of their songs.

Before he would drop me off at home (well after 11 at night), Ronny would always roll down both windows, turn the volume on his radio up, and drive up and down the streets of my hometown blasting “Ramble On” like it was some kind of anthem to celebrate his freedom of getting out when he was 17.

I always thought that his motive was to irritate anyone that looked down on him, and as they stood on their front porches with a fist in the air as if to say “turn that racket down,” I laughed.

But as I look back on it now, maybe I had his motive all wrong.

His attitude always changed when we turned onto Ms. Hamilton’s block. He drove a little slower in front of her house, turned the radio down, and stared at her from under his ball cap as she stood on her porch.

When everyone else in town had been scowling at him, she always smiled and blushed before waving a friendly hello and disappearing back inside.

 

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