A Vintage Petrol Lighter Story Volume 12: Retracing Youthful Steps

(A Vintage Petrol Lighter Story Volume 12: Retracing Youthful Steps is a work of fiction presented by DependableFlame.com)

Catching Glimpses

Elston hadn’t seen water in that pond since he was a teenager. He remembered sitting out here on the banks with his Dad, Grandpa and brother, fishing poles in hand and adventure in their hearts.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

The pond was completely dry now, not a single cattle footprint depression in sight, just dried up weeds protruding from the gray clay surface but in the recesses of his mind he could still see the crystal vivid images of yesteryear. The bullfrogs that croaked along the bank or floating eyes up only out of the water just a few feet out.

Could still see his Grandpa nonchalantly easing his rod and reel down to the ground with one hand as he grasped the .22 caliber rifle with the fingers of the other. Had the rifle pulled to his shoulder and a bullet between the eyes added another croaker to the basket.

His father sitting across the water from Elston leaning back on one hand with one leg extended and the other bent up, providing a shelf for the arm that held his Winston cigarette. The senior Mr. James placing the cigarette in his mouth then cupping that hand around it as he flicked the aluminum Storm King lighter to life with the other and inhaled the Winston to ember.

His little brother tracing circles in the mud down the way, where he’d laid his rod and unknowingly half buried the handle as he traipsed back a forth to the minnow bucket, uncaring to the mess he’d made. The kid never had the time to do anything correctly without first making matters worse.

There was no moisture to muddle affairs today, however. It had gone along with his ancestors and left Elston to ponder the reasons, if there were any which could rightly be discerned.

Memory Lane

Elston remembered the frequent trips to the cotton gin where his grandmother spent her days at work. The machinery inside the gin was large and frightening but the camaraderie and banter in the office both welcoming and warm.

Photo by Trisha Downing on Unsplash

The old chest style coin operated bottled pop machine tantalizingly teased the boys until the old man in the corner snuffed out his cigarette in the ceramic Lucky Strike ashtray and sauntered over with a handful of coins that he dropped in the slot and gestured the boys toward the sodas hanging in the machine. Elston grabbing a root beer while his brother opted for the Nehi Peach.

The advertising calendars on the wall and desk and seemingly any other surface that had been left unoccupied by the attendant literature of the industry, discarded newspapers and half finished crossword puzzles. Elston enjoyed these trips to see his grandmother during her work day but he never grasped the nuances of life at his young age that made it necessary for her to get up early every morning and drive away from the farm to fulfill here duties at the cotton gin.

He thought of her now and all the time she spent there while he and his brother would be running all over the county, past corn stalked fields that resembled walking stilts as the truck his grandfather drove carried them toward the next river to seine or the next pond to wet a line in.

Elston was thankful now for the time he had with his own grandchildren and wondered if his current station in life which allowed him such leeway had been influenced by the lifestyle of his grandpa who had responsibilities for sure but they were not the vocational sort. He managed to varying degrees and success the quarter-mile section of a farm that his father left him in the early 1970s but he never lacked the time to grind minnows into bait nor to set out on the lake all night catching fish with the bait that he’d made from them.

The Road Gone Down

There was an old mobile home trailer out behind the farm house where Elston’s great-grandmother lived before she had to go stay at the old folks home he later become accustomed to visiting her in. That trailer had been her home but was quickly taken over by bugs and animals and who knows what other kinds of critters when she had made the move to town, to say nothing of all the other junk that ended up being stored there.

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

It was startling to Elston how with such haste the substance of an individual’s homely existence could come to naught. He had watched it happen to the trailer when he was a child and he surveyed the current state of affairs on the farm as he stood here twelve yrs removed from his grandpa passing and closer to twenty since he’d seen his grandmother.

The issues of their lives had all withered in this spot. The coop littered with holes in the wire where chickens once flounced and produced the eggs they used for breakfast and to dredge their chicken-fried steak. The root cellar, with its abandoned and cracked jars of okra and peaches, seeming to hold all the moisture the rest of the land couldn’t fathom.

Their lives had been rich in the substance of family and they’d lived like kings in their day, at least to hear them tell it. The joy of a cool popsicle on a sweltering summer afternoon. Enjoying the bounty of the fish and frogs his grandpa brought in daily and his grandmother soaked in saltwater before breading and frying for all to enjoy on the weekend or evening or perhaps even at lunch when it was just her and the old man present at home.

Elston pulled the king-size RAW cone he’d stuffed with ground shake and kief out of the tube in his jean’s pocket and lit it haphazardly, striking his Zippo with his right hand and holding the joint steady between his lips with the left. He exhaled a long stream of thick white smoke and blew it in his brother’s direction.

“What do you think they would make of the place?” Elston asked between draws from the joint. “I’m not sure they would recognize it myself…” his voice trailed off as he turned to make for the vehicle, not waiting for an answer anyway.

(Please leave any comments, questions or suggestions in the comments section of this or any other page at DependableFlame.com. This is a work of fiction and any similarity of the characters or situations herein to those that have happened in real life should be seen as coincidental.)

Author: Joseph

Be cautious when anyone tells you what you need or have to do...

8 thoughts on “A Vintage Petrol Lighter Story Volume 12: Retracing Youthful Steps”

  1. What a nostalgic and poignant story! 

    The vivid descriptions of Elston’s memories evoke a sense of longing for the past and a connection to his family heritage. The contrast between the vibrant images of the past and the desolate present state of the farm is striking. It’s interesting how Elston reflects on the influence of his grandpa’s lifestyle and wonders about the choices that shaped his own current station in life. The passage beautifully captures the passage of time and the inevitable changes that come with it. Well done!

    1. Thank you Wallace for reading the article and taking the time to share such insightful feedback and kind words. I think Elston certainly misses some things from the past and has obviously used some of the lessons he’s picked up along the way to benefit him in his own journey. He feels the need though to compare his life with those of his ancestors, which can be helpful but could also be a hindrance, depending on the situation and the level of the lessons he’s learned. I hope you’ll continue to check out these stories and follow along with Elston’s journey.

  2. What a captivating story! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey of retracing youthful steps through vintage petrol lighters. It’s fascinating how objects from our past can hold such sentimental value and evoke powerful memories. Your attention to detail and vivid descriptions truly brought the narrative to life. I have a question: Have you come across any particular vintage petrol lighters during your retracing adventures that held a special significance to you personally? Thank you for sharing this wonderful story!

    1. Thank you for the question Steve Steve and I am glad you enjoyed reading the story. To answer your question, I have come across quite a few lighters that harken back to my past in one way or another. There’s the two-sided Bob Dylan Tour march Zippo because my Dad was the one that got me started down the road of loving Bob and his music. I also own a few liquor brand lighters that remind me of my old man and my uncles, as well as a Ford lighter because my Dad was a Ford guy at heart. I hope you will continue to come back and check out further installments of Elston’s journey.

  3. I found this to be very fun to read, I noticed that its volume 12 so I might just have to go read the others.  I think this is a great way to promote your products,  I definitely want to look at the aluminum Storm King Lighter, I love lighters and have a few zippos myself but nothing old or vintage.  I love the end when Elston pulled out the king-sized Raw cone and lit it with his zippo,  It was my favorite part.


    M.T. Wolf     

    1. Thank you M.T., I am glad you enjoyed reading the story and especially the part at the end where Elston lights up the big joint! The vintage lighter collecting community is a pretty cool place to be and I thought it would be worthwhile to work in some related fiction as that is something I have written in the past and wanted to take advantage of here. It kind of feels like I’m creating a new genre of literature or maybe a new way of advertising! Thank you for the kind words and I hope this is a great way to promote vintage lighter products and supplies.

  4. It’s amazing how we have such vivid and happy memories from childhood, and when we return to the sites as adults, we are often disappointed with what we find. I think it is all about family and the memories that you make with them. The surroundings don’t matter much when you are a child, as long as you are happy, warm, and protected.

    Everything seems so much smaller as an adult. I used to think my grandparents lived in a mansion until I returned years later to find it was a normal small farm house.

    1. Hey Michel, thanks for dropping by and I appreciate you reading the story and leaving your insights in such a nice comment. I think the places of our youth have a special place in our heart the same way that hearing a song we listened to at a particular time in our life can transport us back to that specific time just by hearing it again. I agree with you one hundred percent though that it’s the people we make memories with that actually make those places special.

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