Triple H Days

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Triple H days: hot, humid, and hello. At least that’s what Bubba Hanks use to call the sticky days of August. If you understood what he meant by hot, humid, and hello, then you understood Bubba.

We grew up at 110 Flamingo Street, and he was one of our down-the-street neighbors. With a name like Bubba, you know he wasn’t a skinny kid.

Now Goofy Steve, that was a name for a skinny kid, and he was both skinny and goofy. But this story isn’t about the long-legged, long-armed, freckled-faced kid with the strawberry hair and the catch in his walk. Goof’s story is next week. This week is hot, humid, and hello.

When Bubba did one of his trademark cannonballs into Thomas’s pool, not only did he bend the board down to the waterline, he washed out everything in the pool: toys, floats, kids on floats, even the giant bat living in the strainer.

He displaced a great deal of water with every dive. So much so, Mr. Thomas put him on cannonball restriction for an entire summer. He said they couldn’t afford to keep filling the pool. Bubba Hanks was big.

Other than a bathing suit, and later in high school a Briarwood Buccaneer football jersey, Bubba only wore two outfits. During the winter, he would wear overalls with a black and red, flannel, long-sleeved shirt underneath. During the spring, summer, and fall, he would wear overalls with a white XXL t-shirt underneath. That left only one time of the year: the Dog Days of August.

This is where hot, humid, and hello come in. We moved to Flamingo Street during the first week of August; I was 7, and it was hotter than Hell. At least that’s what Mom kept saying. She kept asking Dad if he had lost his mind moving into a new house the week before school started. Dad never answered, but he sure did sweat a lot moving all those boxes by himself. Guess he was looking for his lost brain in one of them.

Our first visitor that day was Bubba Hanks. He came over to meet the new kids: James, Richard, Mark and me. He just waved to The Sister. Strolling up the sidewalk, he wore a white XL t-shirt and overalls with the shoulder straps undone and tied around his ample girth. The top part of the overalls flopped down in front. He had a big smile on his face as he walked right up and said, “Hello.” That was the hello part.

Come to find out, the overalls flopped down with the straps tied around in front was his August outfit.

That first August on Flamingo Street was one I’ll always remember. It was the last month we ate refrigerator ice out of our old, loud, green refrigerator. Three weeks later, Dad bought a new, self-defrosting refrigerator to make up for the untimely mess of the move. The rest of that year we had to go over to Goofy Steve’s house and eat his refrigerator ice.

City workers were finishing the paving of Flamingo Street the week we moved in. That was something else Mom complained about. (The new washer came the following week.) The black top made the street so hot you could fry an egg on it.

I know because we did, and Bubba ate it — I guessed because we egged him on so. I don’t know if it was the egg turning green while it bubbled on the street or the little bits of asphalt he ate that were stuck to the underneath, but he got really sick.

Back then, there were no such things as non-stick streets. The next day, Bubba told us Doc Jim sure was mad at us, but we didn’t care. At the time we didn’t even know who Doc Jim was. Funny, he was still sore when Mark and I showed up three weeks later for five stitches in my hand and six in Mark’s forehead. Who knew that a refrigerator box used as a giant steamroller could be so dangerous?

It’s been a long time, and I don’t have quite the girth that Bubba Hank’s sported, but I wonder — with the temperature well into the 90s, and the humidity off the charts, is there anywhere in this county that sells Hello overalls?

login to post comments | Rick Ryckeley's blog