South of Hell’s Gate

In writing about the long and winding road that my sister and I traveled every summer to Indiana, I failed to mention our mother’s extreme hatred of air conditioning. Every summer, when my sister and I would visit, it was almost without fail the hottest time of the year. And upon our arrival, there would be Mother with a fan running and all the windows open. Due to the unique nature of Mother’s little abode, and the hellish properties of this God-forsaken part of the country, all this really achieved was to move more hot air into the house.

Hell's GateIronically, years later we would learn that Hell’s Gate was an actual place in Indiana, just a couple hours north of Mother’s town. Yes, Mother was literally living south of Hell’s Gate.

On our third trip there, I told my sister that I should have brought a pig to roast in Mother’s house. On our fourth trip, I suggested that we should rent the house out as a sweat lodge. Of course, Mother would say we were “spoiled” and that made us fans of air conditioning. In reality, neither my sister nor I enjoyed sweating, so we tried to spend as much time as possible away from her little habitat.

Our plan was this: We would arrive early in the day and try our best to get Mother loaded up and into the car before our underwear stuck to our body parts. Mother was never known for her speed so we would not make her move too fast, in case she might actually break a sweat. She also tended to take numerous breaks to “set a spell” and share tales of our family tree with us.

Once in the car we would drag Mother over to the nearby town of Corydon, where it was a bit more lively spot. They even had a Wal-Mart and several eating establishments. (Excuse me, but my sister always said that the further south we went it seemed to affect my thinking ability.) I meant restaurants.

A trip to Wal-Mart always cost my sister and me a pretty penny. Mother would load up the cart with numerous items, but never the proper ingredients for a complete meal. She loved to say, if asked, if she had thought through her meals for the week:

Who’s groceries are these anyway?

You can see why we often called her “Snappy Comeback.”

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