Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Highway to Holiness

Apparently, a lot of Christian folks believe that Interstate 35 is the “Highway to Holiness” mentioned in the Bible. Isaiah, chapter 35, verse 8 says: “A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.”

Now, there are dozens of Christianist groups scattered along I-35 praying for lost souls, praying that the naughty adult-type establishments will go away, and praying that God will deign to say that I-35 is, indeed, the highway mentioned in 35th chapter of Isaiah. (They probably think that God had something to do with numbering the chapters, after all.)

I don't know if that'll happen, but I am awfully familiar with I-35.

Growing up in south Texas, we’d always make the six-hour drive north to Dallas to visit our relatives for Christmas or Thanksgiving, most of which was on I-35. I don’t recall it being particularly “blessed,” mainly just boring. I do remember that my mom, being a new single parent and not particularly used to driving on interstate highways, was usually pretty tense during the entire drive. Threats of impending disaster were continually conveyed upon my brother and me in the back seat if we didn’t behave.

My grandmother, Budgie, would always be in passenger seat and took it upon herself to provide a veritable feast for the entire trip. One shoe-box would be laden with sandwiches (half roast beef and half pimento cheese); another with devilled eggs; yet another with brownies and then there’d be thermoses of coffee and cocoa. Heaven forbid, we’d have to stop and eat at those horribly expensive Stuckey’s restaurants along the way. "Highway robbery!"

Those Stuckey’s supplied the only entertainment for my brother and me. We’d play a game called “zip” with the Stuckey’s billboards. The first one to see a Stuckey’s billboard would suddenly scream, “Zip!” which would be followed by my mom yelling that we had almost caused her to careen off the highway into a firey crash. Over the mayhem, Budgie would be offering everyone a devilled egg.

Good times. . .

By the way, there were nine Stuckey’s restaurants between Austin and Dallas, with ten billboards for each restaurant. They all went out of business years ago; probably because everyone’s grandmothers kept everyone from stopping at any of them.

Then there was the time when I was sixteen years old and had just obtained my driver’s license. Mom was letting me drive the car, along with providing continual visions of impending firey crashes if I didn’t use the turn signal, or if I played my 8-Track of Tubular Bells one more time, or if I, perhaps, ran over an errant turtle.

I was instructed to stop for gas in Waco, so I exited I-35 and proceeded to run straight through a stop sign at the intersection.


Mom’s hand backhanded me really hard across the chest. She had a very direct corrective theory when it came to driver’s education.

For years after that, I’d point out that intersection in Waco. “There’s where you nailed me for running that stop sign, Mom.” It became one of our favorite sites.

Later when I was in college, a thirty-mile drive up I-35 was required to get to the night clubs in Austin, Texas. That was back in the day when the legal drinking age was 18, ten-cent drinks were featured on Wednesday nights and free beer was offered until 11 pm on Fridays. Can you imagine that? I remember practically having to use sonar to get home many a night down I-35 in my little Honda Civic.
I-35 certainly wasn't providing me with access to holiness; just to stupidity, bad behavior, and Donna Summer.

Soon after college, I moved to Dallas and lived there for ten years. I-35 then became the highway home to see my folks.

I don’t know if I-35 is, indeed, the “Highway to Holiness” as mentioned in the Bible. It seems pretty narcissistic for anyone to make such a claim just because they live near it. But for my little family, it sure holds lots of funny, bittersweet memories.

Those are best kind.

(An abandoned Stuckey's along I-35)

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At 12:08 PM , Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

Great story. Um, maybe this is a dumb question, but wouldn't the highway to holiness be somewhere in the holy land, not in Texas? Oh well, holy is in the eye of the beholder I guess.

At 12:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...



Find that dog and we bark at him. BARK! BARK! BARK!....BARK! BARK! BARK!



We had some great car games!

At 1:22 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

Car fodder for days!

At 12:42 PM , Blogger Br. Jonathan said...

KA: The holy land??? The highway couldn't possibly be there. According to Texans, it's full of foreigners.

Bro: I'd forgotten those phrases. Yes, we did entertain ourselves pretty well.


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