Sometimes Southern Boys Leave Home

 

Larry Elliott
Photo by Ashton Lance

Over the years I’ve written some stories. I’ll post old ones and new up on this blog for you all to enjoy. Cheers! – Red

You never know who might be standing behind you, or who might be ahead of you in the check-out line at the record store. It might be Larry Elliott. A frequent patron of Pegasus Records in Florence, Al., Larry loves Buddy Holly, The ROW-llin’ Stones, Gram Parsons, Jackson Pollock, and the impressionist movement. However, he’s not a fan of Picasso and New York City. “They’ll run over you in New York City!” One might not think him so worldly if you saw him out. Dressing unassumingly, with jeans and blue ball cap, and talking with a drawl only acquired here in Northwest Alabama. Larry’s been around whether you may think he looks the part or not. He’s been entertaining us at the record store for years now with his stories of travel after his stint as a medic in Vietnam. “I Got discharged from Ft. Gordon. After I came back I went to Riverside, CA, cause I had some Vietnam buddies out there. I worked out there a while haulin’ house trailers. Back in those days, in the early 70′s it was a big drug town. The runaway girls all came to Riverside! From all over the country. It was kinda a wide open town. I was staying at the Riverside Hotel when I met Sunshine. She liked to drop that sunshine acid. She was just about seventeen years old. I wasn’t but 20. She wanted to wash her hair so I snuck her in the backdoor of my hotel and she washed her hair. The rest they say is history. Yea, I partied with her about two weeks…No, I don’t know whatever happened to Sunshine. That’s how they was in Riverside, they’d be there then they’d be gone.” Larry’s seen his share of hardtimes as well, I tell ya. Two cousins, Doug and Parks, OD’d on oxycontin. He’s had his jaw and his nose both broken, and both stories start out with “I tell ya I was drankin’!”…”I started drinkin’ when I was about 15. Drinkin’ what they called Wildcat Whiskey, and I’ve been battling alcohol ever since.”…He and a buddy broke into a friend’s house and stole bottles of Wild Turkey and got arrested for drinking it on the curb in front of the YMCA. He’s been married twice, has narrowly escaped prison stays a couple times, unknowingly hitch hiked with a murderer, and lives on 100% disability due to post-traumatic stress disorder. He finally came back home in 1980 and found that the government would fully fund a try at college, so Larry majored in History and Sociology and graduated in 1984. He spends his days quietly now, walking around the neighborhood for some exercise where he lives in Tuscumbia, AL. When he gets to thinking about a group or singer he use to like, we’ll see him in the record store every week ’til he’s ordered their whole catalogue. This man has many stories and I’d love to just have a video camera record him talking for a few hours. He can make ya laugh ’til your stomach bursts. But Vietnam, he’ll always remember that. He told of the one person he knows for certain that he killed over there. This fella ran out of the bushes with something in his hands, about to throw it. Larry opened fire. When they got to the body they found it wasn’t a grenade, but a rock. And he near cried about a little friend he made over there. “There was this little girl. I’d giv’er candy and stuff. I guess she was about 8 years old. She use to ride her bicycle up and down the road there in Cat Lai Village. VC murdered a lot in Cat Lai and they hit her house and she got killed. I was really close to that little girl.” The moral to the tale, kids..next time you find yourself cussin’ the old timer taking his sweet jollies in front of you at the stop light. Take a moment and remember Larry Elliott. Chances are, that ‘old timer’ has lived harder, fought harder, had more fun, and hurt deeper, than you could ever possibly imagine. Thanks Larry, I’ll treasure this tape of stories.
Your Friend,
Red Mouth
01-24-2011

 

Larry’s poem he recited while staring me down. I’ve tried googling pieces of it to make sure he wrote and cannot find anything at all resembling it. Also, the photos, they were taken by Ashton Lance.
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A bomb explodes in a market place
An anguished look on an old woman’s face
Several were injured, but three were dead
And the terrorist who threw it fled
I’ve seen scenes like this, and so much more
All a part of the agony of war
Out on a distant battlefield
A brave young American soldier is killed
It was never clear what he was fighting for
He came face to face with the agony of war
Still the people marched in the street
Some even prayed for our defeat
They said they knew
But they didn’t know
They had never seen the agony of war
I’ve waded in blood up to my knees
Seen soldiers fall like falling trees
Right or wrong
One thing’s for sure
I have seen the agony of war