‘What if ?’

My name is Frank Smith. I was born in 1936 and reared two miles south of Nectar at what is now the Murphree place. When I was a child there was no Highway 160, just a poorly gravelled road from Cleveland west to Highway 31. I enjoyed watching the construction and paving of Highway 160.

I now live in Fackler, AL, which is near Scottsboro, and I get The Blount Countian
paper. I have read a lot of noise about Highway 160 and occasionally get a chance to return to Nectar.

On Sunday, Dec. 27, I drove south on Hwy. 75 to Oneonta, turned west on 231 to Cleveland, then took 160 west to 65, went south, and returned. I could not help but notice the construction at the creek crossing about 200 yards east of Nectar Cemetery at the Posey place. They have finished widening the north side, put up a beautiful guard rail, and are widening the south side. That was both thrilling and depressing. Depressing because the last remaining signs of the old one-lane iron bridge was gone. I had to stop and look. Sometimes we get caught up in our daily lives and forget to look back and remember times gone by.

Okay, so the old gravel road and one-lane iron bridge will soon be forgotten. But go east to the Big Warrior River crossing (yes, it is still the Big Warrior to me). Now look on the south side at the old bridge pilings. I stopped and talked to some kayakers. One lady said, “You mean there used to be a bridge on those pilings?” “Yes, a one-lane covered bridge.” WOW!

When I was 16 years old, I left Blount County to attend a private school in Tennessee. When I was 18, my Mommy bought me a four-year-old Ford car. Oh, she was a beauty – light green over dark green, four doors, a V8 engine, the newest car on campus. I taught myself to drive. I could not wait to show it off to my friends in Blount County.

We made a visit home and I went to see a cousin near the Warrior River bridge. He said, “Hey, I know a couple of beauties in Hayden.” I said, “Let’s go.” We tooled through Nectar at about 75 mph. Then he said, “How much has this thing got?” I said, “It will do a hundred.” He said, “Prove it.” I thought, oh no! He said, “Are you chicken?”

Oh the crazy challenge! I should have cackled like a hen instead of crowing like a rooster. I said, “Roll up your window and watch the speedometer.” I straightened up in my seat and said, “Tell me when we hit a hundred.” He was saying, “It ain’t gonna make it; it ain’t gonna make it.” Approaching the Locust Fork intersection, I felt that 100-mile-per-hour vibration. When we crossed the creek culvert, I jerked my foot out of it and glanced at the speedometer – 105 mph. We squalled rubber all the way around that curve while I was trying to cool it down. I was scared; right then I was chicken. I considered that my first driving lesson in that beautiful little car.

But for 55 years I have wondered, “What if? What if?” But worse yet if, after we picked up those beautiful ladies, then “What if?”

Frank Smith

Fackler, AL