Many years ago, when I was a young boy, I did something that in hindsight seems very foolish.       
It also makes for a great story.
Growing up, I always had a bicycle. When I was forced outside by my parents and there was no one with which to play basketball, it was my escape. But, for years, I was required to stay within shouting distance of the house.
There was some wiggle room there, because both of my parents were loud people, but in the end the tether was short.
I was shocked when, during the summer after my 10th birthday, I was given free range of Montgomery Avenue in Denham Springs, and areas all the way to City Hall. My mother simply told me I had gotten old enough for new boundaries, and to be home when the street lights came on.
I was a king, and as any child would I pushed boundaries. I went to the Exxon to buy drinks, to Pizza Hut to play “Street Fighter,” and even to downtown Denham Springs to buy baseball cards from the old shop there.
All of those things may not seem like much, but after several years – slow, kid-time annums – of constraint to roughly a city block, that was freedom.
Fourth of July rolled around, and as per usual we had a family gathering at the house.
All of my aunts, uncles, and cousins showed up for games in the backyard, pool time, and of course food. Among the edible items was a “Kentucky Derby Pie” from Story’s Grocery in Watson – that recipe was chocolate chip pecan.
It was the best thing I’d ever eaten.
The only stammering question I asked my mother after I took one bite was,
“Where did this come from?”
“Story’s Grocery, up Highway 16,” she replied, “You’ve been there before.”
I had, but I didn’t remember the trip because it had been several years prior, and I couldn’t recall why we had never gone back. I was quickly reminded as to why when, later that evening, I tried to sneak down to the kitchen for a piece only to find my father seated at the table, fork in one hand and newspaper in the other, finishing off any-and-every pie we had left. I was devastated.
What came next was an epic plan for a 10-year-old, but it had to be done – at least in my mind. I pulled out a Livingston Parish map and, after asking my mother for the exact location of Story’s Grocery, plotted my course. It was a six-mile trek from the house, 12 miles round trip, but that meant absolutely nothing to me.
I wanted that pie, and I really had no concept of distance.
The first day I set out around 2:30 p.m. but, after reaching Denham Springs High School around 3, I realized that I hadn’t given myself enough time and turned around to start again the next day, this time a little earlier. The next day I began around 10, giving myself plenty of time in my mind to make it there, and back, well before my parents would be expecting me.
Looking back, I’m lucky I’m not dead. The trip was treacherous and took over two hours. When I arrived I was sun burnt, dehydrated, and about to fall out.
The nice lady behind the counter offered me some water, which I took without hesitation, and then I asked if they had any “Kentucky Derby Pie.”
They did, one left actually, and as fate would have it, I got that pie. I sat in the air conditioning for about 30 minutes, eating what amounted to one slice of well-earned spoils of war, then set back to the house.
By the time I arrived home my mother was furious. I hadn’t come home for lunch and she had no idea where I had been, that is until she saw the nearly empty pie container and put two and two together.
Then my father emerged, furious that I had left none for him – and then quickly corrected himself that he was more angry about me making the trip. I spent the rest of that summer playing ball and being grounded, but that trip was worth it.
Every second.
J. McHugh David is editor and publisher of the Livingston Parish News.

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