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By Gere Gaige
Tinkerbelle?…. first thought, “the Peter Pan fairy”. But not in Midland, Texas. In Midland Tinkerbelle is the beloved puke-green Ford Falcon piloted by Bill Bearden. There is no telling how many things happened between the doors of that well-exercised car, but I know some of them.
That Ford Falcon was driven all hours of the days and nights for a variety of purposes; from carrying Bill to work on weekends with his dad’s floor refinishing company; to an epic cross-country trip with Nugent Brasher and me. Three young and not so smart teenage boys, starting out I think over some holiday period (I don’t remember the timing), with a trunk full of cold drinks and frozen TV dinners. A trip of the century, financed with cash from deposit returns on collected empty Ozarka water and soft drink bottles.
An ambitious undertaking that included Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, (NMMI), Ruidoso, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, El Paso, Garner State Park and Monahans before cruising back into Midland. At least that’s my memory of the itinerary. Go Tinkerbelle.
Bill was the master of the highway, although he allowed Nugent and me to “spell” him in irregular shifts. We didn’t have enough money for motel nights, so we slept in the car, or just stayed up all night…. except for an extravagant and luxurious evening or two when we checked-in for showers and a soft bed. We saw a lot of real estate, but that Falcon brought most of it by pretty quickly as we slowed down only enough for the towns with major attractions where we spent a few hours. A major attraction could be defined as cruising the main street, and cool-looking drive-ins trolling for girls.
Safely back in Midland, with lifelong secrets in each of our minds, Bill resumed his romance with Carole Scrivner, Nugent kept on cheerleading, and I returned to the swim team. Speaking of that Scrivner romance, it turned into real love and a permanent marriage for Bill which he parlayed into a remarkably successful sales and management career, two wonderful kids, and a happy retirement in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Since that trip and MHS graduation, Bill and I shared time at Texas Tech, one MHS reunion, a couple of group retired-guy trips for “fishing” (spelled d-r-i-n-k-i-n-g) and a brief visit near Mountain Home, Arkansas where he and Carole with friends over the years had enjoyed Gaston’s Fishing Resort on the White River. In total, my time with Bill was relatively short, but the connection was genuine and spanned these almost 60 years.
I learned from Carole today that Bill passed away this month, leaving us all with the memories we shared. I don’t know what ever happened to Tinkerbelle, but I am proud to have known Bill, admired his relationship with Carole, and am lucky to have shared the adventures we lived. I will miss him, but will enjoy the memories. Thank you, Bill.