Whoa, Nellie!

Yep. Whoa, Nellie! That’s about all I could utter earlier this morning while I was browsing around the web.

In case you’re not familiar with the expression, “Whoa, Nellie” is a way of saying “Oh, my gosh.” It’s akin to a jaw-dropping, mouth agape cry of “This is unbelievable.” It’s a simple way of expressing the unexpressable, of facing something truly incredible.

“Whoa, Nellie” brings the world to a halt for a moment, long enough for the speaker — in this case, me — to get back his/her/my bearings. It’s a bit of a “time out” while the bizarre sinks in and the unthinkable gets processed by the brain.

I had a definite “Whoa, Nellie” moment when I found this old picture postcard online.

Downtown Excelsior

OK, so it’s just another street in another small town, a picture obviously taken back in the 1950s. Well, to you, that’s what it is. To me, it’s a lot more. This is Broadway, one of two streets that formed the “main drag” in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, where I was born and raised.

I could go along this street and point out to you the various businesses you’d pass. On the right, about midway down in the picture, you could look over and see the “Hall of  Waters”. Go on down to the next building, and you’d be at “Logue and Shorts” drugstore. Down toward the end, still on the right, was the public library.

But you don’t care about that. To you, it’s just another street in another small town.

As I glanced at this picture, I jokingly wondered if I might see anyone I recognized. That’s when my eyes went immediately to the man in the straw hat.

Downtown Excelsior Circle 1Yes, it’s a straw hat. I know, because I recognized it. I recognized everything about this man. The hat. The hand in the pocket. The walk. The slight tilt of his head. I recognized the barber shop, too. The same barber shop where my grandfather got his hair cut. Being of the female persuasion, I wasn’t allowed to set foot in the barber shop. I had to (a) head to Logue and Short’s for an ice cream cone, then (b) wait in the car.

And speaking of car? Surely it must be there in the picture. My grandfather’s pride and joy, the car he cherished and kept to the end of his life. His black 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline.

Aha! Yep! Whoa, Nellie… can you imagine that!

Downtown Excelsior Cropped Circle 2

If I peer really, really close at the car, I think maybe I can even see a little girl sitting in the back seat, patiently waiting… no, that’s surely just my imagination.


4 thoughts on “Whoa, Nellie!

    • I was very close to my grandfather. I lived with him, and he was the one who first taught me to read. When I began writing, I pounded out my first stories on his old Underwood typewriter. He sat by my bedside when I had my appendix out (age 8) and spent 8 days in the hospital. I used the time to scribble a silly novel about a little girl who wanted a horse. He patiently read every word. Yeah, Whoa…Nellie! That’s all I can say. What a priceless moment.

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