What most folks ’round these parts don’t seem to understand, what they don’t even ever try to figure, is there’s a wide world out there beyond Denton County.
Now, some claim they been to the state’s capitol, clear to Jeff City. And Miss Meadow, down to the school, she harkens from over to the Mississippi River, clean the other side o’ our fair state. But other’n them, most ever’body else been born and raised and lived and died and prospered and plum fell to destitution right ‘cher in a radius 30 mile ever which way.
‘Course, that there’s not counting trips to the stockyards down to Kansas City. Them’s near to bein’ festival days, and we, all us kids, we fight regular to go. Them big city sights and smells and honks and dust and bustle stay in my head and nose for days or weeks, even.
I do get itchy to head back home, too. Too much of a good thing is plenty.
That folks don’t get no tickle to travel, nor no urge to roam don’t come as any surprise. We all be too busy just a’livin’ in this world to galavant ’round the cre-ation lookin’ for another.
‘Shore didn’t keep the big wide world from a’knockin’ on our door a time or two. And Grandpap was fixin’ to remind us of such a time, not so many years previous.
So it’s like this, accordin’ to Grandpap, and most ever’body else ownin’ memories twenty years prior. Them fellers, senators and doctors and such, they voted back in Worshinton D.C. that the deadly and evil drink, liquor and alcohol and spirits of ever’ ilk, why, they should not only be outlawed, they should be dumped into the rivers and worshed clean to the Mexico Gulf. Takin’ no nevermind the medicinal qualities of said libations, nor the river creatures what might imbibe and thusly swim upstream.
Well, that just wouldn’t do, hailed Grandpap back in them days. No that just wouldn’t do, hailed Daddy and Uncle Buck and Uncle Vernon. “This here’s a free country, ” Grandpap still hollers. “Shore is!” the boys would sing out. “Didn’t vote fer them durned Republicans, ana-how, nor them Democrats, neither,” he’d puff, even now. Votin’ always gets Grandpap riled up, seein’ as his “trustation” of politicians or anybody claimin’ lordship couldn’t fill a shallow hole.
Now, that’s not to say he don’t vote. He did and he does, and so does ever’ other God-fearing American man or woman. He just don’t trust the process, and I do reckon it’s let him down one or a few times.
Like this here. But this time here, Grandpap, he turned what he called “lemons” into somethin’ far more succulent. Wudn’t nobody could tell him he couldn’t provide for his family and kin and for them sick and peak-ed, sufferin’ from any number of ailments of the body or the mind. Why Grandpap, he looked at hisself as akin to near a man of medicine, though never so learn-ed. Not so learnered as, say, ol’ Doc Allen, who come to the house, and near ever’ other ’round, birthin’ babies and treatin’ snakebites and such. No, Grandpap never had them big o’ britches. More like a dispenser of “good will” in liquid form, was more how he saw it. His Daddy, and even his Daddy before him, they passed down a recipe like none other, known countywide, and beyond.
It was the “beyond” part what brought the world to Grandpap’s door.
Now them days, not so long past, but long before my thirteen years, the Goodwells, Grandpap, his lovin’ wife Maybelle, may her soul be enjoyin’ eternal rest in the arms of our beloved Jesus Christ our personal Savior, and his five strappin’ boys, they lived right high on the hog. Goodwell land centered on a hilltop just beyond town and shimmied and wiggled its way, dipping through valleys and risin’ to the high horizon, nigh on five hundred some acres, all told. The Goodwells, they was considered the height of Denton County society, as they had want of nary a single thing. Consequently, they was rich. Plum flush. And, consequently, they was wise and all knowin’, and respected in this here county and beyond. They raised cattle, they raised pigs, n’ had them fifty head of horseflesh fer ridin’ and a’workin’. They farmed a bit, some corn and beans and alfalfa and oats. Grandmama had her her garden and her chickens, and Grandpap, he stayed far from that business till it come a’choppin’ and a’pluckin’ time, calling the proceeds “Grandmama’s Egg Money.”
She largely spent it on her children and grandchildren. Never had her a store bought dress, never had her a thing she couldn’t make her ownself.
She did allow herself a new pair of shoes ever’ year, Grandpap said proudly. And once, they was even red! They was her dancing shoes, he said, for the doin’s at the Mason Lodge come Saturday nights. He says they’re wrapped up in purty starched papers in Grandmama’s suitcase, even now, a restin’ tucked far back under Grandpap’s bed.
Now, I don’t have much memory of Grandmama, ‘ceptin’ for the smell of powdery lilacs and the sound of high melodies comin’ from the kitchen. She passed away, something done stopped her heart from the inside, when I was nearly three. If I try real hard, I can almost come up with a picture, but it gets confused with the portraits Grandpap’s got plastered ’round his room.
I reckon I’ll always love me the smell of lilacs.
But I digress.
Bein’ as the Goodwells, of which I am a proud scion, was known far and wide as the keepers of all knowledge, rich as Midas and wise as Solomon, why, ever’body from miles this a’way and that, they near stood in line for the reapin’s of Goodwell bounty. Could be Grandpap’s well fed beef, could be the fine horseflesh raised with love and care, could be Grandmama’s extra large brown eggs.
Or. Could be Grandpap’s ‘shine. They shore did stand in line for that, hear tell.
And that’s when the world, and the revenuers, come a’knockin’.