Like White on Rice–Grandpap’s E-lucidation

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’.




Like White on Rice–Grandpap’s Recollections

See, I got me one o’ them Harvest Time birthdays, dropped smack dab plum dead on in the middle o’ All Hallows Eve and Thanksgivin’.  It’ll be arrivin’ next week so get yer dancin’ shoes on.

Now, I’m not complainin’ much.  Frankly, non a’tall.   Fall time, smells of burnin’ bonfires, leaves colors a’blazin’ in a heated frenzy, ground freezin’ just a mite and crunchin’ underfoot come mornin’, sounds of birds fadin’ so they stand out all the more when they commence to chirpin’, all us fellers  gettin’ our huntin’ gear cleaned and taut?  Then Mama’s chocolate cake on a’top o’that?  Don’t get much better, in my book.

That, and all us Goodwells, we have us a wingding to celebrate me just a’bein’ me, well, I ain’t got no complaints.  Not a’one.

Somehow, this here time of year, bein’ my special day and all, is somehow tied to Grandpap’s “Great Moonshine Escape” story, what occured some time similar in our family’s recent history.  And while I wudn’t even a glimmer in my Daddy’s eye, I reckon I’m Tale gets longer with each tellin’, but durned if I’m decomposed by Grandpap’s expansionary oration.

Tell you what.  I’ll give it to you like he give it to us this partic’lar day in his very own words….don’t nobody spin a yarn like Grandpap.

He near always starts with a cackle.

“Hehehe, I tell you whut, it still resonates with me with ever’ recallin’.  Me’n yer Daddy and yer Uncle Buck and yer Uncle Vernon, we was all fresh in from cuttin’ out some hogs fer the slaughter, still hain’t made it to the bootjack to scrape off our muddy boots.”

He near always sets sail the same way, too.  ‘Course, any di-rection subsequent can lead to bewilderment, but we hang tight.  Detours aside, we know what’s a’comin’.

And here it do come…..!


Like White on Rice-Grandpap’s Embellishment

This partic-ular evenin’, me’n and the big boys, Lawrence and Linc, we near missed it.  Daddy’s mount, ol’ Jeb, or Jebadiah when he’s feelin’ ornery, he went and threw a shoe whist we three was runnin’ ’em out ‘fore puttin’ ’em in for the night.  Ain’t no “run hard and put away wet,” sitiation, though.  Know better’n that, we do.  And that’s not what we done.  We take right good care o’our stock, we do.  Lot’s o’ reasons.  It’s the right thing, number one.  Number two, horses is an investment in work and loyalty.  These here mounts ‘r near almost comrades.

‘Course, number three is, Daddy’d like to tan our hides, we don’t treat ’em right.

So, way I see it, ol Jeb must ‘o caught his hoof on some root or clump.  Could o’come up lame, way he pitched and stumbled.  I give him his head and he self-corrected, like a good horse is apt to do.  We got hisself tucked in and dried off and calmed, but findin’ the shoe in all that stiff grass, then a’hammerin’ it back into something like right, well, that took a spell.

Wouldn’t do tellin’ Daddy we’d near lamed up his horse without at least attemtin’ to make things right.

We salved and cupped Jeb’s foot in a mercenary boot, laced clean to his knee or thereabouts,  right good protection till morning and we could, one of us, do a proper job of re-shoing the ol’ feller.

So when we boys made our way back inside, troopin’ one behind t’other, Grandpap and the whole rest of the Goodwell clan, they was cozied up in the front room, givin’ us not even a glance.

First thought, they, all them Goodwells less Linc and Lawrence and me,  was gathered ’bout the RCA Victor radio Grandpap treasured, listenin’ to one o’them dramas we enjoyed so, ‘er maybe the ‘Opry.  I’d promised myself, in one o’them chest-expandin’ moments of deep in-tro-spection, I’d be one of them singers a’croonin’ or a’wailin’ on the other side o’ them tubes one day.  And I will,  jest you wait and see!

But I digress.

‘T wudn’t not radio show this evenin’.  No.  We was havin’ our reg’lar family enclave and for this, I plum near jumped fer joy, ‘cept I didn’t.

Reckon now wudn’t the time to tell Daddy.  That would just be rude.  And Grandpap, he was already pitchin’ fore and aft in his rocker, rockin’ like a house afire, eyes blazing and racin’ hot.

Don’t know ’bout you, ‘r Linc and ‘r even Lawrence, but it just felt like interuptin’ to me.

“Boys.” he acknowledged us finally.  We nodded, then found our favorite spots, mine just behind the back edge of the divan saved for company come.  Daddy follered us with a suspectin’ squint.  He always could sniff trouble, but lucky for us, Grandpap took back control of the situation.

“There here is the time of year, yes sir, all wet fall leaves and cold heavy air a’mistin’ here and ever’ place, when Dep’ty Meyer P.D. Higham come rushin’ up the hill to the house, a’shoutin’, leapin’ nearly out the po-lice car ‘fore the wheels stopped a’spinnin’!”

The rockin’ commenced faster and stronger, like he was a’headin’ for glory!  Eyes all glazy, lookin’ back at a picture in his head 20 some odd years prior.

“Remember it like ’twas yesterdee, I do,” then, focusin’ on all o’us kids, one by one, “I ever give you that ex-po-sition?  ‘Bout ol’ P.D. hightailin’ up to save our ‘shine from the revenuers?”

Mama n’ Daddy, they jest shook they heads, still with smiles ticklin’ the edges of their mouths.  And Daddy, after all, he was there, and could easy as pie tell his own side of this tale, this tale of loyalty and illegality and a race against the tragedy of the potential loss of self-proprietry.

No, he’d leave the tellin’ to Grandpap.

Sidelong glances over to Linc and Lawrence decided it for all of us.  Now was clear not the time to tell Daddy ’bout ol’ Jebadiah.

And Grandpap, praise be, he commenced to the tellin’.