That “Get up and go….”
Hello. This here is Liam. Liam Goodwell of the Denton County Goodwells.
I been here before.
And I’d hereby swear (if I was ‘llowed to swear, but the Good Book strickly and specifically prohibits that partic-ular activity) that all I put before you truly and purely happened jest as it’s writ.
Last we spoke, me and Luce been blessed by the Good Lord in Heaven, and Grandpap, bein’ we was given in-vi-tations to escort Grandpap on his grand quest to petition the good General Du’Wight D. Eisenhower. Tough ol’ bird that he his, Grandpap’d been turned down ever’ time he’d approached the Recruitin’ Office down to the courthouse. Which was purtin’ near ever’ day, ‘cept the Sabbath. We all keep that holy. I reckon that means no waitin’ in lines and such.
Now, all he wanted to do was his patriotic duty. He’s got skills aplenty, he does. An eagle eye, he can shoot a flea off the left ear of a dog at 100 yards. I seen ‘im do it! And smart? Why, Grandpap reads the newspaper ever’ week, first words to last, can restore peace to feudin’ neighbors, and can mix our proprietary ‘shine using only the secret recipe what’s stored in his head. He always knows when one o’ my brothers or sisters is a’stretchin’ the truth.
Wouldn’t be me, how-some-ever. I don’t never lie. Ol’ Devil’d reach right up through the ground and snitch me.
Them folk at the Recruitin’ Office, now, they know better’n to laugh. Grandpap’s a big deal ’round these parts, although his age of close to four score and ten may have worked against him. And at first, they humored him as to how his feet was too flat, how he had the constipation in his chest, how they was sure he was needed more keepin’ the home fires burnin’ right here in Denton County rather than traipsin’ off to fight them Germans or Japanese, or them I-talians.
But this evenin’, we was given the chance of a lifetime. The Brigadier General his ownself was travellin’ through the nearest town to our family farm, stoppin’ fer the night ‘fore headin’ on west to Californ-ee.
And Grandpap, being Grandpap, he was durned if he’d miss that arrival. He’d be there a waitin’, with bells on, and with me and Luce, to boot.
Still don’t know the true reasons he asked us to accompany him, but I been raised to never look a gift from a horse in the mouth. Me and Luce, we’re jest a’countin’ our blessin’s.
So decked out in our Sunday-go-to-meetin’ best, worshed behind our ears, and clear down below our neck, so no dirt showed, we piled three across in the ’37 International pickup, red. Daddy bartered long and hard for this ve-hicle, ended up costin’ three handmade and handtooled leather and silver saddles, long with the hard labor of three of his eldest boys for a summer. Eventually, I succumbed, allowin’ it was a good trade. We kept it shiny and free of bird droppin’s for jest the times as this here.
I was so full of excitement, why, I couldn’t even take a deep breath. We sat shoulder to shoulder, Grandpap bouncin’ that truck down the lane and out to the two-way. Luce, she just sat lookin’ straight ahead, wigglin’ her ears ever’ so often to let me know she was among the livin’. And Grandpap, he leaned forward in his seat, eyeballs near to the front glass, lips movin’, anticipatin’ givin’ his per-su-asive plea. It was nearin’ dusk, this early summer evenin’. Lightnin’ bugs flittin’ in all the bushes linin’ the dusty road. We’d the windows up tight to keep ourselves neat, and the air was a little rank. I found myself almost wishin’ we’d hurry up and get there ‘stead of stretchin’ out and measurin’ the moments as I’m wont to do.
Well, fifteen miles into Halesburg in the early evenin’ took near to an hour. We was early, it was just past seven and the Zephyr wudn’t due till after eight. Still, once in town, the main street this evenin’ ‘cross from the depot was lined up and down with folks young and old, good and bad, rowdy and quiet, sanctified and demonized. Even ol Eb, the town drunk and my favorite story teller found him a spot to sit right in front of the general store. Old Glory hung from ever’ tree and waved from ever’ hand. ‘Peared the whole pop-u-lation of Denton County come to welcome the General to our fine piece of God’s green earth.
Now I won’t say I was jest a mite put out we wudn’t the only folk eager to welcome the General. They was folks hanging out the windows and stacked two and three deep ‘long our route. This jest might inhibit our plan some.
But, Grandpap bein’ Grandpap, he jest waved at Sheriff Dodge, swung the International ’round the barricade, and drove proud and entitled right up to the front of the Halesburg depot, pullin’ hard on the emergency brake and flippin’ off the engine.
The smile of an angel come over his countenance and he fairly beamed.
“Time’s a’wastin’, children! Let’s get ourselves inside and wait fer that train!”
Didn’t have to tell me and Luce twice! We tumbled and scratched and clawed and nearly fell from the door of the truck, runnin’ ’round the front end to where Grandpap stood tall, lookin’ fine in his stripe-ed suit with the vest, pocketwatch chain draped ever so nattily from the pocket to the buttonhole.
Don’t think I ever been so proud to be a Goodwell as I was that moment. Luce neither.
Grandpap was goin’ to meet up with General Du’Wight D. Eisenhower.
Grandpap was going to make his case for servin’ these U-nited States of America. I had no iota of doubt in my heart.
And I had me a silver dollar in my pocket, and look there, the refreshment stand was still a’sellin’ pop!
Well, sir, this was bodin’ well, fer all us Goodwells, it seemed.
Time we got right after it.