“I’ll Fly Away….”
Grandpap, that spiky white-haired feller’s always plumb full o’ tales and recollections. Part of this family’s entertainment come evenin’ is to get him a’goin’. Don’t take much, just a prod here and over there, then I tell you what, he’s off to the races and all us kids, all we Goodwells, well, we all look to one another with that special deep eye smile what speaks of knownin’ and not a’guessin’.
That his recallin’ gits grander with ever’ tellin’, why, that just adds to the jolly-fication. We don’t mind one iota.
And this here grandson o’his, why, I take it all fer gospel, you bet. My Grandpap, he’s lived hisself a long and robust life. Over and over again. Them memories o’ his sing out deep strong!
Here’s one o’ my favorites.
And I’ll swear (don’t tell Mama) I will hereby lay down pen to paper an honest recountin’, faithful and true, jest the way Grandpap recounted it to all we Goodwells. On more’n one occasion.
That I cain’t account fer Grandpap’s po-tential stretches of them truths, well, that jest don’t count fer much. Way I figure is he’s jest a rememberin’ a little more each tellin’.
Fine by me.
So here’s the deal.
Our family, we Goodwells, we long been stalward residents of Denton County, Missouri, up north o’ Kansas City and east some of St. Joe. Grandpap was born here, and his grandpap, and even his grandpap before. We lived high on the hill and high on the hog, we lived in the river bottoms with no livestock ‘tall to speak of. But all the while, we been kit and kin and tied tight like families is s’posed, and our history is wove through the history of this here durned county and state theyselves.
Ain’t a slew o’ recollections ’bout Grandpap’s grandpap’s grandpap. Only he come over from Scotland with him a German wife, settlin’ here long ‘fore near anyone else but Osages and Wyandottes. Claimed them a little bit o’land and built them a little bitty cabin down to the bottom of a right purty green hill. Remains o’which we Goodwells, we play in and out of right regular.
Brother Lawrence, he burned some o’ the logs fer a weenie roast when he was knee high to a tall Indian. Let’s jest say he ain’t never makin’ THEM sort o’plans a’gin.
Well, Grandpap’s Grandpap, he fought in the War ‘Tween the States, Confederate blue through and through. Fought firm ‘gainst his own kin who took they the Union side. He was known fer the ac-cumulation of all the Goodwell land stretchin’ near county line to county line and clear to the top o’ that purty hill and beyond. He was known too, fer these massive potlucks, set up out ‘neath a grove o’ oaks up on that there hill, beaconin’ Goodwells far and wide ever’ Sunday afternoon come summer, Union or Reb.
Then, they was Grandpap’s daddy. Hear tell, he was some sort of trouble, renegade and cowboy, a’livin’ the Wild West clean with shootouts and dancin’ gals out to Kansas and Colorado. Made it back eventual, less the bottom half o’a leg, married the daughter o’ the judge, ‘n then raised hisself a slew o’boys, Grandpap bein’ the apple o’his eye.
‘Course next they came Langston Goodwell, my Grandpap. Famous far and wide, and near all ‘cross this beloved state clean to the Mississip’, well, he’s always been known as a hard worker, a straight shooter, a smooth talker, and faithful friend to all mankind, and ladies and children and animals, too.
He also per-fected his own daddy’s recipe for a real good ‘shine.
And this is where our story commences.