That There? That There’s a Thing O’Beauty! (The honest to goodness true Sunday Drive stories of my Daddy)

These here be the true and gospel real life happenin’s o’one Liam Goodwell, o’the Denton County Goodwells.  I aim to put to paper much o’what’s travellin’ twixt my ears, bein’ Miss Meadow, my teacher down to the school, she give me pencils and paper and set me on a course.

I shore don’t like disappointin’ Miss Meadow.

But there’s times I jest don’t quite git it.  Miss Meadow, she give me a suggestion while back I write me a letter to somebody means somethin’ r’other to me.   Sounded fine at the time, I reckon.  Howsomever, givin’ it another think, why, I purty much see ever’body I know once or twice or near a hund’rd times ever’ week.

Why in the hee haw would I set down words to paper, lick me a en-velup, an’ waste one o’ Mama’s stamps?  Why’d I do any o’that when all I’d have to do is holler?

I ask you that!

But, I got me school comin’ up in the Fall, an I’m a’comin’ up on eighth grade an’ I shore’d like to see myself graduatin’, Mama does like her diplomas up on the wall, so i give it what i got.

(An’ I ain’t decided if this here gits itself sent.)

Dear Mr. Langston (Grandpap) Goodwell,

(That there’d be the sal-u-tation.  Reckon Grandpap’d like his whole name seein’ the light o’day!)

Well, hello, hey ho,  and how’re you?

(Miss Meadow, she said start with a pleasantry.  I’ll add another.)

I most certainly am hoping your Arthur Itis is not acting up this morning.

(Grandpap, he suffers quiet-like ever now ‘n ag’in.  Don’t like to let on.  Tough ol’ buzzard.)

I been fine, too, in case you was wondering. 

(Miss Meadow, she said e-stablish a kinship with the reader.  He’s my Grandpap already, but still…)

I was considering a long drive down to Sedalia late next month, State Fair time.  And seeing I haven’t got a horse or a hog or a silver saddle for competition or consideration, I was hoping you might possibly see your way to allowing me to accompanize you if you was to be driving that direction.

(Now, this here’s simple folly! O’ COURSE I got me entries in the Missouruh State Fair!  What youngin’ don’t?!   I got me two horses plus a silly goat I’m helpin’ Loreen to raise.  She ain’t a pint o’ help, but I give her my word.  An’ Jesus won’t let me step ‘way from that, I tell you what!   But Miss Meadow, she tol’ me my letter should near ever’ time include a re-quest o’ some sort.  I don’t reckon I need nothin’, leastwise none I kin recollect this here minute.  So Dear Jesus, I come up with this.  It ain’t a full on lie if it’s writ, is it?  Lord Jesus, he’p me if I be sinnin’.  I’m a doin’ it fer Miss Meadow!)

But if you can’t, why, how about you and me we head down to Whipple Crick and catch us some Blue Gills?  You and Me, we could roast our catches over a fine fire, fillet them out in one of Mama’s iron skillets, and cook them suckers crisp!

(This here?  It’d be story-tellin’, too, I tell you what.  Ain’t no way this side o’ the Pearly Gates Mama’d ‘llow her seasoned slick iron skillets outside her kitchen!   Law, I’m diggin’ myself deep.  Ol’ Devil’s like to reach right up through the Missouruh clay, take hol’ my ankle an’ drag me down to the Lake o’ Far!  Best I wrap this up right now, ‘fore I feel them claws a’grabbin’ at my feet!)

Well, I am plumb happy to have writ you this letter, Mr. Langston (Grandpap) Goodwell, and I am very thankful and gracious you be my very own Grandpap.  I am happy to share you with all the other grandchildren, and I am very extremely aware you loves us all more today than you did yesterday and I will always love you and admire your teaching and hope someday you plan to bestow upon me  your silver making tools so’s I can continue the work which you have been trying to teach me and that I still am not very well schooled at.

(Miss Meadow, she said ever’body deserves kind words, so I thunk these here up.  Hope they’ll do.)

Very sincerely, your third grandson by your son, my Daddy,

Liam Elias Ephraim Goodwell

(Miss Meadow, she always tells all us chil’ren, not just us Goodwells, but all us kids in her one-room school down the way, she always preaches to check and recheck our work.

Well, upon checkin’ and re-checkin’, and re’checkin’ a couple more times, I’d like to lay down dead an’ die ‘fore I show this piece o’ fairytale to an’one I know, even Miss Meadow.

Plan to fin’ me a ol’ tin can, squish it hard down inside and bury it deep in the chicken yard!  Jesus understands!)

*************

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That There? That There’s a Thing o’Beauty!

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

—- Mark Twain

Or gettin’ back to even, dad gum it!

Hey ho, Liam back ag’in!

Bet you was a’wonderin’ jest where this boy got to!

Let me tell you, it ain’t been a easy road.

Fact is, this here, sitiation we fin’ ourselves in,  it’s been one long row to hoe.

An’, we got us rows clean to the horizon and back.  And to the horizon and back.  And to the horizon and back.  You know how rows go.

See here, we had us a cat-astrophe.  An’ as cat-astrophes go, we done fair to middlin’.  We, all us Goodwells, we be alive and well and unscathed, mostly.  ‘Cept fer Louis and Lawton, the twins.  They got them some burns to they hands tryin’ to retrieve Grandpap’s treasure chest out from under his bed.

An’ me.  I got me some singed hair (boy does THAT stink to high heaven!) and crispy fried ears draggin’ them rangy boys kickin’ and wallerin’ out from under.

Now, if you ain’t figured it yet, I’ll give you a hint.  If you’re a’figurin’ we had us a far, well, that we did.  An’ I won’t.

Ol’ flue piped ‘tween Grandpap’s room and the kitchen, it clogged itself right good and burned half our house, singed black with scales like a big ol’ black stinky fish.

Few days ago, Mama, she was a’stokin’ the stove, pokin’ in bits o’ litter paper.

“Honey?” aimed at Daddy, “You smell somethin’?”

Then Daddy, “I smell that newspaper.  Ink smells particular greasy.  I’ll open a window.”

Mama, she stood fast, nose up, sniffin’ the air this a’way an’ that, arms spread wide, like to stop the air from movin’.

“No, this ain’t paper, nor ink, nor that wet wood you boys brung in last evenin'”  This here was aimed to Louis and Lawton, who aimed their own attention heads down to their breakfastin’.

“No,”  Mama turned about slow, “somethin’ jest don’t smell right.  Livvie?  You’n Linc go on outside, see what you c’n see.”  An’ when Livvie, all purty curls and fluff, when she wrinkle up her nose and pickle up her mouth, Mama, she waved her on, “Go on!  Go see what you c’n see, the both o’you!”

Don’t nobody question Mama twice, an’ near never even once, so they shoved away from the breakfast table and their yeller scrambled eggs and crispy crunchy bacon and fresh white biscuits, slight underdone, slathered in butter and Mama’s huckleberry jam, and hauled themselves out the backdoor, careful not to slam the screen, and further incur Mama’s wrath.

That’s when me’n Luce, we both perked up, same time, which ain’t unusual.

“Mama!” we both hollered at once, “Somethin’s burnin’!”

With that, all us Goodwells, we near to upended the table, grabbin’ pots ‘n buckets n’ pitchers n’ such, runnin’ to the sink an’ out to the pump over the well out to the smoke house.  Livvie an’ Lincoln, them come runnin’ in at the same time, hollerin’ they was flames shootin’ out the chimneypiece, catchin’ them ol’ rotted wood shingles a’far one at a time.

Law!

Smoke filled the kitchen right quick, Mama stood fannin’ her apron and swooshin’ all us kids out the back door.  That’s when Lawton and Louis, they broke loose from the muddle and mayhem and ‘scaped to Grandpap’s room, be-hind the kitchen.

“We’ll save it, Grandpap!” they hollered.  “We’ll save yer treasure!”  An’ if I wudn’t so worried ’bout their state of livlihood, I’d’ve been bustin’ my buttons.  Them two been a high time a minute an’ a skirmish a second since they was born into this world seven, near eight years ago.  Nice to see them takin’ some thought o’ somebody else.

I filed that away in my head till this here cat-astrophe, it was done and over with.

Well, didn’t nobody have to tell me twice, nor even once in this case, I give Mama a look, she give me one back, an’ me and Luce, we hauled after them wildcats.

“Here!  Lawton!  Louis!  Get yerselves outside right now!” Me and Luce, we each grabbed a couple o’dungareed legs, bent ’em this a’way an’ that.  Truth be tol’, we may’ve glomed onto a leg from each one, but the way they was a’kickin’ and squallin’, we, me an’ Luce, we didn’t much care.

The smoke was next to intolerable, breathin’ hard and puffin’ whist rasslin’ these youngin’s was wearin’ us plumb out.  They hollered like they heads was on far, but Grandpap’s treasure chest, a flat metal box stenciled with numbers salvaged from WWI surplus, it was blazin’ hot an’ ’twas their hands burnin’, not their heads.  Still, enterprisin’ fellers they is, an’ ag’in I’ll give ’em credit another day, they pulled them legs out our grasps and shimmied themselves ’round underneath the bed, disappearin’. Law, if then, jest when I’d headed under that bed after them, danged if Grandpap’s treasure chest didn’t come a’slidin’ out, with them two, Louis and Lawton, a kickin’ to who laid a chunk, and law, if they didn’t kick that sucker out with their boots.

I grabbed me one twin, Luce the other, an’ we hightailed it out the house to the backyard.  Yeller an’ orange blazes was climbin’ and lickin’ the wall ‘tween the bedroom an’ the kitchen, an’ I smelled the stink of my hair cracklin’ and fryin’.

I did, however, given the gumption o’ them two, I did without thought or a hesitation, run right back in from whence I came, doin’ my own version o’ kickin’ out Grandpap’s scorched treasures, out through the smoky kitchen, ‘cross the back porch and out to the dirt patch beyond.

Now, I wudn’t no hero.  But Grandpap’s treasures, some he’s been known to share, others not, they are his firm foundation an’ I wudn’t sure jest how he’d go on ‘thout ’em.

An’ truth is, I did it as much fer them boys as I did fer Grandpap.  Jest finishin’ what them boys started, them rapscallions.

Just ain’t sure I’m ready to give them credit for that, jest yet!

Put that out my mind, too, grabbed me a bucket an’ got me to doin’ my part to save the Goodwell abode.

************

That There? That’s a Thing o’Beauty!

Hey Ho.  This here’s Liam ag’ain.  Liam Goodwell?  Of the Denton County Goodwells?

Yep, that’s the one.

Well, me and Luce and Lawrence, we be loadin’ up the ol’ International, headin’ down to Kansas City with Misty, the young heifer big sister Livvie made the mis-take o’namin’ when she was fresh born.  Now we, all us Goodwells, we be bred of the land.  We know our way ‘roun’ birthin’ and hand-feedin’ and milkin’ and even slaughterin’.

But silly fluffy Livvie, all bows and sashay, she went and named this spreckled little calf on the day she was born.  Named her Misty, and dogged if she didn’t love on that thing, makin’ it purty little flower collars and feedin’ her special treats from her hand.

Now other’n huntin’ dogs and house cats (never mind them barn cats, they’s wild an’ plenty satisfied clearin’ out the outbuildin’s of rats and such) and horses, you don’t, you jest DON’T make pets of any beast what might be headin’ south to market, be it for sale or for slaughter or for breedin’.

And here we are, Misty tethered, standin’ tall and pampered in the truck bed, big soft eyes lookin’ about fer Livvie.

Who right now is off huddled atop her pick flowered quilt, sobbin’ to who laid a chunk.

I tol’ her.  I TOL’ her!  Lucky fer her, and fer Misty (see, she got me called this bovine by name, too!), she’s jest off fer sale and breedin’.  She got herself a future!  She got herself a boyfriend or two or a dozen a’waitin’ to call!  She’s like t’, on account o’ her rare speckled coat, bare herself babies of the same ilk fer showin’ at the County Fair.  Heck, even the State Fair, if luck holds!

“So shush yer wailin'”, said I!

Livvie, she didn’t take no ‘ccount o’ me.

So me and Luce and Lawrence, we be here sqooze tween the right dented door and Grandpap, who drives this ol’ International pickup like revenuers was a’chacin’.  (Which, history tells, they once did.)

It’s a long haul down to Kansas City, and I got me $5.00 in my pocket to spend any way I see fit.  There’s a big Ben Franklin store filled to the tin ceiling with treasures o’ ever ilk.  Ink pens, colored shoestrings, geegaws for the girls (not that I have me anybody special, but I figure Miss Meadow down to the school might jest like a little somethin’ fer all her trouble), books thick as my arm, little guitars and music books, why, more’n I can even imagine!  But we got us some time, so havin’ left sobbin’ Livvie behind, we got us near two hours ‘fore we even hit the city.

I ain’t one to bide my time idly.  I sing in my head a bit, then when it come out my mouth, I sing with along with Grandpap and Luce and big brother Lawrence (who cain hit all them high notes, low ones, too), and Grandpap who harmonizes from his days in a barbershop quartet.  When we run outta songs and things get quiet and the ditches filled with cattails and Black-eyed Susans all start to shuffle together, I press hard on the round button of the glove compartment, a’lookin’ fer in-spi-ration.

Now that durned button been stuck long’s I can recollect, and I ain’t feelin’ sure, but dogged, if it don’t pop open on the tenth poke!  Even Grandpap get hisself distracted at the bewilderment of the compartment unhinged, nearly steerin’ nose first into a cottonwood side o’the road.  Forgotten contents intact, though dusty, I took first dibs divin’ in, bein’ as I was the one what got that sucker open.  Luce and Lawrence breathed down my neck as I pulled out one jewel after another.

“Lookee here,”  I opened my palm, showin’ off the black pouch o’marbles, likely Linc’s from days past.

“Oooooooo!” said Luce.

“Oooooooo!” said Lawrence

Grandpap, he jest nodded.

I ducked down my head and peered in ag’in.

“Oh, an’ lookee here!”  I pulled a pair o’ work gloves, two lefts, and one missin’ a thumb, but still useful in a pinch.

“Ooooooo!” said Luce.

“Ooooooo!” said Lawrence

Grandpap, he nodded, then smirked. “They’s a story there, I tell you what!”

We, us three, waited fer a second ‘r two, but Grandpap, he just smiled a secret, keepin’ his eyes on the road and his mouth firm shut.

Hmmmmm….they seemed to be a pile o’papers, receipts and bill o’sale an’ such.

“Put them back!” snapped Grandpap, and I figured they must be important bein’ they was kep’ safe in a locked glove compartment all these years!

“How ’bout this, Grandpap?”, an’ I hauled out a giveaway map from a Standard Oil station marked Polo, Missouri, another hour south.

“Well, that’s ’bout as useful as a shoehorn for a goat,” mumbled Grandpap, seein’ as he purtin’near drove r’ paved all the roads and lanes from here to Jeff City, the gran’ capitol o’ our gran’ state.  

I ain’t never been, though.

Folded perfect, I unfolded careful, re-memorizing the steps in my head I done a hund’rd or fifty times.  These durned maps are a trial, and we Goodwells, we don’t tolerate nothin’ folded haphazard.  Family trait.

Turnin’ it over, it had a map of five states!  Look here!  There’s us right there!  An’ hey, they’s Topeka, capitol o’ them durned Kansans over the border.  An’ look how that red road, it cuts clean ‘cross the middle clean to Colorado!  Grandpap, he had kin lived and died over to Colorado!  An’ hey!  They’s red road from St. Joe straight up to Des Moines, where Miss Meadow down to the school, she went to Teachers’ College!  

Red roads, some blue, some faint gray, some with greasy fingerprints, towns I rec-onized and loads I did not.

I got me an itch.  That moment just there, that was when the itchin’ commenced.  Gettin’ all possessive, I set myself up straight, and folded careful back up that map, ever so smooth, nonchalant-like.

“Hey!”  That’d be Lawrence.  “Let me take another look!  Maybe they’s train tracks on that ol’ map!” (Lawrence done his utmost to run off an’ join the U.S.Army, under aged he may have been.  Jumped hisself on a train, so he has a par-ticular kinship with that mode o’transportation.)

I kep’ folding, tuckin’ it into the shirt pocket with the bottom still intact.

Well, Lawrence, he got hisself distracted by some hotrod what was tailgatin’ us, tryin’ to pass on the narrow lane.  But Luce?  Bein’ we was nearest in age, an’ nearest in temperment (‘cept fer her bein’ mean as a snake), she jest narrowed her eyes an’ give me a hard stare.

‘Twas then I figured I’d like to be scratchin’ that itch with someone alongside.

Cain’t keep nothin’ from Luce, ain’t never been able.

Dang it. (Fergive my French.”

*************

Map

That there? That’s a Thing o’Beauty!

Hey, ho.  This here’s Liam.  Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Goodwells.

An’ here I set, ready to share with y’all yet another anti-dote from my day.  (An’ why Miss Meadow down to the school figures this here exercise vaultin’, I do not know.  But I will admit a mite flutter in my insides when I get me a minute to jot a note here and there.  I ain’t likely to admit it, however.)  But law!  I could near become another Mark Twain!  Miss Meadow down to the school, she harkens from Hannibal, after all, so maybe she got some idea in her head!  Time’ll tell….I think I’d ruther be a judge a’sportin’ them black robes.   Or a the-ater owner, makin’ butter topped popcorn all day an’ all night.

Well, I got me to thinkin’, whilst doin’ my mornin’ chores, I live me a bless-ed life, with family an’ kin an’ neighbors an’ livestock an’ a full belly.  An’ I been sharin’ all them things with you fer some time.

Don’t think, howsomever, I never ever did mention my Daddy’s youngest brother Lloyd.

Now one day soon, I’ll wrestle down a inventory o’ all my kin, Daddy’s and Mama’s and Grandpap’s, but this day, Lloyd come to mind.

Now, Lloyd’s sure my uncle, but given his circumstances, it don’t seem conventional somehow to lay that responsibility upon his shoulders.

See, it’s like this.  Lloyd is near a full twenty years younger’n Daddy.  Daddy toppin’ forty-five makes Lloyd twenty-five and a full-growed man.

‘Cept Lloyd ain’t.  Bein’ born late to Grandmama who was then in her forties her ownself, Lloyd come into this world jest a little step slower than the rest of all them crazy driven Goodwell sons.  Now, he was loved to ever’ inch o’ his bein’, and Grandmama tasked Grandpap to always give Lloyd a good home and a hug goodnight.  Hear Grandpap tell it, ’twas one o’ her last pro-nouncements upon her deathbed.

An’ Grandpap, heck all us Goodwells, we done a upstandin’ job.  Lloyd, he spends most his days, once Grandpap and Daddy gets him up an’ goin’, a’sittin’ on a ol’ couch in the corner o’ our livin’ room.  Hollers if he’s made to set an’wheres else.  Full on part o’ this family, he sets there and rocks gentle-like mornin’ to night, come comp’ny or clergy or Miss Meadow from down to the school.  He ain’t loud nor threatenin’ an’ behaves hisself mostly, ‘cept when then folks come to collect fer taxes.  He’ll let out a snort then, I tell you what!  Then come bedtime, Grandpap and Daddy gets him up and settled into his bed in a tiny room off the main, an’ Grandpap never once fails to give him a hug upon tuckin’ him in.

Now, Lloyd, is a load.  Settin’ an’ rockin’ hisself all day long don’t do nothin’ to leanin’ him out, and Lloyd, he does love his dinner.  An’ his supper.  An’ his breakfast.  Eats nice an neat on a little table jest fer him, tucked to the side when he’s done.  Always sandwiches and fried ‘tater, an’ tomaters,  and Mama, she puts sweet tea in a big ol’ milk bottle, since Lloyd don’t take to no glass.  Lloyd don’t talk, least not much I ever heared.  An’ ‘specially not when he’s a downin’ his share at mealtime.

But him an’ me,  once he’s wiped his mouth careful with his napkin like Grandmama done taught him early days, why, him an’ me, we’ll have us a moment.  Since I was knee high to a tall Indian, (Shelly Sue Swan down to the school, grade behind me, she claims Cherokee grands and I’ll ‘llow she is long an’ lean), I’ll sit myself crosslegged on the floor ‘front o’ Lloyd and him and me have us a ol’fashioned staredown.

Sometimes I’d win, but mostly it was Lloyd.  An’ he’d laugh and laugh when he seen me blink.  Now, ‘course I got better as time come forward, and after my thirteen years, I come to almost always win.

But I don’t.

‘Fore my best treasure, better’n a heap o’gold or paper money, is hearin’ Lloyd’s belly laugh.

That’d be my Uncle Lloyd.

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TREASURE

REGRET

HOME

LOVE

UNCERTAINTY

SECRET

That there? That’s a Thing o’Beauty!

Hey, Ever’body!

Let me introduce myself once ag’in.

This here’s Liam Goodwell.  Third son o’the es-teemed and re-deemed Goodwell clan o’ Denton County, northern lands o’ the state of Missouri!  (An’ if you pro-nounce my state with an’thin’ other’n a “uh” at the end, why, I’m doggoned you ain’t no native, and shore ain’t no kin!)

I been tasked by Miss Meadow, down to the school, to keep writ track o’all my comin’s and goin’s and ponderin’s.  So you give me a new idea, and here I am, puttin’ pencil to paper yet one more time.

Now, you set my mind t’thinkin’.  What in all my thirteen years have I been missin’ to the point o’makin’ a list so as to achieve them things?

My Mama, and my Daddy and Grandpap besides, they all taught me and all us Goodwells to count our blessin’s rather’n harp on the things what come short.  A feller’s got to have somethin’ on the horizon, way I see it, so let me lick this here lead and get after it….

Liam’s Inventory of Things He Wishes Would Come to Pass (or: Things I been longin’ fer, pinin’ fer, plyin’ fer, dreamin’ on, cravin’, and let’s lay in on the line, downright covetin’!)

………by Liam Goodwell.

  1.  I long to all o’Heaven to be saved from sin an’ when my time comes, be rescued from that ol’ boilin’ Lake o’ Fire and blessed by God and let into them Pearly Gates with open arms and have me a mansion right down the line from all the Goodwells what come before.  I got me some questions. (The Good Lord’ll understand why all the rest o’ my “wish fers” ain’t necessarily Biblical.  I did, after all, put Him first.  I’m purty sure He’ll understand.  He knows my heart.)
  2. I yearn beyond all believin’ Grandpap’d let me use his special “give to him by HIS Grandpap” silver workin’ tools.  He’n Daddy, they make mean saddles, all decorated and shiny and slid on equines fer parades near all over Missouri and down even to Texas. (I’ll confess he give me some lesser grade tools, so I ain’t bein’ ungrateful, Grandpap, if you was to read this here.)
  3. I fair dream o’bein’ able to move my family, all us Goodwells and the Michelwaits and ever’body what’s kin and I claim, back to the top o’ Shiloh Mountain, right up there where I kin still see the tip tops o’ the big white family home Grandpap’s Grandpap built in the olden days.  (I determined long ago we Goodwells, we be made fer the mountaintop, not dealt to dwell at the bottom. An’ Fergive me, Lord, if you sense some resentin’ in my spirit.  I’m jest longin’ fer restoration.  An’ to live on land what was once family.)
  4. I crave Mama’s chocolate cake an’ apple pie.  With cheese.  The pie, I mean.  An’ in any order you please.
  5. I wish like heck (fergive me my French) big brother Lincoln would concentrate less on the rodeo and more on helpin’ out with the plantin’ and the tillin’ and the harvestin’ and the feedin’ and the buildin’ and all them things I been doin’ fer him since he won him that first big ol’ belt buckle!
  6. An’ I’ll ask fergiveness right up front on this here.  I hope, I do know this is wrong, but the war over to Europe, an’ even the one over to Japan, don’t end ‘fore I get my chance to fight ‘longside General Patton an’ save the world, and Denton County, fer democracy!  God Bless America!
  7. I wish my brain’d slow down to a crawl ever so often.  It runs and gyrates and opinionates to who laid a chunk. Mama says she and me, we ain’t like ever’body else,  we figure things ‘fore other folks.  Then true, we gets a little itchy whilst they do they own figurin’.  Guess what I really wish was I didn’t have to wait so long fer other’s to ketch up.
  8. I wish my Uncle Kenny, Daddy’s younger brother, would come back safe from over to Italy.  Soon and unscathed and w’thout damages.  An’ tell us stories an’ tales like he used to do.  His letters stopped some time back an’ we’re chompin’ at the bit, leastways me and big brothers Lincoln and Lawrence (he’s the one what tried to run off and join the U.S.Army ‘fore he was of age) are.  Mama jest commences a’hummin’ when I bring it to conversation.
  9. An’ there’s that fine feisty Tennessee Walker the Judge, he said’d be mine, were I to do some favors fer him an’ his crew in an’ ‘roun’ the county, visitin’ folks, pickin’ up packages and such.  I don’t reckon that’d be covetousness, jest payment fer a job well done.  Feels a little prickly, an’ I ain’t mentioned it none.  But it IS a Tennessee Walker, purtiest steed in five counties, fer that there’s all I seen.  I’ll give that there some thinkin’.
  10. An’ ‘thout a doubt, I hope and pray more’n near ever’thin’,  more’n hope its ownself Miss Meadow down to the school approves what I writ.  Fer to date, she been plumb the only member of hu-manity I let read any o’these missives.  She ain’t judged, not yet an’how.  An’ I do want to please Miss Meadow.  She’s a lady an’ she taught me plenty, and she believes I’m worth the time.  Now, bein’ a Goodwell, I know that already, and so’s most o’ the county and near ever’body beyond.  But It does feel special bein’ called out fer musin’s and gifts only me an’ my Mama know we got.

That there, that’s it.  Cain’t think o’nothin’ more I ain’t already got.

So, now I reckon I’ll spin t’other di-rection and get t’fixin’ to count my blessin’s once ag’in.  An’ tendin’ to the horses.  It’s a heap more gratifyin’!

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That there? That’s a Thing o’Beauty!

My Daddy, he’s always been a teller of tales. 

And me?  Why, I always been a listener o’ them tales, could listen all day long.

Well, them memories, them tales, true and bigger than life and embellished upon ever’ single tellin’, why, they need to be old, one time and fer all time.

That there?  That’s why I been writin’.  

An that, my friends, is a pure and true thing o’ beauty!