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!)



Nearly raised on a church pew, the hard kind, all scarred and damaged and oiled and polished nearly daily with Aunt Jane’s lemon Pledge, I knew just which ones clean enough to stretch out upon, and which ones to avoid, since Ricky Amos was wont to wet his pants every Sunday morning.  Then again, come Sunday night.

I was raised respectful and quiet.  I’d memorized the page numbers of most of the old hymns, and had some distaste for the newer choruses having no proper verses.  And don’t get me started on skipping any of those verses during song service.  I think not!  I think NOT!

Wasn’t my call, but since my Mama was the pianist come Sundays, I made my petitions known, make no mistake.

Nearly raised on a pew did not, however, preclude my mind from wandering.  I’d ask silent forgiveness from the Lord Almighty, staring hard at the portrait of Jesus, all tanned and smiling mysteriously like the Mona Lisa whist I prayed.  Me and the Lord, we had an agreement.  I wouldn’t close my eyes (I learned early on when I did, folks thought I was looking for salvation.  Again.  And again.  Not that I didn’t need a re-up every now and then, but all those loving pats on the cheek wore on me some.), and the Lord would listen even so.  

And once forgiveness was requested, I’d snuggle in just a little closer to my lavender splashed grandmama Lily and she’d get to work.  An silent agreement,  just like me and Jesus, Grandmama Lily would pull an well-faded, flower-dappled,  soft as a baby kitten handkerchief from her pocketbook.  Once upon a time, she’d let me rifle around in there to keep me occupied during the most dry of sermons.  Until I sent her Chapstick rolling down the center aisle.  

And that was that.

But this?  Our new solution satisfied all my needs for occupation and imagination.  With a little twist here and a little tuck there, a quick roll and a poof, why, in my hand would be the most glorious hanky baby-in-a-basket!  The first time Grandmama displayed this skill, I gave Jesus a quick look, thanking him for the miracle he’d wrought.  And he kept on wroughting–week after week.  Even when the Hell Fire was being preached, Grandmama would twist and roll and wrap and poof and once again, a hanky baby in a blanket was laid gently in my little girl hands.

Last I saw Grandmama, not so very long ago, now, she lay in a pristine hospital bed, sweet and little, bright white curls like clouds ’round her gentle face.  We’d all, all the cousins and kids and other kin once and twice removed, come to say our goodbyes.  And durned if my Grandmama, seeing my distress, durned if she didn’t twist and roll and puff and poof and lay a sweet little hanky baby in a blanket in my big girl hands.

My treasure.  My Grandmama.