“Cuttin’ It Fine!”

I’ll Fly Away...


So here’s the story, shot straight and true from Grandpap his ownself.

This here is the year o’ our Lord Nineteen and Twenny-Two.  Grandpap ain’t a young man, still, he’s nigh on twenny or so years to the younger side then he is rat now.  But to hear him tell, he was a whale o’ a whippersnapper and law, I’m like to believe him!

If you knowed my Grandpap, you’d know!  He’s a go-getter!

Now Daddy, Daddy, him and Mama’s jest been married a short time, ain’t even had them Lincoln yet.  They was still a’goin’ to Saturday night dances down to the pool hall and holdin’ hands down the lanes of the purty hill on which the Goodwell land then sat.

‘Course, Mama’n Daddy still hold hands and can still cut them a rug somethin’ fierce.

We just don’t live up on that purty hill no more.  Goodwell prop’ty these days is a deep, skinny patch o’ low lands down to the bottom o’ that same hill.  I’ll catch Grandpap lookin’ up top, wistful and eyes yearnin’ fer them days, but he don’t never complain none, not Grandpap.  Neither does nobody else.  Times was hard and parcels needed sellin’ to keep the family a’floatin’.  Grandpap did what he could and us Goodwells, we don’t look backwards, says I.  Our family’s stuck together, one fer all and all fer t’other fer as long as our history’s been writ ‘r recollected.

We Goodwells is a proud folk, I tell you what, times bein’ thick ‘r thin.

And them same times, thick ‘r thin,  Grandpap, he’s always been revered and beloved by one and all.  Folks of influence, they ask him fer advice and counsel.  Judges and dep’ties and mailmen, they all look to Grandpap fer di-rection and guidin’. Little ol’ ladies down to the church, and the neighbors down the road, they’ve always considered Grandpap a guidin’ light and a source of knowledge and common sense.

Dogs’ll heel, cats’ll purr, and wild ponies’ll settle come Grandpap’s call.

Wudn’t no diff’rnt back in them days, neither, ‘cept Grandpap had land and money, and a real good recipe for real good ‘shine.

(And truth be tol’, we still got that recipe and we still be producin’, but we keep that to ourselves, mostly, and I’m a’hopin’ you’ll honor us and do the same.)

Well, in them days, inbibin’ of inny sort was against the law. Pro-hibition, they called it.

Now bein’ law abidin’, Bible-believin’ Christian folk, Goodwells never once per-ported to scoff at the law of the land.

Never once, how-some-ever, did he b’lieve fer one minute this here abobination applied to him or his. This here law, well, Grandpap just couldn’t abide

And didn’t.

And hear tell, his production, it bounded by jumps and leaps and the Goodwells was makin’ money hand over fist, and stuffin’ ever’ mattress and ever’ piller in the big ol’ two story white house what sit plumb center o’ the purty hilltop.  Daddy’n his brothers all had them the best lookin’ boots and ridin’ kit.  Grandmama (she was livin’ then, but she fell dead in the pasture some years later, but before I come along.  Lincoln and Lawrence, they say she smelled of lilac and wore sparkly pins in her blue gray hair.  Sometimes I’ll see her in my sleepin’ dreams and  I reckon she’ll be a’waitin’ at them pearly gates fer me one day…), she had her store bought dresses and went down to Kansas City near ever’ month ‘r so jest to shop fer purties!  Law!

Well, the Goodwell side business, it was common knowledge, and ’twas common knowledge Grandpap and his secret sauce done put purt’near ever’ other manufacturer in Denton County out of business.  Cream o’ the crop, some said.  Folks’d come from two, three counties beyond jest fer some jars of Grandpap’s brew.  Didn’t nobody but family know the hill trail back to the still.  Grandpap refers to it still as “The Plant.”  But ever’body knowed the little turnout at the bottom o’ the lane and the bottom of the purty hill where he’d have his boys drive down a load o’ rattlin’ Mason jars a jigglin’ inside with lightnin’ strong ‘nough to peel the skin rat off yer tongue!

Now, Grandpap and his kin, they only used it fer medicinal purposes.  Grandpap assures us ever’ time he tells this here story.

And commences to remind us we Goodwells now would do the same thing, if we was still in production…..

And Grandpap, while he believed strong jest what folks did with his ‘shine once they purchased it was they own business, he did have faith they was wise with they usage.  He’d often say he was only providin’ what the Good Lord give him the skill to provide, and that till his dyin’ day, he was obligated to serve the Lord by usin’ the gifts he was given.

And again, ever’ tellin’, he steps into the right now to remind us we got us the same responsibility till our own dyin’ days.

If we was producin’.

He gets hisself all red-cheeked and a’grinnin’ at the rememberin’,  recallin’ how it done him good,  always pleased him like punch, when folks’d come back fer Mason Jar refills.  Called his customers his “people.”

Grandpap, he’s a “people person.”

And them judges and them dep’ties and postmen and church ladies and neighbors, and even some o’ them dogs and cats and ponies, well, they all inbibed one time t’other.  And they always come back, says he.

But then.

(And here’s where we, all us Goodwells, we get all het up and set up straight with anticipation!)

Then come the rev-nuers.

Boy howdy!  I like to die ever’ time he gets to this part!



“When I die, Hallelujah!”






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’.