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!)

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

“Don’t That Beat All!” (musin’s of a country boy)

“By Hook or by Crook”

This here’s Liam.  Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Goodwells?

And I’m still among the livin’, but I shore don’t know how much longer that’ll be the case.

 

My destiny rests in God’s hands, and them of Sister Beane, Eleanor Lucille Beane, newly discovered fearsome better half of preacher Zebulon Magruder Beane, down to the Holy Pentecostal Church of the Saints.  Been a whit closer to a week than not since I ‘pproached her with the learnin’s from my sinful eavesdroppin’ down to the Feed and Seed nigh on one month past.

That she took after me with her gardenin’ shears leads me to believe she wudn’t jest then  a’practicin’ Christian charity.  How-some-ever, fact is, may truly be she is now, as I ain’t seen hide nor hair of neither her nor Brother Beane nor E-vangelist Lyle P.T. Wendzel, them last two being the ones from who I heard them a’schemin’ to split the generous offerin’s of the believers.

I’ll admit to discoverin’ I had me this rash, a small one but it come in handy for my purposes.  (The thin coughin’ spell I manufactured didn’t set well with Mama) Much as I struggled to join the family this here past week at the revival down to the church ever’ evenin’, I found I jest wudn’t up to it.  Mama,  she’s been lookin’ at me sideways, but she ain’t questioned me.  My honest-to-goodness pained appearance, while prob’ly not the result of any rash, give her pause.  She’s laid the back of her hand more’n once to my forehead checkin’ to see if I’d a temper’ture.  She seemed satisfied when she ‘llowed me to stay home from the doin’s down to the church.

I been satisfied, my ownself.

But this cain’t be over, can it?   I sneak peaks over my shoulder reg’lar, but truth be told, reg’lar is gettin’ more and ir-reg’lar, and as time is a’passin’, why, I get to thinkin’ jest maybe my confessin’ to Sister Beane got the wheels a’ rollin’ and may how she put the kay-bosh on whatever tomfoolery them so-called “Men of God” had them hatched.

Or, not.  And I look over my shoulder yet another time.

 

Now here’s a quandry fer you:  Can a bein’ say “I tol’ you so” to his ownself?

‘Cause if I can, I shore am, I kid you not!

 

Not even one hour prior to this here moment, not even one, I’d jest come in from some hoein’ out to the garden, ’round Mama’s tomaters and greens.  We got us some robust black soil, but just below the surface lies hardened red Missouri clay.  Got t’keep after it.  Needs loosenin’ ever so often to keep them roots a’diggin’ deep, keep things a growin’ and keep dinner on the Goodwell table.

Well, here I come in, happy as one o’ them clamdiggers, done worshed up from the pump out by the smokehouse, well my arms up to my rolled sleeve.  Seemed sufficient.  I seem to recall I was a hummin’ a little tune from the Grand Ol’ Opry Hour from Saturday night’s broadcast.  That Roy Acuff at the War Memorial Auditorium out there to Nashville does have hisself a way.

So I’m a’walzin’ in from the back porch into the kitchen, a’hopin’ there might me some o’ Mama’s biscuits basketed on the oil cloth-covered table, left from breakfast or from midday dinner, and clearly my attention was NOT over my shoulder.  Well, over my shoulder was not where the trouble had landed.  No, sir.   Where my attention  should o’been was in the livin’ room up front of the house, where Mama received comp’ny and visitors and the like.

I’m slidin’ my eyes ’round the kitchen, distracted from anything but searchin’ for myself sustenance of any kind, bein’ as I AM a growin’ boy and Mama and Daddy and Grandpap near always chuckle at my heapin’ dinner plates.

What to my wonderin’ ears doth resound but a po-lite little Mama cough.  She got herself a visitor and she wants me to know it.

I stop dead in my tracks.  Time and the tickin’ of the grandfather clock on the wall plumb stopped dead, as well.

Judgement day.

Now, it ain’t like we live in a mansion.  Ever’body clear to the next county would o’heard me a’stompin’ up the back steps and heard the slammin’ of the patched screen door and heard my stomach a grumblin’ for a bite.

It was step up or lay down and die.

Well, being a Goodwell, it was only step up.  No other option.

But that don’t make it easy.

Girdin’ my loins, and knowin’ the probability of a tongue-lashin’ and worst lay in my future, I suck in a big ol’ gulp o’ air and step through the threshold to the front room filled with all the finery Mama sees fit to share.

But none o’ that catches my eye.  Only thing grabs me is the white-worshed look on Mama’s face….

…..and the weasely sneer on that of Lyle P.T. Wendzel.

“What do you say, there, Liam? ” his voice oily, next to a whisper.

“What’s new with you?”

*******