I Remember Daddy
My Daddy could be easily put into the "Character" category. His lack of education, time and where he was raised all contributed to his personality immensely. To say it bluntly "He had an attitude." He ruled the roost. His say was the only one, and it was always final. He would not tolerate any disagreement with him. Although he laughed easily and loved a good joke; I never remember hearing him tell a joke. Occasionally he might tell of a funny incidence. He also would not tolerate being laughed at or made fun of. If he had an accident or made a bad move, you did not laugh. At least not where he could see you. I remember eating my hand and arm on more than one occasion to keep him from seeing me laughing. Things quieted down immediately when he came into the house.
He loved farming; but like so many folks during the time after World War 2, it was not possible for a small farmer to raise a family doing that. When the family moved to South Pittsburg, Tennessee in 1944, he went to work at "The Black Lock", or Lodge Manufacturing Company, helping to make cast iron cookware. As he aged the company gave him the job of night watchman. The night watchman job freed him to pursue farming in the only way possible for him. I never knew him to be without a mule. Even though his health had been bad for some time, he still had one when he died. We had several lots adjacent to the house, and he planted everything possible in that space. He would plow right up to the steps of the back porch. He would also plant every little patch of open land that anyone in the city would allow him to use. All of the work was done with the mule. He never used motorized implements. He always had a pen full of chickens and turkeys. He spent more funds planting and keep keeping those old mules, chickens and turkeys up than what the products would have cost to buy them at the grocery.
As he aged, his hearing worsened to the point that it was sometimes hard to communicate with him. He heard what he wanted to hear. And sometimes that had nothing to do with what was actually being said. Once when he was working in the front yard, a stranger knocked at the door across the street. Daddy called to him "Feller, I don't think there is anyone at home.". The stranger said "Yes sir, my name is Bernard Harris". Daddy said "Buying Hogs, hell ain't nobody selling no hogs around here". And he went back to his yard work. The stranger just shook his head and walked off.
When he wanted to address one of we kids, he would start out with the name of one of the others, and may use four or five names of the others before coming up with the right one. Or, often as not, just give up and continued on with whatever he had to say.
You did not correct him! Even Mama hesitated to do that. His command of the English language was quite lacking. Once he started using the word scandalized instead of penalized. This came about over him being penalized for several weeks when he started his pension for some reason. Then, when a couple of his sons started playing football, he would stand in a friends yard that was adjacent to the football field and watch the game. He would complain about how the home team would have been done pretty good had those damn referees not scandalized them so much. Finally Mama caught him in a good mood one day when he used the word, and explained the meaning of each of the words. Daddy exclaimed "I wondered why them fellers in the barber shop laughed when I told them about the team being scandalized so much".
It was the end of the world if he did not have a bowel movement every day. He would take about anything he could think of to reach that goal. Some of the things that he took would have killed an elephant. There was still a Medicine Show that visited the town frequently back then. The cure-all medicine that Old Eddy sold in that show would cure any and everything imaginable to hear him tell it. Daddy asked if it was good for his problem, and of course Eddy assured him it would do the job. He advised Daddy to take two teaspoons before bedtime and that the next morning, he would surely have a very natural bowel movement. Now Daddy figured that if a normal man needed two teaspoons, then someone of his stature would need a lot more. That evening before bedtime he simply turned the bottle up and drank about half of it. Now we did not have an indoor toilet at that time. The outhouse was about 40 yards in back of the house. About nine o'clock that evening the pain struck. You could hear him all through the night moaning as that snake oil medicine did its work. He tried several times to come back to the house; but about the time he reached the back porch, the pain would strike again and he would have to head back to the outhouse. Most of the time he did not make it. You could track him the next morning by the trail he left.
You would think he learned a lesson. Not likely! Once he had the jock itch. He approached Eddy to see if he had anything for it, and of course Eddy always had a cure for everything. He sold Daddy a bottle of liniment, and told him to use a q-tip to put a dab on the affected area. Several of we boys were sitting in his bedroom when he entered wearing just his BVD's (one piece underwear), with a bottle of liniment in his hand. Smith asked what he was going to do. He said "I'm going to get rid of this jock itch once and for all". And with that he sat on the side of the bed, poured a hefty handful of the liniment and rubbed it generously over his crotch. In about 3 seconds the effects of the liniment hit him. His eyes opened wide and he caught his breath. "Whew", he said. Then he said it about four more times very rapidly. He grabbed his old black felt had and started fanning his crotch, continuing to say "Whew", with virtually every breath. Finally the old hat started coming apart with the vigorous fanning, and pieces started flying all over the place. All of the boys started running out of the room so Daddy wouldn't see them laughing. Finally he went into the kitchen and doused himself with a bucket of water to stop the burning.
I remember Daddy. His character played a big role in my own life. Although I'm not sure he did it on purpose, he taught me a lot of things that helped me immensely through my life. How to tolerate authority. To be patient. That good manners open more doors, than one could imagine. To have my act together before asking permission to do something, you only got one chance with him. To be able to take criticism without folding up. To do any job well, no matter how onerous. He prepared me well for the military career that I had. I remember in Air Force boot camp when an instructor would chew me out; I would think "Why you little pip-squeak, you don't know anything about chewing out. Now Will Moore could do that much better.". I watched unprepared grown men cry at being chewed out. The Mickey Mouse stuff that they threw at me was child's play after being raised by Will Moore.