- My grandad had bushy eyebrows.
- My grandad called mashed potatoes “squashed taters.”
- My grandad had only a sixth grade education, but he read the Bible every day. He never lost his place. He would fall asleep with his finger still marking the spot where he was reading.
- My grandad sent Martha a post card with a picture of a cat and the words “My Pet” in fancy letters on the front. The message on the back was not romantic. But they got married.
- My grandad and Martha had 11 children- Pluma, Bill, Pauline, Hugh, Irene, Cecil, John Jr., Loray, Arnold, Easter, and Verrena (my mother).
- My grandad also took in his brother’s five children after his brother’s wife died, and he and Martha cared for them several years until his brother got married again.
- My grandad taught his children if they were out walking in the hills and hollers and they smelled something like cucumbers, to take off running because they were near a poisonous copperhead snake. (Scientists say this is a myth.)
- My grandad was a farmer. His family never went hungry during the Great Depression. He once got a factory job where he could make more money, but he left it to return to the land.
- My grandad raised a few sheep and had a sheepdog named Shep. When Shep got bitten by a poisonous snake, my grandad used his pocketknife and cut an “x” over the bite, then sucked the poison out and spit it on the ground. Shep lived. (I wonder if this is a tall tale.)
- My grandad tenderly took care of my grandmother at home after she had a stroke. She was bedridden for five years. (This is an enduring truth.)
This post was inspired by two things. One, I just went “down home” and was visiting with cousins, and we got to reminiscing about our grandfather. Some of these were stories I knew, but what a joy to hear some stories I didn’t know! The second reason I was thinking about writing a “list of ten” is one of the classes I work with just read an excerpt from Because of Winn Dixie, and I plan to read more of the story as a mentor text for students to write a list about an important person in their lives.
But more than that, I hope the writing honors a simple country man who lived what he believed, and whose values live on, now being passed down to his fourth generation of descendants.