My Man, My Son

I have 54 years of experience at being a son, and 18 years of experience of being the father of one. And today, my son experiences one of those landmark days of life, his graduation from high school, the ol’ Class of 2015. Then, a brief summer respite, followed by college to prepare for the rest of his life.

I doubt he’ll have a spare half hour today, otherwise I’d take him out for dual senior coffees.

Joseph Trenton made his appearance very early one morning, as I struggled to stay awake, and his mother struggled to present him. He was brought home to a house already populated with three sisters, so the dynamic changed somewhat. He was a doll to them, and a bundle of fun for me. Now was the wait for his hand to grow to fit into his first baseball glove.

Along with his siblings and parents, he was baptized into Christ and his Church at age 3. Eventually, “Trent” morphed into “Joe.” Serving as a very young altar boy, he was assigned the name of his Patron, Saint Joseph the Betrothed, and standard operating procedure in the sanctuary was to use your baptismal name. “Joe” stuck in and out of Church, unless he was in trouble, which called for the use of all three of his names.

But that didn’t happen often.

I coached him in little league. He was a pitcher, but after getting plunked by a line drive, decided to try second base. He was a Baron, a Raptor, an Intimidator, and perhaps another member of a team I’ve forgotten. Sometime after we moved from Georgia to Alabama, his sporting allegiance was given to another team, the Crimson Tide.

That I have not forgotten. Or forgiven.

Well, maybe just for today.

We took a long drive once, on a back road somewhere in Tennessee. He was 14. I pulled over, and said, “Here. Take the wheel.” He drove for several miles, and did very well. He would soon get his learner’s permit, followed by his regular license. He drove his Honda Civic to Arby’s, and got his first job. Another company bid for his services, and he went up the ladder. Mr. Free Market, Junior, that one.

He is at home with anyone, hospitable to everyone. Happy to sit and chew the fat with old folks, befriending an outcast at school, or showing some kids how to throw a ball. Liberal with “I love yous,” like, “Dad, I’m going to take a shower now. I love you.”

And singing. My goodness, the singing. Taught himself to play the piano, excelled in his school choir which ultimately won his affections over playing football, and made girls scream like he was Elvis on Ed Sullivan when he sang his solos. But he laughs it off.

And still makes time for the old man.

You have no objectivity at a time like this, I admit. But this is about the finest son any father could have ever possibly have. Never a rebellious phase, never a lick of trouble, never a time when we had any sort of heated exchange. The son any father ever dreams of having. I am that most blessed dad.

He grew into a careful protector of his sisters, and a godfather to a niece and nephew. A bow-tie aficionado, dapper dressed young man, who still asks permission to do the simplest things some kids never asked permission to do in the first place. Always the “sir,” ever the “ma’am,” rudeness simply never a part his fabric, kindness and respect ever present.

Sometimes I would find myself thinking, “Is this kid ever going to do anything to get punished?” You may be thinking, “You’re one naive father.” It’s possible, but it isn’t consistent with his behavior. Anyway, no one can pass a law saying a dad can’t proudly gush over a son.

Actually, I never thought I’d have a son. But not a day has gone by that I wasn’t grateful I do. I couldn’t possibly imagine having a finer man for one.

So today, Joe walks the aisle and collects the old sheepskin. He sings with his choir one last time. He slides the tassle over and says goodbye to one era.

And there I shall sit, the handkerchief already having been deposited in my jacket.

Today I beam and burst. This is one good man, and I am one blessed father.

Congratulations to you, son. I love you. And I am more proud of you than mere words can express.

© Copyright 2014 Tim Holcombe

Eating With The Enemy

For years, I have remained silent, suffering a grievous injustice at the hands of The Man. There I sat, only a few feet away from a fireplace, conspicuously planted to keep my bones warm while I was being victimized.

Well, this isn’t completely true. The fact is, I have only recently begun to get wise to the conspiracy against uh, my people. But one day, it began to dawn on me exactly what was happening. I walked into the establishment in question, where I was instantly greeted with bluegrass music, tee shirts which said things like “Kiss Me, I’m A Redneck,” videos of The Lone Ranger, and CD’s of Conway and Loretta.

I went to put my name on the waiting list. “It will be about a twenty minute wait. And what is that last name? Smith?”

“Uh, well, no.”

“Oh, right. Johnson?”

“Uh, no. Actually it’s Holcombe.”

“Oh. Right. That’s nice.”

She scribbled something, then shooed me away, back into the land of jams, jellies, quilts and cookbooks.

A few minutes later, I was seated. My waiter came, dressed in a brown apron, and took my order.

“I’ll have the country fried steak.”

“Mashed potatoes?”

“Uh, well, yes actually…”

“White or brown gravy?”

“White.”

“Uh huh. White. Right.”

She flittered away, and as I sat there, trying to eliminate all but one of the pegs, it all began to come together for me.

I was being insulted, and discriminated against, right there in broad daylight. Really, how much more brazen can it get? The Cracker Barrel? Hello?

What other names were they considering? Honky Hut? Whitey’s Roadhouse? The KKKitchen?

It all became crystal clear to me only recently, so I am retroactively outraged. For the love of Paula Deen, couldn’t you people come up with an unoffensive name for your restaurant? Isn’t there enough hatred already? You plie me with your meat and threes, only to go back in the kitchen, point at me, snicker and say, “Look at that white boy work on the baby limas. Disgusting.”

“Yeah, and he finished with four pegs in the board, too.”

Ain’t no white privilege at table 14, or whatever. I’m the victim here. How can I possibly go back again and choke down your meat loaf amidst a room full of hatred and intolerance? Do I want a breakfast menu? Seriously? No! I want justice!

(And a glass of raspberry iced tea.)

This madness is everywhere, particularly in the restaurant industry. Think about it.

Isn’t ChickFilA offensive to dames?
I mean, broads?
I mean…..girls?
Isn’t Little Caesar’s offensive to Romans?
Isn’t Ponderosa offensive to cowboys?
Isn’t Shakey’s Pizza offensive to nervous people?
Isn’t Full Moon BBQ offensive to wolfmen, vampires, and lunatics?

And doesn’t the International House Of Pancakes offend people with a wooden leg?

I’ve been living a lie, all these years. All this time, I was happy go lucky, whistling while I worked, enjoying life, and harboring no ill will toward anyone.

Then I became enlightened. Now that I know the truth, I am angry, resentful, and bitter. All this time, The Man has been holding me down, while keeping me pacified with biscuits and gravy. All part of a grander scheme. Maybe I was your huckleberry. But I will never be your cracker!

There seems to be an ocean of alleged racism in America anymore, so I have decided I want in on the action. I’m not sure what walking around with your britches at half mast, lips pooched out, a chip on your shoulder actually accomplishes, other than turning you into a miserable cuss no one wants to be around. Maybe if I can get in touch with Al Sharpton, he can explain what’s in the race hustle business for me.

I just hope no marching is required. I’m not THAT committed to the cause.

I’m just hoping to at least get a permanent discount on meals, and if we win our case, I’ll be using them down there.

At the Caucasian Barrel.

© Copyright 2015 Tim Holcombe

Whipping Mickey Buck

My only frame of reference for childhood, obviously, is being raised in the south.   But I can’t imagine preferring anything else.  Times have changed all over of course, and not for the better.  We live in the brazen age, with every possible perversion flaunted before us on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, most kids are robbed of the gentle innocence which was the hallmark of a southern childhood in days gone by.

Back then, in the 1960’s, summer days were spent outside.  After breakfast, our mothers (who were at home)  would shoo us out of the house, where we would stay all day, only coming back inside when we heard her calling our name for lunch, or supper.   The only other time we would scurry back to her apron was when she was needed to treat a skinned knee.  She would dab our tears, pat our back, and then apply the dreaded mercurochrome.   After the band aid was applied, we would head back out to conquer more Indians (unless a neighbor kid was first to call Cowboy.)  If you weren’t quick enough to call it first, you weren’t quick enough to be a cowboy anyway.

I built many a road with my big yellow Tonka truck.  Sometimes, we would ride our bikes down the street to Mr. Camp’s old country store, buy a Coca-Cola in the green bottle, and insert a pack of peanuts.  Some days, we’d buy the glorious Orange Crush in the dark brown bottle.  Mr. Camp had the chest cooler set just right, and there would be little shards of ice in it.

Mr. Camp had it going on.

I was forbidden to buy the candy cigarettes, although occasionally  I would bum a smoke from Ricky Nixon, the neighborhood bully, whose mother was not the faux-smoking prohibitionist mine was.  Sometimes, I’d buy a pack of baseball cards with a sliver of bubble gum.   We’d stick the cards into the spokes of our bicycle wheels.  Instant hot rods!

(As an aside, when I returned home years later, my dear mother had tossed my two shoe boxes full of baseball cards.  But how could you remain angry?   There were greens and cornbread on the table.)

My brother Sonny helped me build a go cart once.   It had a rope for a steering wheel, and four tires, each of a different size.  It had no safety belt, and I had no helmet.   I was unsure of the wisdom of using it as transportation, when Sonny placed his hands on my back, and shoved me down the hill next to our house, right into the crawfish-infested creek.  I made it in one piece.  The go cart did not.

Discipline was a constant in those days for the wayward child.  We had no ritalin, no skull doctors, no timeouts.  We did have fannies, and the occasional lighting up of same with a switch served its purpose.   But the hugs and kisses always outweighed the spankings.  My older brother Sonny got the lion’s share of the rod of correction.  The standards were not relaxed for me, but the sentencing phase was a tad more merciful.   (Sonny would say, a lot more merciful.)

I recently ran into my good friend and philosopher Mickey Buck Talmadge on an excursion to the woods where he lives, when the subject of child rearing came up.  As we sat at the base of a tall oak tree dining on vienna sausages and saltine crackers, Mickey Buck related how he handled the situation in his childhood.  Mickey Buck’s mother was much like mine, a gracious yet firm disciplinarian.   One day, Mickey Buck took his BB gun over to Old Man Petty’s house, where he proceeded to shoot out one of the taillights on his ’63 Buick Electra.  When it all hit the fan, Mickey Buck’s mother sent him to his room, then went for the hickory switch which rested atop her old Frigidaire.  Poor Mickey Buck was in for the licking of his life.

Mrs. Talmadge  was unaware, however, that there was a saboteur in her home.  A day before the unfortunate incident, as she was taking sheets off the clothesline in the backyard before coming back to the kitchen to tend to the pressure cooker full of tomatoes in her mason jars, Mickey Buck had collected the switch, and proceeded to conspicuously break it slightly in two-inch sections, but not so much as to appear broken.

As Mother Talmadge ordered Mickey Buck to lean over his bed, she rared back to apply the rod of God with fervor.  When she did, the switch collapsed in two inch segments, and the force of impact was scattered across Mickey Buck’s bottom, the energy on impact being harmlessly scattered across the target.  Successive swats confused her before it dawned on her the session was not producing the desired result.

She cast aside the rigged implement, ordered Mickey Buck not to move, and made a bee line toward the kitchen.  Mickey Buck was unaware that his Mama had a backup switch, one hidden behind a can of Crisco in the top cabinet.  When she returned, she was as determined with the second effort, but had apparently damaged her rotator cuff or something, as Mickey Buck swears the impact was not nearly as ferocious as she had intended.   Plus, her exit had given him time to insert three additional pair of underwear into his blue jeans.

She concluded the session none the wiser, the saboteur considering he’d need another plan for future punishments.

I was amazed at the wisdom and cunning of Mickey Buck, wishing I’d been smart enough to devise such schemes.

We finished our meal, and went to hunt squirrels.

I left the woods that day with a renewed outlook on things.   And in this mad age where kids play video games inside all day long, this truth occurred to me:   It would be grand if we could recapture those wonderful days of innocence, filled with sweet tea, funeral home fans and front porches.

Kids today need more time playing outside, mamas at home, queens of the domestic.

And a few of them need more switches, and less underwear.

Underwear which is never seen, always hidden by blue jeans pulled up into their proper position.

© Copyright 2015 Tim Holcombe

Hunting For A Dentist

I’m way overdue, but I have a date with dental destiny. I don’t mind going to the dentist so much, actually. I always leave sore and poor(er), but the sparkly-clean feeling is nice, until later that night when popcorn kernels have found their home again between the molars.

It’s the flossing I hate. The last gal who flossed my teeth was pulling on both ends of the string like it was a ski rope. The blood and tears weren’t enough for her. She felt it her duty to lecture me on my lack of commitment to the procedure.

“You haven’t been flossing, have you?”

“Well, I, uh…”

“Have you?”

Suddenly, I was back in third grade.

“For maximum dental health, we must floss morning, noon and night, yadda, yadda, yadda…”

“Yes, well, I….”

“We must take care of our teeth, lest we lose them, you see. Flossing is essential. Do you know how easy it is to start flossing, hmm?”

“Well, ma’am, I expect it’s about as hard to start flossing as it is to stop smoking.”

She was concerned about teeth management. I was sitting in the chair, wondering about the dentist/hunter who bagged the big cat over in Africa.

Sorry.  I mean, the Minnesota predator who murdered Cecil the lion.

Yes sir, we live in a whole new day, a day when everyone has their toes stuck out for some insensitive brute to step on. You can’t go through a day anymore without offending somebody. You can’t talk, type, eat, sleep, post on Facebook or sing “Spread A Little Sunshine Everyday” without somebody pooching their lips out, because you somehow hit a sore spot.

The only thing the current president hits is golf balls. The above photo shows one of his predecessors bagging an elephant. And that ain’t all Teddy Roosevelt held up as a trophy. According to The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses, ol’ Ted was a rabid big game hunter.  The prez reportedly sent over 1200 beasts to the Sky Zoo, including tigers, lions, hippos, cheetahs, antelopes, giraffes and leopards. The great Nobel Peace Prize laureate went on many a safari. His exploits would make the infamous dentist look like Opie Taylor carrying a slingshot.

I’m not a big hunter, but I understand the importance of game management, aside from the Biblical admonition “Rise, kill and eat.” Most people who get offended by Doctor Denture likely have no problem purchasing a pack of pork chops in a clean, white sanitary package covered with plastic wrap. A few of them probably own a Ted Nugent CD or two, too.

“Kill it and grill it,” says the other Ted, demonstrating his own Biblical prowess.

Hunting doesn’t offend me at all. I’m all for it. I also think guns are nifty, both for hunting, self defense, or collecting. I’m actually more offended by over-zealous flossers.

Besides, dentistry isn’t all that. I recall one funeral I attended years ago. Sister Beulah Higginbotham had collapsed and expired at the Ladies Aid Society meeting at the New Harmony Baptist Church. Her homegoing service was held three days later.

(Evidently, there was a lack of harmony at the original Harmony Baptist Church.   But I digress.)

Anyway, there was Sister Higginbotham, all laid out in her best flowery blue dress.

The preacher finished his sermon, and some nasally cousin stood at the pulpit singing “When They Ring Those Golden Bells For You And Me.” As he sang, everybody shuffled out of their pews and processed in single file to view the dearly departed one last time. I was in line, about three bodies behind her niece, Flora Mae.

Flora Mae was all shook up throughout the whole service.

She got up to the casket, peered over and started sobbing again. She bent over, and all I heard was “Oh Aunt Beulah, Aunt Beul…”

It was at that moment the denture cream failed Flora Mae, and the top shelf of her mouth flew out, a whole row of artificial pearly whites spilling onto Aunt Beulah.

Flora Mae was horrified, and instinctively reached over to try to retrieve her teeth, which had now lodged on the far side of the loved one, a bit out of reach. The funeral director cleared his throat, and the preacher took Flora by the arm, and led her away, still snorting and sobbing.

Good thing he did, too.   I was not only worried about the retrieval, but the potential re-insertion of the apparatus.

After the graveside service, the family and friends all went to Flora Mae’s house for a post-funeral fellowship meal. Her mouth was still out of alignment, so I don’t know what became of the upper chompers. I shudder to think…

But everybody had a good time with the fried chicken and potato salad. Everybody except for Flora Mae, who had gotten her boy LeRoy to fetch her a milk shake from the Tastee-Freeze.

It may be best to just stay away from dentists.

You never know when you may have to go to a funeral.

© Copyright 2015 Tim Holcombe

My Good Father

This story begins in the deep south in the 1920’s, on a family farm where sunrise meant toil, and that often past when the the sun retired for the day. There is a small home on this land with no luxuries attached. The typical day is spent in fields either planting, tending to, or reaping that which sustains this humble life. It is a hard and simple life, but it is well-defined, and free of modern entanglements like psychiatrists, life coaches, grief counselors, and Oprah. Work is the order of the day, and there is no time for such silly novelties.

Into this home is born fourteen children, one who is given the name of his father, Frank. From the time he can stand aright, he joins the family crew and learns a work ethic which is as inbred into him as any cell of DNA. Life is predictable enough until years later, when his nation calls my father, takes him from the farm, and sends him to Europe.

After the war, he comes home, meets his beloved wife Mary, and builds their lives with the tools he has always used: hard work, and industriousness. They build their home, and eventually, my father starts his own business, an auto repair shop which he opens in 1962, the year after my birth. He applies the work ethic (and ethics) he gained from the farm into his business for over 30 years, until he closes the door, but does not retire. He took with him his reputation, ever intact: as honest and hard working a man as ever walked this globe, and left behind a successful legacy, built with buckets of sweat from his brow.

My mother and father gave life to me, and two brothers, Ken and Danny. For that alone, a child should remain ever grateful. As I rapidly approach my 50th year, what I have to give my dear father is little. But the life-long memories linger. Perhaps memories make the best gifts.

My first memory of my father is being draped over his shoulder as he carries me into an emergency room at Kennestone Hospital. I remember the comfort and security I felt that late night or early morning.

Or the funeral we are attending of a deceased loved one. We file in procession at service’s end to pay our last respects, my small hand in my father’s. At the worst possible time, I declare, loudly, “I can’t see him!”

And the nights where at bedtime, he would pause, go to his knees beside his bed, and pray the Lord’s Prayer, ever acknowledging our gracious Creator.

The usual Sunday routine is a visit to Grandmother’s. Some Sundays, Dad would treat us to a drive up Kennesaw Mountain, where we could look across the city of Marietta to the Atlanta skyline, or north to the mountains, which seemed the end of the Earth.

The Saturdays we’d spend on Coldwater Creek, Dad with his reliable Stihl chain saw, taking down trees, loading them in an old flatbed truck to take back home. It was on those old roads of Elbert County that he would let me take the wheel of an old gray Chevy pickup, and teach me how to drive.

I can still hear him in his home office. It is hot summer Wednesday night, and he is at his adding machine, working on the payroll. To one side is a mound of invoices, and a yellow legal pad. To the other is a large jar of ice water, and an old AM radio which is playing a station he found somewhere far away.

He is up before the sun, ready to meet the day. He checks on his large garden in the back of our home, where he labored after leaving his shop the previous evening. He produces the bounty, giving the credit to ‘The Good Master”, and his wife fills our home with the scents, and the goodness, and the canning – Lord, the canning. They are sights, and smells I will never forget, but at the time, didn’t appreciate.

He keeps my mother in a Cadillac, his sons in nice clothes, and none of us are deprived any necessity of life. He does all this having never used a credit card.

My father, now that I consider it…..would have made a great president. His inaugural speech: “Let’s go to work.”

With the loss of his beloved Mary, our mother, many things changed forever. Still, since that sad August day in 1989, there have been some sweet moments scattered amidst a sea of tears.

No one gets to select their parents. I often think about how naive I was, and how fortunate I am to have the parents I did.

And if I could ever be half the man my father was, and is…I will think I did well.

My father was never famous, never an artist, statesman, inventor. What he had is to be valued above all such temporal things, and is captured in the pages of Holy Scripture.

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

A good name forged by a good man.

A good son. A good American. A good husband.

My good father.

© Copyright 2015 Tim Holcombe

Fussin’ And Feudin’

hat

 

Some time back, I watched “The Hatfields and McCoys” miniseries. Really well done. Kevin Costner scores again. Of course, it would have been perfect had they found a way to fit Robert Duvall, the greatest actor of all time in it. I’m still not totally sure what set the two clans against one another. But whatever it was, Dr. Phil would have had his hands full. The bad blood resulted in more carnage than you’d find after Rosie O’Donnell exited the buffet line.There have been a few feuds down through history. I can think of a few that may rival, or even surpass the Hats and Macs.

1) Coke and Pepsi. Thisun has been going on for years. Coke had Bill Cosby as a spokesman. Pepsi countered with Michael Jackson. Being a Georgia boy, my allegiance was naturally with Dr. Pemberton’s concoction. Actually, I eventually swore my allegiance to Diet Dr. Pepper, until my urologist ruined my life and gave me a lifetime prescription for bottled water. The Commie.

2) Roman Catholics and Protestants. This feud seemed to be most intense in Ireland, the prots hurling little statues of the pope at the catholics, and the catholics returning fire with something. What, I dunno. Bottled water, I believe. Not sure what the disagreement was all about, but I suspect that it was over whether or not O’Flaherty was going to swear allegiance to the pope, or serve as his own pope. Whatever. Just bring more beer and beef stew.

3) Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Classic feud. The clash of distinct American cultures on display. The trailer park comes to Norway, where Nan gets Lillehammered. William F. Buckley meets Jerry Springer. No triple axles tonight. Where are they now? Last I heard, Kerrigan was working in securities on Wall Street, and Tonya was the assistant night manager at the Taco Bell in Dubuque, Iowa. Why she never took her married name of “Gillooly,” I’ll never know.

4) Georgia and Florida. Universities, that is. You can have your Oklahoma and Texas, Michigan and Ohio State, Alabama and Auburn. This here is the mother of college football feuds. I have use for many things in Florida. Fishing, beaches, key lime pie, seafood, and the Daytona 500. But when it comes to college football, no one has more contempt for the revolting reptiles from Gainesville. Georgia could lose all its games, for all I care, as long as they stomp a red and black mudhole on the 50 yard line of what they used to call the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. Yeah, I’d like to spike Steve Spurrier, or at least his Gatorade. I have no crush on the orange.

5) The Masked Assassin and Mr. Wrestling #2. An all-time classic feud. How Gordon Solie, the legendary wrestling announcer kept these two combatants from tearing down the old tv studio is beyond me. Now these here were the days when rasslin’ was fun to watch. I mean, you were about 65 per cent sure it was fake, but…..well, I dunno. The problem was that everybody loved #2, but as everyone knows, you simply cannot have two masked grapplers in the same territory. Eventually, you have to have a “loser must unmask” match, or “loser leaves town” match, because “this state is not big enough for the both of us.” Sure enough, eventually, they tangled, and thankfully, after #2 walloped the Assassin with his high, high knee lift, the former disrobed his head and revealed himself to be Ralph Cannoli, a part time dispatcher over at Mack Hewlett’s Wrecker Service in Decatur. Whether he was able to keep that job, I don’t know.

6) Syble. A feud all its own. Sally Field, arguing with about 19 people, all residents of the same mortal coil. Roses are red, violets are blue. I’m schizophrenic, and so am I. How do you get a word in edgewise, if you’ve only got one pie hole? And who’s in charge? Do you go alphabetically? Imagine the poor slob who would be the husband. “Honey, I’m home!” “We’re all out on the deck, dear!” Figure thisun out, Dr. Phil.

7) Blue Plate and Hellman’s Mayonnaise. Now, mayonnaise is an essential to the southern palate. We use it in lots of things; sandwiches, potato salad, deviled eggs, or as a substitute for hand lotion. But which to use? My good friend and philosopher, Mickey Buck Talmadge, swears by Blue Plate mayonnaise, and has no tolerance for any other, or anyone who uses any other. If a jar of Hellman’s cost $5, and Blue Plate cost $6, Mickey Buck would buy 4 of the latter. He once caught me making a tomato sandwich with a jar of Duke’s mayonnaise.

“What’s that, son?”

“A tomato sandwich, Mickey Buck.”

“No, what’s on that samwich?

“Uh…”

“That ain’t whut I thank it is, is it?”

“What? You mean the mayo-“”It’s some furrun jug of what ort not to even have the gall to call hitself mayornaze! It’s probably made by some city slickin’ New York communist Bible hatin’ heatherns who drive around in them Japanese puddle jumpers!”

With that, Mickey Buck took the jar of Duke’s, heaved it out the kitchen window, grabbed my sandwich, threw it in the trash, and proceeded to wash his hands in the sink with Clorox bleach, muttering, “a feller ort to know better.”

Just mayonnaise to you. But in the deep south, this condiment is so important, that the correct brand is vital, even sacred. I repented of my unfaithfulness to this tenet that day, and have not had another brand in the ice box since.

Mickey Buck only recently stopped being so sulled up about the episode, allowing me to accompany him on a dove hunting excursion to Old Man Yeargin’s farm.

Now, if you’re feuding with anyone, try and do what the Good Book says, and make things right. There’s no point in going through life all bitter and angry about what somebody else may have done. Forgive, love, and move on.

And for heaven’s sakes, don’t use Hellman’s mayonnaise.

© Copyright 2015 Tim Holcombe

The Preacher And The Partridges

Southerners are generally known as being well-mannered and a little more laid back. Now of course, I am speaking of real southerners, natives who can tell you about being chased by a mama with a switch, and who never needed a recipe for cornbread: not a transplant from New York who has yet to use the phrase “fixin’ to” in a sentence.

But who trusts anybody with a Hillary sticker on their bumper?

We take barbecue seriously. We take stock car racing seriously. And Lord knows we take college football seriously.

And hunting. Hunting is serious business. If it is opening day of deer season, Black Lives Matter protesters had best not be blocking the road to the woods. The hunters are already ramped up and ready to rumble, the prior non-hunting  months being spent reading deer hunting magazines with articles on how to be a better deer hunter, including how to deal with clearing away hostile obstacles in the path of your hunting stand.

Southerners hunt a lot of things: deer, turkey, hogs, ducks, bear, possums, raccoons, snakes, and all sorts of birds.

My brother Sonny came by to take me hunting one Saturday morning. We stopped at Balchin’s country store and got some Coca-Colas, vienna sausages, soda crackers, a hunk of hoop cheese and a can of Skoal for Sonny. We hopped back in the truck and headed to the fields.

It was the first Saturday in September. The field was muddy, but we found a spot on the edge of a field behind some brush, and squatted down, awaiting our feathered bounty.

We fared pretty well that day, and left early enough to hear Larry Munson broadcasting a Bulldogs game on the truck radio. We headed to our Aunt Beulah’s house, her promise of chicken and dumplings for supper being too good to pass up.

We pulled up to her back porch, shed our muddy boots, and went inside to get cleaned up. As we went to the front porch to sit a spell, Preacher Culpepper drove up in his shiny black Crown Victoria.

“Oh lawd, the preacher’s here!” Aunt Beulah got up and started throwing newspapers under the sofa, and putting her People Magazine back under her Bible.

Aunt Beulah was not ready for the pop-in. Especially the preacher pop-in.

Preacher Culpepper walked up to the front porch, and Aunt Beulah introduced Sonny and me.

“Well, it’s good to meet you boys. Just out doing some visitation.”

Aunt Beulah gave the preacher a glass of tea, and complimented him on his last sermon.

“My two nephews are down here doing some hunting, Preacher.”

Sonny was needing to relieve himself of the effects of the Skoal, but he was hemmed in.

“Oh, is that right? Well now, I’m not much of a hunter myself. What have you boys been hunting?”

Finally, Sonny could take it no more. He leaned over the front porch rail as discreetly as possible, and shot the discards into the holly bushes. He stood back up, wiped his mouth, and turned toward the preacher.

“We been dove hunting. Got a truck bed full of em.”

The preacher had a quizzical look on his face.

“Dove hunting?”

“Oh yeah. Got a passel of em.”

The preacher stood up, straightened his necktie and scratched his head.

“No, no. You boys didn’t shoot no doves.”

“Well, yeah, we…”

“No, no, you didn’t shoot no doves!   Doves are the bird of peace!   You boys must’ve been hunting partridges!”

“No,” Sonny answered, as Aunt Beulah shifted nervously.  “It’s opening day of dove season, and we been hunting doves.”

“No, no, no,” the preacher protested. You were hunting partridges. Doves are the bird of peace!”

I could tell he was getting riled. He kept repeating “pottriches, pottriches!”

Preacher Culpepper was convinced Sonny and I were two vile heathens. The notion anyone would kill the bird of peace was an obvious affront to him.

He eventually composed himself, but gave Aunt Beulah a stern look as he headed toward his car, perplexed that she would allow such barbaric infidels on her front porch.

The next day, Aunt Beulah took him a chicken casserole, to assuage his consternation. She made sure to emphasize it was made with chicken meat.

Sonny and I went home with our pottriches, knowing we had likely been inserted into the preacher’s next sermon.

 

© Copyright 2015 Tim Holcombe