Every time there’s a major event in my life, I go through a life analyzing process. It’s not a choice. It seems that my brain, heart and soul just take over. It keeps me awake nights for a while and eats at me during the days too. The birth of our 5th grandchild, Veyda, (April-Adam DuBose) and knowing that Liam, our 6th, is on the way (Keddie Duncan and Ashley Smith) arriving in September, is what started the process this time. I write this in hopes that in some way, it can be a help or just bring a smile to someone. It’s really just your standard…. “Wow! Really? That fast?”… kind of thought that begins with the old…”it seems like yesterday that I was” kind of thing that turns into an incessant process. The early memory this time I was age 5. Me, my brother Spooky, and cousins Tab and Teddy….all Duncan boys…. were trying to see who could throw the biggest rock over a phone line wire going across our driveway. Of course… I, with my ever present supply of ignorance, disguised as imagination and wishful thinking, tried to shot put one too big and it came back down busting my head open…..and in the blink of an eye, I’m a 57 year old Pawpaw. Life happens so fast. Good times and bad times. I don’t remember it all but I do remember lots. It’s the mistakes I’ve made from way back as a kid until now that hound me and I think it’s a blessing, really….. to help me try and not make them again. I understood right from wrong (for me) at a very early age and my spirit seems to attest to it. I think that’s why I remember many of the times I’ve hurt someone in my life and so many things I’ve done wrong, all of which I’m sorry for and wish I could go back and change it or at least tell each person that I’m sorry. I’m not preaching here, but I’d be a fool to leave this out. I’ve always believed in my heart what the Bible says in Psalms 37: 4 – Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart ….. I failed at that so much, but He gave it to me anyway. A loving wife and family, a place to call home, and a decent job doing what I love. That was my hearts desires. Preacher Carl used to preach on that scripture but he said there were a couple stipulations….. if it was good for you and it glorified God. Well it was certainly good for me, and glorifying Him is what I’m attempting to do here…. because there is no way that a misfit, rebellious, self-centered person like me ever deserved the blessings that God has given me. And I want to thank Him. I’m not deserving, but I am very thankful. 🙂
I never knew how much I would miss the life growing up as a farm boy… slash country boy. We always had dogs and me and pup were best of friends when I got a whoopin’ and was sad and needed time away from everybody and everything. Just a whistle and a rub on his head and he would follow me to a place of seclusion where I could weep and lick my wounds, talk to God and figure out what I had to do. Pup loved me and I loved him. That was a great thing. I need a pup in my life again.
Daddy always had rabbit dogs ….14 at this one particular time in my youth. He took me with him on a run most of the time. In my early years, I would get cold and long to go home, or at least go to the truck. As the years went by, I noticed the lingo that Daddy used when he was running the dogs. You have to hear it to know it. On that note, once, after I was grown and married, I went squirrel hunting with some buddies from work. I heard a guy running dogs. I saw the leader that had jumped the rabbit. He was on it. Not as pretty as Buck, but a nice looking beagle. As I kept listening to the lingo, I swore it was my Daddy. In a minute or two, I saw the guy trompin’ through the woods and was amazed. Wasn’t my Dad. It was so identical to what Dad used to do that it freaked me out… but at the same time, I realized that this was an art …. one that Dad was really good at. Did I mention how much I love to eat Wabbit?
Okay, Back to BUCK. He was the leader of our pack. First one to jump a rabbit on a continual basis and never gave up. He was so good that we didn’t make him stay in the lot with the other dogs. He was big time pet celebrity dog, and I claimed him. Back in the day that meant he was mine. I loved him and he loved me. So this one day we were at Pa and Granny’s house. A little bird was unsuccessful at flying and the mom and dad bird tried valiantly to rescue it, but couldn’t. We had a dirt carport with some barrels and what not under there. There was a vacant birds nest in a spot, so my young mind thought I could make the little bird feel at home. I took the baby bird home and proudly put it in the vacant nest that night. The next morning all was well. At some point, I decided to run to the garden and get a fresh tomato and have myself a sandwich. As I was eating my sandwich, my older brother, Spooky, yells inside the screen door that something had killed my bird. I ran out and there was BUCK, licking his bloody chops and my baby bird looking like a piece of hamburger. He was looking at me as if it were a job well done. I instantly hit him with a haymaker on the side of his head! He instantly bit me back on my left eye, leaving a bite mark all the way around it …. perfect circle.. He saw the fury and anger in my eyes at that point. I chased him through the woods for what seemed like hours, determined to teach him a lesson. But it was me that gave out first.
For several days, BUCK would come to the edge of the woods, and I would scold him. I don’t remember exactly how many days it took my anger to subside, but when it did, I realized that BUCK was only doing what he knew to do, and that I loved him and he loved me. I wish you could have seen him the day I called him from the woods He was so humble and scared. We played together and loved on each other …. it was a great reunion. It was ME that learned a lesson. I loved ol’ BUCK … and he loved me.
I’ll never forget when BUCK died, but that’s another story. 🙂
My Grandfather on Daddy’s side died before I was born. Kenneth Obelia Duncan. I got his surname. He had some land on Pleasant Ridge Rd. in Summerfield N.C. My Mamaw, Allie Echols Duncan, lived there until she died. That property, along with Mamaw and my cousins, was the creation of so many memories for me. One of my favorite memories is one of the underground spring that was way down in the bottom. The old house had fallen in and rotted. Mamaw lived in a small trailor house on the property with no running water. Us young boys would gladly make the trek down the hill, through the pasture while messing with the cows, goats and chickens … any other creature that uncle Ray would have out there, just to get a taste of that spring water. It was so pure and refreshing. One year, bees~yellow jackets~ built a nest right inside the bank. It was a dilemma at first. But country folks get a bad rep. They are smarter than most folks in reality because they have common sense and logic …. morals too but that’s another story. You see, bees that nest underground are disturbed by vibration. So me and Spook and our cousins, Tab and Teddy, we realized all we had to do was ease in there and we could all live in peace. And that’s just what we did. I remember sticking my mouth down in that cool water of the spring while looking at the bees flying in and out, just hoping I was cool enough …. and I was! But we were kids …. did we ever stir them up? Are you kiddin’ me?
Remember The Pawpaw
In the mid sixties, the old Summerfield Elementary School was still standing. The creaking wooden floors and the radiator heating system was haunting in the early morning hours… if you were there …alone….and in the second grade. I found myself in that predicament on quite a few occasions. It took a while to get used to. Most of the time though, Spooky, my older brother, was with me. Mama and Daddy had jobs during this time where they had to be there real early, before daybreak, at times, or right at it. Our only alternative was to be let out at the school and wait in the auditorium. Mr. Reid was the janitor and was a cool old black man. But if you snuck ….yeah I said snuck …if you snuck up on him and goosed him or tickled him, he’d slap you cross-eyed if you weren’t fast enough to get out of his reach. Being the little brat I was, it only took gettin’ slapped that once to make sure I was quicker the next time …ha! He was a good old soul from what I remember though. Mr. Jessie Joyce was the Principal and was as fine a man as I can ever remember.
Okay, so after many mornings of sitting there in those auditorium chairs in the dark, almost falling to sleep over and over but being suddenly awakened by the creaking radiator heaters or whatever would make a strange noise, curiosity started to come into play along with memories. You know, like memories of where the teacher would put everything she confiscated from the kids at school ….. marbles, knives or anything you had that was disrupting the class. Yep ….the top desk drawer.
Spooky was a sneaky fella but for the most part an honest Abe kind of guy. I can’t remember whether he helped me in my scavenging or not, and I’m sticking to that. But I hit every unlocked teachers desk that I could get to. Man it was jackpot city! I got all my marbles back and half the other kids marbles too. Marbles was a big BIG thing at our school and we even had tournaments. Spooky was one of the best …. and I do mean one of the best. He could put english on a marble like Steve Walker puts on a cue ball. So with marbles abounding, and a few other items … ha! …. we’d light out to the playground when the other kids started coming in. There was always a good game of marbles to be had until the bell rang.
There was this one kid, can’t remember his name, but we took his marbles every morning for a while. I never had to worry because Spooky was there to clean up anything I missed. The poor kid never had a chance and didn’t even know it. He had an awesome stash at home too, and every morning he’d bring a much prettier sackful …. and we’d take them. Oh yeah …..we played for keeps!! …no other way!
So here’s the life lesson boys and girls …… well, one of them, depending on how you look at it because there’s quite a few floating around in this one. On this particular morning when we took this boys marbles, he started crying. When we asked what was wrong, he told us we had taken all of the marbles that he had at home and his mom and dad were gonna’ be quite upset. Of course honest Abe wanted to give him some back but I shut that down quickly ~ and this is where I messed up. After daily desk raids, it was obvious that teachers were confiscating things on a daily basis. So I decided to cut homie in on where he could get some more marbles. Seeing as how we were just gonna’ take them anyway, it’d make my job easier. Well I don’t remember if this sniveling little runt got caught or not, but the next thing I know, a group of teachers were asking to see little ol’ me out in the hall. After being questioned …realizing that my fear of what my Daddy would do to me trumped everything ….yep… I lied like a criminal. Swore to God with my right hand raised ….the whole nine.
That’s when the group of teachers said “We’ll just go ask Floyd” … that’s Spooky. My first thought was ….oh shit! They brought him right there in front of me, asked him the exact same questions ….his reply? ….”Yes Ma’am we did”…. It was like a fleet of laser beaming eyes that looked directly at me. I was frozen …. and that was long before this movie came out. That feeling has stuck with me all these years, long after the punishment has been forgotten. Yep, that’s right, I don’t even remember what happened as far as punishment. But I do know this, after that day ….. most of the teachers locked their top drawers. wink emoticon
When I was about 13 years old, Pap & I awoke before sunrise, around 5am.
Pap had two squirrel rifles, one held 17 bullets, the other held only one. We got dressed, I carried the single shot, unloaded of course, & we trekked into the woods to wait for sunup.
We got 5 squirrels,2 of which were mine, in about an hour & a half.
Pap showed me how to pinch the skin on the back of a squirrel’s neck, cut it with a knife, stick two fingers into the hole, & rip the skin down to his head, feet, & tail. Cut the head, feet & tail off. Gut him. Then quarter him.
When we went inside to wash our breakfast, Granny was already making biscuits, MAKING biscuits. She fried the squirrel in Crisco after rolling it through the beaten eggs & flour. She poured milk & flour into the pan & made squirrel gravy while she scrambled the eggs.
She then sliced a tomato, took the biscuits out of the oven, & we sat down to the most memorable meal of my life.
Thank You Granny & Pap