A few days ago I posted a tribute to my grandfather on his birthday. My daughter commented later that she enjoyed the post and “thought we needed to hear more stories like that”. I’ve thought more about her suggestion and now I agree with her. Over the 130+ posts on this blog I’ve talked about many of my relatives and what I’ve learned from them. Of course, the blog originated in the months after Carter’s death and I’ve written several times about what I’ve learned from Carter and from losing him. But I think I will do a series of posts about relatives – stories from my past and what each specifically taught me. To put this in context here’s my family tree so you will be able to identify who will be discussed:
Emma, Bain, and Lou died before I was born or shortly after I was born so I have no memories of them even though their “blood runs through me”. I have very faint memories of Steve Miller (Granddaddy Miller), Mabel Hayes (Grannie Hayes), Joe Chambers (Pa Joe), Wesley Gilbreath (Pa Wesley), and very good memories of Mary Jane Gilbreath (Grandma Gilbreath) about whom I have previously written.
Since Papa (Clifford) is still on my mind I’d like to add a few thoughts to my memories. Papa was a big knife- swapper and he insured all of the guys in the family had a pocket knife; a sharp pocket knife. He would often pull out a whitrock and sharpen our knives when we were visiting. Here’s the knife that Papa gave me (he may have given me others too, but this is the one I remember the most).
Papa also had a Christmas tradition. He gave each of his grandkids a silver dollar each year while telling us if we spent it we wouldn’t get another one next year. So Gary and I held tightly to our silver dollars for several years; then the price of silver began to rise. One day Papa came to the house, got our silver dollars and sold them. He did give us the money he got for them, but I think that was the end of getting a silver dollar for Christmas. I kept the oldest one I had (minted in 1886) before he sold them; below is a picture of it. I don’t think it is particularly rare so it probably isn’t worth much to anyone except me.
Things I learned from Papa include: there’s nothing wrong with hard work, his character and reputation were unquestionable, when he said he would do something you could count on him doing it, and he enjoyed a good laugh whether it was one of his pranks or something someone else had done.
One story he told on himself and laughed about it: he woke up in the middle of the night, looked at the clock and thought it was about 5:00 am so he got up and started shaving. This wasn’t a digital clock and he had the hands backwards; it was actually about 1:25 am. Mama Jessie got up and asked, “What in the world are you doing!?” To which Papa replied, rather curtly, “I’M SHAVING!” She quietly said, “why are you doing it in the middle of the night!?”