I did not date much in high school so by the time I was dating in college, guess Dad was fairly comfortable with it. He liked for guys to come inside for a few minutes and chat with him and they always seemed pleased to do so. We had a porch swing on the front porch and that darn swing literally screeched. When I asked Dad to please oil its chain, he said, ”Nope, as long as I hear that swing I can sleep just fine. When it stops I wake right up!” His bedroom was just above and to the left of the porch. He answered the one downstairs phone if he was anywhere near it. One summer, I dated three guys named Jim. He didn’t hesitate to ask who was calling and was good about giving me messages. However, he took great delight in asking, “ Now which Jim are you? Oh, Jim Smith, is it? You are the short/tall/redheaded etc. one, right?” It took a sturdy soul to date me that summer! Also, I was working and going to Georgia State as well. Back then, it was not unusual to date more than one person at a time.
Both of my parents were very conscientious about proper nutrition. Back then it was still the seven basic food groups though I don’t recall their calling them that. We always had some kind of meat or chicken for our main meal but also lots of vegetables, fruit, milk etc. My earliest memories are of them canning in glass jars. Just tonight, Dee had made corn muffins from scratch, and told the kids how delicious the cornbread tastes when crumbled into a glass of milk. Both of us had to smile at the memory of my dad teaching Dee to do that. Dad and my Bruce used to raid the fridge at bedtime when we’d had an early dinner. They were not above finishing off whatever dessert we’d had but often it would be cold vegetables. I found them having a grand time with a bowl of cold collards and cornbread, one night. I really credit my dad with lots of my children’s good eating habits.
Dad neither smoked nor drank alcohol of any kind. He didn’t even drink coffee and we were not allowed to drink coffee until we were nearly grown. He did eventually start drinking coffee, I’d guess maybe when he was at least in his fifties. We were allowed to drink iced tea but he usually cut it with lots of fruit juice. It was delicious.
On Sundays, I often sang in churches around the Atlanta area, mostly during my college years. We had several family members living in Acworth, Ga. I spent weekends there, every chance I got, with my Aunt Hazel and Uncle Gan. My uncle had a rule that if I was there on a Sunday morning, I sang in his First Baptist Church. My grandmother’s sister, Aunt Willy, played the piano for the services, there being no organ, back then. She preferred that I just sing a pretty hymn so she could work in her own musical arrangements - which I often suspected she made up as we went along. It was pretty good training for me I guess because I learned to sing under all kinds of conditions but I never did have enough breath to hold notes long enough for her to play all her trills up and down the keyboard. One Sunday, my dad went with me though he didn’t normally go to Acworth with me. As I stood to sing my solo, I noticed Dad’s face being very red and Uncle Gan grinning from ear to ear. Then, I noticed lots of the folks sitting near the front giving me big smiles. I’d never thought “The Old Rugged Cross” was even mildly funny, to tell the truth. After church, they told me what I had done. There was no air conditioning in the church so I had not bothered to wear hot stockings but had worn very high heels. So before I sang, I’d kicked off my shoes but failed to notice that the little skirt around the choir loft was only about eight inches long. Thus my red toenails and bare feet were entirely visible to all sitting near the front. They teased me about that but always said I could sing barefoot for them anytime.
Last October, my son was fifty years old, really hard to believe! Even more so since I was only ten when he was born! At any rate, his birth triggered lots of conversations about raising boys, between Dad and me. He and Mother did a fine job with their sons and I wanted all the pointers I could get. We talked at length about Little League baseball which he thoroughly disapproved of and did not want Bruce exposed to. He had a number of very sound reasons for this and was totally disgusted by the competition and parental emotional involvement he observed. It seems that he and some other granddaddy friends had watched some of the little boys play from time to time at Piedmont Park. I am sure he would be totally horrified at the young age children are being pushed into organized sports these days.
Apparently, Dad and his siblings were not read to as children nor did they have children’s storybooks. That was my mother’s theory anyway. I do know that they were farmers and worked awfully hard. They were not poor but he was born in 1896, and so many conveniences we take for granted were simply not available back then. At any rate, he enjoyed reading to us and got as big a kick out of the books as we did. His favorite was “Swiss Family Robinson” and he even took us to that movie when it came out. Normally, he did not approve of young children going to movies. Both my parents read Bible stories to us and to my children when they were small.
My parents visited us fairly often, especially after he retired from Lockheed. They came to visit just after we moved to Knoxville. There was absolutely nothing around the house Dad couldn’t do or fix. Thank heavens my son has that talent also. On this particular visit, Dad decided to build a bigger doghouse for our dog, George S. Patton – a small, mixed breed mutt. Until then, he and Dad had been pretty good friends. But on this cool morning, I heard a commotion and rushed downstairs and out to the back yard to see Dad and George in a tug of war. It seems that George had been slipping up and grabbing the tools and taking them out to the back fence hut his snitching Dad’s good hammer was just the last straw. Dad was fit to be tied. He said,” Can’t the dern fool see I’m trying to do something nice for him!” That was as close to cussing as Dad would ever come!
I am so grateful that my kids knew my parents and felt close to them. I would only wish that Dad could have known Dee’s son, Michael. They’d have been great friends.