My Dad was born in 1923 to an Irish immigrant Father and Mother of German descent. He barely finished high school and was so certain he hadn’t passed his senior year he didn’t go to his graduation. His dad loved Irish whiskey and Dad missed a lot of school finishing up the milk route after his dad landed up in jail. Whenever we would do any work around the house, especially in the basement nooks and crannies, we would find some of his empty bottles he had hidden. Grandmother died of a brain aneurysm while delivering milk in Sheffield in 1944. His sister also died in 1944 of a melanoma. Grandfather died in 1947 and left Dad to take care of his underage brother Myles. A young attorney Howell Heflin who later became a U.S. Senator was named my uncle’s guardian.
Dad didn’t go to war. He and his brother stayed home on the dairy farm producing milk for the war effort. A picture of Dad on his tractor taken during the war showed how life back home on the farm was, no rubber tires. Rubber had to be saved for the war effort and farm equipment had metal wheels. It had to be rough riding around on that tractor.
Most of Dad’s life was on the farm, and he seldom ventured far. He would get up in the morning, milk cows while my uncle bottled the milk and churned buttermilk and butter. Milk was collected in large metal cans and stored in a water cooler until time to bottle it. My whole family grew up on this raw milk fresh from Guernsey cows, half milk and half cream. Mom would make up the butter into half pound and one pound salted cakes. Milk was stacked in crates in the delivery truck with big chunks of ice surrounding the milk bottles, and the whole stack covered with a heavy tarp. In the summer time kids would wait and ask Dad if they could have a chunk of ice. After the milk route was finished, it was off to the field until dark to bale hay or cut silage. The day was finished up by the evening milking. Us kids would feed the calves and clean up the barn after milking and take care of the chickens.
The only time we got to spend time with Dad was to go on the milk route with him or ride with him to Corinth, Mississippi, to pick up cotton seed hulls and molasses to feed the cows. The road to Corinth was very hilly and curvy, and he had a bad habit of passing folks either on a curve or a hill. Before we left he never failed to say “you’d better bring an extra pair of britches with you.” Some days we wished we had. The only song I think he knew was Hank Williams “Why don’t you love me like you used to do.”
Sunday’s we didn’t have stores to deliver milk to, so it was a short delivery day. Mornings we would go the church, and after lunch it was off to check on his herd of registered polled Herefords on the other side of the mountain. A dairy farm back then was a business which lost money, and Dad kept a herd of beef cows to sell when he needed money. After checking on the cows we would swing by the pond and fish a spell. He had us believing that dragon flies', which he called "snake doctors," sole purpose was to heal snakes that were injured. After all Dad wouldn’t lie to us.
Most times Dad was in overalls and a straw hat. The only time he wore a suit was to go to church or funerals. My sister Rose talked him into wearing a tux for her wedding. I think he got so much kidding that he wore a suit for the weddings of sisters Elizabeth, Linda and brother Joseph.
Dad’s biggest fun was interrupting parkers especially on our long driveway through the pastures to the house. One night Mom noticed lights turning off at the gate off of the main road and told Dad to go and chase them off. The road to the house had just been paved so in the moonlight you could see where it was without turning your lights on. As he got to the highway, he spotted the car and turned his headlights on. A couple jumped out of the back seat putting their clothes on as they crawled to the front seat and started the car. As they took off another couple jumped out of the bushes chasing after the car carrying their clothes with them. The couple in the car finally stopped at a safe distance from Dad halfway to the main road and allowed the running couple to jump in the back seat and sped off.
Dad died on August 21, 1996. He had survived being hit twice while driving his tractor on the highway, but he couldn’t survive the effects of his smoking. I hope if your Dad is still living you called him or went by for a visit.
Mom and I went to visit Dad’s grave Sunday and left some flowers. I stuck my keys in my back pocket for some reason. When we got through visiting I jumped into the front seat of my Ram 1500 and all of a sudden the doors locked and the truck turned on. My first thought was that my truck had gotten possessed by one of the cemetery ghosts. Then I noticed the message center saying that the remote start activated and place key in the ignition. Keys? Where’s the key. I checked my front pockets where the keys normally are and they were gone. Finally I came to my senses and checked my back pocket. I must have sat on it just right and pressed the remote start twice. I stuck the key which is no longer a key, it has a peg on the end instead of a key into the slot. Now what I thought? I didn’t’ want to set off the alarm accidently in the middle of a quiet cemetery, so I pushed the open button, I tried to place the stick shift into park. Nothing, and all this time Mom is giving me twenty questions. Finally sanity prevailed and I turned the key to start and was able to get it into drive. I’ve had that truck for almost three years and this was the first time I’d started it remotely.
June 14 was Flag Day. Most events took place while I was at work. I thought it appropriate to pass along my favorite comedian Red Skelton’s Pledge of Allegiance video clip of what the words mean.
Seeing Dad on the old Farmall, I just had to share these videos of a Farmall tractor square dance by a group called Farmall Promenade. No power steering on these tractors so you can appreciate the moves they are making.
We are still having August temperatures in the high 90s again this past week. For some reason, we have skipped Spring and gone directly into Summer. My Japanese iris has finished blooming and the daylilies and liliums are in full bloom. If you have an area that stays wet, consider adding some Japanese iris to the area. With the crazy weather, one of my re-blooming irises ‘Recurring Dream’ is in bloom. Usually they don’t re-bloom until September into October.
My knee is still having issues. I told my doctor that it feels better as the week goes on, but by Saturday night I’m about ready for the crutches again. He said, “You haven’t slowed down at all have you?” An MRI shows I need surgery to clean things out, but I told him it would have to wait until October after the mowing and gardening season is over.
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