Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What I Didn't Know About Paw Paw

Paw Paw and great-granddaughter, Suzanne

* * *
My maternal grandfather was a very tall man with a head of thick, white hair. When he got dressed up in a suit, white shirt and tie, complete with a gold watch chain dangling from his pocket, he looked like a judge. Which he was for a time.
Paw Paw George had many friends in Bardwell and surrounding areas, and when he drove through town he was always sticking his head out the window and calling out to friends along the way. And they to him. In his later years, he could often be found at Bardwell City Hall, playing checkers with many of those lifelong friends. He outlived most of them.

He had a great sense of humor, loved playing jokes, and seldom visited without a bag of candy: He kneels, all of us kids gathering around him. "Who do y'all love?" he says. "Paw Paw!" we chorus. We all give him a hug and then he opens the sack and passes Mounds candy bars around. (My first bite of the moist coconut, sheathed in rich dark chocolate, brings tears to my eyes!)

When we spent the night with him and Maw Maw (which we often did), he kept us laughing: At the supper table, Paw Paw picks up a bowl of potatoes: "Would you care for some potatoes?" he says. He sets the bowl down in front of his plate, then picks it up again, "Why, thank you; believe I will have some!"

No matter how many times he did that, it was always funny to us. (We laughed so hard one night that Terry spewed iced tea all the way across the table!)

After we lost Maw Maw, we were worried about Paw Paw. He was 80 then, and she was his rock. What would he do without her?

He stayed in his home, Mother helping out, for years thereafter. I lived out of state at the time, and I imagined him there alone, sitting in his big recliner at night, dozing, watching television. And then dozing some more.

Long after his death (when he was almost 92), Mother showed me a poem Paw Paw had written when he was 87.

"Paw Paw wrote poetry?" I said.

"Yes," said Mother, "He wrote lots of poems to Maw Maw when they were courting."

So I had to revise my mental image of Paw Paw in his last years. Now I see him at his kitchen table, pen in hand, drawing on his wealth of memories as he writes a poem. More than likely, he's enjoying a bowl of ice cream (he loved ice cream).

I like that image much better.

* * *

School Days on College Hill

Edward T. George

When I was six years old, I lived on College Hill,
Haven’t forgotten it yet, and never will.

I started to school about 10 till eight,
Had a First Reader and 10-cent slate.

Teacher rang a little bell about 10 till nine,
All the kids would run and get in line.

We marched to our room down through the hall,
In about five minutes, we had roll call.

If anybody was late or played hooky that day,
The teacher called him up front and made him pay.

He’d have to stand in the corner ‘bout an hour and a half,
When the teacher wasn’t looking, we all had to laugh.

Some walked to school, ‘bout a mile or two,
Waded water and snow, but they got through.

They got to school with a smile and no fuss,
And there wasn’t such a thing as a car or bus.

We had a good time as I recall,
Playing “Wolf Over the River,” marbles, and ball.

The girls had a good time jumping rope,
Never heard of such a thing as kids taking dope.

Most all of my school friends have gone on before,
But someday I'll meet them on the other shore.


Suzanne said...

He always called me "Spajo" (sp?rhymes with rat-joe [sorry])--wonder what in the heck that means? He called all us kids "Spajo"

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Your Paw Paw reminds me of my Pa Harper who lived to be 97. He used to play croquet on Sunday afternoons with all his buddies. He would work on getting the croquet diamond (??) perfect. All the guys made their own mallots--they were really into it--took it very seriously.

Sandra Ree said...

Beautiful post, Brenda. You were truly blessed to have Paw Paw!

I don't remember either of my grandfathers very well, one passed when I was very young and the other lived far away and died of cancer when I was in my teens.

Sweet photo of Suzanne. :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Brenda. Beautiful.

All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley