Monday, July 21, 2008

Grandpa Archie

Grandpa Archie's Style of Pick-Up Truck
Keepin' that left-front wheel on the center line of life!
(Image from Wikipedia)

Uncle Cran posted a very interesting comment to yesterday's blog entry.

As readers will already know, I had written that blog entry using a comment left by a Mr. M. Shane Klein on one of my previous blog entries about the Ozark country musician David Lynn Jones. Mr. Klein had happened to remark on my reference to a man whom I called "Grandpa Archie" -- stepgrandfather to me and uncle to both David Lynn Jones and Mr. Klein himself.

Archie was, moreover, a stepfather to my Uncle Cran, who remembers . . .
I well remember both David Lynn Jones and my stepfather, Archie Dillinger. My father died when I was age two and a half. My memories of my father were more like dreams, just brief excerps. Mom kept us kids together, remaining single for ten years.
For those who didn't read yesterday's blog, I'll just add interject that Uncle Cran's father (my paternal grandfather) died in the early 1940s as a result of injuries sustained in a tree-felling accident.
Then[, after those ten years without a husband,] she met Archie, they were married, and he became basically the only father my sister Virginia and I really knew. Virginia was only five months old when dad died.

Archie was a good man. He and mom were married for forty years. He wasn't afraid of anything. I'll just mention one incident. We had a neighbor, who I won't name, who had a reputation as a knife fighter. In fact, he cut up a drunk who picked a fight with him, and the man nearly bled to death before they got him to a doctor.
I think that I might know that neighbor . . . if he was the one involved in moonshining.
This neighbor tried to encroach his fences on neighbors, and did so to one family. Not long after Archie and mom married, this neighbor sent a logging crew to cut timber off a piece of ground of ours. Archie ran them off. In Viola a short time later, Archie was sitting at one of the store fronts with some others. This neighbor came by, Archie confronted him and told him to keep off our land. The man pulled out his knife. Archie told him, "If you don't want to have to pull that knife out of your *** you better stick it back in your pocket." He did, and they never had another problem.
Fascinating. The closest to a curse that I ever heard Grandpa Archie use was "Shht!" He used that expression to avoid saying "Sh*t!" because asterisks are so difficult to pronounce. Yet . . . he managed three asterisks in a row to avoid the synonym for "donkey"!
Archie's driving habit was unique, He drove 35 mph an hour, whether on a gravel road, or the highway, keeping the left tire on the center line. Your brother John was riding with him, and said, "Grandpa Archie, what if you meet a car?" Archie said, "Somebody has to give."
Though I don't recall any center lines on gravel roads, I do distinctly remember Grandpa Archie's driving technique. More method than habit -- as Archie explained it -- for I asked him why he drove like that on highways, and he insisted that the center lines were painted on the highway to tell drivers precisely where to place the front left tire. Like my brother John, I then asked Archie what happened if two vehicles approached from opposite directions. "One of you just moves over," he replied, unperturbed. His answer to me, while less worrisome than the game of chicken implied in his reply to my brother John, was hardly reassuring, but I did notice that Grandpa Archie never encountered any driver with the same driving method, so the dilemma never presented itself.

The last photo that I have of Archie is one that Sun-Ae took. Archie, about 95 but still handsome, smiling, and looking strong, was standing beside me, his arm around my shoulder. Only seconds before, he'd pointed to me and said, "He's a dandy!"

Which didn't imply that I was a Baudelairean flâneur -- that "gentleman stroller of city streets" -- but simply that I was a fine, fun fellow.

I still miss that good old man.

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At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are dozens of stories regarding Archie, but it's time for me to sit back and let others do their reminiscing.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Bill has already begun, and I may just have to blog on his comment to the previous blog entry.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The stories and photos of our older relatives are treasures: history brought to life through personal connections.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, they are, but we often don't realize this until those people are gone.

Jeffery Hodges

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