Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor and Pecans

A couple weeks ago I took my boys over to spend some time with my grandpa. We didn’t have to look long for some excitement because he already had the day planned. He wanted to take the boys out to watch his friend harvest pecans. His intent was to educate them on the entire process. This of course was after he stuffed us with a variety of his canned creations and a few that weren’t his from people I didn’t even know. But regardless, we tasted them all…even Winston reluctantly took a spoonful of sorghum to put a smile on his face.

Then we we’re off to an area known as Perkin’s Corner. Much to my satisfaction he suggested I drive, though I knew he would critique me over the next 15 miles it was well worth the trade for the getting to go the actual speed limit and just for safety in general. Though I wasn’t sure we could be injured in an accident at his 15mph pace I was reassured of the decision to drive after he showed me, in a boastful laugh, his tracks from the week before where he skidded through his turn off and down into ditch when he, “had one on his tail” after topping the hill.

I think anyone will agree that one of the unique things about my grandpa is the stories! Or maybe it’s the stunts he pulls to create the stories? Either way it comes out to be a good story. If I would have been taking notes that day I’m pretty sure he made a decent good story about a trip he took to the grocery store a few days before.

What I know for sure is there was a place along the way that his voice changed a little bit and he got a little more serious. It was when we crossed the river bridge and he pointed off to the south and he said, “See that hill over yonder where that barn is? About a half miles south of there was a house where I was born. We moved later but my uncle lived on this place. We were over here with a bunch other family in December 1941. I could walk you over there right now and put you within 10 feet of the spot where some of us youngins were playing in a little gulley when it came over the radio that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. By the time the news got around to us it was about 3 or 4 o’clock. Yep, that’s exactly where I was December the seventh, nineteen and forty one.” Then there was a noticably long pause.

A pause to see the faces of friend lost to the war that erupted next?

A pause thinking of the family he was playing with in that gully that have gone on before him?

A pause just to relive the days of his youth for a moment?

I’ll never know what the long pause was for, but it was significant, because if my grandpa is awake there are no pauses.

In my short life I’d like to think I’ve had those times I’ll share with my grandkids and great grandkids someday.

The place I was standing in “E” section of the Pesagi Dorms at ECU when the Murrah Federal Building in OKC was bombed, but the first reports thought a gas line had ruptured.

The office I occupied at Groendyke Transport in Enid, OK when Christy called me 8 days before our first son Winston was born to let me know the World Trade Center had a plane crash into it.

And vouching for my cousin Jarrod, we could show you the spot of ground on the old abandoned railroad tracks within 10 feet where we were standing the night grandpa had a great idea. Went something like this:

[Persuasive Grandpa] I’m going to put that raccoon we’ve trapped, you see, the slobbering snarling one that’s looking for a chance to chew one of you boys’ extremities off, yeah that one. I’m going to put him in this snare I made out of PVC and baling wire (similar to one of those things you see dog catchers use). Once I’ve got hold of him you two are gonna use your hands to free him of that trap and I’m gonna to put him in that undersized cage that you two boys are going to hold the even more undersized door open on. Got it?

[Loyal grandsons]…….

[Ticked off Coon] Snarling, hiss, spit, snort, growl….

[Persuasive Grandpa] Got it?

[Loyal grandsons] Is there a reason we can’t be on the safe end of the fancy snare you’ve made?

[Persuasive Grandpa] Huh, much to complicated for you two to operate! You ready?

[Ticked off Coon] Snarling, hiss, spit, snort, growl….

[Loyal grandsons] …..…

[Persuasive Grandpa] Good! Here we go!!!!

To finish this story simply and to uphold the integrity of all those involved I will say the snare worked, the cage was too small, the coon got meaner as was expected, but Jarrod and I were brave to the end despite what Grandpa may say! It was very hard to determine just where that coon was going to go each time Grandpa lunged it in the general direction of the cage. Our flashlights in his eyes and screaming should have had no bearing on the aim of such a gifted snare operator! Brave to end I’ll say! Brave to the end.

Someday I hope my boys will remember so vividly the day they laughed at their great grandpa showing his skid marks that trailed off into the ditch.

I hope they remember the day their 80 year old great grandpa outran them to the truck so we could race from tree to tree because he desperately wanted to educate them about every step of a pecan harvest.

And most of all I want my boys to someday recall the day their great grandpa showed them the area of his birth site, told them the Pearl Harbor story, remember the pause and image just what was in it.

Check out this beast!