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Sunday, November 10, 2002

I'm Still Here

I haven't blogged much in the last couple of days. I've simply been busy with all the little stuff.

My dad came to visit for a day. His former boss retired, and he attended the going-away event here in Cincinnati. (My parents live about an hour and a half from here.)

I love my dad, and he's a great role model. He was the son of a minster in rural Alabama. He doesn't tell those "I had to walk to school two miles each day uphill both ways" stories, but occasionally my mother will fill me in on his past.

His family was so poor, it couldn't afford anesthetic when the kids went to the dentist, so just imagine having your teeth drilled and feeling everything.

My dad actually picked cotton as a boy. Said he was no good at it. You have to be careful to grab as much of the fluffy boll as possible, and avoid the woody parts as you go up and down the rows, stooping and pulling the sack of collected cotton behind you. Too much woody stuff gets you a lower price per pound. The woody stuff is sharp and cuts your fingers.

My dad went on to put himself through college and graduate school, while he was married and with a young son (me).

Sometimes, when I was growing up, I'd get him talking about the food he'd eaten as a child. It was po' folks food, involving a lot of corn bread, biscuits, fried chicken, black-eye peas, okra and bacon. And bacon grease. You had to save the grease left over from frying bacon and store it in an old coffee can. You use the grease later in corn bread and for frying the okra.

My mother rolls her eyes as this menu; she grew up in more genteel circumstances.

My dad's father grew up during the Depression and also put himself through college, funding his life draining swamps in Louisiana and Mississippi. (He got malaria once, and that was in the days before medicine that actually cured you.)

My grandfather remained so worried about having enough food that years later, when he actually had some money in the bank, he'd insist on buying canned food by the case, which he'd squirrel away in storage at home. Like a lot of folks from that era, he didn't particularly trust banks, and after he died we found stashes of cash he'd hidden in his books--just in case he needed it.

Anyhow, that's more story for today, kids.

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