Today is Grandparents Day. My temptation is to take the 500 words I’m allotted for this column and write about how sweet and cute and smart and funny my five grandchildren are. But I won’t.
Instead, I’ve chosen to write about Fred Moore, my paternal grandfather. As I dig around in my memories of him, I discover that every one of them is happy. No doubt that’s because he was a happy person–a tall, quiet man with gray-green eyes, a shiny bald head and a perpetual smile on his face. Granddaddy was easily amused. He never saw a TV comedy he didn’t find hilarious, but his favorite by far was The Three Stooges. Even as a child, I had way more fun watching him watch TV than I did watching it myself.
Granddaddy loved to fish and had very strict rules about it. The first rule was NO FISHING ON SUNDAY. He claimed that the Bible, which was the only book I ever saw him read, prohibited it, though he never quoted chapter and verse. The second rule? When fishing from a bank, you had to stand up. No sitting in a lawn chair or plopping down to rest on the lid of his rusted metal ice chest. Granddaddy fished with a cane pole with a red-and-white bobber on the line. He always used “minners” for bait. Even when everyone around him was reeling in the crappie with crickets and worms, Granddaddy insisted on minners. And it didn’t matter if the temperature was a hundred degrees with a hundred percent humidity (typical of most summer days in Little Rock), he wore long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a billed cap.
“I don’t want to get burned,” he’d tell us. “And I don’t want to take chiggers and ticks home.”
He worked the graveyard shift on the sweet roll line at Colonial Bakery and got off at 7:00 in the morning. Whenever we were at his house for a visit, Granddaddy always walked through the door with a sack full of still-warm sweet rolls. He’d hand them over and sit down at the table to a breakfast of sausage, fried eggs and instant Sanka. I never saw him eat a sweet roll. Then he’d head for his darkened bedroom, where he’d sleep until mid-afternoon. If my brother and I got rowdy and accidentally woke Granddaddy up, it didn’t matter. In all the years I knew him, I can’t think of a single time he raised his voice or uttered a cross word.
Granddaddy grew the best tomatoes in the world. Big Boys and Better Boys, peeled, sliced and salted at every summer supper. And here’s the crazy thing. He didn’t even like tomatoes. “Just because I grow ‘em don’t mean I have to eat ‘em,” he’d tell us.
What I wouldn’t give for a taste of one of his tomatoes right now.
(September 10, 2017)