SIPPING

My wife is one of six kids. The funniest is Raymond. He is also the best and most consistent beer drinker. We zoomed the remaining siblings today. During the session someone asked a question of Ray, noting there was no beer in hand.

“Haven’t had a beer since November” Ray informed us. Silence. “I do have a periodic sip of wine” he continued. Like what ? was asked.

“Well, we drink a bottle of wine each night. I pour Bev a small glass and I sip the rest.”

MAKE UP YOUR MIND

Single in 1965 I never cooked. Married in 2021 –still can’t. When my roommates Joe Robinson and Phil Nordan and I got off work someone would eventually say “lets go eat”! Next would be “where do you want to go?” Then ” I don’t care Anywhere is fine with me.” Then, “me either”. Next–“…nah–I don’t want to go to Parkers.” Followed by 6 or so suggestions and rejections. Then we’d go to THE GOLDEN WEED.

Several of the high school football coaches would often be there and football was often the topic. Lesley Farris was the owner and would join us. One of the Coaches told Lesley not to tell them how to coach the team and they wouldn’t tell him how to cook the beans.

This isolation period reminds me of those days. What to eat tonight? Bless my bride, Margaret . She has been a trouper. My five year old grandson on his checklist admitted “… I didn’t do too well on vegetables!” Me either James.

So after this morning’s “what are we going to eat tonight?”followed by several personal staples (bean salad, rice, mac and cheese, burgers, spaghetti) were culled) I offered “… anything, but don’t ever put a goddamned brussell sprout in front of me again.”

That’s when the pan hit me.

Hang on –the vaccinations are working.

THE CHECK IS IN THE MAIL

One of my grandsons, Lennox, is undefeated. Told me so. He is five and lives in Boulder and we Facetime frequently. We were talking earlier this week and I remembered to ask him if he had received the letter I had recently mailed him.

He looked quizzically at his Dad who said it had not arrived. Lennox, wide eyed and excited, said he was going to the mailbox. Dad said he had already got the mail and the letter wasn’t there. Quiet followed.

Lennox then asked me, “… did you get my letter to you?” I told him I had not.

His Dad then asked Lennox when he had mailed me a letter?

Slyly Lennox revealed “… I really haven’t written it yet.”

One- ups- man-ship is a thing of beauty.

THE COQUIHALLA PASS

I retired almost twenty years ago. I’m glad. Don’t know whether I could have eased off enough to survive the current boredom traps. You have to work at retiring.

There are a few concerns and observations demanded by the great sequester. Will we recognize each other as we walk out like the “Walking Dead”. I’m up to about 250lbs (quarter ton of fat and fun). Haven’t been to a barber shop in a year. I glanced at a mirror and thought, “… You look a lot like Larry David.”

Reminds me of “GROUNDHOG’S DAY”. Same clothes. Same basic routine. I asked “Bonehead ” Dennis where he bought his pants?” Loose, with expandable waist. Wife calls them “soft clothes”. Forgot how to tie a necktie.

“Kelly sox” from Nester Hosiery are thick and I can’t wear them out. Like slippers. Only need two pair as Wife type washes every other day. Vacuums daily. She likes to stay busy. Keeps things “neat and tidy.” Someone said footballer “Big Daddy” Libscomb” serviced so many maids he had an erection every time he heard a vacuum cleaner.

Wife Margaret should have been named go. Truly a nomad–anywhere, any time. When she gets that look we have to ride. If you live at our ocean you can’t drive east. We have covered every area within a day trip. She drives. We did go to the mountains to the far north of North Carolina. Drove for two days but that “…still doesn’t count as a real trip!” Lot of short ventures. We have driven around Beaufort so many times, we are being watched.

We literally rode to the dump one day. One day the landfill of a development had a sign on a house that said “Ground under repair”.

In November I wrote about THE POINT. Just about daily we ride down. Savior of a mini-trip. Average five days a week.

Thank God for Facetime. A grand child in Boulder thinks we live in box. He’s five and can play chess and “Texas Hold Em”. That’s my boy!

I’ve played so much online poker I know every tell the computer is programmed for. Elon President, Fred Young told me “you have to have something planned every day.” Last summer I learned how to call up the village owl and capture carpenter bees. My late friend, Bob Johnson, told me his Uncle Tazzo bought the first color TV in Jacksonville, Florida. $900! Tazzo had just declared candidacy for public office and invited the entire family for Sunday dinner and the announcement. Bob said when the TV commentator called Tazzo the most corrupt individual in the county, he kicked the new TV in. Color me angry. I fear we may suffer “Trump Withdrawal” if covid continues much longer. Pro or con–you watched that TV, didn’t you? Ever cuss?

If you didn’t watch news channels between 8 pm and eleven, it was Noodlin, or Swamp People, or Duck Dynasty reruns. Recruiters for the Washington assault went to Wal-Mart, Pro-Bass, and evening TV a lot. (“Ninety percent of the time I got in trouble Uncle Si was involved somehow!” ) ***Admit it, you watched the Cornhole Championships, didn’t you.

In fairness TV has saved many. And saved most money. When you don’t play golf, fill up the tank, travel, or eat out, etc. you save $. I do feel sorry for the cooks, trying to figure out the daily menu. I suggested “meals on wheels”. A reciprocal dirty look ensued.

I’ve ridden the Coquilhalla Highway, British Columbia in Canada. Where they wreck 18 wheelers for TV. I was there in July and it was a hairy trip. The weather channel has amazing film of fires, flooding, hurricanes. I had never witnessed bouncing tornados until recently. By God, something is changing. (“…don’t ask for deluge”) Starbuck from THE RAINMAKER).

PATRIARCHAL ADMONITIONS

As a pre-teen and younger I was a tag along with my Mom and my older Sister to visit a couple with three daughters. Often Mom and Sis would try to make me aware of the middle girl, who was about my age. “Better be nice to that one, boy. The day is coming!” At 10 years in 1950 my gang was shooting Yankees and Germans on the Dan River banks or the city dump. Or playing tackle football. No girls allowed.

At 12 years old we moved. Fond of my lost buddies I stayed in touch by mail, or occasionally rode the bus to visit. Soon the older ones changed topics. About driving time they were myopic. “Have you guys been noticing ( name withheld)?” To “God Amighty. She’s filling that blue blouse out!” To ” how could we have neglected her?” To”holy shit!” she’s killing me!”

My bad, Sis.

But never did my Father do his duty. Should the male warn their offspring of obvious preteen ignorance? “That un is gonna ripen up soon, Knothead. All you gotta do is be nice for a little while!”

I have three Grandsons. Maybe its Pop’s job to clue them in on what’s important!

GRANDPARENTING

We got married a little later than average. Our children came a little late, too. And they,too, were “mature”. We did have a grandson to brag about, and have done our best.
However, we have not had a fair chance with some of the early birds and more prolific. Not till 2015.
Surprisingly and with great joy we now have two more grandsons. Infants, and months apart.
Everyone is gaga as we share pictures via technology. Skype, Facetime, Videos.
The first child of my youngest Son got the usual treatment of first time parents at Christmas: A picture with SANTA.
Actually not a picture, but a string of about twenty rapidly shot options, exhibiting lots of opportunities for grandparents.
Typically we let the comments fly:
“…look at his eyes. Just like his Fathers!”
“…he is a big boy!”
“…and his red velvet suit, trimmed in white fur collar”
“…his hair looks a little different here!”
“…yes, that changes in young ones!”
Like said, ours was a big child (now referring to it “ours”).
This one was big too. But about the 12th frame down something caught
my eye.
“Margaret–that ain’t “our child! That child is a girl.”
A big girl, but a girl. The give away came with a posture shift
that revealed white leggings, also trimmed. I knew MY son would not
allow his boy so photographed.
Grandma said “…maybe its just cold and she wanted him to be warm?”
“Nope. Scroll down!”
Sure enough, there he was. Looked like he was dressed in camouflage. Almost square.
“…well, my,my. Look at his hands. How sweet!” (she)
“..’our’ boy is a stud!”(me), etc.

Merry Christmas

THANKSGIVING

My wife is named Margaret Parham. So is the lady pictured below. My father’s mother was living when I was born, but died shortly thereafter. This picture is the only one I have ever seen of her.
As a matter of fact I never have even thought of her much until this fall. I turned 75, but more importantly two grandsons arrived, somewhat surprisingly so, to accompany the first grandson.
My one sibling does remember the older Margaret Parham: As a youngster I asked her what she knew of this woman. She revealed that this mother-in-law had earlier lived in my parent’s home. Much to the consternation of my Mom, who simply summarized her feelings by saying: “We didn’t get along too well. She didn’t think anybody was good enough for E.T.” (My Dad).

OLD GOLF JOKE: GOLFER 1: Hmm. A son-in-law chip
Golfer 2: What does that mean?
Golfer 1: Not bad, but not what I’d hoped for.

My Dad never said much about his family. “Pretty rough times.” I reacted like anyone denied information and persisted to the point of finding out more of the story.
North Carolina “Parhams”come almost exclusively from the Oxford/Henderson area. Dad said due to the depression his father moved them to the mountains of North Carolina, around Hendersonville, NC (Ironically). I have never known the original bunch.
Pressed by me, and in small doses, my father parceled it out to me. There were four girls and E.T.,the only son and the youngest child. The depression bore down and the farming didn’t do much. My grandfather, ostensibly, left the family to try to find work. He never returned. One sister survived. My father never quite said it as such, but implied the other three sisters more of less starved to death.
I am glad I had these conversations, painful as they were. And I think it also helped my father to unload some darkness. Two memories he had stand out in my mind. With no small amount of pride he said “…I was behind our mule, ploughing, at age 9.”  He never went without a garden that I can remember. He was never happier than in the garden. He never bought a “machine” to “turn the earth”, rather found someone with a mule who would lend it to him to prepare. Later he found an older Black gentleman with a mule who helped him in his late 80s. They smiled a lot.
His recollection of this, brought tears from both of us: “…you know, I somehow always valued education. I would not miss school if possible. After the girls died there was nothing. So,as I grew, or wore out my shoes, Mother would go to the closet and hand me the next sister’s vacant pair. The other kids made fun of me, but I went to school.”
My Dad and our name survived. As I now reflect on the fact that there are now six living “Parham Boys”, I can’t help wondering if we don’t owe my Dad’s mom some thanks.
Having piece-mealed an education together, E.T. Parham and his mother traveled though out North Carolina to 14 different one room schools in 18 years. Dad laughed at the fact that, “… I was a school principal at age 18. They survived. So have I, Tee, Dan, Andre, James, and Lennox.
My guess is that old lady WAS “tough”. And thank God she was. Belated, but sincere thanks, from us all.  And thanks for  a deep belief in education.

I never knew either Grandfather. Not much of a “mental picture there. I am gonna try extra now, to see what happens with the Parham boys.
This is my fourth amateurish attempt at writing something I hope will survive, and that one day the little ones will have some “pictures”
they can find helpful.

THUNDER BOLTS

Remember the “Thunderbolt” from The Godfather? Al Pacino (Michael) knew
from the moment he saw the young Italian girl that was it. Believe it, I’m proof. I’d heard a lot about Lou’s maid of honor, Margaret. They were nurses, had gone to school together, and now both worked in Detroit.
Pete and I were walking upstairs to the living quarters, and the girls were dress-ing the bridesmaids. As we passed the door (we did not peek!) someone exited the maiden-filled dressing area. There she was. KAH-TOW-YOW! They had her burgundy bridesmaid dress hiked up over her waist, adjusting something. My eyes meet hers, on the way up, and that’s about it. Game over, E. Thomas Parham, Jr.
Actually we never talked to each other that trip. I had purchased Vette number two, a burgundy ’69, with a 454 cubic engine. Between the raucous crowd and riding around in the car, I couldn’t get to Margaret, I did tell Lou’s sister, Cathy age 14, the youngest, I was already in love with Margaret.
After the wedding, Pete and I drove the ‘Vette south. Why couldn’t that girl be in my life? Oh well, back to Wilson.
Margaret and Mary Lou had traveled all over everywhere. Margaret loved to travel and was just getting started. On another European excursion that August, she went this time with her sister, Francis. An able substitute for married Mary Lou Gray.
Seeing someone on this trip who she swears reminded her of me, she sent both Pete and me a post card.
Pete was being transferred to Raleigh with BB&T Bank. We had a party arranged for him. I invited Margaret to the party.
True to her pattern, Margaret, just back from Europe, was planning another trip. She and another nurse were headed to Alaska to work. She was to leave the next week. “Come on down for a couple of days anyway,” I suggested. “Okay” was a great answer to me.
She arrived on Tuesday at age 25. I was 29. She had to leave on Friday. North to Alaska. We had a problem. She called me on a stopover in Pittsburgh. “What are we going to do?” She wondered. I knew then she felt as I did. “Well, we could get married.” (Did you say that, Pete later questioned.)
History.
When I picked up Margaret at the Raleigh Airport the next Tuesday, I asked if she’d mind my stopping momentarily at my parent’s home, very near the airport and very easy to check on them. “Sure.”
My dad, located at the back door and shelling butter beans, said his gentle manly “hello” and kept shelling. After a few brief moments with Mother Geneva Belle, we were off in the ‘vette and a whirlwind.
My parents were unaware of the next 3 days events. I returned one week later with Margaret, Dad in the same spot, this time string beans.
“Dad, remember Margaret?” “Yes.” “Well, we have some news, we’re going to marry!”
I had his attention.
Margaret, hearing my mom call, walked inside. I guess this is as good a time as any. “Dad, I need to tell you that Margaret is Catholic.”
The Baptist minister’s response was “I’d rather you be Catholic than what you’ve been.”

CANADIAN BREATHALYZER

About twenty North Carolinians headed to a snow bound Detroit airport De- cember 1969. One couple got lost. My dad and A.C. Chaplain and friend Dan Hensley joined Father Gerry Craig in a really divine wedding. The party also was also divine.
At the rehearsal party on the previous night we were mixing Canadians, rednecks and booze pretty good. The breath-a-lyzer had just gone into law in Ontario.
Margaret’s father, Jim, was a mine machinist who’d joined his two best bud- dies, Fred and Alex, south to work for Dupont. Alex told a rather rank joke. His wife, Gladys, overheard him, hauling him away by the ear.
Our group assembled at the wedding party and watched as a chagrined Alex was marched over by Gladys to apologize to the Southern guests.
We assured her we’d heard worse and no offense was taken. In fact, have a drink with us. One became two, three, and suddenly Alex blurted, “you guys hear about the first Canadian, a woman, given the breath-a-lyzer? The cop who examined the test stated “Looks like you’ve had a couple of stiff ones!” The woman responded quizzically, “Does it measure that too!” “Please Gladys, grab my other ear this time”, Alex said, as she charges him.