Saturday, July 05, 2008


This is a photo of my Papa. (pronounced paw-paw) It was taken of him while he was on a break at work at the L&N Railroad yards in the late 60's or early 70's by a photographer I can't identify. The photo was in the newspaper and won an award. It's a fantastic photo to be sure and it captures the type of man my Papa was brilliantly.
I don't know much about my Papa. He was a very quiet man and not openly affectionate. He liked his beer and cigarettes and apparently also drank a little whiskey which he kept hidden in his bedroom. When he spoke, it was sometimes laced with obscenities. I remember my Nana telling us that one of the ministers from our church came over to visit Papa one day. Papa didn't attend church but church folk were good about coming to see him on occasion. As the two men sat at the kitchen table and visited, my Nana, seated in her chair in the living room, heard Papa using too many questionable words so she rebuked him saying something like, "Clyde, that's a minister you're talking to." My Papa replied, "Oh hell, I know who he is!"
I don't remember much about my Papa but I do have a few very vivid memories. I can remember what it felt like to be kissed by him. His rough skin and stubble hurt my skin but I cherish the memory all the same. I used to love to watch my Papa shave. He would bring an old pan of hot water, a mirror and his shaving kit to the kitchen table to do it. He used an old shaving brush (which I have) to lather the soap and apply it to his face. I also remember going to Pete Clark's old store in Papa's old car. (don't remember what it was) Papa drove like a bat out of hell and I guess that was thrilling to a young kid at the time. Whenever Nana and Papa went anywhere together, Nana drove the white Chevy Biscayne. My dad told me this about Papa when we were home in April. In the late 60's my dad was transferred from the Pensacola Naval Air Station to the air station in Warner Robbins, GA. Dad says when we pulled away in the moving van it's one of the only times he ever saw my Papa cry. Also while home in April I got to read some of Papa's old letters to his first wife. The handwriting was beautiful and although mushy, the declarations of love were eloquent. I was stunned (as were some of my cousins) that the Papa we knew had written these letters in his early 20's. His first wife was killed in an automobile accident and apparently he was quite bitter about it. Mom says he was angry that she left him. When Nana died I think he died with her. He lived on for another 10 years or so but he hardly ever left the house, ate little and just withered away into nothing.
So, there's just a little bit of history about my Papa. I don't know much. Our family is so private about things. But my parents have been giving me the old family photos to scan and save so I'll try to share what I know as I get to them.

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