Growing up, we were a pretty tightly knit community. My parents had the standard 2.2 kids (myself, my brother, and a half-brother that we never saw….until one day….and I didn’t know…but that’s another story), a decent house, they worked, we played. We had a ton of neighbors (which made it so terribly difficult to throw a secret party) of which happened to include my grandparents.
I loved my grandparents and I still do even though they’ve passed on. They provided me with all the love and attention a little kid could stand. My mother tells me that when I was about 3 or 4, yes I was a precocious little bugger, I packed a plastic bag with my stuffed animals and proceeded to walk out the door. She asked where I was going and I told her that I was running away. And at the ripe old age of 4, I told her, “And you be good!” and off I went to my Gram’s house.
Ah, Gram’s house. So much packed into a little place. So many memories, so many stories. A book has got to be forthcoming. Working title: Adventures of a Younger Me. I digress.
My grandparents were characters. Gram was very church oriented with Sunday School every week, choir practice, and the like. Pop, on the other hand, no church for him thank you very much. Except holidays when Gram made him go of course. Pop had a ritual that he followed just about daily and through the years, I got to see different parts of it. The best thing though, hands down, about Gram and Pop, were the things they did and said. These people who had lived through World Wars, being born in 1910 and 1912, lived through so many race issues, kids, grandkids, so much life!
And lively they were. Once, I walked into the house to find Gram sitting at the kitchen table with some friends from church drinking beer! To me, that was a huge deal. And the topper was that just as I was walking in, someone at that grey-haired, little old lady table ripped the hugest belch I had ever heard. At the time, I was stunned. Looking back on it makes me laugh hysterically. I mean, come on (Timmy), 5 or 6 little old ladies (I’d say they all had to be in their late 60s by then) drinking beer. No bibles, just beer. Wonderful!
Pop, well, I could go on for days about Pop, but if you really wanna know, keep bugging me to get the book finished. But, I will share this one story with you.
My father, may he rest in peace, was born in 1945. So, in his teens and early 20s, black people and their hair were going through a revolution. The young folk were getting their hair “conked”, meaning straightened more or less, evidenced by the late, great Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
That hair looks shiny, even in black and white, for a reason. It was more often than not, just plain greasy.
Now, Pop, being a traditionalist and not much for the fads of the day, didn’t care much for my dad having his hair in such a manner, but he apparently held that in for years and years and years until he could share that sentiment with me one day. When that day arrived, he said to me in no uncertain terms that,
“Back in the day, your dad had a greasy mess on his head. He had his hair conked. There was so much grease in his hair, that a fly would need chains to land on it.”
Flat out hysterical. If you come from a warmer climate and aren’t familliar with the reference, when it’s cold and snowy, sometimes you put chains on your tires to get a better grip on the road.
Maybe you had to be there. Maybe you’d just have had to have known him. But maybe, maybe you don’t.