Since I began writing articles for the Wilmington News Journal, people often like to relate stories of their own to me.
About a month ago, a sixty-year-old man asked me if I had time to hear a story. I said, “Sure.”
“I was born in Eastern Kentucky in one of many mining towns that rested in the beautiful mountain regions not too far from the National Forests that bordered three states,” the man began.
According to this man, his family moved often within the tri-state region — Kentucky, West Virginia and Southwest Virginia — because his dad was a coal miner and he took his family to where work was available.
As the use of coal dwindled, the opportunities for work soon dried up, and the man said his parents decided to move to Clinton County, Ohio, in the mid 1960s.
The man said life began to grow a bit easier. Their family was able to buy items that were considered luxuries in Southwest, Virginia. His dad began to work five days a week instead of six, and a Curtis Mathis console television held a prominent place in the living room. Sunday was a day for rest, and much like today, a time for football.
The man went on to say that one particular Sunday afternoon after the family had enjoyed a traditional, homemade dinner, all of the family headed to the large living room to watch the Cleveland Browns on television.
“My dad, with his 6’1” frame, was stretched out on the couch while my mother sat close by in her easy chair, with my younger sister and brother lying on the living room floor perched close to the TV,” the man said, now warming to his subject.
As everyone was enjoying the relaxing afternoon, the man said his brother decided to get a Wiedemann Beer out of the refrigerator. For some reason, known only to him, he said his brother shook the beer can which immediately started foaming and spilling out over the can onto the floor as he entered the living room. The man said his brother was trying his hardest to suck the beer into his mouth rather than allowing it to spill onto the carpet.
“Catching my brother barely out of the corner of his eye, my dad mistook my brother’s foaming mouth as his son being sick and throwing-up into the can. Suddenly, my dad jumped up from the couch, faster than anyone had ever seen him, and cried out to my mother.
“Hurry-up and help him, the boys’ sick!!!!” he said. Hearing his dad’s words unexpectedly, made my brother snort beer up his nose and started him coughing. My mom hastened to my brother’s side to help when she realized what had happened, and saw the sheepish smile erupt from my brother’s face. She began to laugh uncontrollably, to which my dad began to chastise her, urging her still to help their “ailing” son. Finally, she calmed her amusement.
“The Browns just scored a touchdown, and you made me miss it!” my dad yelled at my brother.
“I am sorry, but I just couldn’t sip the beer quickly enough,” my brother said, as he returned to his place on the floor.
I thanked the man for the story.
Three weeks another ago a man said, “I have something I want to tell you.”
This gentleman said he received a call from his sister, and thought I might be interested in hearing about it.
According to the man, his sister would often drink a cup of Jack Daniels before bedtime. One night she had called him and told him their surname might not be their legal name after all. “Flabbergasted, I asked her how that was possible.”
“Well, our Grandpa ran away from home when he was seven years old. Traveling by rail, Grandpa met a blind man in Sneedville, Tennessee,” my sister said.
She went on to say that Grandpa had moved to West Virginia with the blind man and stayed with him several years. According to one of our uncles, the blind man’s last name was different from ours. Grandpa supposedly took his name.
“What is the point of this story?” the man asked his sister.
“Do you think I am legally married?” the sister asked.
The most recent story came last week after the Republican Debate, from a woman at Kroger’s who said her 85-year-old mother, a retired nurse, had watched the debate.
“Mother, what did you think about all the cussing that is going on,” the woman asked her mother.
“I haven’t heard this much foul language since I worked in the maternity ward,” the woman’s mother said with a laugh.
Most stories begin with “Remember when…” and end with a smile. I had to think about the last one a bit.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.