Happy Birthday Daddy…

I am going to reblog a poem that I wrote for my daddy, but first a bit of his life story, I hope you enjoy it, his adventures in life were many, as were the heartaches and pain.

It is my father’s birthday, although I wish he were here with me, he would have been “110 years-old” He had just turned eight years old when his mother died, he went to live with his Native American grandmother, as his mother and father were divorced after his father left them sitting in an empty weathered house after he removed everything.

Unfortunately at the age of ten, his father came after him, he lived with his father, slept in the barn, ate on the back porch; treated as a farm laborer.  Not allowed to visit his beloved grandmother, he dreamed of running away.  When he was twelve, his father put him to work in a Tin Mill, so small in stature he stood on a stool to reach the cutting machine, however he was strong and without help lifted the rippled tin that was stacked next to the machine.  He would walk to the Mill early each morning and back at night accept on the end of the workweek; his father would be standing at the “pay window”.  Each Friday handed what few pennies that he earned over to his father.

When he would tell the story he eyes would sparkle at the mention of a man he call “Big Ed”.  Big Ed brought him his quota of tin each morning; and it was on such a morning that he asks my father if he wanted to get away from his father whom was known as a lazy drunk by everyone in the county.  The answer, yes, Big Ed help plan his escape!  The day finally arrived, my father placed his “other” set of clothes in a feed sack and went to work.  At the end of the day, he stood in line to collect his “pay”, Big Ed stood behind him.  My father held out a nervous hand to receive his money, when his father reached for it Big Ed grabbed him by the wrist saying, “Not today, this boy is going away and he needs his money”.

My father told of the railroad hiring water boys, jumped the nearby freight train heading south, he would forever be grateful to his friend, Big Ed.  Hired as a water boy, given a place to sleep in a tent, two hot meals a day and a few cents pay each week.  This life would continue for the next six years.  When he turned eighteen he begin riding the rail, yes, hobo style; finally returned to his grandmother’s when he was twenty.  It was during his visit to Birmingham that he met in a local Roadhouse a man by the name of “Pretty Boy Floyd” who connected him with an organization running whiskey throughout the south and as far north as Chicago.  It was in the Tennessee Mountains that he was chased by local authorities, his car shot-up and nearly lost his own life.

Hearing of this his grandmother sent him to stay with her cousin who owned a farm in the northern part of the state.  It was there that he met and married my mother, had two children and would remain on this farm for years.  This is where I grew up, with the most wonderful father in the world, a kind and gentle man that everyone called the Chickasaw Farmer.  Below is the poem I wrote about his farming days and the people who loved him.

“Happy Birthday Daddy”

 

The Chickasaw Farmer…

“A tribute to my Daddy”

Rickety ole man stood on the cotton
Wagon a tin of yellow salve in his
Hand.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man
A hot southern sun hides behind

the Willows on muddy Flint Creek,

cotton Pickers sweat falling on

parched lips Taste like salty brine

while they wait For the ole man to

call “quitting time”.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Young, old, children, women and men
Bloody fingers cut by the barbs of the
Cotton boll dig into the old yellow salve

Tin.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Tar bottom sacks filled with soft white
Gold weary feet follow two old sway
Back mules down a rutted road.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Crimson clouds from wagon wheels
Whirl around tired bodies and drained
Minds; feels like pickers been

Working in the cotton fields since the

Beginning of time.

Rickety ole wagon
Rickety ole man

Mules stop at the fork of the road as the
Cotton pickers walked into the dark of the
Night the Ole man’s heart filled with

Appreciation; cause he’s just an old

Chickasaw farmer trying to
Survive inside a “White Nation”.

 

Rickety ole wagon

Rickety ole man

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30 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Daddy…

    • Thank you Emma for the comment, it may sound like a “tale” a story of fiction, however, it was actually my father’s life it was colorful before he became a farmer. I have found throughout my years of “listening”, “reading and writing that real life can sometimes be better than fiction. Hope your week is going well, I am looking forward to seeing your work. The post today replaced my not having time to work on poetry as I told you I have a WIP that is past deadline for me… 🙂

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    • Thank you for the comment, I always enjoy writing about my Dad. He was a kind, gentle man and his dry sense of humor made him a joy to be around. He was a loner, a man of few words, however if you could get him to talk about his younger day you sat in awe. He was a Robin Hood of his time, and the three-hundred people who came to his funeral was proof that we still did not know everything about him.

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  1. Ann it was memorable reading through your blog about your dad. It’s also my dad’s birthday this month on Oct 20th and he passed away in 2002. Regards Madonna

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  2. Hi Ann, Thank you for sharing this story of your dad. While reading this, it brought back memories of my own dad and his life. Carol

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