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Reminiscing: Warm memories of dear Grandpa
My grandparents, Earl Goode and Kizzie Lavonia Goode, circa 1925
My grandpa liked to gamble and he liked beer. He once won a whole farm in a poker game. But he lost it the next month, after he moved his family into the farmhouse he had won in the game. They had to move out that week.
But Grandma hated gambling. Grandma was a devout faithful woman, a Baptist, and she always prayed that Grandpa would quit gambling. But she stuck by her man. She loved him. I have written stories of his stills and bootlegging during the Prohibition Days of the ’20s.
One summer when the kids were young, they loaded up the car with the kids and a pile of feather mattresses in the car, and camped out on the way to pick cotton somewhere in Texas. There were seven of them that summer, all piled into the roadster with the mattresses and their clothes. They stayed one night in a little tourist court, which was a treat for the kids. They usually camped out.
After the kids had fallen asleep, Grandma and Grandpa went up to the little store by the tourist court to get a loaf of bread. There was a slot machine there, and Grandpa wanted to put in one nickel. Grandma wouldn’t go near the machine, but Grandpa kept insisting, and finally convinced her to go over and put a nickel in it.
In order to appease him and get back to the cabin, where the kids were, she put in a nickel. A pile of nickels came tumbling out. She stood there amazed, and Grandpa roared with laughter. She had won over $3. That was a lot of money in those days. She got so excited she began to put the nickels back in, dreaming of winning more. In less than 20 minutes, she had lost all the money. It was her first time! She made a vow that night to never gamble again. She tried to convince Grandpa to quit. He never did. The story has been passed down through several generations in the Goode family and everyone laughs as they tell it.
My grandpa, Earl Goode, was the kindest man I ever knew. He was the only grandfather we ever had. I loved him very much. After Grandma died in 1943, he would come to the farm and stay for weeks. During the ’40s, he would lie at night in the dark on a cot, with the radio on, listening to the baseball game, and that is one of my fondest memories of Grandpa. The Brooklyn Dodgers was his team. Even in the afternoons, with the heat so bad in the house, he never missed a game. Sometimes when he got a chance, he would bet a nickel on the game with whoever would take him on.
He also loved beer. He kept a warm bottle of Lone Star beer under his bed, and while listening to the ball game, he would take it out and sip on it periodically. That beer would last all during the game. I think he was dreaming of being at a game, cheering on his team, with a cold bottle of beer in his hand.
Sometimes at night, I would lie down beside him and listen to the game on the radio with him. Though I couldn’t stand the smell of snuff, I liked the smell as it came from him, and he kept a little empty snuff jar next to the bed to spit in once in a while. I even liked the smell of the warm beer, but mostly I liked the feel of his arms around me as we would listen to the game. When I think of my grandpa, I think of those warm memories of him.
Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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