My dad was a country boy from Alabama. He worked with his dad and family on their small farm.
Because there was so much work to be done on the farm, my dad and his siblings could not attend school until after Christmas! All of the kids had to help harvest the crops and there was a lot of work for all.
Not being able to attend school until later in the year didn’t bother my dad, as he never cared much about going to school.
Dad had learning disabilities, and back then (the 1920s) no one believed there was such a thing, especially Dad’s teacher, who believed dad was just “goofing off.”
The teacher had a long switch, cut from a tree, which he had chosen to be well used for “whipping” scalawags, like my poor father.
Despite his troubles with learning, Daddy learned the alphabet and learned how to print and spell. He learned enough arithmetic to get by on.
But as Daddy tried his best to learn, His teacher began whipping him more!
“He like to have beat me to death!” my dad often told us.
At home, there was nobody to help my dad overcome his learning struggles, so he left the school and found other work.
He found work in the fields and woods of rural Alabama, and he was hired to dig out stumps for 50 cents a day.
While he was a hard worker, my dad also made sure to go to church each Sunday alongside his family. On top of his church-values, Daddy was taught by his own dad the importance of keeping your word. His dad believed a person’s word was his bond. If you bought anything on credit, from a store or person, that was the same as a promise and you always made sure to pay them back. Daddy didn’t break promises!
After starting his own family, my dad passed these values on down to his children. My brother and I learned these traits and I always tried to live my life, by my Dad’s “code” and to be an honorable person.
Daddy also believed “education was important.”
When, as a child, I complained about going to school, Dad would tell me, “you have to go to school, study and get a good education, I don’t want you to have to work as hard as I have during my life!”
Daddy always tried to do an exemplary job when he was working. He did good work and eventually, folks began calling him to do more work for them.
Finally, he became a contractor himself.
Daddy wasn’t very ‘school educated’, but he did make sure to read the Bible every night, even into his nineties. He would also spend time practicing his writing.
My dad had the ability to figure things out in his mind, and then put it into practice.
Daddy loved wild life, he often took the time to take me often for walks in the woods, where he would show me birds nests, and the birds who inhabited them.
He knew the sounds of the birds and which one made the certain sound.
Dad taught me the names of the different trees and how to identify them from their bark. He showed me a small clump of a plant, and told me that was “Fever Grass”.
He said in the olden days, people would pick it and make a tea out of it, which, when the tea was drunk, would cool a person’s fever!
When we needed a quick shade for a little girls rope swing, Daddy went into the woods, dug up a half-grown Chinaberry tree, and brought it home.
The tree was half dragging on the ground when Dad walked past our neighbors’ house (earning quite a laugh from them).
Dad then dug a huge hole in the yard and planted that tree.
Within a year, we had a very green, healthy Chinaberry tree in our yard and Daddy had put up a very sturdy rope swing for me!
I loved that swing, and so did the neighborhood kids.
Dad was the smartest man I ever knew.
He loved history, and so did I. He would sometimes take me to graveyards to learn about our family’s history, and sometimes we would visit older, still-living, family members who loved to tell us of the past and of our ancestors who had gone on.
Daddy had some wonderful stories told to him by older folk – maybe I’ll share a few with ya’ll later!
As you go about your life, be sure to tell a child a story about your family.
Make it a good one, and a true one. They’ll love you for it!
Patricia Ann Hinson Mordes