Family Non-Fiction posted January 14, 2017 Chapters: 1 -4- 7... 

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A Father for Christmas!

A chapter in the book A Truck Load Of Hard Times!

Coming home!

by Commando

Dear friends!
My older cousin is out in California working as a director for MGM Studios.  He and I were joined-at-the-hips as kids growing up in the Smoky Mountains at Pigeon Forge, (Dollywood) Tennessee.  We are meeting to start plans for making a family movie of my novel, "A Truck Load of Hard Times" after I complete 20 chapters.  I am presently writing chapter 14 and shall be posting chapters 4 - 13 for your review and recommendation.

My father hugged my mother gently, wiped the tears from her face then walked away. Although we were dirt-poor, our faith in God and trust in one another, gave us the courage to face the uncertainty of the difficult days ahead. I remember trying to swallow and couldn't. Tears ran down my cheeks, and I looked toward Heaven and whispered; "Please, God, find work for my father."

Chapter 4

Finding public work in an economically depressed part of Tennessee was difficult at any time. Of course, being a farmer and having lost your crop to the drought in late July made the task near impossible. With the thought in mind, I cranked up the old truck, pulled it around front, gave the wheel to my dad, and we headed out for town. Once arriving at the unemployment office, we found no job openings whatsoever.

"Kind of disappointing, huh, Dad?"

"It certainly is, Billy. You'll always find life full of disappointments. Remember, if the pill's too bitter to swallow, spit it out! But in the meantime don't you worry. I'll talk with Mr. Smith, and he'll help me find work, okay?"

"Okay, but remember, I'm out of school for two weeks, and if there's any way I can help, I will."

"Thanks, son, you're my little man, and we'll talk about it later, okay?"

"Sure, I just wanted you to know that I am here for you."

Mr. Smith and his brother, Carl, owned the little farm we sharecropped, a pharmacy and jewelry store in town. Both shared similar interests and common goals. Most everyone held them in high regards because of their moral character and down to earth dispositions. Within reason, their making money was a number one priority. That's true with most of us.  James, a third brother, had no interest in pills or jewelry.

After graduating from college, James started work in an automobile plant in Michigan and had risen in rank to Engineering Superintendent. That had taken a combination of determination and self-discipline despite the difficulties along the way. Not all that bad for a farm boy regardless of how you slice it. At one time I loved that phrase. Grandpa used it once, and I never forgot it. Not long ago, I tried to impress Janice by using it. She giggled then replied, "You're not talking about pie, you know?" I never used it again until now. At times Grandpa's saying seemed silly to me. 

My father was only asking to work for three months until Christmas--then he'd come home. He planned on saving back enough money to feed us, the livestock and buy seed and fertilizer for the spring planting. Keeping oil in the lamps until then would get harder and harder. Grandpa had told me as well, "Boy, blow out the lamp when you finish your school work. That way, we save money on the oil that can be used to buy food for the table."

Even with Grandpa's somewhat funny talk at times, he made sense at other times. Of course, Grandma would probably debate the issue. I loved the word debate as well. Grandpa taught me that word and lots more. God bless his soul!

It was late August, and my seventh birthday was history. Mr. James Smith had agreed to hire my father for the ninety days. The working agreement was for five days a week, eight hours per day and the pay was $1.35 per hour, commencing the 1st of September. Although I was no expert in arithmetic, I did, however, figure out a mathematical solution of around $648.00 for the ninety days. That much money was like finding a golden goose on an egg-laying frenzy for us at least.

My saying goodbye to Father was heartbreaking and financially essential for the hardship we faced. I remember well his embracing my mother, sister and me then saying, "Our sharing the agonies and heartbreaks while appreciating the tranquility and family unity during the hard times will truly bond us, heart and soul."

He smiled then disappeared among the passengers waiting to board the train. I could not remember what Grandpa said about a seven-year-old boy crying in public. Oh, I remember now, he said, "Son, you ought to wait until you're out behind the barn." With that in mind, the tears would have to wait. Of course, many would not understand that comment.

The three months that followed were hard. My mother contributed to the family effort in her usual way, plus baked cookies and cakes to sell on consignment at the grocery stores. Also, when not in school, my sister helped care for a disabled lady's physical, mental and general health, in addition to her regular chores. With father working away from home, I became the man of the house and felt responsible for my mother's and sister's welfare. 

In addition to school and my regular chores, I hunted and killed wild game for our food, chopped firewood for the stove and fireplace and all other jobs required. December finally arrived, the snow blanketed the rooftop, icicles glistened from the eaves, and, thank God, Father was home. Sleigh bells rang once again. My mother and sister worked diligently preparing a welcome home dinner to celebrate Father's return. If you've ever eaten fried chicken smothered in gravy, buttermilk biscuits baked in the oven of a wood burning stove, sweet corn on the cob slathered with fresh home-churned butter, green tomatoes fried to a crisp, then with apple pie for dessert, then you can relate to our appreciation of country cooking.  After we caught up with three months' activities,  it became crystal clear that our faith would see us through any hardships in the future.
After the excitement of the day's activity, we were all exhausted and went to bed early. My getting to sleep was more natural now, since father was home.  I remember counting eight sheep as they jumped the picket fence. I  remember how the ninth one leaped, then I fell asleep, and left it suspended in mid-air.  But I reasoned I'd get it down the next night.
Continued in chapter 5



As always, thanks for reading my presentation. Special thanks to Paul Featherstone for the awesome artwork.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Paul Featherstone at

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