September 10, 2005
my life as a country song
I've mentioned before that I'm in this world today because of an egg salad sandwich. But there's more to that story.
When my mama and daddy started courting, my grandfather didn't like my father. My dad was a raggamuffin, being raised by an aunt and uncle who didn't treat him very well, and my Papaw saw no prospects for that young boy. He didn't want him marrying his daughter.
Mom and Dad always laughed about the fact that if Papaw hadn't been working the 3-11 shift in the coal mines, they never WOULD have gotten married.
They eloped. My grandmother slipped my mama five dollars and said, "If you love him, marry him." Mom and Dad hopped a bus and went off to get married.
Dad joined the Navy after that and spent a year on Guam. He wrote my mama a love letter every day. When he came back to Kentucky, he and mom worked on having a baby. That was ME.
Dad took a pissant job in the coal mine, but worked his ass off and kept being promoted until he became the youngest section foreman in the history of the Corbin Coal Company. He was 23 years old and in charge of bossing some really rough cobs. He did a damn good job.
He finally earned my grandfather's respect.
When mama got pregnant, they both went down to the bank of the Cumberland River, built a fire, and read all of those letters over again. Then, they tossed the letters in the fire and burned them all.
I wish they hadn't done that. I would LOVE to read those letters today, now that Mama and Daddy are both gone forever.
If you don't think there's a country song in that story, you don't listen to country music.
Rob, what was the reason they told you for burning those letters? I wish you had them too. My mother burned all her old love letters from her "first love" before she met my father (she was only 16 when they married) but she always regretted burning them. Not because she still held a torch for the first boyfriend but just because she was so young and would have treasured them now at her current age. She always told me to hang on to stuff like that. Anyway I like that story about your parents. Good storyteller.
Well I don't and have never, listened to country music so I'm not going to comment on that particular perspective. I do, however, see a book there, Rob. To quote your dad:
"YOU CAN DO IT!!! Trust your instincts, boy. You've got what it takes."
I think you should write a book; I'd buy it...
It takes a lot of guts to go against family and marry someone they don't like. My mom and dad eloped also. She was half indian in the days in Texas where it wasn't good to be a half breed. They ran off to Oklahoma and got married. It took many years before my mother was accepted by my dad's family and I know hat she always resented that. But she never said anything to us kids and always said only nice things about our paternal kin. I was not only grown but close to fifty years old before my dad ever told me about the struggle they had. But they loved each other and had been married over sixty years when she died.
I love the stories you tell about your parents.
And, yes, there is a country song or two in your life story.
You've got a wonderful story there - who would you want to sing it?
That is a shame they burnt those letters. But I think I can almost - almost - understand why they did it.
I hope you someday write down all you remember and know about your family, and pass it in to your children. Your posts on that subject are my favorite (not that my opinion matters) and I suspect that well is far from dry.