“Shug” ~ By Jody Day
My dad sat me on his lap the night before my first day of school. “Keep your mouth shut. That way you’ll know everything you know, and everything they know, too.”
I didn’t listen. But it’s a wonder I got a word in edgewise, because he loved to talk and tell stories. Born in Louisiana, the family eventually settled in Jasper County, Texas. They had a maid named Arvetta, and she gave Daddy the nick-name “Shug” as in “Sugar.” Dad talks about being just a tyke standing on a box flipping burgers during the depression. He had an ornery streak. Their Christmas stockings were full of fruit and nuts, and maybe some penny candy. Daddy would wait until everyone ate all their goodies before he started on his. His siblings would beg for a piece, and he loved saying no and having them all watch while he ate his. Such a nut!
He had debilitating asthma but joined the army anyway during WWII. He ended up in Hawaii, where most of his pictures show him on the beach. Not bad, but they had to send him home. His brother was killed two weeks before the war was over. Daddy didn’t talk about it much.
He worked for the railroad, but multiple sclerosis made him a stay-at-home dad, while my mom worked as a telephone operator. He loved to cook and make lunch bags full of goodies for my grandchildren. He would throw his head back and sing his favorite song. “Down in old Joe’s bar room, at the corner ooooooof the square…”
My dad always told me I could do anything I wanted to do if I worked hard at it. He was right. He gave up drinking, and then smoking in his later life. He loved to freak the grandkids out by taking out his teeth. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. We all miss you.