Monday, May 24, 2010

Ol' Shorty

My Dad told me last week that his grand-dad, Papa, referred to death as "shaking hands with ol' Shorty."  I've been turning this delightful bit of information around in my head ever since, looking at it from different angles.  It is unclear whether ol' Shorty is God, Jesus, or Satan, though my Dad's money is on God.  I'm less certain.

Papa would occasionally go into town in a horse and wagon and get drunk.  When he fell into the wagon and passed out, his horses knew to take him back home.  His wife would lead him out of the wagon, put him to bed, sometimes read to him - old western novels, by the light of a coal lamp - til he fell asleep.

My Dad had some of his memories of growing up in Oklahoma published in a magazine called Oklahoma Edge.  Here's a short bit on Papa:
"Quite often when we left church on Sunday we would go by and get Papa out of jail. One night he came into the church and sat quietly on the back row. Someone from the church called the police and they came and arrested him. I always thought this was hypocritical on the part of the church people. I thought at the time, and still do, that Jesus would not have done that."
You can get the entire two-part series from Oklahoma Edge here - order the March and April 09 back issues.  Or just come back to the blog, I'll be posting excerpts on a regular basis.  It's a great read.  He's a good writer.


Shayna Prentice said...

Ah, your writing talents are family gifts, I see! I loved reading this - and will look forward to reading more.

ArtSparker said...

I knew somebody who as a small child believed that God was a cast iron lawn ornament in the shape of a dog who hung around the hoosegow.

Fresca said...

Hm. "Ol' shorty" doesn't sound much like the Christian god.
Curious, I googled the term "shaking hands with ol' shorty" and found it--without the "ol' "--as a slang for male masturbation.

Funny old world, eh?

Gordo said...

Wonderful! No, I don't think Jesus would call the man on a parishoner.

Clowncar said...

Shayna, it just kinda poured out of him. We put it up on our family history website, and it got discovered by the magazine. He was pretty surprised they asked him if they could publish it. I wasn't.

Arty, my youngest thought at one time there were unicorns in heaven (this was after I told her I didn't believe in heaven, but that most people did, and I could be wrong; she decided she did). I call her a Unicornitarian.

Well, yeah, that was my reaction too, Fresca. Thus the sentence "I am less certain." I think he was messing with my Dad's head, personally.

Gordo, there is a sad irony there.

Margaret said...

I just love this:
"Quite often when we left church on Sunday we would go by and get Papa out of jail."

Clowncar said...

Yeah, it's a nice detail. What I like about my Dad's telling is the lack of moralizing or sentimentality, leaving only the simple bald truth of the tales.

Fresca said...

Yep, I caught that "I am less certain." : )
I was just agreeing with you.

Of course, Jesus did get mad at people disrespecting the temple---the story of him whipping the money changers out.
Don't know if he'd have done that with someone who was merely drunk, but he was no marshmallow when he was angry.

Hilary said...

I see your Dad passed the writing gene along to his son. The "less certain" among us have also referred to Le Petit Mort.. or Little Death so your great-granddad might have been closer to your thinking after all.