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If The Ocean Were Whiskey and I Was a Duck…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Spinning Yarns.”

Stories weave us all together like a tightly woven quilt. My Daddy was quite the storyteller!! Combined with his infectious personality and his perfect comedic timing, he could tell you a joke and have you convinced it was true life!!! It would often take several moments after the punchline to realize everything he had told you was a story. Daddy was from a small town and his stories brought to life experiences that I couldn’t imagine, being more of a city girl.

Mom, on the other hand, was a city girl! She would regale me with stories of taking the bus downtown to go shopping at The Jones Store Company or eating lunch at Woolworth’s. When we would visit her childhood home, she would point out the skeletal remains of buildings that once grandly housed movie theaters, restaurants and shops. Now those buildings are lonely reminders of days past. I also recall her telling me how much she HATED chicken because she would go to the meat market with her momma and watch them ring the chickens’ necks, while being covered in blood-soaked aprons. She said the smell and sight stuck with her throughout her whole life and she could hardly stomach eating it.

I love to read, but more importantly, I love to listen. I can remember sitting on the back porch, as a sweet little girl, and just listen to Daddy tell stories. I remember him telling the story of the time he got kicked out of his high school band because he poured water in his Tuba. I can also recall the time he shared when he and his brothers, Alvin and Mop, built a wooden airplane. Somehow they convinced Mop to man the “plane” while Daddy and Alvin attempted the takeoff from the barn. One of my favorite tales was how he and many other boys in town did not want the dog catcher to take any dogs to the pound. One would be a lookout, and while the dog catcher was capturing a dog, the boys would sneak to his truck and let the imprisoned ones out!!!

As I grew into adulthood, those stories became more important to me. They were part of my legacy that I wanted to pass to my kids. I wanted them to know the history of their grandparents. As my Daddy’s thoughts and memories retreated further into the deep corners of his mind, I found I cherished those stories even more. I soaked up every word, even if he had told that same story, over and over and over… One evening, out of the blue he looked me square in the eye and said…”If the ocean were whiskey and I was a duck, I’d dive to the bottom and never come up.” WHAT????????? First off, I have never seen my Daddy with an alcoholic beverage! I asked where on earth that came from and he repeated it again. I never could get an answer. So, I met up with my new friend, Google, and typed in that sentence. What I found was the song, Rye Whiskey. Since his stories were slowly becoming silenced, I could only infer that this was a song his Daddy and brothers would play on their old front porch at night.

To me, a great storyteller isn’t necessarily one who is a famous published writer. Some of the best stories are the ones that are passed down from one generation to another, many times never recorded and almost always told again and again. Those stories that Momma and Daddy told us of their youth somehow connected me to them and actually made them real, not super humans. Now that they are both gone, that’s all I have left to remember them by…their stories. I hope that my kids remember the stories they heard from their grandparents, plus the stories I’ve told them and pass them on to the next generation. One day, the stories of my parents will only exist in their souls…departed from this earth, never to be shared again.