Turkey in the Straw

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hey shot him in his right armpit. In Le Havre, France. They awarded him the Purple Heart for it. No one knows how he got wounded under his arm. And he wouldn’t explain it either.

The Army whisked him away to a hospital in Italy, and left him to heal. There, he spent his days practicing mandolin. He was fire on that instrument, and picky about what he played. He would pretend to be offended if you asked him to play Kentucky tunes. “I only play real music,” he’d say. “Not that hillbilly garbage.”

Then he’d wink at you and play Turkey in the Straw.

Just because he could.

When he wasn’t playing music, he carved. And God, could he carve. I have several of his wood figurines. He used an ugly pocket knife with a beat up brass handle, one he bought when he was twelve.

Every evening of his life, he polished the engine of his Steudabaker. That’s what men did back then. It wasn’t enough to keep the oil changed, and the engine running smooth.

It had to be clean, dammit.

That being said, he wasn’t a car-man. He was a history buff. His greatest interest was the old West. Not just the West; Native Americans. Their culture, their artifacts, and ideas. Whenever you conversed with Grandaddy, you’d hear at least a few Native American proverbs. He was full of those. In fact, you waited for them.

But most of the time he’d fall asleep before he got to them.

With one hand resting in his right armpit.

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