Memory Shadows

Memory Shadows

By BR Chitwood

“Billy, go round-up ‘Bessie’ – it’s milking time.”

Grandma gave me a hug, and I went rushing out the old rickety screen door in the side-room of the kitchen.

Grandma yelled after me, “If you’re going barefooted, you watch where you’re walking, ‘little man’.”

“I’ll be watching, Grandma. Don’t worry. I’ll stay on the lane ‘til I get to Bessie and her cow-buddies.”

I waved and was on my way.

The sunshine and clear blue sky was perfect, Grasshoppers and butterflies were flitting here and there, birds tweeting, and this was my favorite part of the day. Rounding up Bessie was the best part of my day. Truth is, I loved Bessie, and she was the nearest thing to a pet I had. We spent a lot of each day together, mornings before she went to pasture, during milking, and times not even grandma and grandpa knew about. I loved Bessie.

When I reached the pasture area Bessie now favored, she walked to me with a head wave and tacit ‘see you tomorrow, guys’ to the remaining cows. She nuzzled me gently while I put the rope around her neck with the copper bell. She bowed downward to me so I could give my own nuzzling to her blond and brown fur.

Guess my mind was too confused and young when I came to live with Grandma and Grandpa. My Dad and Mom had money problems, finally divorced, Dad taking a job out of state because jobs were not available, and my sister was sent to my Mom’s folks during that time.

When I first went up to Bessie, she lifted her head and looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes and softly ’mooed’. For reasons I could not understand in those moments, I wrapped my small arms around her big neck, kissed her, and my tears fell on her as she gently nudged me. Also, I could not understand in those precious moments, I loved Bessie.

Bessie and I walked the lane, and Grandma was waiting outside the kitchen door at our arrival home. She grinned happily when she saw the great friendship we had.

After leaving Bessie in her special area, Grandma took my hand, led me inside the clapboard farmhouse and treated me with watermelon. She spoke to me while I ate the melon pieces, trying in her way to let me know that I was loved.

After the watermelon treat, Grandma took my hand and led me to her old stuffed chair in the living room, put me on her lap, and told me stories about my Dad and the family history. She would stop occasionally to reach her spittle can on the floor to deposit some of her ‘snuff’. Her stories were told from the heart in a solemn tone, and, at times, I could see her eyes getting watery…it was like she wanted me to know the history of my family, the tough times of our history along with the good. Most likely, the tough times would beat out the good

When the time was right, we looked out the south-facing window and down the lane that led to the nearby mountain, waiting to see Grandpa walking home from his day on the railroad hauling logs from the other side of the mountain to our hamlet’s sawmill. Grandpa was the old train’s engineer.

When we saw him his metal lunch pail was swinging with each step he took, and a grin would break on his face when he saw me running down the lane to meet him…he always had a surprise for me in the lunch pail, candy bar, bubble gum, a toy.

Bessie mooed when she saw us nearing the old farm house – her milking would be coming in short order…plus, feeding hogs, Old Fred, the mule, plus spreading Chickens feed, gathering eggs from hens’ nests, and there would be acres of corn to be hoed, potatoes, turnips, and other farm jobs – not all jobs done by Grandpa but by my uncles. Even, I hoed some corn (hating it).

When dinner was finished, Grandpa turned on the floor model radio and listened to HV Kavelborn. If wintry, Grandpa would shave wood for the living room’s large ‘belly stove’ for the next morning’s heat.

When first darkness began Grandma would call me from my time with Bessie for a bath and bed. She would read me stories from the bible.

Some things in life are hard to explain. I loved a cow named Bessie, and, I know Bessie loved me. I loved my grandparents (paternal and maternal), and I know they loved me. They are connected in loving ways to my heart and mind.

I would eventually return to my mother and sister in a home setting, and it was wonderful being with my Mom and Sis. The time with my grandparents and Bessie is one of the most compellingly beautiful memories I have.

But, then, there are so many.

BR Chitwood – Feb. 5, 2021

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Remembering Arnold Palmer – ‘The King’

 

2016-PGA-Arnold-Palmer-Invitational-Free-Golf-PicksRemembering Arnold Palmer -The ‘King’

This is the first day of the rest of your life!

Actually, quite a phrase if you really parse it…regarding what the words convey.

Okay, it’s 5:30 in the AM. I’m up early, chomping on the proverbial bit, with something to say, and, just not sure what’s going to roll out here.

You see, when I can’t sleep, I lie in bed and think, along with other trifling habits – like, finding a comfort zone for Arthur and me…you know Arthur, he’s the ‘itis’ in my bane of existence. Arthur’s been with me since I was a relatively young man, taking me through some painful gout attacks, joint swelling, just plain pain and misery.

However, I don’t wish to make this 5:30 AM post about Arthritis, and, I feel fine – joint-wise! So, you ask, what am I going to ramble about? Well, first of all, it’s not very nice of me to be you, to put words in your mouth and show my latent and presumptuous nature.

My! My! The ramble is off and running…

May I remind you? WRITE, if you are a writer…people, particularly, avid readers, will read anything. So, just get on a ‘kick’ to ramble. You’ll be surprised what you’ve written when you’re all finished and reading over the Pulitzer words.

Actually, someone I revered died recently, and it was my good fortune to spend some time with him – which encompassed all of three meetings and two days. You all know him, and, I hope, love him…well, if you are a golfer, you love him.

Now, look, because you’re NOT a golfer, you will still love this short story, although the dynamics may be missing (no murders, no rapes, no romance, no thriller, no thunderous moments of peril and excitement, and so forth!).

I’m into parentheses this early morning! Here’s another: (Writing is important to me, and it MUST be my attempt to show this early morning, if you just release your mind and let it roll, you might be surprised what you come up with…and, later, you can always edit and polish it to your fancy – which I WILL NOT do with this bit of SOfC!)

Also, part of the job of a writer is to keep people waiting for some ‘punch lines’, that is, like, I was going to tell you about this chance meeting with one of my golf idols…

Now, you can also irritate the reader with the ‘stall moves’, so I’m going to hurry along here.

Some years ago, I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, the ‘Valley of the Sun’, one of the golf capitols of the world, and I was fortunate to belong to the Arizona Country Club. In those days, the PGA ‘Phoenix Open Golf Tournament’ was played on alternate years at the Phoenix Country Club and the Arizona Country Club. This particular year, the ‘Open’ was held at the ACC.

So, it’s a beautiful sunny day (what else could it be?), blue skies, and lots of ‘Birdie Putts’ which golfers know about. Some friends of mine, a buddy and a couple of airline ‘Stews’ were out on the course watching the golfers. One of the ladies wanted to see Arnold Palmer…she thought he was a handsome dude and the sport’s ‘King’. We didn’t see Arnie on the holes we walked, and I boasted: “Hey, we’ll go back to the clubhouse, have a few drinks, maybe we get lucky and meet ‘The King’.

The Clubhouse is crowded. I manage to get us a cluster of comfy chairs together, and we sat, drank, and, because the ladies with us were pretty, we had a pro golfer or two join us from time to time – good golfers, just not the ‘Poster Man’ and/or stature of Arnold Palmer!

At some point, because I was a businessman at the time, I excuse myself, go the bar and use the phone to call my office for messages. As I ended my phone business I turned to return to my group, and (drum-beat roll!), there, standing in front of me, was Arnie and a trio of guys chatting.

I boldly go up to the group, put my hand on Arnie’s shoulder, and, say: “Sorry, Arnie, to interrupt, but, I’m Bill Chitwood, and, if you have time, I have some gents and ladies who would love to meet you.”

Arnie smiled, looked at me kindly in the eyes, and asked: “Where are you sitting, Bill?”

WOW! I mean, WOW! Arnie called me, ‘Bill’! Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s my name, but it was my golf idol speaking it.

I turned and pointed to where our group was sitting, and Arnie says: “I’ll be over in a couple of minutes, Bill.”

WOW! Again! I just pulled off a ‘coup’ with my hero. I was bursting with pride as I went back to join my group. Rather nonchalantly, I announced: “Arnie will be joining us in a few minutes!” Eyes widened, and the ladies became a bit nervous. The anticipation was keen, and I could hardly contain myself.

We sat and drank for a few minutes when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned, and, my heart jumped to my throat. There was the ‘handsome dude’, Arnie Palmer, smiling and grabbing my hand again as I stood and introduced my people. Arnie sat, ordered, if memory serves, a Vodka Tonic, and we sat, drank, and visited for the entire afternoon. Arnie kept us enrapt with his answers to our questions and stories of his ventures, and I shall never forget his kindness and fellowship that day.

Arnold Palmer was/is the ‘real deal’! How do you measure a person’s worth by golf statistics and hero-worship? This man was all, and, MORE, than were the publicity pieces written about him. I’ve followed and loved this man my entire life. I can personally speak to his humility and his warmth. He was, and, is a role-model Supreme!

The morning after our long afternoon gathering, I took my son, Steve, to the club for the Saturday round of the Phoenix Open. We wormed our way through the crowd to where Arnie was putting on the practice green.

Arnie looked up and saw Steve and me, smiled, came over to the roped-off area and asked: “Is this your son, Bill?”

WOW! Arnie remembered my name!

We chatted there at the putting green for some minutes…minutes I shall never forget!

There is no doubt in my mind that meeting Arnold Palmer was a singular event in my life… I would not trade that event for anything in the world!

The ‘King of Golf’ – Arnold Palmer’: I love this man!

Okay, the ‘Ramble’ is over!

Now, WRITE! If you really are a writer!

Here’s something to get you started:

‘The World is my oyster! Where did that come from’?

– BR Chitwood – March 30, 2018 –

Follow me on Twitter: @brchitwood

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