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Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Poem by Alice Guynn

Today a poem by my friend Alice Guynn from Austin, Texas. It's about her daddy. Yet her daddy was my daddy in the sense that they shared a common time and place. Maybe that's why they did certain things alike even though mine was Mexican and hers Texican. This poem reminds me of that in a very endearing way. In these few lines is the condensed history of my childhood Texas between 1958 - 1968 more or less. Am I right Alice?

Little Roy

They called him “Little Roy”
because he was. Some
co-workers called him “Shorty.”

But Little Roy had a big heart,
was not short on human kindness.

Everyone who knew him loved him
and nearly everyone in town knew him.

He lived there nearly all his life,
which was 102 years.

In his earlier days, elderly widows
counted on him
to fix their stoves,
change light bulbs, whatever.

Most of my life he worked
as a serviceman.
A serviceman for Lone Star Gas.
Daddy was what you’d call
a “blue collar” worker,
except in his case it was khaki collar.
Make that starched. Mother
kept his uniforms clean and crisp.

He didn’t have much way with words.
Although he was bright
and could figure complicated
mathematic problems in his head,
Daddy quit school
in eighth grade
to help support his family,
and was close to being illiterate.
This young boy gave up
an education for chopping cotton.

So, seeing his children go to college
was paramount to him.
The first time I remember seeing
my daddy cry was when I
got pregnant my sophomore year
and dropped out of college.
He was upset, of course,
by the unplanned pregnancy,
but I think the tears were shed
more for the uncompleted education.

Little Roy liked cars.
He taught me how to drive
when I was 12 years old,
and bought my first car
two years later.

He also liked to trade.
As a teen, returning
to town from a school-sponsored trip,
I spotted my 1947 Plymouth
on a used car lot. That morning
it was in our driveway.

But it wasn’t long before
he bought me another,
a practice he continued
well into my adult life.

As he approached
the century mark,
I asked about his cars,
and he could name every one
he ever owned, and how much
he paid for each.

I also asked him about his funeral.
He wanted “One Day at a Time”
by Willie Nelson, and “In the Garden.”

I made sure he had them.

Alyce Guynn
© December 12, 2008

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