Saturday, November 12, 2016

In which Donna actually leaves the house without her husband

Not unusual for most folks, but I don't drive, remember.  So when you see me away from home, you usually find Cliff not far away; this is probably the first time I've been away from home without Cliff for five hours since my granddaughter and I went to see "A Night With Janis Joplin".  

There's a church in Odessa that has an annual ladies' day:  They usually have some kind of themed program, and it's something I've always enjoyed.  I called a neighbor who usually invites me, begged a ride, and away I went.  

When we arrived there was coffee and many kinds of home-made breads available.  During a break in the program later we had sandwiches, chips, and cookies and visited while we ate.  I only knew the people I rode in with, but I did have a nice visit with them.  One sweet lady, widow of the man who owned our town hardware store for many years, said something to me that totally confused me:  "I think about what you wrote about Buddy all the time," she said.  "That just nailed him; that was exactly how he was."

I never wrote any song or poem specifically for Buddy, so for about half a minute I was at a loss.  Then it hit me; she was referring to four lines in the song "Wellington" I wrote that did, as a matter of fact, talk about him.  "Buddy's good old hardware store Had what you need, but even more, He could tell you how to use that hardware once you got it home."

What a small thing to mean so much to her!  I was humbled.  

Cliff and I hardly ever had two nickels to rub together when we moved to Wellington, but we did have good credit and were proud of the way we paid our bills on time.  Sometimes we'd need something to help in the course of home upkeep but would lack the money.  That was never a problem, because at that time you could charge stuff at two places in town:  Buddy's Wellington Hardware and Dale's station at the edge of town.  No credit card needed at either place, just tell them "charge it" and you were done.  

The thing with Buddy, though, was that he didn't send out bills.  So maybe six months or a year would go by and I'd say, "Hey Cliff, did we ever pay Buddy for those widgets/thingamajig/tools we charged?"  

If we were in doubt, we'd go down and ask.  He'd look it up and sure enough, we hadn't payed.  I don't know if he would ever have asked for the money we owed him, so eventually we were careful to try and pay for things at the time we bought them.  

I sang that song once at some gathering in town.  Afterward our insurance man approached me and said, "You forgot to mention your insurance man."

So the next time I sang the song I had added this:  "If you need a good insurance plan, Karl Potter is your man."  

That song grew like Topsy for the next couple of years.  Now it's in mothballs, and that's just as well, since most of the people in the song are dead and the businesses are closed.

I'm just meandering here, so let me digress from my meandering and explain that when I typed the phrase "grew like Topsy", I knew it was a quote from somewhere, but I had no idea what it was referring to, so I looked it up and am now sharing it with you.  Because I know you are as curious as I am (just nod your head in agreement).  

Grow'd like Topsy

Occasionally one hears the expression that something 'grow'd like Topsy'. I thought readers might be interested to know its origins.

In "Uncle Tom's cabin, or Life among the lowly", published in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe describes the character Topsy - a wild and uncivilized slave girl who Miss Ophelia tries to reform. In Chapter 20 the novel recounts a conversation between Ophelia and Topsy:

"Tell me where were you born, and who your father and mother were." 
"Never was born," re-iterated the creature more emphatically. "Never had no father, nor mother nor nothin'"
"...Have you ever heard anything about God, Topsy?" The child looked bewildered, but grinned as usual.
"Do you know who made you?" 
"Nobody, as I knows on," said the child, with a short laugh. The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes twinkled, and she added, "I spect I grow'd. Don't think nobody never made me." 



Jon said...

When you mentioned Topsy it rang a distant bell in my memory. Thanks for clarifying it. I read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" LONG ago....and I still have a copy of it somewhere.

Unfortunately, there aren't many people left like Buddy anymore. It's the end of what once was a golden era. It's so nice that his widow remembered your words.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Glad you had the chance to get out. Sounds like it brought back some good memories too!

Mary Degli Esposti said...

Buddy sounds like a good-hearted man who could have lost quite a bit of money with folks who weren't so concerned(as you & Cliff are)about paying their bills.
I never heard the Topsy reference before...memory issue, since I read the book a long time ago.