Remembering Grandpa

by George Handlon, 1998

Speaking of Carpenters. Granddaddy had a litte farm... ee-ii-ee-ii-ohh! It was the most beautiful place on Earth to us when we were little folk, and went to visit there. Surrounded by flowering hisbiscus plants, a rose trellis, goldfish pond, A walkway to the front door of flat round stepping stones, imbedded with sparkling bits of glass and tile.... fruit trees of every kind, beehives, a deep well with a bucket on a rope for a cool drink of water.. a few cows and some chickens - a saw mill, and a smoke house. Then there was the amazingly wonderful smell in the feed shed where he kept his big barrels of feed for the critters. Molasses and grain. Oh, he had bamboo and mangos, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, many kinds of gauva, sugar cane, Bay tree, pineapples, mulberries, exotica such as rose apples, hot peppers, and a special little "vegetable shed" where he dried onions and garlic. There were hickory nuts, bananas and coconuts. A big round cistern on the side of the house, that caught rain water. A smoke house.... and the old 2-seater out back. An old dog that took up with him, whom he called "Towser". Of all the stuff on the Vicker's Family Farm - we all liked Towser the best! But, he was a ramblin' kinda dog, chased those big trucks on Highway 41 out front, until finally - he caught one. Wesley and the local men from the Methodist Church - Earton Horne, Suge & Albert Willis, Tom Knight, Forrest Nelson... built each others' houses. Most Sundays, after church - the elder gents from the church would come over to Wesley's house, and play their game of croquet out on his big front lawn. They made their own "custom" mallets, but used store-boughtn' balls. We'd sit on the board seat (a plank on two cinderblocks) under the Big Oak, eating watermelons and spitting out the seeds, while they played. Then, we could use the "Sears" mallets and play our own croquet game. A lot of watermelons grew around that tree, every summer. Wesley built everything on the property. He cleared the land for the house and the cow pasture - working at night in the cool moonlight, using a heavy "grubbing hoe" to pull the dense palmetto roots out of the ground, & that was after working all day in the orange groves for old Tom Knight. He drove a school bus, ran a general store on the bayfront, and served as a county commissioner for years. Years later, I was a Freshman then - we had Drivers' Education... and I discovered that the iron-clad Chevrolet car we were using for the class - had been donated by Grandaddy Wesley Vickers a few years before. Somehow, I understood what Wesley Vickers did in a microcosm... and went out into the world from that place and time - to do it in the macrocosm. "working class hero", as John Lennon put it.

I remember getting out of bed at night with Elwin, and maybe Colin... when we were all staying at Grandpa's one time - and going out into the back pasture with Grandaddy where Towser had found a Possum in a gopher hole... he was barking and wouldn't hush until Grandaddy got his shotgun and went out there and got the possum out. Well, he shot the possum and next day, he built a fire in the chicken yard and threw the carcass on the coals... and made a crispy critter out of it - then the chickens all pecked over it and ate it. He told us boys: "Oh, a chicken'll eat anything." ha ha! Well, that was kind of cool - going out there in the night, hunting with Towser.

George W. Handlon,
6535 Haskell Ave., #222
Van Nuys, CA 91406-6133


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