I can’t recall the last time I enjoyed an impromptu visit more than the one I had with Jimmy and Georgie Caudill late last week.
Longtime readers of the column may recall that over the years, my childhood friend, the late Truman Caudill, often made it into the paper when I was sitting around with sweet home, Blair Branch waxing nostalgic on my mind. Jimmy and Georgie are Truman’s boys. They may take exception to being called “boys” because, if my math is correct, they are both on the north side of 40. And Georgie usually goes by George these days. He was “Georgie” growing up because both boys pretty much lived there on Blair Branch with their grandparents, George and Lydia Caudill.
I hadn’t seen either one of them in nearly 20 years, but we have, more or less, stayed in touch and kept up with one another via email, Facebook and infrequent telephone calls. And that’s a shame, really, because Jimmy lives in southern Lincoln County less than 30 miles from my place. Georgie, on the other hand, lives wherever he is at the moment which can usually be narrowed down to somewhere east of the Mississippi River.
Georgie, like his father, is a long haul truck jockey who spends most of his time on the road. Jimmy, like his dad, is musically inclined and skinny as a fence rail while Gerorgie is built like a pro wrestler. I’m assuming Georgie’s physical features come from his mother’s side of the family because he certainly didn’t get them from Truman.
Anyway, the boys and I spent most of the day hanging out on the front porch sipping coffee and soft drinks and trying to see who could tell the tallest tale. I’ve never met anyone who could get ahead of Truman Caudill in that department, but his boys could, and probably did give him a run for his money. Suffice to say that I’m not in their league. And their visit was like getting a double dose of Truman.
I managed to get a few laughs when I regaled them with tales about their father who once got a new Schwinn Racer bicycle for Christmas. Truman rode the sleek but too-flimsy-for-Blair Branch bike off the mountain and down the holler nearly two miles to school every morning. Very little, if any, pedaling was required because the elevation getting to school was downhill all the way except for a couple of places where the road went through the creek.
In other words, Truman had a practically effortless, other than keeping his balance, ride to school every morning. He would whiz right by us lesser mortals as we trudged through dust or mud, depending on the weather. Then, when school was out for the day, Truman would have the rest of us practically fighting over the privilege of pushing that bicycle back up the holler. Tom Sawyer didn’t have a thing on Truman Caudill.
The boys shared numerous tales about their grandfather and my dad who were very close, if not absolutely, best friends to each other.
They told of Dad taking George to town one spring to buy a new, 8 hp front-tine roto-tiller. Dad, who had always plowed the Caudills’ garden with a horse or mule, was without a draft animal at the time and George had convinced him that a new tiller was just the thing, plus you didn’t have to feed and water it twice a day.
Having plowed their garden with our horse a few times myself, I can attest the fact that it was mostly hard clay and that you had to really, really want a garden very badly to cultivate that particular plat of soil.
If you know anything about front tin tillers, you also know that an 8 horsepower one is as big as they get and that the bigger they get, the harder they are to handle.
According to Truman’s boys, neither of the men were having any success with the big tiller which was lurching forward as well as left and right into the path of least resistance while Dad and George were yelling, Gee! Haw! and Whoa! while calling the mindless steel beast many choice names that are unfit for publication in family newspapers.
I laughed so hard that I forgot to ask if they actually got the garden tilled. I do know that Georgie is a faithful reader of this column, so come back over soon, boys, and tell me the rest of the story.