Whitesburg KY

Struttin’ Time:

Where are all the ‘cool old men’?

In order to take another needed break from all the crazies in this world, let’s go back to our days of growing up or, like they say on the Lone Ranger, “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.”

I was thinking about an old black singer I met several years ago in New Orleans, Louisiana. His name is Grandpa Elliott Small. You can listen to his beautiful music on YouTube. He is still alive and still playing on the street in the French Quarter. He brought back memories of cool old men” that you and I have known in our lifetime. Don’t you often wonder, where did they all go? Why haven’t other cool old men replaced them?

There was the blind man who sat at the A&P store in Neon. He had a sign beside him that said, I am blind, but I would rather beg than steal. You could smell the fresh Eight O’Clock coffee being ground and listen to his stories, as told by him, like you were living them at that time. He was one cool old man.

There was also Mr. Henry Sword, my dad’s best friend, who hunted and fished with us. Known as “Shorty” to my dad, Mr. Sword was always doing something, and while he was doing it he was always smiling and whistling. I never saw him get mad, not even when a skunk tried to ruin his hunt once in Pulaski County.

Mr. Sword was a cool old man. My Uncle Lo, who did all the work around the house, planting the garden, feeding the chickens, hogs, all that kind of stuff, still found time to spend with me squirrel hunting, rabbit hunting, and making me a bow and arrow from wood he got in the mountains. Uncle Lo was a cool old man.

Then there was my Papaw Lee Duncil. He took time for me, told me hunting stories, fishing stories, and even taught me how to put up an old puptent. Papaw was one cool old man.

Cool old men sat around after work, or the chores were done, and talked to each other, chewed Days Work tobacco, spat a lot, and whittled. But most of all they taught us kids that it was OK just to be a cool old man.

Those cool old men and the ways they lived are gone, perhaps forever. There is not one Struttin’ Time reader that doesn’t have a story to tell about one cool old man. Take a minute, think about the cool old men you have known and ask yourself, where did they all go?

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