Did I tell you about the time your granny's mother come over to visit her daughter? Stayed two years, she did. Sam plum wore his wits clear to they ends tryin' to figure a way to get her to go home. Now, Sam liked Margaret, that was your great grandma's name. Nobody ever called her "Maggie" or "Peggy" neither. She was Margaret Sarah Alexena Florabelle Chloe Ann Wilson, you know, of the East Branch Wilsons. "You may call me Margaret," she says. Anyhow, Sam did truly like his mother-in-law, but as he put it, "in shorter bits and pieces, no disrespect intended." Now I for one don't rightly see how you could take her any shorter, 'cause she stood maybe four-foot five in those black high-top shoes she allus wore. But I'm strayin' all over the pasture. Say, did you see that new bull Red Hurd got over in his south pasture? Bee-yoo-tiful black thing he is. Simmental. Red got him offa Ayers over on the Huerfano. That bull ain't no orphan, though, got a pedigree longer'n my left arm. Red is proud as a Longhorn rooster just done the whole Plymouth Rock hen house. But he ain't talkin' how much it cost him. Feard Maybelle will find out, I reckon. Well, Bob Ayers did take his wife, Lou Ann to Galveston for a week, for what that's worth. Both 'n'm come home redder'n a Maine lobster been in the boilin' water. Anyway, Doc Barrett says they'll live. I know it is a sin to covet, but I really wish I had that bull. Forgive me, Lord.
Anyway, Sam always was durn handy, and clever, too. Now Margaret always had those shoes custom-made over to Manfred's in Knoxville. And she always went in for a fittin'. Problem was, they seem to never wear out. The shoes, I mean. So Sam writes to Arly over to Florence and asks him to send him a small piece-- six or eight square inches would be fine-- a small patch of doeskin. Sam enclosed a envelope with a stamp, round-trip postage cost him six cents, a whole month's worth a horehound drops. And he'd owe Arly. So Arly goes over to Chipita Parsons-- you know her; Indian girl married Larry Parsons from up to Westcliffe. Well, she cured doeskin the old-fashion Injun way; chewed it 'til it was softer 'n the cheeks south of the equator on a new born babe. Well, he put a swatch a tad smaller 'n the inside the envelope and mailed it to Sam.
Now Sam had addressed the return envelope to hisself "c/o genl del, Holly." So when Sam was over to Holly in June with a load of wheat, he stopped by the pee-oh. Now the postmaster was Sam's cousin, Aaron Bell. You know, Aaron come west along with Sam and Arly. He was one of the Cave Cove Bells. His granddaddy fit in the War of Northern Aggression alongside ol' Stonewall Jackson. "Oh, oh, Sam. Your lady friend writin," says Aaron. "Mary finds out she'll peel your hide right offa ya."
Sam ripped the envelope open and flapped the skin right under Aaron's nose. "Ima make a coin purse for my grand kid," he said, whirled around and pushed through the screen door, but afore he let it go, the lie turned sour in his mouth. So he looked back and said, "Aaron, I ain't a makin' a coin purse, and you kin mind your own bidness."
Now Sam put his plan into action. See, Margaret, she left her shoes outside the blanket hangin' over the doorway to her room when she went to bed of a night. So Sam, good man as he was, would keep her shoes cleaned and shined up, see that the laces were fit. So he carefully built a thin strip a doeskin inside the toe a each shoe-- glued 'em in ever so carefully, even the cobbler wouldn't notice. The idea was he'd add a strip each Sattidy 'til Ol' Margaret was concerned her feet had growed, and she'd have to go back to Knoxville to get a new pair fit.
But the very first week Margaret was so uncomfortable and annoyed, grumblin' takin' off her shoes, runnin' her hand up inside, that Sam's conscience got the better of him. He determined not to go ahead with that. And behold! On Thursday, the in-law mama gets a Western Union from Mandy Hopkins back home. Mandy was Margaret's closest friend. Married Maxwell Hopkins when she was fifteen. Had fifteen kids. Well, Maxwell done all right, anyway. Happiest couple in Kingsport, ever one said so. "MARVIN BROKE FOOT STOP COME HOME SOONEST STOP M HOPKINS."
Sam ambled out the house, didn't let the screen door slam, and soon's he was outta sight the kitchen, he cut loose with the fanciest footwork you ever see. Danced a jig right there in this garden, right where we air a standin'. He was sorta singin', "God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. Praise be to God!"
© 2013 David W. Lacy