Back in the 1800’s my grandfather was born. His name was Rayburn, but I knew him as Pop. When I was small, I spent a fair bit of time with him and my grandmother Ann, but mostly with Pop. Pop and Ann both dipped snuff, so they smelled of it, but that was OK, that was just the way they smelled.
Pop and Ann had a hallway running through the house that I learned not to run down. They told me if I ran in there barefoot, I would get splinters; I did run, and I did get splinters that had to be dug out; and I learned to listen to my Pop. This was a valuable lesson. I learned about “monkey blood” – mercurochrome.
I remember my sister and me spending the night with Pop; we slept with him in a big bed in the front of the house. I remember there was a ‘thunder jug’ under the bed in case we needed to potty during the night. There was a wind-up eight-day clock on the dresser. And when Pop got up in the morning, he couldn’t hear you until he put his hearing aid in. I used to play with it; it was about the size of an old-style cigarette lighter which he carried in his shirt pocket, with a wire and earphone up to his ear. Don’t ask me why, but my sister and I thought it was great that he couldn’t hear us in the mornings.
I remember ‘writing’ on the windows when they frosted up from the cold outside, while Pop made fried cinnamon toast in the cast-iron skillet on the stove. We would eat at the kitchen table with red-and-white checkered plastic tablecloth, and I learned to drink black coffee out of a saucer to keep from burning my mouth.
I was probably five or six years old the time I went outside, found the rope hanging from the tree in the back yard, and threaded it through the belt loops on my pants before kicking the chair out from under me. I was going to fly like Superman! No joy, though; I just hung there until Pop rushed out to rescue me.
I got to go with Pop in his ancient black pick-up truck with the floor starter, down to the ‘North Forty’ – actually closer to 80 acres; to feed the cows. He’d make me stay in the back of the truck to keep me from getting stepped on. I loved the smell of range cubes. Today, our home is on the north edge of the ‘North Forty’.
Pop let me ride on his Model A Harvester International tractor. I got to adjust the throttle for him. I’d be on the little platform standing in between his legs and holding on to the wheel. He would tell me, “Ok, now, move it up two notches”, or something similar; and I got the biggest kick out of doing that.
I got to play in the dirt in the garden, and in the dirt-floor detached garage. He usually kept ice cream in the freezer at the rear of the house; this was back in the day when it was vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or neapolitan. When I got big enough to ride a bicycle the six miles to his house, that’s where I went.
Ann passed away from a stroke – I think I was about five years old. I don’t remember all that much about her, as I spent most of my time there with Pop.
I loved Pop. I was about 14 when he passed away, early on Christmas day. It was a somber Christmas that year.
I told you that story, so I could tell you this one.
One day, I was driving back from town, with my early teen-aged boys in the car with me, and we passed my Pop’s old house. I pointed at it, and told my sons that my Pop had lived there. Then I had an idea, and I told them that if they ever had kids, I wanted their kids to call me Pop, too; that because I loved my Pop so much, it would mean a lot to me.
Many years later, my oldest son grew up, got married, and a few years later, they produced my grand-daughter. And much to my amazement, he remembered that I wanted to be called Pop. This pretty much blew me away, that he had remembered that conversation all that time. And that’s how I got to be Pop.
Then, later, when I created these blogs, I decided to call myself Popgun – because my grandkids call me Pop, and I like guns and planned to talk about the philosophies of self defense. And that’s how I got to be Popgun.
There’s a reason for everything, if you look deep enough.