I loved my grandparents. I called him Gin and her Muggie. (Gin was pronounced as in “I’m agin it” not as in the distilled spirits.) I used to go see them in the summer for a week or so. Mom would take me down to the Lubbock railroad station about 10 o’clock at night. The Pullman beds would already be made. She would tuck me in and then she would give the porter some money to look after me. They would put a tag on me with my name and where I was supposed to get off. The Pullman car would be sitting on a siding until about three o’clock in the morning, when the train from California would come thru Lubbock, pick up this Pullman sleeper car and take it to Ft Worth. At Ft Worth another train would pick the car up and take it to Austin. As we rolled down the line through the night I remember the clickity-clack, clickity-clack of the wheels on the rails. I also remember peeking out the window in the dark middle of the night as we passed through little towns with the crossing signals dinging away and the flashing red lights at the road crossings. This experience was pretty exciting for a seven or eight year old traveling on his own.
Gin had a really hair trigger temper. One time when I was there for Christmas he, Muggie and I went down to the Triple X root beer stand in Austin for a hamburger. It was a drive-in place where the waitress would bring your food to the car. I guess Sonic is about the only hamburger place that does that now. Anyway, Gin makes a big point with her to not put any mustard on his cheeseburger. When she brings our burgers, Gin looks at his and the kitchen must have thought the order meant lots of mustard, because his burger was loaded with mustard. He is furious and utters his favorite oath (“Oh, the devil and old Tom Walker”) and with that takes the mustard soaked half of his burger and threw it out his window. Problem was, the window was rolled up. Mustard splatters all over him and the car. Muggie breaks out in hilarious laughter, which did not help his temper tantrum. I remember, I did not know what to do, I had never seen my grandfather so mad, but with Muggie laughing, I began to laugh too.
My grandfather had a lot of interesting sayings:
- When he did not feel well:” I’m as weak as branch water”(Branch being a small stream as opposed to a river)
- Describing an unattractive girl: “She was a jug-butted, dish-face gal”
- When frustrated and terminating a conversation: ”Oh, the devil and old Tom Walker” (Then walk away)
- Describing a dense or dull person: ”Oh, he was just pulled a little green.”
- About someone he was aggravated with:” He is eaten up with ignorance.” or maybe, “He don’t know the difference between come ‘ere and sic ‘em.”
- He didn’t think much of PhD’s who were full of themselves; he would declare, “ He is just an educated fool.”
I sorta hate to tell the next story about Gin but it is a classic. Gin was a man of few words. When he was elderly, he lived in the country with my Aunt Cot at Leon Springs just north of San Antonio. He handled a lot of the chores for her such as milking the cow, feeding the chickens, etc. He stayed in his room most of the time when he wasn't doing his chores. He also raised beautiful fighting roosters. They were brilliant reds and blacks and people from all over would buy his roosters. He would frequently ship them all over the country. When he had something to do he would come through the kitchen, get his hat off the top of the refrigerator and leave out the door not saying a word to anyone. Sometimes he would be gone an hour and sometimes he would leave and be gone for several days never telling Cot where he was going or how long he would be gone. Then one day, here he would come in the kitchen door, put his hat on the refrigerator and on to his room, saying not a word to anyone.
One time when I was having coffee with Cot (she always had the coffee on) I asked her about Gin. She said she once asked him where he had been and all he said was,”Oh, the devil and old Tom Walker”! So she never asked him again. Gin passed away in May of 1956 and of course I went to San Antonio for his funeral at Porter Lorning Funeral Home. I was standing next to Cot and a deputy sheriff from Kendall county was standing on the other side of her.(Kendall County was two counties north of Cot's farm) The deputy turns to Cot and says.” We are really going to miss Forrest.” She responded that we all would miss him; he was such a character. He responds, “He was absolutely the best referee we ever had.” She asks, “Referee?” He says,” Yes, he knew more about the finer points of cock fighting than anyone in the world.” Cot and I looked at one another-thinking, so that's where he went when he disappeared for several days!