FUNERAL: I believe I was in high school. My grandmother Olive Smith had died. I would guess it was a stroke or diabetes related. I didn’t ask. It didn’t come up. We lived in Levelland at the time, and she had been living in
My mom had already gone to the City. Edmond, Okla.
So my father ushered us three younger boys in the car (Jim, Mike, & Pat-I think Marshall was off at school and met us) and struck off for OK City. If you have never traveled the byways of the Texas Panhandle then you don’t really understand the desolate features. Our route left Levelland, through
Lubbock, on to Wichita Falls, turn left through Burkburnet
and straight north to Ok City.
we were listening to the World Series - I believe it was the Series; it was a game between the Brooklyn
Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Nobody
knows why, but I was a Dodgers fan….not much of a fan for sure, but on that
day, a Dodger fan. My father egged me on
and supported the NY Yankees.
Totally uncharacteristically he offered to bet me on the outcome of the game. I didn’t have much money – usually just what my mom let me pilfer from going to the grocery store. I bet my 50 cents and was totally convinced it was a good bet. Even today, it would take an earthquake to get me to make a wager on a game – even 50 cents. To say I am cheap when it comes to gambling would be not quite accurate. I am waay more than just cheap.
Driving through the bleak Panhandle, windows down in the
Hudson, we drove north. That game cost me 50 cents and helped shape
the nervous way that I am. Yes, he took
the 50 cents, and we drove on and on.
Sometime as we drove nearer OK City my father broached the subject of funerals. It took him a spell to get his thoughts out. I shall paraphrase. He explained that funerals were not for the person who had died. Funerals were for the living. His fairly long explanation, I think, set the mood and behavior for us at that time. This was a rare occasion.
I don’t remember a great deal about that funeral. I do remember sitting there quietly and somberly (c’mon, is somberly a real word?). While several of my cousins wailed openly during the services, we Metze Boys survived till it was over. The funeral is not too much of a memory. I do know that it was the first trip to grandmother’s house in which she did not open a jar of Strawberry preserves “just for me.” That was what she would always do. Homemade strawberry preserves and biscuits. I knew that I was special.
When it was time for us to leave the City, our entire family re-packed into that
Hudson and drove straight west
out of Oklahoma through Amarillo.
We never went through Amarillo. Always before it was south through Wichita Falls. My father had a love for Beverly’s Restaurant and her fried chicken in Wichita Falls.
Again uncharacteristically my father chose to drive through
Amarillo, and we stopped
to eat at Underwood’s Barbecue. He loved
Underwood’s. They had the best hot
rolls. We stopped and ordered. Keep in mind this was not a happy trip. Mom was still quite upset; funerals can
put a damper on most any party. My
father ordered ribs. He never ordered
ribs that I remember. But, he did this
He began a systematic devouring of those ribs. He had grease up to his elbows and slathered all over his face. The whole thing was a riot. Everyone was laughing and having a great time with his antics and the ribs. This was not the father that I knew. In case you didn’t figure it out, eating BBQ ribs at Underwoods and having a great time – this is one of the things that you do for the "living." He was great getting us in a better mood. I miss that experience now.
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