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The Life and Times of Roddy White, Logger, Hunter November 7, 2008
Clarks Louisiana in Caldwell Parish- The story of Papaw White, My grandfather.
Yet another story from the Heart and Soul of Uncle George- an old hippie who don't know what he's a doin.
Papaw Roddy White started logging when he was 12. I met an old friend of his at the funeral who said Roddy never met a mule that he could not ride. Roddy started out as a mule skinner for the Louisiana Central Lumber Company and gambled his way up to owning the company and the entire town of Clarks Louisiana when the mill closed in 1956.
My pawpaw told me he was a gambler and that he was a cowboy. He wore his Colt 45 on his hip for all the world to see. I saw the derringer that would fit in the palm of his hand. He said he put it out on the poker table next the poker chips just to keep people honest. He told me that he killed 2 men with the derringer but I did not believe him, he always seemed so mild mannered. I guess he could have mellowed out after the children were grown and the grandkids came along.
He won enough money at poker to buy the entire lumber mill after it folded up. The employees of the mill owed their soul to the company store. Roddy hated the store and he sold the store- the commissary, the dormitory, and the chapel to the Catholic Church. For many years they ran an orphanage there. As a small boy, I remember many times I played hooky from school, fell asleep in the bottom of an aluminum John boat that always had a quart of water in the floor because every boat we ever owned for 50 years leaked. I fell asleep while fishing for perch in the old sawmill pond where they used to float cypress logs large enough that each single log would fill up a log truck. Much later in my young adult life, Roddy drained the millpond and Roddy and Momma each built very large houses out of the logs on the bottom of the pond. Back in my childhood days sometimes I forgot my pole and tied the line to my toe and waited for the jerk to wake me up. A fisherman is a jerk on one end of the line waiting for a jerk on the other end of the line.
Many a times the nuns and the orphans would wake me up chattering on their daily school lunch walk down by the old millpond. I just lay there in the boat in the quart of ice cold water and pretended to be asleep not wanting them to see me and realize that I was playing hooky again.
Some days Roddy decided to take a bull dozer, cut a hole in the levee and drain the mill pond. There were buffalo fish down there in the holes as large as pawpaw. My brother Ricky and I were about knee high to a grasshopper. Roddy wanted to sell the buffalo so he asked Ricky and me to take a fish seine and oars and beat the water to trap the buffalo in the seine. Although we did it many times, I can't remember catching any fish, but I do remember getting knocked down a few times by the buffalo and barely escaping the hiss of a cottonmouth or two. Some of my fondest memories of the old millpond involved skinny dipping,- I said about all I want to say about that.
Roddy kept the mill pond and the old Ford Motor Company. I wish I still had that old sign I found in the old show room where they advertised a new Ford for $200. I bet I could get about a million on EBAY. Back then gas was about 30 cents a gallon for Ethel- what the heck happened? He used the Ford Building as a headquarters and maintenance shop for his log trucks. Much later in his life at about my age now- 60, he hooked a flat bed trailer to a log truck and moved the town depot to the mill pond where he lived until the day he died about 30 years later. He turned the old depot into a very nice cypress 2 story house with a giant pool table upstairs and about 20 bedrooms, which he must have rented out to young single moms for a small fee.
My pawpaw was a ladies man through and through. I wish some of it wore off on me. He as tall, muscular, dark, and handsome, and had a head full of hair until the day he died. He always wore a Stetson Hat and usually wore clean pressed kakis. He was half Choctaw Indian. He could slip quietly soundlessly through the woods and sniff out deer. All Deer feared Roddy White. They all knew his name. He said if I could put salt on a deer's tail, then I could catch one. I tried it a few times, it did not work.
Roddy was a lady's man. It all started when they walked in the door. Their eyes met, they would smile, and he would get out of his chair and tip his hat. He would pull out his chair, motion, and without fail, they would sit down beside him. I watched it a hundred times and tried to copy him. When the ladies spoke he would smile and bend his ear in their direction not to miss a single word. They were mesmerized.
Roddy married my Grandmother Lois Harp from Minden Louisiana when he was 16 and she was 45. Lois was his school teacher in the one room school. Lois was dating my other Grandfather Hugh Wroten at the time. This is another story. Huge said that the marriage between Roddy and Lois could not last very long and that he would wait- and he did for 7 long years. I was lucky to have 2 grandfathers because Daddy's father died of a sudden heart attack during World War 2, after he learned his son Artie Junior had died when his B 29 was shot down.
Later Roddy left Lois, when he was 45 and Married a 16 year old girl Vera. Looking back I know Lois and Hugh were more suited for each other. This is the way it should have been. They like to stay at home with family and they were devoted to the Southern Baptist Church. On the other hand at the time, Roddy was obviously a ladies man, a logger, a gambler, and would rather be alone in the woods than anywhere's else. And that fiends was just the way it was.
I never called Vera Grandmother. She was young enough to be my mother after all. We would sat in the living room and watch football games. She was blonde, she was beautiful, and she was always very nice to me. She disappeared out of my life after Roddy ran away with Doris- whom was also 16 at the time. Roddy was after all a lady's man. I found Vera a few times late in her life in Mc Comb Mississippi in Amite County not that far from where comedian Jerry Clowers and Marcel Ledbetter grew up at Route 4, Liberty Mississippi.
The last time I saw Vera was just after her second husband died and right before she passed away. Half of their property was located in Louisiana and half of it was in Mississippi. I wondered how they paid taxes on that one. She lived alone in a single wide trailer. This is Vera's story as well as I remember it.
"I was spending a week with some of momma's friends on a houseboat near Glascock Island near Vidalia Louisiana. I was 16 and looking in the mirror when I heard a horse ride up. I looked outside the window into the woods and saw a tall, dark, handsome man in a wide white Stetson hat, riding a large white horse. As I watched him dismount the horse, I decided that was the man that I was going to marry. Roddy was there to see the lady of the house because he and she were having an affair. The husband knew of it and must have approved in some way, because he left."
(Note: At the time we were deer hunting and camping in Roddy's old logging camp, a 3 large bedroom tin building on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. The only water we had was an old cistern for rainwater and a very new looking generator made from a Model T engine, that looked new the day Roddy died. Roddy had told momma that he was riding out in the night to hunt for some of his 20 or so lost Walker deer hounds. I will always remember the sound of that generator purring deep in the night as I tried to sleep on the medal prison cot as the adults played penny-anti poker, slapping cards and chips on the table hollering out Boo-Ray! )
Vera continued, "Roddy and I had everything- a wonderful life until I caught him cheating with yet another 16 year old girl. "(That would be his third wife, Doris- Later)
"I don't know what was wrong with me. I knew how your grandfather was before we met. I knew that I could not change him. Hind sight is 20-20. I should have just let him play the field. Just stayed married and just accept him for who he was. I never really ever loved anyone else like I loved Roddy-ever. I saw him a year before he died, and we still felt it. He gave me some old pictures, our old china set and silverware, and other special things."
I on the other hand at that time I was maybe 15 myself, woke up, turned around and Roddy was married to Doris, another blond that was nearly my momma's age. I loved Doris as well and never called her grandma. Before you know it, they had a daughter, Donna, who was very beautiful and she was legally blind. Before you know it they have Roddy White JR, Cindy, and Sharon. So I grew up with Uncles and Aunts that were half my age.
Towards the end of Roddy's life, I was away in the US Air Force for 13 years and working for Louisiana DEQ in Baton Rouge. I did spend some time with him on vacation.
"Hi how are you? How's the logging?
"I stopped logging years ago and now I spend my time training and selling squirrel dogs and using this old bull dozer here to dig catfish ponds. I never leave the yard for short of $2000 a trip. I cut my finger off the other day. I was overhauling my dozer when the jack fell and crushed my finger between the tractor tack and the wheel. I looked at it and thought I never liked cleaning that finger nail. I took out my pocket knife and cut the finger off, bandaged it up and finished working on the tractor.
Just the other day an old friend came by to sit and watch TV with me. I noticed that his shoes had holes in the sole. I said that I had something that he needed. Then I went upstairs and found a shoe. I took the shoe back downstairs and gave him the shoe. He put it on and watched the rest of the show on TV. Before he left he asked me where is the other shoe. I told him that I could not find but one shoe." This is a prime example of Roddy's since of humor.
I thought back on my young childhood when my brother and I would get in fights and roll around and around on the ground. We were playing with tin log trucks and fighting about who was going to play Roddy White. Roddy often took me with him on logging trips. I remember going with him after he got a contract in 1957 to clean up the logs damaged by Hurricane Audrey. I was 9 years old then and I still remember driving into the area near Cameron Louisiana to scope out the damage. The stench of rotten flesh was everywhere. I remember the dead cows bloated up the size of an elephant and the blowflies swarming in and around their noses. I remember that I gave Roddy a hard time during those weeks we were logging. I would cry myself to sleep every night missing my momma. Roddy would come into the bedroom and tie a new cowboy hat on my head so I could sleep. That and silver dollars. When I came home, I must have had 20 new cowboy hats and a hundred silver dollars. I wish I had those to sell on EBAY now.
Papaw told me the story of his one and only logging trip in the rain forest in South America.
"The trees were about a thousand feet tall. One tree filled up 2 log trucks. The jungle was so thick that you had to pipe sunlight in. I had to quit the contract and come home early because of the monkeys. The monkeys did not want us cutting down their homes. When the tree fell, the monkeys would yell out HOME! They did not know how to say Timber. Then the monkeys started throwing coconuts at us. A hard hat does not do a lot of good when a coconut falls a thousand feet. "
Most of the rest of the memories of Roddy were hunting. I remember waking up one very cold November morning the day after Thanksgiving. I had not gotten much sleep because of the poker game in the kitchen. Roddy came in and reached up and pulled the chain on the only light bulb in the large bedroom with the dirt floor. He laid out my hunting clothes on the next bunk bed and stroked my hair- I had hair back then. " I fixed you some eggs over easy, some grits, sausage, and gravy, and a biscuit. It is in there on the table."
I looked at the light in his face. yawned and listened to the purr of the Model T generator. "Where is momma? I asked.
"On the deer stand with your daddy, Uncle Guy, Aunt Shirley and everyone else. Come on son, get up, come sit by the fire in the pot belly stove from the rail car, and eat a bite. Then we will go out and saddle the house, let the dogs out, and see if we can catch a deer."
"Got any salt?"- I laughed.
"Sure," He chuckled, "For the eggs."
I ate quickly while warming up by the fire. I bundled up in as many clothes that I could find. Roddy helped me with my coat and my cowboy boots. Then we walked out into the cold darkness. Roddy shined a light up to the stars.
"Why don't you just start walking right up that light beam and go up to the moon and see if there is a man in it."
"I ain't stupid Papaw. Stupid is as stupid does. That's what my momma always used to say. Besides Papaw, I know that you will turn off that spot light and I will fall off the moon and break my neck. Do you know why women like to look at the moon?"
"There is a man on it."
"Is that right?"
"That is what my momma always used to say."
Then he walked over to push the button and turn off the generator. It got really dark then and deathly quiet. I could hear a woman screaming. "What's That!"
Then he shined a light over to the dog pin and I saw eyes reflecting in the light. Looking back it was the dogs standing on top of the dog house.
"What is that looking at us?" I asked nervously.
I was running back to the shelter of the tin building when he grabbed me by the arm and said, "It is the dogs, they are ready to hunt. Lets go."
Then he walked over to the white horse, grabbed a saddle off a post and saddled her up. With one swoop he picked me up and threw me over the back of the horse. Then he walked over to the dog pen and opened the gate. Old Foots was the lead dog. Roddy named the dog Foots because his feet were the size of an LSU basketball or a number 2 washtub. Foots was a very large hound dog with those large floppy ears. One time on a dark night momma walked out the back door of the camp to throw out the dirty dish water she had in a pail. She did not see Foots sitting on a table next to the door. This would put Foots about eyeball to eyeball with momma. Foots licked momma on the chin with that cold tongue in the darkness. Momma screamed like a panther in the middle of the night and threw out the dishwater. She thought old Foots was a bear.
Foots came out of the gate, walked about 20 yards, stuck his cold nose on the ground. I was excited to see the deer jump up out of the thicket. Foots was yelping now with every step. The other 20 dogs joined in and the race was on. Howling though the darkness. How I love the musical sounds of dogs in hot pursuit.
Roddy jumped into the saddle and we started chasing away in the early morning darkness after the dogs and the deer. We heard several shots just after daylight. Roddy said the shots came from Pop Walker, a deputy sheriff from Ouachita Parish and a life long friend of Uncle Guy. Papaw turned the white horse into a gallop and my boots fell off in the mud. Roddy jumped off the horse and retrieved my boots, then tied them on with a rope. I was awful cold, my nose was running. He took out a hankie and wiped it. Then we galloped away towards the gun shots.
Pop Walker was down on his knees looking for blood trails. "I know I hit him." he said with a face red from buck fever. "It was thurdy point buck created by God just for outdoor magazine. It weighed 700 pounds."
Pawpaw stepped off the horse and walked a few steps and asked, "Where was the deer when you shot it?"
"Right there by that hollow tree."
About that time we heard 3 more shots. Roddy grinned and said, "Pop I think you missed it- that is Johnny Clair shooting your deer."
We jumped back on the horse and galloped away towards the shots. We found momma on the old levee (built during Roosevelt's CCC) down on her knees besides a small stray puppy. Momma held a leaf up to her nose and sniffed it. The leaf had a few drops of blood on it. Momma barked like a dog and said to the dog, "Go Get Him- BARK, BARK. "
Papaw said, "Johnnie Clair, you can't trail that deer."
It did not take long for Roddy to find the deer. It was an eight point with a small box rack. She had put 3 double ought buckshot from her Browning Sweet automatic 16 gauge, into the front shoulder. Momma was John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and GI Joe all rolled into one. It was momma's first deer and the head was still mounted on her wall when momma died.
Momma was eager to tell her story. She and Doris were sitting side by side against a white oak tree. Momma was reading a paperback romance novel the way she always does. She had a Winston in her lips and was drinking a cup of coffee from a thermos.
"What is the smartest thing in the world?" Momma used to say?
"I don't know, What?"
"A thermos bottle- It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold- How do it know?"
Momma was also chewing loudly on a peanut butter bar when the deer stepped onto the levee. The deer just froze there like as if in the headlights. Momma squeezed off 3 shots- Boom Boom Boom. Momma had buck fever real bad. She was breathing fast and shaking like a leaf. She said she knew she had bullets in every pocket, but she could not find a pocket. The deer just stood there and yawned. Momma started screaming, "Hold him Doris Hold him!"
The deer just sort of wondered off. But she must have hit it. The head was on the mantle. Roddy walked off about 73 yards and came back dragging the deer. By now Pop Walker showed up and was claiming the deer. Roddy shook his head and said, 3 sixteen gauge slugs in the front shoulder. Your 30:06 just burned the hide on the backbone.
Then there is the story of when Roddy was driving his old 53 Chevy pickingup trick, with me, momma, Aunt Shirley, 3 shotguns, a 45 pistol, and two axes in the front seat. The hunting dogs were in the back of the truck. Papaw took a curve too fast in the loose gravel and the truck tuned over on one side. I was now on the bottom next to the door and under everyone else and the axes. My foot got trapped under an ax handle and I thought my leg was cut off. I screamed bloody murder. I was about 6 at the time. Roddy stood on the rest of us and climbed out of the side window that was now facing the sky. Momma had to pull me out of the window, still screaming.
The truck was just laying there on its side. I could smell gas leaking out on the gravel. I figured out it was going to blow up and screamed like a panther again. About that time another pickingup truck came along and missed us. That is about when the dogs sniffed another deer and took off howling. The other man took a chain and pulled our truck upright. We jumped back in the Chevy and away we went after the dogs, just like nothing happened at all.
I really like Doris a lot. She was well aware of Roddy's womanizing and she was not about to let him out of her sight. Wherever Roddy went Doris went. She was in the logging camps, she was in the deer woods. It seemed like they were made for each other. Unfortunately Doris died at an early age. She was the first person that I ever knew with breast cancer.
After Doris died, Roddy had a series of girlfriends until he passed away in his early 80s. Elsie was my favorite, although she looked a lot like Elsie the cow. She owned the Dream City Cafe in Clarks. The cafe was situated in front of the town swimming pool, the Post Office and general store and Roddy's old Ford Motor Company. The Dream City Cafe was in a small rundown building. The smells of food cooking were out of this world. I always got free hamburgers and pecan pie. Elsie loved me as much as I loved apple pie.
My other most favorite food was ketchup. I ate ketchup on everything- hamburgers, French fries, moon pies, apple pie. I wrote a poem when I was 12 that said:
Roses are Red
Violets are blue
Next to ketchup
I love Sue
One time I broke out into a rash. The doctor said I was allergic to ketchup. I lost 50 pounds.
Elsie knew that the way to a mans/ boys heart was through his belly. So she fattened me up. I loved Elsie she always had a hug for me. I remember one time that Elsie and Roddy took a spin in her Oldsmobile Cutlass to go necking in the woods. In the darkness they ran over a black Angus bull. The bull rolled over the vinyl top of the Cutlass and crushed it down to the top of the back seat. I don't know how they survived, but they did and they drove the Cutlass back to Clarks. It struck me funny for some reason that Elsie who looked so much like a cow was nearly killed by one. I figured out that Elsie would be Roddy's 4th wife, but she died rather quickly of lung cancer. I still miss her and that pecan pie.
Towards the End of Roddy's life, momma and daddy lived at the opposite end of the millpond from Roddy, about 200 football fields apart. This caused some bad problems at times because sometimes family feuds developed and they would not speak to each other for months. This struck me as very odd and I was ashamed of it. Most of the problem was related to Roddy's divorce from Lois and his associated drinking, gambling, and womanizing. Momma did not go to church, but she was against such behavior. Although most of it was during her childhood. I don't think she ever totally forgave him right up to the day she died.
I think a lot of it was jealousy. Roddy took Aunt Shirley to live with him. He said that he did not have enough money so he let momma stay with relatives. Momma was the one who loved the great outdoors. I had to take her deer hunting during her last months on earth. The doctor came into her hospital room dressed in camouflage. Momma was suffering from congestive heart failure, could hardly breath, was nearly blind, and could not walk more than a few steps at a time. She begged the doctor to take her hunting.
This is after I had moved Momma with me to Indiana. It was the first week of deer season and it was very cold, as cold as a well digger's ass in a snow bank. I loaded momma up in Big Red and parked on a dirt road down at the game reserve. I gave her the Sweet 16 gauge and pointed it out the truck window. "Shoot when I say shoot and we shall get us the thurdy point buck." We did not see any deer but we did go hunting. She was very grateful.
During the years, momma told me some stories that explained some of the hard feelings she had about her daddy.
"When I was 4 years old I could swim. Daddy would take me down to the swimming pool behind the Dream City. He would bet the other loggers that I could swim to the bottom of the pool and collect quarters. The loggers would throw quarters into the pool near the diving board. I would swim down to the bottom and retrieve the quarters. Daddy let the loggers think that he let me keep the quarters. But after they left, he put them in his pocket.
Daddy thought me how to drive his truck when I was 9. I had to drive him to the honkytonks so he could drink whiskey and play poker. Sometimes he played all night and I slept in the truck. On one particularly cold night at about 2 in the morning we drove up to Duty Ferry. Back in those days the man pulled the ferry across the river on a cable. The ferry man lived across the river. There were no street lights back then. Daddy told me to swim across the river and wake up the man to come pick us up. I cried that the water was too cold. Daddy told me to climb across the river on the overhead cable.
I straddled the cable with my hands and knees. Several times my knees fell and my feet drug into the river. The water was freezing. I finally made it to the other side if the river, but it was dark. I did not have a flash light and there were no lights on in the house. I was scared of snakes and bears but I kept walking. I banged on the front door. After a while the man came out with his double barrel 10 gauge pointed at me. I told him that daddy was on the other side of the river and was ready to go home."
I remember that Roddy owned 2 bars. The first one was the Midway Bar, that was on the historical record until it burnt down. It was out in the woods midway between Clarks and Grayson Louisiana. The bar had a basement with a dirt floor. Roddy took me down there once to retrieve a box of silver dollars buried under the floor. He looked up to the roof or the floor of the bar and asked me to look at the cracks in the floor. The cracks between each board were about a quarter of an inch wide. He said that he once had 2 slot machines right over our heads. If the loggers dropped quarters on the floor, they would fall though the cracks. After I closed the bar, I would come down here and retrieve the quarters.
Roddy sold the Midway bar to momma. This was really odd because momma was a teetotaler. Daddy rarely drank at all and when he did, he drank Johnny Walker Red and soda. Daddy loved woodworking and made a clock that said no drinking until after 5. All the numbers were 5s. Daddy always wanted to own a sandwich shop, with a carwash, and a washateria so the loggers could come in eat, and wash their clothes and trucks at the same time. That is the reason they brought the bar. The IRS informed them that the taxes would be much lower if they left it as a bar. I loved the experience of the Midway Bar.
I never really adjusted to drinking or cussing around my parents. But I would have an occasional Budweiser or two. I loved the people in the bar. I love this bar. I also loved the food. I don't know how they made any money at all. Daddy was a lot like me, he loved to cook and to entertain. He could have you laughing until you cried. Hence the smoke school and the tailgate party.
Papaw was always trying new gimmicks to make a buck. This was in addition to his traditional earlier gambling, logging, and digging catfish ponds. When I was in my early thirties, Roddy started training and selling squirrel dogs. He would travel to various parts of Southern Arkansas to visit old friends and dog pounds on a routine basis. He would come back to Clarks Louisiana with a truck load of dogs, mutts of various sizes, ages, and breeds. He had a regular kennel out by the mill pond near the Cuban Missile Crises bomb shelter. The kennel had about 8 individual pens with concrete floors and drains. He fed the dogs with food scraps from neighbors and the Dream City Café. He supplemented their diet with dry dog food and stale loaves of bread that he purchased from the day old bread store. He stored this food mixture in an old galvanized trash bucket. He kept one of Daddy’s old police whistles on a nail just above the food can. He taught the old dogs a new trick. Roddy blew the police whistle every single time he fed the dogs. The whistle became their dinner bell and the whistle made the dogs follow Roddy through the woods when they were squirrel hunting.
Because of all of the hazardous noise associated with logging and bulldozing, Roddy became hard of hearing at a very early age. He could not hear the dogs barking when they treed a squirrel. He was always looking for volunteers to go hunting with and be his ears. If I were close by, I would volunteer. I dreaded this, because I could not keep up with the man in the woods. He was half Indian after all. Roddy was 60 and I was 30. At that time I had played football and had a habit of marching 3 miles a day and jogging a mile a day, could not tell it by looking at me now.
Roddy would turn the dogs loose and we would walk for miles and miles. The dogs would tree a squirrel, we would catch up with the dogs and then shake vines or shoot up into the tree until the squirrel moved, and then we would shoot the squirrel. About 10 squirrels hanging in your hunting vest can get pretty heavy in the warm months of early October.
On one particular trip, I had a huge Jock Daniels hangover. I kept hoping Roddy would stop, sit down and rest. Finally he did and I just lay out on the ground. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his favorite food- a can of Vienna sausage. He took out a bag of crackers and offered me some. He handed me his canteen. We sat there about 15 minutes. He asked me which way the truck was. I said that I did not have a clue. I knew that Roddy never used a compass. The moss always grows on the north side of a tree or something. Well he looked up, and said it will be getting dark soon; we can spend the night here. I could feel my head pounding. Then he got up, put the sun on his right shoulder and walked 75 feet through the thicket to the front bumper of the truck. He looked back at me about a half mile behind him and said, that he was ticked off because he was aiming for the bed of the truck so he could put the dogs back in the pin.
If the dogs did not tree a squirrel, Papaw gave the dogs away. If they did tree a squirrel, he sold them for $500 each- guaranteed to tree or you get another dog free. It was all profit because originally the dogs were given to him at no cost. In fact many of the dogs would have been gassed because they came from the pound.
Roddy was a pretty sly old f ox. Having learned a lesson from the Great Depression, he did not trust banks. He converted all of his money into silver dollars and buried them in several galvanized buckets conveniently buried in numerous locations. When he wanted to buy a truck or a bull dozer, he would find a bucket of sliver dollars and always pay cash. I pity the car dealership counting out those 2000 silver dollars.
A problem developed for the rest of our family when Roddy died suddenly after a minor surgery. He did not have a will and neither one of us knew exactly where all of the buckets of silver dollars were buried. Each family member was asked to contribute any known locations and they were invited to participate for the dig. Roddy had 6 children that we knew of and they varied in age by 30 years. He had plenty of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I did not know where he buried any of the buckets of money except for the cellar in the Midway Bar and the Cuban Missile Crises bomb shelter at the saw mill pond. We were living in Baton Rouge then, but I was able to attend the digging in these locations. We dug for hours and did not find anymore than a few dollars. As near as we could figure, Roddy had buried at least $30,000 and to my knowledge, none of it has ever been recovered.
I heard a rumor that one of his latest daughters purchased a new house trailer just after the funeral and moved to Houston, then moved back to Caldwell Parish when the cash ran out.
I have often wondered where the silver dollars lie. Papaw after all was a lady’s man. I remember that I was shocked at the funeral when a rather attractive 45 year old lady fell down over the casket weeping. She was dressed all in black. I never did hear her name so I just called her the lady in black. My way of thinking is that Roddy spent all of the money on the lady’s, perhaps on the woman in black.
There must have been a thousand people at the funeral. Roddy found Jesus late in life, so the preacher said. Judging from the grieving multitudes I guess it was possible. Maybe Jesus loves a little deer hunting now and again. My heart went out to his latest set of children. They never knew the Roddy that I knew. They did not know about him tying the cowboy hats on my head so I would stop crying to go see my momma. They did not know about the many handmade colorful shirts he brought me back from the South American logging adventure. They did not know the man who tied my boots on my feet to take me hunting after the thurdy point bucks and all of those nights of poker, deer hunting, and camping in the tin building on the banks of the Mississippi. They did not know that I was his favorite grandchild whom he took everywhere.
I felt sorry for myself because for the past several years in the Air Force and living in Baton Rouge that I did not know the present Roddy White. At the funeral I was saying goodbye to a man they never met and they were saying goodbye to a man that I never knew.
From time to time I think about the woman in black. I had published this story on the internet first in 1998. Somehow it got deleted by the host computer. I got an email from a lady named Jackie who said she was the lady in black. Later I met Jackie and learned that her sister was actually the lady in black.
Jackie informed me that Roddy had changed her life. Jackie and her family had been in the welfare trap for many years when Jackie’s mom started dating Roddy. Jackie would have been about 16 then and she got close to Roddy. By now Roddy had a television set and had seen the commercial “Be all that you can be in the Army.”
Roddy informed Jackie that she could be all that she wanted to be and break the welfare trap by joining the Army. Jackie took Roddy’s advice and signed on the totted line. The Army assigned her to the Transportation Squadron and she learned how to drive a jeep. During the heart of the Vietnam War Jackie became the chauffer for General Norman Schwarzkopf. That must have been a heck of a career for Jackie.
After her discharge, Jackie used the GI bill to earn a college degree in Video Productions. I met her several years ago at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville. She was contracting for ESPN. Jackie is a double for Dolly Parton and ESPN, CNN, and CBS kept her looking that way through the miracles of plastic surgery. She even sounds like Dolly. She owned a 9 million dollar 18 wheeler full of camera recording equipment. She has either set up interviews for and in many cases has interviewed nearly every famous person that you can thing of. I can remember a few names that she dropped, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Lance Armstrong, Hulk Hogan, and Tiger Woods. Jackie said that I could pass as a twin brother for Waylon Jennings, just a good ole boy.
Ok -Which one is Uncle George and Which one is Waylon
The most amazing story Jackie told me was about the interview with President George W Bush. Jackie overslept on the day of the interview and had to rush in at the last minute to set up the equipment. To make things worse, she forgot her press pass. One if the CNN staff recognized her. They had to explain who she was, and got her past the band of Secret Service guarding the President.
The Secret Service explained the rules of interviewing the President- Don’t touch him anywhere, call him Mister President, and such. Jackie was her old Dolly Parton self. She slapped the President on the back and asked, “How you doing, Georgie Boy?”
The President swallowed and asked, “You must be from Texas?”
“Nope, but right next door, Louisiana. But I am sorry Georgie Boy- I voted for someone else. Set right down on that wood stool and let me put this microphone in your ear.”
She went behind the President and placed the mic around his ear. Then she walked across the room and gave him a mic test. The President said that he could not hear her. Jackie walked back over to the foot stool and looked at the President. The microphone was not to be seen. It had fallen off. She got down on her hands and knees and could not find it. When she stood up again, there it was, right down there in the President’s butt crack. Jackie told me that she did just what you would do in a hurry. She reached into the butt crack of the President of the United States and pulled out the microphone, then stuck it in his ear.
Jackie said she owed it all to Roddy White, who broke her cycle of poverty with just a few words, “Be all that you can be.” Roddy changed lives for 85 years and I still miss him.
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