On this Father’s Day, I’m taking a break from my usual content to focus on a very special person to me. James Eliott Stone was my Grandfather. He was known as PaPa to me, pronounced PawPaw, and he was one of the best examples of a good father I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. In thinking about him, I came across items that remind me of his life. I seldom saw PaPa travel, but I understand when he was a young man, he traveled a great deal. I look at the 48-state quilt his mother made and wonder how many of those locations he visited on his journeys. Yes, I recognize there are 50 states but this quilt was sewn prior to Hawaii and Alaska making an appearance. Did he take his old trunk that now sits in a corner of my home? Did the handles on the trunk just get old from age or from wear? Did he use a walking stick as a young man or did that come later with age? If he did use a walking stick, was it purchased from a store for the purpose of walking or did he re-purpose an old hoe handle? What would he think of the phrase re-purpose?
Seeing all those items now brings back fond memories of a great man who always took the time to entertain us with tall tales. The look in his eyes in the pictures of his youth show both a serious side and a mischievous character that our family grew to love and respect. I always wondered what kind of kid he was growing up, but never really asked him. Sadly, I didn’t inquire about such things and now I’ll have to leave most of the answers to my imagination.
PaPa was born in 1912 in Cherokee County, Texas. His pictures indicate he was quite the looker back in the day and must have been quite a catch. Well, he was in my grandmother’s eyes. When the two were courting, another young lady was seen flirting with my PaPa. Grandma got wind of it and the next morning the story goes that Grandma put a “whooping” on the flirty girl. My grandparents married when she was 16 and he was 20. That marriage produced three children and lasted 65 years.
PaPa and Grandma loved playing domino games, including 42, a game invented by a boy from Texas. They played together almost every evening and really enjoyed each other’s company. Grandma passed away the year of their 65th anniversary. In many cases, when a couple is together for so many years, they are unable to live without their soul mate, a description both my grandparents would probably think was “silly.”
During their time together, PaPa worked as a farmer and a truck driver for a feed store. He also served on the school board. For 43 years, he was a substitute rural mail carrier and he didn’t retire until the age of 82. Talk about a strong work ethic!
While pro football players are considered tough, I would put my PaPa in front of them in a heart beat. How many of them pulled their own teeth? According to my mother, PaPa only visited the dentist once. After that, he took care of his own dental work. The ice skate scene from Castaway always comes to mind when I think about his lack of dental visits. He was a braver man than most.
PaPa journeyed on without Grandma for a number of years, with his companion, Buud, by his side. Always taking care of those around him, PaPa especially grew fond of his furry dog. Buud hated thunderstorms and PaPa even raised his bed with bricks after he was in his 90’s so that the dog could hide there when the storms became particularly scary for him.
He was a wonderful father to the end. PaPa passed away in 2006. While he wasn’t perfect, he came as close to it as anyone I’ve ever known. Born and raised in Texas, PaPa provided the greatest example of a hard-working, humorous and devoted husband and father. I’m proud to share my Texas roots with such a wonderful man and PaPa. Happy Father’s Day!
Categories: Travel Texas