Who’s Keeping Score

The other day as I pulled in the long, gravel driveway of Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie’s farm, the wind was blowing to beat the band and the yellow glow of light coming from Aunt Sadie’s “Gone With the Wind” hurricane lamp in the window of their white frame house was surely a welcome sight on that dark, cloudy fall day when I made my visit. Things hadn’t changed much around the old farmstead lately, and as the fall leaves whirled with the wind, you knew they both would be staying close to the fire.

Aunt Sadie met me at the kitchen door wiping her hands on her apron and led me to the back portion of their house where the old couple spends most of their time. There, sitting at the round kitchen table, was Uncle Sid enjoying a cup of hot coffee and a few of Aunt Sadie’s teacakes. He seemed to be in some kind of trance watching the leaves blow around out the back kitchen window. After exchanging pleasantries and taking my seat at the table to also share with Uncle Sid some of Aunt Sadie’s teacakes, he noticed the sticker I was wearing stating the fact that I had voted today. It was early voting time and one of the workers at the polls had put the sticker on me.

Uncle Sid took a sip of his coffee and said, “Boy (I’m 64, but he still calls me that), I guess you voted right today?”

Not knowing exactly how to answer that question, I replied, “I think I did. I’ve studied the issues and listened to the candidates. I feel like I voted the way I think is right for our state, our country and me. There is a lot of talk right now about who will make the right decisions in the coming months for this country and that’s a hard one to call. What do you think Uncle Sid?”

With his coffee cup in his hand, he pushed back in his kitchen chair and started a story. He said, “The way they are doing things up in Washington reminds me of a baseball game we had here back in the forties. Our community team was playing the adjoining community team and it was a real rival.”

I’ve heard the story about Gimpy Hawks and Doc Jarvis many times, but I never seem to tire of how Uncle Sid can relate it to what’s happening in the world of politics. I got me an extra teacake and relaxed in my chair to take in the action of every word from the old man.

“Doc Jarvis came to umpire because everyone considered him fair and he wasn’t kin to anyone we knew, but he was running for constable in the area, which could cause a problem,” Uncle Sid went on with the story. “It was a hot, July day and both teams played hard. It was the bottom of the ninth and our team was in town with Gimpy Hawks at the bat. Gimpy had never been much of a batter and we knew we were in trouble.”

Uncle Sid took a sip of coffee and went on with the tale. He said, “With the first pitch, Gimpy swung the bat with his eyes closed and hit the ball all the way to the outhouse in left field. He took off running as hard as he could. He had gotten the name Gimpy for a reason, but he was a fighter. He rounded second while the other team was still looking for the ball in the weeds. We didn’t have a fence, so a ball was playable as long as you could find it. A little guy finally saw the ball in a stand of rabbit tobacco and grabbed it. One problem. A black racer snake had also claimed the ball and didn’t want that little guy to have it either.”

“The right fielder, who wasn’t afraid of snakes, came all the way over from right field, grabbed the ball and threw it home. Gimpy started sliding all the way from third and kicked up dust all the way,” Uncle Sid said while grabbing for a cookie. “The ball, Gimpy, and the catcher were all hidden by a cloud of red clay dust. As the dust settled, you could see Gimpy and the catcher in the face of Doc Jarvis, both wanting to know if Gimpy was safe or out.”

Uncle Sid poured another cup of coffee and took his time with the conclusion of the story. Slowly he said, “Old Doc knew he was running for constable in a few weeks and his decision could mean the outcome of more than a baseball game. Taking off his cap, wiping his brow and spitting out his chew of tobacco, you could hear him ask before he made his final decision, ‘What’s the score?'”

Then Uncle Sid said, “No matter who we elect, they all are going to always make their decisions on what the score is.” And Uncle Sid has been keeping score for a while.



 – Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com