It was a beautiful Tennessee spring afternoon when I pulled in the long gravel driveway of Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie’s farm. The hills behind their house this year are bathed in hues of deep greens due to all of the rainfall that we have received and it sure looks like spring is finally here. Their white frame house located among the landscape of the spring colored hillsides seemed to be part of an artist’s painting hanging in a gallery on the strip in Gatlinburg. Springtime on a Tennessee farm is something to behold! But, their drive did show the signs of “The Flood of 2010” with some pretty deep ruts cut by over 13 inches of rain that used their gravel drive for a riverbed the first weekend in May. There are places in their drive you can now change the oil in your car just like they do down at the Quick and Grease It place in town.
Of course, Aunt Sadie met me at the front door wiping her hands on her apron and led me through the house to the back porch where Uncle Sid was looking at the mail while enjoying the warmth of afternoon sun on the porch sitting in a lime green glider. There, setting on a white painted round table, was a plate of freshly baked cookies and a pitcher of iced tea, sweet of course, and some jelly glasses just waiting for someone like me to help myself to some of Aunt Sadie’s homemade delights.
After exchanging pleasantries and taking my seat in a metal lime green chair near the table to share with Uncle Sid some of Aunt Sadie’s cookies, I noticed Uncle Sid was looking at one of those large colorful postcards that you get at election time from the candidates telling you about how wonderful they are and how terrible the other folks have been. I knew this was going to be an interesting discussion, because politicians and Uncle Sid go together like pretty and ugly.
“What do you think about that fellow Uncle Sid?” I asked while biting down on one of Aunt Sadie’s chocolate chip cookies.
With the campaign card in his hand and a lap full of mail, he slid the card back into the pile and placed all of it on the floor with a bang that frightened their yellow farm cat, who was sleeping on the back rail, half to death. “All I want is for these fellows to tell me what they are for and what they are agin,” he said, now pouring himself a glass of iced tea. “Tell me what you are going to do and what you believe in, plain and simple.”
With his tea glass in his hand and kicked back in his glider, he started a story by saying, “The way they are doing things over in Nashville 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 got me an extra cookie and eased up on the edge of my chair to take in on the action of every word.
“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 Haaks at the bat. Gimpy had never been much of a batter and we knew we were in trouble.”
Uncle Sid took a sip of tea 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 got 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.”
With that, I dropped my cookie.
“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 glass of tea 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 say before he made his final decision, ‘What’s the score?'” Does sound familiar.