My GRANNY, Nida Bernice Willingham Doan, was born near Idabel, Oklahoma, in 1800- something or other (my mama is looking it up).
She always claimed she was half Cherokee, and she looked like she had some Indian blood in her….she called it Indian blood, not “native American blood,” so if that’s not P.C. enough for you, take it up with her in heaven, because that’s where she taught me and 20-something ( mama is looking that up, too) of her “grandkids” that she was going when she died.
She married my papa in 1900-something or other (again, my mama is looking it up, etc.) and had 12 children, sired by him (listen, the winters are cold in that part of TEXAS…I always capitalize TEXAS) and she gave birth to those 12 children with no anesthetic….they only gave her a couple of shots of OLD YELLOWSTONE WHISKEY, and put a pair of scissors under her birthing bed to “cut the pain”…old INDIAN CUSTOM…like I said, take it up with her…and raised those 12 children (mama doesn’t have to look that one up…she was number 10) on a very meager salary that papa made as a pumper (technical term for oil-field laborer) for Sinclair Oil Company, in and around Olney, TEXAS.
She “made do” with she what she had. As far as I know, she didn’t have a bank account. She paid cash every Monday, except for her groceries. She got her groceries every day, at a little wooden frame store, 30 yards down the street, where she simply said, “Charge it to C. Doan.”
Every Friday after work, my papa, Clib Doan would walk in the back door of their little wood frame house, and hand his weekly Sinclair Oil Co. check to my granny, and she would walk down to the little store and cash papa’s check, pay her grocery bill, and walk the 30 yards back to the Doan families’ house.
On SUNDAY (I always capitalize SUNDAY) morning, she took 1/10th of my papa’s weekly salary to the little wood frame Assembly of GOD Church (I always capitalize GOD, too) and put it in the offering plate when it was passed down the Doan family row…families sat together in church in those days.
On Monday, she made her way around Olney and paid her other bills, at the Cub Drug, at the telephone company, at the utilities office, at “DOC” Merideth’s office and at the other business establishments with whom she had done business during the previous week.
As I said, she did not have a bank account. She never wrote a check in her life. She never had a credit card. She never took out a loan in her life….AND SHE NEVER MISSED A PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS OF LIVING IN AND AROUND THAT LITTLE TOWN IN TEXAS.
She almost broke into a Cherokee war dance when my dad and mom took out a $15,000 loan to buy OUR first family home, a hundred miles down the road in Abilene, TEXAS. She said, “Curley Gatlin, (my dad) there ain’t that much money in the whole world. Payin’ interest to that banker in Abilene is gonna break you, then how are you gonna feed them kids and Billie (that would be my mama who is still busy lookin’ up stuff)?”
Well, dad and mom figured out how to pay for the house, even with the interest, but granny was always looking over dad’s shoulder, and most of the time, and always had a scowl on her face when the subject came up. I was 5 years old that summer, when we arrived in Olney on our first trip from Abilene back to Olney after moving into that new “house that you’ll never be able to pay the banker’s interest on,” in Abilene.
Granny gave me a brand new Rawlings baseball, and a speech. “Larry Wayne, you take good care of that there ball, it’s the last one I got. You know you’re my favorite grandson, but money don’t grow on trees, and that’s probably the last one I’m gonna be able to give you. Me and your papa are ‘pert near broke.”
Of course, she also gave my brothers Steve and Rudy, and all of my male cousins a ball and the same speech that summer and every succeeding summer until we were all pretty much grown.
Those summers (more about Summers later) are among my most cherished memories. When she died, my mother and my aunts found a brown leather bag pinned to her slip. (she never wore a bra in her life…said women who wore ’em were just trying to push their bosoms up so they could steal another woman’s husband).
In the bag were 10 crisp, brand-spankin’ new C-NOTES…that’s right, a thousand dollars in a brown leather bag, pinned to a dead woman’s slip. As it turned out, there was something in the bage of even more importance to all of us .. the key to Granny’s cedar chest. No one, and I mean no one, had ever seen inside that chest, until that moment when we all gathered around, for the almost, ceremonial opening.
Well, the big moment came and we all sorta held our breath and looked around her little bedroom to make sure she wasn’t hiding behind the door (she and Papa hadn’t slept in the same room for years — she had long ago figured out what was causing all those kids…She always said, “an even dozen is enough” ).
We had buried her about an hour earlier but wouldn’t dare open that cedar chest until she was “in the ground.” There were birth certificates, several BIBLES ( I always capitalize BIBLES), assorted buttons, pieces of material that my mother and aunts cried over when they recognized them as the remnants of little girls handmade dresses from 50 years earlier, there were pictures and other “odds and ends” and, under all of the other stuff there were 3 black and red boxes of Rawlings baseballs, with 12 balls in two of the boxes and 4 balls in the third box, and 4 totally empty boxes, that had once held “probably the last one I’m ever gonna be able to give you”, Rawlings baseballs.
I cried unashamedly as I heard her words in my mind’s ear: “Larry Wayne, you take good care of that there ball. You know you’re my favorite, and it’s the last one I got.”
PRECIOUS MEMORIES, HOW THEY LINGER….
Let me tell you what else lingers…I heard her say it a hundred times, “ain’t no way to borrow yore way out of debt…when yore outgo exceeds yore income, yore upkeep will be yore downfall…when you owe a man money, he’s yore master and yore his slave.”
Pretty wise economic philosophy for a half-breed Cherokee Indian woman with a 4th grade education.
Speaking of education, a lot of folks are “book smart” but they do not have enough sense to go out in the rain (little different take on the old saying) and I also told you we would get to Summers later. The time has arrived.
Well, let’s talk about Summers…make that SUMMERS, AS IN LARRY SUMMERS…NIDA BERNICE WILLINGHAM DOAN WAS NOT BOOK SMART, BUT SHE WAS STILL SMARTER THAN HE IS.
I DONT CARE HOW MANY Ph. D.’s he has behind his name. He may be able to quote Lord John Maynard Keynes until hell freezes over, but he does not know the simple facts that my granny did. Granny didn’t know JOHN Maynard Keynes from Maynard G. Krebs but she knew about the Depression, and about FDR’s NEW DEAL and the old girl did not trust FDR or his crony politicians “as far as I can throw them by their manhood”…direct quote.
But she knew that debt makes a man a slave, and she knew about outgo, income, upkeep and downfall. Obviously Dr. SUMMERS DOES NOT, and now that the water is up to his nose, and Lord Keynes ain’t around to help him bail water, DR.SUMMERS is “advancing to the rear”…back to HAAHVAHHD YAAHD. ANOTHER RAT IS LEAVING THE SINKING SHIP..ROMER AND ORZAG WERE FIRST TO JUMP…TAX CHEAT GEITHNER SHOULD BE NEXT…HELL, HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THROWN OVERBOARD FIRST!!
All of the talking heads are speculating about who will take Summer’s place. President Obama probably can’t get in touch with NIDA BERNICE WILLINGHAM DOAN in heaven, but DR. ART LAFFER’s NUMBER IN NASHVILLE IS 615…
I know that the “BIG GOVERNMENT KEYNESIANS UNTIL DEATH” WILL NEVER ADMIT IT, BUT THE LAFFER CURVE WORKS EVERY TIME, AND WHEN COMBINED WITH SPENDING CUTS, ALWAYS BRINGS ABOUT ROBUST ECONOMIC GROWTH, NO MATTER WHICH PARTY OR PRESIDENT FOLLOWS THE “DOCS” CURVE THAT PROVES THAT LOW TAX RATES EQUALL HIGHER TAX REVENUES. GRANNY DIDNT KNOW “DOC” LAFFER, EITHER, BUT SHE WOULD HAVE LIKED HIM…HE KNOWS ABOUT OUTGO, INCOME, UPKEEP, AND DOWNFALL.
Oh, and, IT JUST SO HAPPENS THAT HIS FAVORITE COUNTRY SINGERS, ARE THREE OF THE RECIPIENTS OF THOSE BRAND-NEW, “LAST ONE I WILL BE ABLE TO GIVE YOU” RAWLINGS BASEBALLS. PRECIOUS MEMORIES, HOW THEY LINGER.
Larry Gatlin is a songwriter/musician and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion.
Larry Gatlin is a country music singer and songwriter.