This is a quick follow-up to the “69 Years Ago” story I posted earlier this month. (You might find it helpful to read the original, which is posted here.)
Those of you lucky enough to have known my father will be amused (and perhaps as surprised as I was!) by what follows. Let’s call it, “Flower Girl: The Sequel.”
After Adrianne and I had visited with Janie Proctor (my parents’ long-lost, recently found Flower Girl) in her home for an hour or so, we took her out to one of her favorite neighborhood restaurants and continued to get to know her and share family history. By this time, the three of us had become great friends.
As we were waiting for our food to arrive, Janie looked at me with only the slightest hints of apprehension and pre-apology for what she was about to tell me. Though I didn’t include it in the story I told to Mother, here’s another part of the Flower Girl’s Story.
She said, “I didn’t mention this earlier, because I didn’t know you well enough to be sure how you’d react. But I remember that, on the day your mother and father asked Uncle Gold to marry them, after the two of them had left the house, he said, ‘Well, I believe he’s going to be all right now. I think she’ll straighten him out and get him to finally settle down!’”
After I registered wide-eyed, slack-jaw surprise, she went on: “Your daddy was ‘wild’ back then, and he was a drinker.”
Wider eyes, and jaw dropped farther.
If you knew Daddy, you undoubtedly knew the gentle, quiet, sweet, kind, ice-tea-totalling man I knew, and try daily (with varying success) to emulate. I think everyone in our family will agree that the previous sentence aptly describes the man we knew as “Daddy” or “Uncle Proctor.”
Wild? Frankly, inexplicably, I found myself actually a little happy to hear that there had been a “cut-loose” side to Daddy. Does that make sense? If he was “wild,” I can’t help but believe that both Mother’s influence and his near death experience in WWII (machine gun wound just inches from his heart) had strong effects on him.
And to be fair, the “drinking” attribution from dear Uncle Gold (a 1940’s Primitive Baptist Minister) could mean anything from a fall-down, binging drunk to the occasional “social drinker” – so I don’t really know what to make of that. There was one time when someone gave my parents a jar (yes, a mason jar) of homemade NC scuppernong wine, and Daddy drank maybe a couple of tablespoons of it – before both of them pronounced it undrinkable. Before or after that, I never saw him take even a sip of alcohol in my entire life, including Communion (which he took because, at our church then, it was Welch’s grape juice).
People have asked me why I devote time to researching genealogy. It’s uncovering stories like this one, which pulls me closer to my family, that makes it all worthwhile! Love you and miss you with all my heart, Daddy!!
And Janie Proctor, you do good story!