Sunday, May 24, 2009

Part 5 - Daddy



Daddy was born on August 13, 1904, the fifth of six sons of Dr. Andrew Jackson Wood and the first of two sons, Sam and George, of Minnie Granade Wood (Mother Minnie). Granddaddy's first wife died leaving him with three boys, Will, John and Percy, (Thomas died as an infant) and three girls, Mae, Lucy and Lacy. The youngest, Aunt Lacy was two-years-old when he and Mother Minnie were married. They lived in Frankville, AL, not far from Peavey's Landing on the Tombigbee River.

Daddy spent a large part of his childhood with his grandfather, James Samuel Granade (Papa Nade) and his grandmother, Nan Thompson Granade (Mama Nade). I think he was kinda "spoiled" by them. He told of times when he would go riding with Papa Nade. He'd ask about every day, but Papa Nade would only let him go at certain times. When he could not go, Papa Nade would say, "Not if the court knows itself." There was no use asking any more for that day. The days he was to be allowed to go, he knew that all he had to do, if he got hungry, was to reach up in Papa Nade's coat pocket and get the buttered potato biscuits or ginger cakes that Mama Nade had put there for him.

Daddy said that, in 1918, there was an Influenza epidemic going round in the area. He was 14 at the time. For most of that winter, he would drive Granddaddy's Model T Ford from one sick person's house to another one, all day and night. Granddaddy would get under a quilt in the back seat and get a nap while they were riding, and Daddy would get his nap while Granddaddy was inside doctoring the patient. Seldom did they make it home during that time. Granddaddy treated 218 cases during that epidemic. That may seem to be only a few compared to modern medical facilities, but in that rural area, it was a large number of cases.

Daddy went to The Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) completing a two-year course in engineering. His failure to go for a four-year degree proved detrimental to him, particularly in job advancements while he was with the U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers.

He began farming when he and Mother married, and did so for several years until farming got to where it just didn't pay off. During World War II, Daddy got a job at the Alabama Dry Docks and Shipbuilding Co. in Mobile, as a piping draftsman. ADDSCO built ships for the Navy and Merchant Marines for use in the war.

Later, after a few more years of farming, both row cropping and raising cattle, he returned to off-the-farm work. He worked for Ewing Engineering Co., in Mobile, as a Party Chief on a survey team and with Blount Brothers Construction and Engineers in Montgomery, AL. Then he joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District as a Construction Inspector. This work took him to Montgomery, Selma, Thomasville, Mobile, and Enterprise, AL; Greenville and Columbus, MS; Altus, OK; Conway, AR; Sedalia, MO; and finally to Bay St. Louis, MS where he worked until he retired at 62-years-of-age to return home to the farm.

Daddy loved sports, especially baseball. He would referee football games for Millry, score basketball games and umpire baseball for Millry High School and in the Pine Belt League. Teams from Chatom, Citronelle, McIntosh, Jackson, Grove Hill, Thomasville and later Millry played in the league. Daddy also served as League Statistician, keeping records on all teams and players in the league.

He was an AVID Auburn fan. He devised a method of charting the Auburn football games as he listened to them on the radio. He sent lots of the charts to Joe when he was overseas, in service.

Also, he listened to and scored baseball games, both from radio and TV broadcasts. He got to where he could hardly write, so Mother would write out the rosters for him so he could score the games. They both watched the Braves from the Satellite dish so regularly that they kinda felt they knew the players as their hometown team. I guess they fit into WTBS-TV's; the Super station, description of the Braves being "America's Team!"

Daddy was a "counter." He could tell how many people that were in the choir each Sunday. In the old Church, the row of ceiling lights on the East side was along the seventh row of ceiling tiles form the wall. On the West side, it was on the sixth row from the wall. He could tell you how many miles it was from home to about anywhere he'd ever been, and how many miles, along which roads between any two places. He knew how many ears of corn it took to make a bushel, and how many to shell-out a half-bushel for corn meal. He knew how many steps it was to the barn, the toilet, (We were "up town" because we had a "two holer" with both a Sears Roebuck and a Montgomery Ward catalog to use for toilet paper!) to the mail box, etc. (Hmm! Wonder where I got that from!?!?!)

Daddy could calculate math problems in his head about as fast as most folks could with a calculator.

He had a very neat handwriting, but, due to some weird nerve problem, he developed a bad trembling in his right hand as soon as he put his hand down on paper. His hand would shake so that he could hardly write at all. A strange thing was that, if he was using a ruler or drawing template that did not require him to put his hand down on the page, the trembling never happened. If he was doing any type carpentry work, fine painting, etc., he had no trouble.

He always did say that he thought he was naturally left handed, but Mother Minnie insisted on him writing right handed. Back then, it seems that something was wrong with you if you were left handed. So, he had developed a pretty good writing style left handed until he had surgery to clear out his right carotid artery.

Doctors had to take longer than anticipated to keep blood supply blocked from the carotid. When the blood supply was released, he had a "mini-stroke." The only after effect of the mini-stroke was that when he was very tired or excited, either tense or elated, his left shoulder would twitch causing his left hand to jerk. So, from then on, he did all the writing that he could on his old Underwood manual typewriter using the old "Hunt & Peck", two finger method.

He began to type a daily journal. When we moved to Oak Ridge, TN, in 1978, he began making a carbon copy for me. That was a much-anticipated mailing each week for me. It allowed me to keep up with what was going on back home. After a few months, Joe went to Saudi Arabia and Daddy began making two carbons so he could send Joe a copy, too. I still have all my copies of his journal.

When Daddy was "up into his seventies," he was going up the side steps to the house, he tripped and fell on the porch and broke his right hip. He was taken to Mobile Infirmary, had surgery and had the hip set, which entailed putting that leg in traction so he couldn't move it.

This was a very painful situation, and he was sedated quite heavily. The sedation caused some delusions. He'd tell tales about driving a truck up to a gate, trying to put on brakes, but the brakes wouldn't hold. He surely was glad the gate was open so he could let the truck coast to a stop at the bottom of the hill. Also, he'd look up at the wall by his bed and say, "See my old shotgun up there! It sho' is a goodun!" Of course we would agree. Once he asked me what the other gun up there was. I told him it was mine and security let me bring it in out of the car for safekeeping. That was ok with him. He'd, also ask for a cigarette, from time to time. He couldn't have one as they had oxygen on to assist his breathing.

The day after, he had gotten some less delusions, but yet some. I had to get back to Tennessee, so I went by to tell him Bye. He said, "Ok! But next time don't come if you have to upset the Apple cart!" We've all had some good laughs over that one.

When Daddy's health began to fail, he developed Congestive Heart failure. This was most evident by his having coughing spells to get the fluid from his lungs. Although he tried to do many of the things he had always done, his health prevented him from doing them. One of the hardest things he had to give up was driving his tractor. He kept saying he wanted to drive it, and everyone would tell him not to. Finally, JoAnne told him one day that if he thought he felt like driving it to do so, but just remember that if he got tired, to stop and get off. He said that was the best advice he'd heard. So, a little while later, he tried it. After only a very short time, he found out that he was overly tired. He never tried it again.

A week before he died, he had to be hospitalized in the CCU at Mobile Infirmary. I took off work to help see about him. There were rules about visiting times in the CCU, but very soon the nurses found that he wouldn't eat for any of them, but he would for me. After that, they would come to the visitor waiting room to tell me it was "feeding time!" I stayed there all week, until Sylvia got in from a Postmasters' Convention in Texas. He had rallied some, so I told him I was gonna go back to Oak Ridge Saturday morning to check on JoAnne if he was still doing well, then.

I went by Saturday morning and Sylvia had aptly taken over my "feeding" job. They had him up in a chair with a top on it similar to a high chair. I told him that he looked to be in good hands, so I was gonna go to Oak Ridge. I told him that if he needed me for anything, to tell Sib and I'd be back ASAP. After I left, Sib said he told her that I had said that if he needed me, I'd be back. Then he said, "He meant it, too!" That REALLY meant a lot to me.

I got to Oak Ridge about 5:00 PM, Saturday. About 5:00 PM Sunday, Claire called and said to come back. So, we headed back shortly and got to the hospital about 5:00 AM Monday, September 1, 1986 (Labor Day). Mother, Claire, and Sylvia and Andy were there, along with their pastor, Frank Tribble and his wife, Sibyl.

The nurses had told us that we could go back there when we wanted to. I'd go back from time to time, hold his hand and talk to him. He would acknowledge by squeezing my hand. Andy and I went back about 3:00 PM. I took his hand and told him that we had talked with Joe in Saudi and he was on his way home, so everything would be all right. He feebly squeezed my hand and gave a sigh of relief. About 3:10 PM, the nurses came out and told us he was gone.

After the long week at the hospital, the trip to Oak Ridge and back, and going through greeting so many friends at the Mortuary, I had a pretty bad Angina attack, the night before his funeral. JoAnne took me to Chatom Hospital, and the doctor said I needed to stay there. So, I didn't get to go to Daddy's funeral. Bro. Tribble came by that morning to see me. I asked him to have Daddy's seat ribboned off with his Bible on the pew. He did that. I think he kinda had a hard time finding black ribbon, but he did it.

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