Friday, October 3, 2008

The Blacksmith

These are some very lucky seagulls who frolic around the Sea Breeze on Gwynn's Island. Now that I think of it, I'm not exactly sure seagulls frolic, but if they could, these would, they're just that happy to be here. By the way, the pole is crooked in this picture, not the position of my camera. Just look at the shoreline if you don't believe me--and I wouldn't blame you one bit if you didn't.

In the early 1900's, my great-grandfather was a blacksmith at Flat Iron, which is on the way to Ware Neck in neighboring Gloucester County. He lived to be well into his 90's, and he spent most of his older years with my grandmother. I had the privilege of seeing him whenever I would stay with her.

Tall, lanky and strong as an ox due to years of pounding that anvil, he unfortunately became a little senile as he grew older. For example, he often thought Union Soldiers were invading, and he was particularly concerned that they were setting up a blockade. He referenced this blockade so often I have to wonder if he didn't actually come up on a Union blockade at some point in his life. He was just that obsessed with it.

Eventually, he became too much for my grandmother to handle, and he went to live in a local nursing home. Sometimes he recognized his visitors, but most of the time he didn't. Not only was he losing some of his mental faculties, he was hard of hearing and struggled to see.

One day a clown came by to cheer up the nursing home residents. She was a happy soul who did her level best to bring a smile to a lonely person's face. When she came to my great-granddaddy's room, she stood in the doorway and attempted to engage him in some banter, but he wanted absolutely no part of it. Much like a small child, he was terribly frightened instead of being entertained.

Determined to overcome this intruder--who may or may not have been a Union soldier putting up a blockade in his doorway--he started hollering. When that didn't work , the Confederate Blacksmith used the only weapon he had to save himself: the box of Kleenex on his nightstand.

He carefully extracted a tissue and threw one at her. The tissue had as much potential for damage as it did flight; it landed right next to where he released it. She tried to reassure him and took a step closer. Undeterred from his mission, he took another tissue and threw that one at her. She didn't budge. He threw each and every one of those tissues until they were all gone.

Then, he did what any enterprising soldier would do in the heat of battle after running out of ammunition. He improvised.

In a last-ditch effort to save the Confederacy, he threw the empty cardboard tissue box square at Miss Clown, who finally surrendered and left his room.

Confederate Blacksmith - 1
Blockade-Building Union Clown - 0


Mental P Mama said...

Woot! I'll root for a Confederate Blacksmith over a clown any ol' day. What a great story. I'm guessing this is your maternal branch of the family...?

Rebeckah said...

So funny! I am so glad you have all these great stories to share! I love that you are documenting them! Your kids will love being able to look back at this someday! Hope your Friday is delightful!

Bear Naked said...

All your CB Family stories are wonderful.
Death by tissue--what a way to go.

Bear((( )))

TSannie said...

Now I'm going to have to go back to the beginning of your blog to catch up on all the stories. This one was wonderful! Good that you're writing them down - you think you'll never forget, but you do.

Big Hair Envy said...

I can't stand clowns! GO GRANDPA!

You were at ACDS and didn't CALL me??? Good heavens woman, I live FIVE MINUTES AWAY! We really need to get better about this... I'm glad you enjoyed the fields on Howerton Road. It's a lovely 10 mile stretch. I cut through there often when I go to visit my dad in Urbanna. Sorry to say that they have built WAY too many houses along that road in the past five years - it has ruined some of the view.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering how mental p mama put it together that this was Mumma's side of the family....well, I guess it is painfully obvious. :-) Never a dull moment on either side of the family.

-Middle Sis

Caution Flag said...

She sure wasn't a very bright clown now, was she?

Big Hair Envy said...

If you have a free Saturday in this lifetime, I would like to take you on a tour of my county. It would take the entire day, and then some, but it would be TONS of fun! You would need to buy a new memory card for your camera...

Val said...

i love seagulls. great story about your great grandfather... wonder if he was in a Union blockade somewhen. looking forward tomore pics and stories. thank you :-)

Horn Harbor Girl said...

Cool story ! I rode horses & showed years ago - until the children came along & I could no longer afford it. However, recently I got a sweet horse (truly), 7 yr.old (Thoroughbred)straight off the race track, he is a gentle 16.3 hands - so, I truly appreciate the story of "The Blacksmith" Oh yea, the blacksmith(farrier)just cost me $110 for shoes on this new addition to our family - not bad for 20-30 minutes of work from "The Blacksmith :-} Just ride now for pleasure - go trail riding on the weekends, such a wonderful release ..........
Now this Clown Woman, did she not catch on after a half a box of tissues ha! ha! Go Grandpa !

Grandma J said...

That story is so very Chesapeake Bay funny!

I have to say, leaving the advanced memory lapses aside, you seem like a chip off the old anvil. A small chip....regionally speaking.....maybe.

And, just like BHE,clowns give me the creeps. Really, they scare me to death. Great Grandpa had every reason to defend the Confederacy against such evil.

Auds at Barking Mad said...

Go Confederate Blacksmith!

I hate clowns, can not stand them! She got off easy, she did! I'd have thrown the bedstand at her!

I love reading your stories almost as much as the photos.

foolery said...

I think I would like to see a clown in a compromising position, in order to normalize him.

Like maybe in line at the DMV. Or having to do his taxes. Or dripping ketchup all over his polka dot suit. Or having an asthma attack.

Still not sure that would do it, but it would be a start.

Thanks for the great grandfather story, CBW -- it was grand. I would have said "great," but then you would just think I was making a joke. A lame joke.

Not me.



Karen Deborah said...

Well shoot I didn't laugh because I felt sorry for him. I kinda wanted to slap the clown for not getting the hint after the first couple of tissues. In my book she was mean laughing at an old man who was afraid. But that's just me, and dementia is so hard. I'm grateful you have such a good heart.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Thanks to all of you for your comments. I've been so busy these past few days I've been negligent in commenting in my own comments section. Is that redundant, commenting in your own comments? Probably in more ways than one.

Anywho, I'm so glad to be able to come home from a stressful day and read what you have to say.

Horn Harbor Girl...and Big Hair Envy(and anyone else in the area or who is willing to travel to the area)...October 31st there's a Halloween party and costume contest at Sandpiper Reef in Hallieford (the subject of a future post once I get my act together and go photograph it).

Oh, and HHG - one of the guest judges will be a mutual friend of ours who needs to be a stand-up comedienne. You know, the one down Cobbs Creek way.

Thank you all again so much for your contributions here. It makes a worn out person feel better.

Have a wonderful, restful weekend.