My Adventures with ‘Granny Good’
Reflecting on memories with a beloved, southern grandmotherBy Reggie Hill
What are the things that a young boy remembers — the smell of a farm pond full of fish in the springtime or stalking all kinds of “big game” through broom straw with his trusty BB gun? Seeing a bevy of UFOs whizzing by the moon at nightfall (which were probably Canada geese in migration)?
All of these wonders are enough to burn indelible prints into the mind of a country boy in the South.
The most undying memory in this boy’s life was his adventures with his maternal grandmother — affectionately known to him as “Granny Good.” Granny Good was a robust woman, overweight as grandmothers were in those days. Full of energy, ready, willing and able to pursue adventures with a little boy who worshipped her. Granny Good had what we like to call today a “presence” about her. She had stark white hair that lay close to her head like a thousand tight little springs. Her hands were rough and brown from decades of honest, hard labor. She always wore patterned dresses while working. Pink was definitely her favorite color. To this day when I see pink I think of Granny Good, sweating profusely year-round.
She could turn a laugh into a miracle. The laugh would begin at her mouth and end up oscillating down to her huge tummy, which would reverberate like pink Jell-O. The poor lady had crippling arthritis, but it didn’t slow her down. She would hobble along on bowed legs with a speed that would cause a young boy to break into a stride.
My fondest memory of this wonderful human being was during my days as a mad scientist. My Dad had built a little building behind our home called the “doll house.” To this day I don’t know where the name came from. Maybe it was built for my little sister, but I don’t remember ever seeing any dolls in it. What I do remember seeing, in this wonderful little hideaway, were rows upon rows of chemicals — my chemicals — from which I created all manner of wonders for myself and my little sister.
I soon graduated to the ultimate creation: I could make gunpowder! Now mind you, my goal with gunpowder was not one of destruction, but construction. You see, I wanted to build rockets. Rockets that would soar into the sky to the absolute amazement of me, my sister and my neighborhood chums.
I pored over every book I could find on model rocketry. I learned the secrets of nozzle diameter versus chamber diameter. Very important stuff if you wanted your rocket not to fizzle — or worse yet, become a bomb! I did have one bomb incident early in my rocket research and development phase. I remember lighting the fuse, running like a fiend, turning and looking in horror as my little sister and our cousin toddled over to inspect it. I dashed over, grabbed the rocket and ran away from them. The next thing I remember was the doctor cleaning the cut on my face. He looked at me, smiled and said, “You can tell everyone you got the scar in a duel in Heidleburg.” I figure Heidleburg or not, I earned it honorably.
There was only one flaw in this grand scheme of creation: I needed adult supervision. Thus enters, stage right, Granny Good. I proposed my plan to the jovial matriarch and without hesitation she accepted. Like the knight she was, Granny Good rose to the occasion in splendid style. She called forth from the depths of Grandpa’s barn the farm’s worthy, old, WWII flaming red Willys Jeep. We dutifully christened it our fire command vehicle.
With this Jeep, Granny Good and I tore through the woods and fields of her farm with a commitment and purpose of mission that would have brought tears to General Patton’s eyes. On a typical firing day, I would scurry from the Jeep, erect the rocket on its platform, and stretch the wires back to the Jeep where Granny Good waited with a trusty 12-volt auto battery “borrowed” from my Dad’s service station. On my command, my missile fire control officer (aka Granny Good) would deftly touch the naked ends of the wires to the terminals of the battery. Whoosh! Another rocket soared skyward.
To this day, I can still hear my Granny Good cackling in delight as our rockets soared heavenward. Whether or not my rockets made it all the way to heaven, I’ll never know. I do know this, however: if there is a heaven, which I know there is, my Granny Good is up there looking down on me with that wonderful look that only she could give to a little boy.
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About the AuthorReggie and his wife, Anita, have made their home at Lakewood (featured in his book “Lakewood: Reggie and Anita’s Camelot”) in the Red Cross community for 37 years. They are proud members of Union Power Cooperative.
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