Everybody needs a Grandpa like this!
Often, as I am working on files at the front desk in our office Mr. Calvin will sit down to talk. Mr. Calvin is the Lord’s way of making up for the lack of a Grandfather during my formative years. He is the original Spinks in Spinks Brown & Durand and he is one of my favorite people on the planet.
Even though he is officially a “Realtor Emeritus” and has the pin to prove it, every morning just after 8:00 AM, Mr. Calvin pulls into the parking lot in his green sedan. Every morning just after 8:05 AM, I realize I forgot to put the American flag into its honored place on the front of the building as he shakes his finger at me and puts up Old Glory. Oops. Mr. Calvin is 86 years old and yet my 31 year old brain is the one slowing down.
The consummate Southern Gentleman, Mr. Calvin appears to be quite the stern patriarch as he peers out the window, contemplating the idiocy of local traffic patterns. Secretly, this stern exterior is a façade, because I have personally seen him perform a soft shoe shuffle while singing the Sammy Kaye classic, “Daddy, You Ought to Get the Best for Me.”
“Hey, Daddy, I want a diamond ring, bracelets, everything
Daddy, you ought to get the best for me
Hey, Daddy, gee, don’t I look swell in sables?
Clothes with Paris labels?
Daddy, you ought to get the best for me!”
Don’t tell the Baptists, but he’s pretty Fred Astaire-esque!
Not long ago, as he sat down in his usual chair, I could tell there was a story coming and that made me rub my hands together in anticipation. I love a story. I love to tell stories almost as much as I love to hear a good one, and Mr. Calvin tells some doozies…and they are all true. The man is my personal window into local history. Everything about life in LaGrange from the 1920’s to the present day is right here wearing a suit and sitting across from me. Once I asked Mr. Calvin about a particular city landmark and he gave me a house by house tour through the surrounding neighborhood, complete with tales about each family around there in the 1930’s. He can pick a local house and tell you who he sold it to in 1974 along with that person’s family history.
Once every so often, Mr. Calvin sends out a newsletter to his classmates in the LaGrange High School Class of 1938. One of my more enjoyable duties here at the office is typing these often lengthy missives, as there are always good stories included. A recent excerpt:
(From the January 2009 Newsletter)
Discipline at LHS in the 1920’s — By that I don’t mean standing in the corner. I’m talking about corporal punishment with either a paddle or a belt! What brought this to mind was a house on the lower end of College Avenue which recently sold. Our company did not have the home listed for sale but one of our agents sold it. When I saw the photo of the house I recognized it as being the former residence of O.T. Kersey and his wife Augusta Pike Kersey (old Pike Bros. Lumber Co.). They are both deceased. In former years we sat by O.T. and Augusta at First Baptist. O.T. was the son of Mr. T.B. Kersey, long time Superintendent at the Spinning Mill for Callaway. O.T. graduated from LHS in the late 1920’s. He told me a little story about going to LHS. He said that one day he got a whipping from Coach Gresset who preceded Mr. “Skeet” Johnson as the LHS football coach. O.T. went home and told his daddy about the whipping and he added, “I wasn’t doing anything!” (They all say that.) Mr. Kersey told O.T. not to worry, that he would go to school with him the next morning and he would get everything straightened out with Mr. Gresset. The next morning Mr. Kersey carried O.T. to school and together they went in to see the Coach. I can imagine O.T. had a smile on his face and was probably thinking, “My daddy is going to put this guy in his place!” (Mr. Kersey was an extra large man with a big stomach.) Mr. Kersey greeted Mr. Gresset warmly and said, “O.T. tells me you gave him a whipping yesterday.” Mr. Gresset replied, “Yes, Mr. Kersey, O.T. was misbehaving, unruly and disturbing the class. He refused to settle down, I could not teach and I had to discipline him.”
Mr. Kersey replied, “Mr. Gresset, you did exactly the right thing. If he misbehaves again, you give him a whipping, send a note home to me and I will whip him again!”
O.T. told me he got the worst end of that deal but I think he appreciated Mr. Gresset in the long run.”
Can’t you see why I love him so? I have begged and pleaded for Mr. Calvin to write a book. A book of local anecdotes about people we all know and love. Thus far he has not gone for the idea. He always brushes off my request, saying that he might get in too much trouble if he told all he knew.
Two Sundays ago, on September 20th, Mr. Calvin suffered a heart attack and spent a few days in the hospital, before rallying and returning home. This morning, I got an email from his wife, which reads in part:
“I think, if nothing happens, you’ll see him walk in the door sometime this afternoon. Can’t keep him away from all you wonderful people.”
Hallelujah! I can’t wait to see him pull up in the driveway! I bet he’ll have one big juicy story to tell.
Now, if y’all will excuse me, I have to go hang up the flag!