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Poem: Pappy

January 1, 2011

When Pap first bought this place

Pappop and my cousin Penny

They say he wore his city gloves

When he hoed the corn.

Now his hands seem separate

From the burying suit

Like leather gloves

Forgotten on the table

Right over left by chance —

Stiff. Heavy. Scarred.

Burned by the wind and sun.

I close my eyes

And see those hands

Hilling up tomato plants

And turning Bible pages.

I feel him smoothing back my hair.

Written January 1982 by Julie McMaine Evans

This poem is based on Pappop, my father’s father. I don’t remember him because he died when I was two. But I treasure stories my father told me about Pappop, who had the reputation of being a kind and ethical person. He was so kind that he let neighbors borrow equipment and never return it!

Dad said Claude didn’t have to work hard growing up and didn’t like to get his hands dirty when he first started farming. He wore gloves when he hoed, which was unusual. Twelve children, the Great Depression and working hard to make a living made him forget about keeping his hands clean and soft, Dad said. The image of his hands always stayed with me.

Pappop had a fruit and vegetable stand, rather like a farmer’s market, on a lot in downtown Richmond, Kentucky. As young men, my father (Tom) and Uncle Ott hauled apples out of Michigan and peaches out of Georgia for the stand and for grocery stores. Later Uncle Ott ran the business.

One day when I was visiting my cousin Penny, she and I helped Uncle Ott sell at the stand because Cousin Darryl couldn’t help that day. I probably learned more math that day than in a year’s schooling because Uncle Ott didn’t use an adding machine or paper. I remember a customer telling me I was undercharging him a bit on tomatoes. I said, “Oh, I’ll just throw the extra in.”

“Are you Claude’s granddaughter?” he asked. I said I was.

“I thought so,” he said. “That’s what he always said.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary V permalink
    January 6, 2011 11:26 am

    Beautiful poem, Julie.

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