Monday, July 20, 2009

Stories My Dad told Me

A Port City Tale
copyright James R. Smith

Now that I’m getting old, I think about the tiny little stories that my dad told me when I was a kid. Every once in a while, when he wasn’t raging about the injustice in the world and the evils of capitalism, he would tell me these sweet little bits of his youth. Here are a couple:

His father had been the local grocer in the place where he’d grown up. Apparently it was on the coast (southern Georgia), somewhere in the vicinity of the Brunswick city limits.

When ships would dock for an extended time, the sailors and crewmembers would often disembark to explore and to shop. They would, of course, end up in my grandfather’s grocery store. I recall that my dad said that the locals did not get on well with the Germans (apparently some German sailors went to the local swimming hole and went swimming in their underwear, thus shocking the local women, and the cops came in and chased their Kraut asses back to their ship.)

They did, however, get on famously with the Japanese sailors. The following as far as I know, is true:

Once there was a Japanese cargo ship docked in the port for some time. The locals liked the Japanese sailors. Very polite and well behaved. They especially liked the captain who, I was told, cut quite a dashing figure.

One day this Japanese captain was in my grandfather's store and he would ask the kids their names. This was part of his attempt to do a better job of mastering English. He pointed to my dad:

"What's your name?"

"Mark Smith," my dad told him. The captain nodded his approval.

"And your name?"

"Kohler Aiken," came the reply. And so on.

Finally he pointed to one kid.

"And your name?"

"Baby Goodbread, sir."

My dad said it took the Ship's captain about five minutes to stop laughing.

Not 1920s Brunswick, but it'll do.

1 comment:

GULAHIYI said...

Great story! That's quite an image of the fellow chugging down sorghum. I know I couldn't do it.