Although Eddy Dunnaway and Papa Jack worked together almost every day, Eddy wasn’t his grandfather’s favorite. His younger brother was named Jackson, and it made a difference. Jackson, three years younger, was the athlete in the family, which left Eddy to be the brain. Papa Jack didn’t know the Green Bay Packers from the Boston Celtics, but he had seen the Dodgers play one time in Brooklyn. When Eddy made his bumpy way through the high school football program, Papa Jack claimed he was at the games, but there wasn’t much evidence he did much more than read the newspaper.
“Did you see that block I laid on that boy from Carboro Ferry in the third quarter, Papa Jack?”
“Oh, yeah,” the old man said.
The best evidence of Papa Jack’s incredible regard for his namesake’s athletic ability was the time Eddy set up the silver screen and showed home movies one Fourth of July. They all watched the Super-Eight highlights of the entire family jumping off the diving board at the pool beside the house. When Jackson executed a straightforward, head-first dive, Eddy let Jackson disappear in the water and reversed the projector so that he appeared to hop right up off the bottom and land back on the board.
“Good God Almighty!” yelled Papa Jack. “I ain’t never seen no boy can do nothing like that!”
Everyone laughed uproariously. Papa Jack didn’t get it, and no one told him Eddy had been playing a trick. As Papa Jack got older, he became even more eccentric. Occasionally, he would insist on saying grace before dinner. Granny Dunnaway would expect the worst and seldom be disappointed.
“All right, boys and girls, bow your heads,” he’d say. “Good food, good meat, Good God, let’s eat!” Everyone else would laugh and Granny Dunnaway would hiss.
At the store, sometimes Papa Jack would mysteriously disappear, in most cases to go to “the farm.” One time he ran the Cadillac over a terrace and got it stuck there. Daddy had to get the tractor to pull him loose. Another time, he set the pasture on fire, and another time he bumped that white Cadillac into something because he took a can of flat-white spray point from the store and sprayed a coat of it over the scratch, which, of course, made the otherwise shiny Sedan de Ville look ridiculous. One just didn’t spray-paint a Cadillac, not unless his name was Jackson Dunnaway.
Papa Jack also snuck out to the big house next door to watch Sanford & Son on Friday nights at eight o’clock, which enabled Eddy to sneak out a case of Pearl beer – he was under-age but did pay for it – to take to the Boy Scout camporee where he had learned to play poker half a decade earlier. The Scoutmaster, Mr. Wallace Simpkins, told Eddy he was personally going to make sure Eddy never made Eagle Scout after that fiasco, and Eddy didn’t stay a Scout much longer. He did prepare well for college, though, by developing a taste for beer.
TO BE CONTINUED