Youth: Pt1 – Papaw

September 16, 2001

My youth is really becoming a blur. I’ve had a few different ideas about what to write here, but they are all so hazy, only a few will stand out.

I remember being around my papaw and he would sing all kinds of old songs from his youth. He would be working in the backyard, maybe on a garden, maybe on a doghouse. He was such a nice man, nice man with a damn bad temper. He had an affinity for music, he listened to it all : country, rock, blues. He hid the fact that he liked rock music…I would get in his truck and instantly hear KZ-106. I think he liked the southern rock, but I’m not sure. I do know he liked it when I was in a band that played that type of music. He didn’t care for the Beatles, he didn’t like “Black Music”, and he sure as hell didn’t like the music I played when I was 19.

He was my baseball coach growing up. He had years of experience teaching my uncles how to play and he knew how to win. I didn’t get preferential treatment, If I sucked, I sat on the bench. I liked playing baseball, and I didn’t realize how much I liked it until he wasn’t my coach. He was a hard coach, I remember being on a baseball field on Saturday morning and sweating my ass off as I had him yelling at me about moving my left foot out when I swung the bat. For the record, I was 10. He got tired of playing politics with the athletic league that he was the president of…and he quit. So the year after he left, all of the league folded and I went to Chickamauga to play ball. I hated it…the coach’s son was a shitty player. He got to play and I got where I didn’t care. I wasn’t given a chance and that moron got to play. So after not liking Chickamauga, I moved to the PRA league. Nice big youth baseball league. My neighbor, George Holmes, was my coach and his son was also on the team. Mike was a good player, I became mediocre, simply because I didn’t care, but also because this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I was there to have fun. When I moved up in the age bracket, had a shitty coach again. All of the guys on that team were going to be the high school baseball team. They’ve played since they were 5 and practiced all of the time. I like baseball, but I got into music and soccer. I saw one of the jerks I played ball with…who had also played with me on my Grand-dad’s team and he said that of all of the years he played ball, including college ball, the years with my grand-dad were the most memorable. I laughed…he said that he pushed us, but all that he asked was for us to go out and use our potential. We had fun…we won games, but we had fun and learned about baseball.

As I type this, this speech of his popped into my head, I was probably 10-11 and was on the Mt.View Pirates. I am seeing that the team is huddled around Papaw, and he is talking about how we only use about 10% of our brain for knowledge. That includes all of what we have ever learned, from walking to playing baseball. My putting forward our best efforts, we would expand that knowledge… interesting huh?

It’s interesting to me because here was a man who grew up as a sharecropper in the depression. He was abused and poor. His mom raised him by herself, because his father was a traveling musician. He traveled the countryside building church choirs, playing his guitar with those he met, and just roaming around the county. It amazed me that my granddad with his 9th grade education could possibly imaging and even understood the possibilities of the mind. He was using what psychology he knew on us and it worked.

He was an astute businessman. He worked as a routeman for a uniform service. He was a Master Steward for the Teamsters and even was a union negociator. He settled many a labor dispute. I remember some of his books lying around the house…..everything from Labor and Union Laws, to History, to notes from his work. I can sit back now and analyze what I learned from him. I am stubborn_…_

This might be coicendence, but I forgot what date his birth date was on…it’s

the same day as the anniversary for mkelley.net. Spooky huh?