Since Sunday is my mom’s birthday I wanted to tell as story not only about my mom but my dad as well.
This was my dad’s favorite story. Since I wrote this, both Momma and Daddy have gone to be with the Lord. Like I said, this is my dad’s favorite story and he had me print up a bunch of copies of it, and my sister, Teri, rolled them up and tied little ribbons around them and Daddy gave them out at the visitation in the funeral home the day before we laid Momma to rest.
Nearly six years later, the preacher read it at Daddy’s funeral. The original article was named simply, “The Nickel.’’
I added the rest, well, because it is A Love Story. I love you Momma. Happy Birthday. Tell Daddy to give you a hug for me.
Last week my sister Teri and I had the opportunity to sit with my dad while he was in the hospital. What he was in for was pretty serious, but he’s a tough ol’ buzzard, so they finally cut him loose.
I said that we had the opportunity; because I figure when we were younger he had to take care of us sometimes, so now we got to pay him back a little. Bein’ with my dad is not a chore by any means because he is a hoot.
He’s one of those people you just like to be around. If he can’t make you laugh, well you just might as well dig a grave and crawl in it, because you’re dead.
Anywho, Dad was entertaining one of the nurses up there and he started tellin’ her a story that I’ve heard a bunch of times. It’s a pretty cute one, so I thought I’d let y’all hear it.
Back when my dad was a senior in high school, there was a group of sophomore girls that ran around together. My dad said when they’d see him they’d grab their noses and say, “P. U., Rayburn Mitchum.” He’d just shrug it off, them bein’ young girls and all.
Well, the next thing you know Dad was attending junior college, and he was invited to a party at someone’s house. He was standing out in the yard talking to some of his buddies when a car drove up and out stepped two girls.
“Wow!” Dad said. “Who is that girl with Margie?”
His buddy looked over to where he was pointing. “Oh that’s Tacky Dodd,” he said.
“That’s Tacky?” my dad asked. “Boy howdy, she sure has filled out nice.”
They headed back into the house where they were about to play some games. You know, like spin the bottle, and knocking for love, and games like that.
The first game was knocking for love. The way this game was played was that all the girls were placed in a room and given a number. The boy would then step up to the door, knock, and call out a number.
Then the girl whose number he called out would come to the door, and they’d walk down the road together. Well, Dad saw the boy who had passed out the numbers to the girls come out of the room, so he walked up to him.
“Hey,” he said. “What number did you give Tacky Dodd?”
“I ain’t gonna tell you,” the boy said.
“Well,” said Dad. “You can either tell me, or I’ll beat it out of you.”
“Her number is 12,” the boy said quickly. My dad was a pretty tough character, back in those days.
When it was my dad’s turn, he knocked and called out number 12. When the door opened and Tacky saw who it was she stepped back.
“Oh no,” she said. “I’m not walking with you.”
“Oh yes you are,” said Dad. “I called your number and you have to walk with me.”
“OK,” she said. “But you better not touch me. In fact, don’t you even get near me,” and she turned and walked outside.
They started walkin’ down the road, Tacky in one rut, and Dad in the other.
“Why don’t you like me?” Dad asked. Tacky didn’t say anything. Dad thought hard for something to say to get her to talk. Then it came to him.
“Do you have a nickel?” he asked. She looked at him.
“Do you have a nickel?” he repeated.
“No, I don’t have a nickel.”
“Well,” he said. “I’m gonna loan you a nickel and then make a bet with you.”
“What are you talking about?” Tacky asked.
“I’m gonna make a bet with you and if you win you get to keep the nickel. But, if you lose, I get the nickel back and you will owe me another one.”
“What’s the bet?” Tacky asked.
“I bet I can kiss you without touchin’ you.”
“Bull,” Tacky said.
“I’m serious. I bet you a nickel I can kiss you without touchin’ you.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“You’ll have to bet me to find out,” Dad said, and he dug a nickel out of his pocket and placed it in Tacky’s hand.
“Now,” he said. “I’m going to have to touch you so I can get you lined up, but then I’m gonna kiss you without touching you.”
“This I’ve got to see,” she said.
Dad grabbed her arms and placed Tacky so she was facin’ him. Then he let go of her arms.
“OK,” he said. “Close your eyes.”
Tacky looked at him and then closed her eyes. Then Dad gave her a long slow kiss right on her lips.” When he finished she opened her eyes.
“You just lost your nickel,” she said sweetly.
“Awww, I didn’t lose that nickel,” said Dad. “It was worth every penny to kiss a pretty girl like you.”
Then they started back to the house. When Tacky started up the steps, she stumped her toe on the porch and started to fall. Dad reached and grabbed her by the waist to keep her from fallin’.
“Are you OK?” he asked.
“Yeah, thanks,” she said, and went on into the house where they were playin’ spin the bottle. Dad stayed outside and went and sat in the porch swing. In a little while he heard someone in the house say, “He was sittin’ in the porch swing last time I saw him.”
In just a minute the door opened up and Tacky stepped out and looked around. Then she saw him in the porch swing.
“Well,” she said. “I wondered where you went.” Dad took this as a sign she might be interested.
“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” Dad said. “How about I take you and Margie up to the drugstore and buy y’all an ice cream?”
“Let me go ask Margie,” she said, and took off. In a minute she returned snickering.
“What’s so funny?” asked my dad.
“Oh,” said Tacky. “I told Margie that you wanted to buy us some ice cream, and she looked at me sort of funny, and said, ‘I thought we were supposed to hate him.’”
Well, as you may have guessed, Tacky eventually married my Dad and started our family. This month they will have been married 58 years.
Now, as some of you know, a couple of years ago, Mom had to go live at a place where they can take better care of her. She doesn’t remember much of anything anymore, but she’s happy and that’s all that counts.
The other day my dad was going through an old jewelry box of Mom’s and he came across an old coin. He picked it up and had to move to some light to see what it was. It was a 1940 nickel. He turned it over and there, on the back, was a little piece of tape. On the tape was written one word, “Kiss.” It was Mom’s winning nickel. She never spent it.
Now, that nickel rests in a picture frame in my Dad’s den. He said it was the best bet he ever lost.