Blowhard, Esq. writes:
Grandfather, or ‘Pa’ as he was known to the entire clan, was an old man from my earliest recollection –- just how old even he did not know. Orphaned shortly after birth in a period of indifferent vital statistics, he had been handed around from one family to another, worked always, fed seldom, and beaten frequently. For all that his memory could tell him he had been born big, raw-boned and doing a man’s work.
He might have been fifteen when he enlisted as a drummer boy in the Union Army, but he believed he was nearer ten. By the end of the war he was a full-fledged sergeant, an inveterate gambler, a confirmed drinker, and a stout apostle of the philosophy of easy-come easy-go. He didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he was certain that it must pay a great deal and have very little physical work attached to it.
There was no such vocation, of course, for a brash young man who could barely read and write. …
Although Pa’s bathing was confined to washrag-and-basin dabbling, this should not be interpreted as meaning that he was hygienically careless. He simply had his own ideas about personal hygiene. Nights, mornings, and numerous times in between, he took great draughts of whiskey to ‘kill the poisons’ in his system. He ate large quantities of liver, brains and kidneys (to fortify his own). Finally, to get back to the subject of animals, he would not sit down in the privy in the normal fashion, but stood up on the seat and hunkered over the hole.
He was in this semi-helpless position one day when the privy door blew open. A huge dominecker rooster, seeing a once-in-a-lifetime chance, dashed in and pecked him severely about the loins. Pa was outraged by this grossly unfair attack, but he did not resort to an axe as a less fair man would have. He simply ignored that particular rooster from then on.