They called him “Flop”

My grandfather Austin was a master finish carpenter. He had a huge, well equipped shop behind the house. It was there that he created patterns for homes that graced winding stairs, porches, cornice and builtins. I have a small side table he built nearly a century ago. Many an hour did I spend in Papa’s workshop, just nailing boards together. Sometimes I would climb a very tall ladder and gather squab (baby pigeons) for dinner. Papa could eat his weight in squab, whole fried perch, possum and Momma’s “POHDOO” (delicious bread pudding). (yes, possum!) I couldn’t handle the greasy possum, but I could match him on that bread pudding. On the facing of the door to the shop was an interesting symbol. It had been painted in white with pretty good letters. It looked like this:


“Your Uncle Jack did that when he was in high school”, Papa explained. I could understand the symbol as “J A”, but, FLOP? Papa smiled and said, “Jack could never keep his hair from flopping on his forehead”(hereditary).  I loved my Uncle Jack and even though he wasn’t the most dependable man,  he loved his family and we loved him, warts and all. One of the biggest mistakes was when he took a five-and-a-half pound bass my Dad caught, out to a friend’s house to show it off. We never saw that ‘John Bass’ again. Uncle Jack didn’t dare come around my Mother for a long time. It seems he and his friend ate that bass for supper. Fortunately, I have a picture of that monster, somewhere. Sadly, Jack Austin suffered the temptation of whiskey and died before he was fifty. He may not have been the most successful of men, but my Uncle Jack was not a flop to me. Never without a funny story and a healthy guffaw at his own tales.  That was my Uncle Jack Austin and that’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates.     AMEN

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