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Friday, July 08, 2005 

Slim

When I was a kid I worked at a feed and grain store. An old man worked their too his name was Slim. I never knew his real name everyone called him slim. He was about 6’4 and weighed around 125 pounds. He was the first “wino” I ever met. He was a nice enough guy if you could stand to smell him. He lived in a small house not far from the feed store. He bathed only on alternating leap years. The previous leap year had escaped his notice. I was young enough to ask him why he did not bathe; he said it kept the bugs off of him. Once he did not show up to help me unload a truck of grain. I found him by smell. He was under the feed store passed out. You could smell him inside the store.

Slim would show up for work about half drunk about once a week. The boss would drive him home in the back of his truck and put him in his house and check on him latter. I remember seeing him drunk the first time. He was staggering around and could not speak. I thought he was dying. I had never seed a drunken person before.

He had been married three times and ran each one of them off. He had a scar on his chin a reminder of his first wife; she went after him with a butcher knife when he came home drunk with another woman. I asked him why he did these things that were so foreign to me. He answered “for sport Bo for sport”. I guess he considered it his hobby.

I saw him the other day at another feed store where old men sit by a stove, drink coffee and eat roasted peanuts, and solve the world’s problems. He was in a rocking chair. It was 90 degrees outside and 100% humidity but he was covered up with a shawl to his waist. He recognized me and called me over. We talked about my life and my wife and kids. He kidded me about having it too good and having a little too much meat on my bones. I asked him were he lived now. He said he was living in the back of this store, on a cot. He said he was 92 years old now and he was doing the best he ever had.

He said he gave up liquor after wife number 4 shot him in the leg with a pistol. He said he had 12 children and 37 grandchildren and 12 great grand children buy the 4 wives. He said they all visited him last Friday on his birthday. He then spit tobacco juice on my boot. I asked him if he needed anything. He said no, he had no needs that were not taken care of by his grandson who owns the feed store.

I said I would come to this store more often now that I know he is there.

When I was 12 I worked with this man. He has had a hard life. His father was killed back in 1922 when he was a boy. He told me the story years ago. His father had stopped along the road as he walked back from the fields. He carried a bag of groceries for a white woman whose car had broken down. That evening that woman’s husband and some other men came and got Slim’s father and beat him. Slim’s father died a week latter. Slim was 9 years old. He went to work in the cotton fields the next day to help provide for his 4 younger brothers. He worked as a field hand beside grown men from that day forward. He has seen the civil rights movement at its worst, he marvels at how far it has come.

He is proud that his children have done better than he has; one of his grandkids is a doctor at UAB medical hospital. And, of course one owns the store his lives in. He has 3 grandkids in Iraq now two grandsons and a granddaughter, he is proud of their service. He takes no credit for their success other than as he said “and example of how not to do it”

I don’t have much of a point to this story, I just wrote it. Snagley out

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