Sending a warm greeting to all my friends and family members who are celebrating the day. It will be a quiet one for me as the two most important men in my life, my father and my husband, are now playing Euchre together in heaven.
Being by myself is okay, though, as I’m still in recovery mode from my shoulder surgery. Three weeks down tomorrow and a little over two weeks to go, but my time on the computer is still limited. So…. without pausing a beat, I’ll turn the blog over to my friend Slim Randles with a reprisal of one of his older columns from five years ago.
“Salamander sandwiches and great Grecian toads!” said Dud, lurching into his never-really-assigned position at the Mule Barn truck stop’s philosophy counter and world dilemma think tank.
Mavis stood there holding the pot of Farmer Brothers coffee as she waited for Dud to flip his mug to the correct upright position. “You want some coffee before the toads are done?” she asked.
“Sure,” Dud said, laughing. “Just practicing my epithets.”
Mavis poured. “When you die you want toads and salamanders on your headstone?”
“No, no, no,” Dud said, in what we’d come to learn was his quasi-professorial tone. “Not an epitaph. An epithet, dear lady, is a spontaneous outburst, a grand flinging of words to the wild ether that is the very air we breathe …”
He talks like that sometimes.
“… an expression of polysyllabic perfection designed to both stun and impress those within hearing range.”
Doc looked at me. “I’m sufficiently stunned.”
Mavis filled everyone’s cups. “Going to be one of those mornings, I guess.”
“Let’s get this straight,” said Doc. “To stun and impress people and amaze everyone on our block, we have to talk about salamanders?”
“Of course not, Doc,” said Dud. “It could be anything. Now I’ve just been gathering up a few of those for use later on, you see, to be used when a great epithet is called for. Let’s say I walk in here one morning and you tell me the river went over its banks last night and is flooding the south valley. That would be a good time to use salamander sandwiches and great Grecian toads, you see.”
“I see. The salamanders and toads because they both like water and the river overflowed, and…”
I could see the twinkle in Doc’s eye.
“No,” said Dud, “although you do have a good point there. But you could just as easily use an epithet like … ‘Well, put Bluebeard’s potatoes in a sack’!”
Doc looked at me. “Doesn’t have the same stunning effect as salamander sandwiches.”
I nodded. “How about ‘Dear Aunt Tillie’s sainted hairnet!”
“Better than Bluebeard’s spuds, I think.”
Mavis looked at us and said “Stunning.”
If you enjoyed this little story, maybe you’d consider giving Slim a Father’s Day present by getting his book, Home Country that’s a collection of the best of his weekly columns. Pick up Home Country: Drama, dreams and laughter from the American heartland
Keep in mind that today is also a day to celebrate Juneteenth. We can honor dads and freedom in the same breath, can’t we?
Throughout history Juneteenth has been known as Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day and Emancipation Day, celebrating the emancipation of African Americans who’d been enslaved. The celebrations started in Galveston, Texas in 1866 and then spread throughout the United States. The date is the anniversary of the June 19, 1865, announcement by Union Army general Gordon Granger that proclaimed that slaves in Texas were now free.
I include that bit of history because it’s not something I knew from my high school or college history classes, but those classes took place in Michigan, so maybe that’s why. I’m curious as to how many others over the age of 50, who studied Texas history, knew the details about this. If you did, raise your hand in the comments.
Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.
All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.
Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy, dog musher, and an all-around good guy. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books and the host of two podcasts and a television program.