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     I grew up really knowing only one of my grandparents, my mom’s mom. Like many people my age, I wish I had asked her more questions. What school was like, what was her first job, what did she do for entertainment.

     A year or so ago I started writing things about myself for my four grandkids. This is one of them--Grandpa McCoy, The Suave Lady’s Man.


     Along about 1951 when Grandpa McCoy was in the eighth grade, he developed a crush on Sue M. Being bold and suave, he bought a box of chocolate-covered cherries, walked up to the lovely Sue, handed it to her while mumbling something poetic—most likely, “Duh, this is for you.”—and fled the scene. What did I tell you? Bold and suave indeed.

     He went to the high school prom a number of times and took one girl, Judy F., twice: once when he was in high school, the other time he was in college and Judy asked him to take her.

     At one dance Grandpa McCoy had his dad’s car and afterwards he, his date and another couple went to a rest park to take turns reciting their favorite Shakespeare sonnets. This only took about four seconds and next on their menu was necking. (It’s probably called something else now. “Necking” has more to do with the lips and face—if you weren’t my grandchildren I would keep going—than it does with the neck proper.)

     When we were ready to leave, Grandpa put the car in reverse and heard a sharp noise. He got out and saw that the front fender on the driver’s side was directly over a wooden post. Oh, goody. Not being good at geometry or logic, he decided the most efficient way of solving this problem was to step on the accelerator while backing up. That brought a louder noise, the sound of metal being expanded.

     When he returned home with the car, he said nothing to his sleeping parents. Early the next morning (or at least early in Grandpa’s mind) his father, always the nosy one, wanted to know what happened. Larry explained that he didn’t know, that when he came out of the dance the front fender was like that, bent and misshapen. Lavon J. McCoy knew that was hogwash. Larry McCoy stuck to his silly tale, so Lavon J. McCoy went downtown and stood by the magazine rack at Aughe’s Drugstore, where high school kids hung out. Word of Larry’s “accident” had spread quickly among his high school friends, and his father soon overheard what had really happened.

     It was a good month or so before Grandpa was allowed to use his father’s car again. After he regained car privileges, his mother would stick the needle in and ask, “are you going to go forwards or backwards?” Very funny.

     Another dance is on Grandpa’s hit parade. As the date for this dance approached Grandpa didn’t have a date and his buddies did. One night he went to a phone booth in the Coulter Hotel in Frankfort, and, with the door to the booth open and his buddies listening, Larry started dialing. All the girls had dates already. When failure seemed inevitable, he dialed Marilyn H.’s number. Marilyn didn’t have a date, and, yes, she would like to go to the dance. When he heard this, Grandpa said, “Gee, if I’d known that earlier I wouldn’t have called all those other girls.” Grandpa hopes Marilyn H. doesn’t remember this conversation.

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     A final love note: One thing I do know about my grandmother—she outlived three husbands. If she had wanted to, she could have called herself Charity Melissa Thornton Smith Smith Alexander.