After Fawn Witten fired back an e-mail telling me I had given her another name, at first I didn’t know what she was talking about. Then I realized I had called her Fern in a hastily composed e-mail Friday evening asking her for more information on the Civil War veteran who VFW Post 257 would honor in Lebeck Cemetery Saturday morning.
I apologized for my error and got back a delightful response: To err is human…to forgive is multiple choice – Devine, required, a good idea, since we all need it.
In the information she sent about the Civil War veteran, Fawn wrote: “He was a very religious old fellow and his grandson, Howard Light, grew weary of the long blessings before meals and once played a prank on G. Grandpa, which nearly backfired on Howard.” I asked Fawn for an explanation.
She wrote back, “Howard and Daddy (Robbie Beck) were first cousins and very close. They lived on adjoining farms. They weren’t ‘bad boys’ just boys looking for fun. Grandpa McDuffee really liked Daddy, but perhaps from living in the same home with Howard, he really didn’t seem to ‘like him much’. One day, Howard told Daddy, ‘You just watch, I am going to get the jump on Grandpa when we eat dinner.’ Daddy was not sure what to expect, but knew Howard had a plan. (Grandpa Mc had a very deep voice.) As soon as they were all seated at the table Howard bowed his head and said, ‘Dear Lord, Bless the meat, damn the skin. Pin back your ears and shovel it in! Amen.’ Daddy said it was terribly quiet for a minute and Grandpa glared at Howard and ROARED, ‘ Are you through?’ Howard grew VERY meek and gulped, ‘Yes.’ Grandpa roared again, ‘Let’s eat!’ Daddy said Howard was scared that he had gone a tad too far and was on good behavior for a while.
Once when they were attending Coal Hill School, they went over to the cemetery at noon to watch some men digging a grave. A field mouse dashed for cover, only to be caught by Daddy and Howard. They tied a string to its leg and the other end to the gallous of Howard’s overalls. Howard waited until the last minute to take his seat, but instead of going to the back where he normally sat, he sat at the front with his back to the rest of the school. After school started, he released the mouse to run up and down his back. The children all burst out laughing. The teacher looked around and noticed Howard at the front, so she knew something was up. It took her a while to discover the mouse. She ordered Howard to take it out and release it. When he came back in, she started to use the paddle on him, but would have to stop and laugh. At last she just laughed and gave up and said, “Go take your seat.”
As for the initials on Cpl. McDuffee’s tombstone, Fawn said, “Yes, I knew they were going to list him as B.C. I have done so much paper work, I forgot just why they didn’t use the name Benjamin. We have never been able to determine ‘from whence cometh the C’. It cropped up on one of the government papers. It was really hard to determine it was actually a ‘C’.”
The military is like that. My dad did not get a middle name when Grandpa and Grandma named him. It was just Clifford Long. To the military he was Clifford NMI Long (no middle initial). Dad took care of that: he picked the middle name Lyle and had it legally changed…to his regret. There was another gentleman in Cedar County whose name was Clifford L. Long. Dad had several episodes of mistaken identify (intentionally or otherwise) over that.
And many of you know that Dale Fast went to the Navy and came back as Jim. His name is Jim Dale Fast and the Navy would only use his first name.
I guess if Kimball had been in the military, we would call her Janis – Janis Kimball Snider Long. I just write JKSL when I e-mail her or leave a note.