Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I used to work as a carpenter for country superstar Lefty Frizzell’s grandfather. One summer’s day when Old Man Frizzell and our small crew were having our lunch in the shade, Lefty came to the job site to see his Pappaw. He wore fancy cowboy clothes so he was reluctant to sit on the ground with us, so he leaned against a stack of four-by-fours and let us know he was headed back to Los Angeles in a day or two. I asked him why he had moved to L.A. from Nashville and he said his agent lived there and he liked the weather.
“Look here,” he said, pulling a photograph from his wallet, “I have a swimming pool shaped like my guitar.” It was a huge pool and you couldn’t really discern its shape from the picture, but it was a fine looking pool. Lefty was sitting on the diving board in sunshades and there were four bathing beauties below him in the water.
Old Man Frizzell said, “Have you got anything to drink in your caddy, son?”
“No, Pappaw, I have given it up.” Then he turned to me and said, “Aren’t you that Swilley boy?”
“Yes, my name is Ford but my step-father is Loy Swilley.”
“Well, Kenneth told me you were friends with a Bigfoot. He was pulling my leg, right?” (Kenneth was my lifelong friend and also a grandson of Old Man Frizzell, a cousin to Lefty).
I thought a few seconds about how to answer. If I told him the truth, he would not believe me. If I lied and told him I had no such friend, I would break a commandment. So, I said, “Lefty, I do have a Bigfoot friend and she lives in Texarkana.”
The superstar bent double laughing. “Kenneth said you were a card, Swilley.”
“I can take you to meet her. She really loves your music. She plays ‘Forget my Grief ‘and ‘Mamma and Daddy’ all the time.”
“Pappaw, can you let Swilley off this afternoon?”
“If you will bring me a pint.”
“Come on, Swilley, let’s go to Texarkana.”
It was a great trip in the purple Caddy and a super visit. When we got there, my friend had just gotten off work at the landfill and we went to her plywood shelter where she whipped up some hash and hot water cornbread. We had that and grape Kool-Aid and she told Lefty our story, how she found me out in the Boggy Creek bottoms when I was lost as a little kid and took care of me. Lefty signed a poster about his up-coming performance in Ft. Worth and gave it to her. She still treasures that. It is old, yellow and worn but it still hangs on her wall at the nursing home over in New Boston.

Old Man Frizzell never got his drink that day.

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