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Talking With Pawpaw

June 2020, Volume 114

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I went to see my pawpaw the other day. Visiting him usually makes me feel better and with everything going on in the world right now I could use it. Somehow talking to him always makes me see a different perspective and I usually leave with a better grasp on things.  This visit was no different.

I started talking once I got there and I was telling him all about how Louisiana still isn’t open and how our governor was probably just riding out the “pandemic” to maximize the federal money given to the state to throw away on whatever pet projects or other nonsense as he saw fit. I went on to tell him about how keeping the economy strangled was killing the little small businesses and how I had friends that were not sure what they were going to do.

I know several that are unsure of the future in their work or their business. Many have been deemed “nonessential” and sent home with less than the pay they are accustomed to receiving from working. Still others are having to work for the same pay that coworkers are getting while staying home, safe and secure with their families. Life just isn’t fair I told him.

Sitting there talking to him I remembered a conversation he and my grandmother had years earlier. You see they always raised a garden. I don’t mean they had a few tomatoes and a pepper plant, I mean about 3 acres of corn, peas. butterbeans, potatoes, and all the other vegetables that comes to mind. Did you know radishes taste the best wiped off fresh out of the ground?

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I couldn’t help but apply that conversation from years ago to the situation we are in right now. You see for small businesses in our communities we really are just letting them hold our money for a while. Sure they spend it on groceries, bills, and other things but it cycles around and ends up being change you receive from the store or maybe even payment to you for goods and services in your line of work or at your job.

There’s a popular Facebook meme that says something like, “Amazon won’t sponsor your kid’s little league team!” That’s pretty accurate and awfully powerful. Spend your money local and not always at the big box stores either. Yes; you may pay a little extra, but you get a lot extra.

Since my brother and I started Bassin' in the Boot, we have made it our mission to promote the little guy. “Mom and Pop” bait and tackle shops, “Joe’s” Custom Lures, or maybe “Johnny’s Rods.” We do that through a variety of ways but probably most importantly we spend our money with those businesses and not the big chain stores whenever possible.

Buy a bag of baits from your local plastics guy. Get a custom rod made instead of buying off the shelf or pick up some spinnerbaits and jigs tied on someone’s kitchen table and not on a factory floor. Buy local, buy in state, and buy from family and friends; after all you aren’t going to hesitate to ask for that little league team sponsorship.

I turned back to talk to pawpaw a few more minutes before I had to leave.  I sat there catching him up on everything with the grandkids and great grandkids and just before I got up to go I straightened the flowers on his headstone, told him I loved him and that I enjoyed our talk as always.

Anyway, pawpaw had hunting dogs.  He kept those Walker Hounds in pens at the end of the garden.  I remember the garden sloped down towards the creek that ran behind the property. One day we loaded those dogs up in the truck and brought them over to a man’s house that he worked with. One by one they unloaded the dogs and dipped each in barrels of water and treatment for the mange.  They then took a look at the paws of each dog, and gave each a heartworm treatment before reloading each of the hounds. My pawpaw “made” the gentleman take payment in a ritual that involved him refusing payment followed by more insistence by my pawpaw he take it. This went on several times before he finally accepted it and we left. Once we got home my grandmother was less than happy.

Turned out pawpaw had paid Mr. Baker with some money she had put up for something else. It was then they had that conversation that stuck in my mind all these years. I remember him starting out, “Momma, I know we didn’t need to spend that money…….” He went on to basically say he paid Mr. Baker because he expected as always he’d get that money back once the garden made and the vegetables were ready. He reminded her they always get a generous amount from the Baker's purchasing peas and other produce he sells to them.   He said he was really just letting him hold his money for a few months.

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