But not. These are real stories from our father, Chuck(les) Stewart. Since he appreciates attention, we are giving it to him in honor of Father’s Day.
This guy. Have you ever seen a happier lad? This was taken two years ago at Christmas. My dad sat on the back of this tailgate and shot my nephew’s new BB gun and never missed the target because John Denver said it best with….
“Well a simple kinda life never did me no harm
A raisin’ me a family and workin’ on a farm
My days are all filled with an easy country charm
Thank God I’m a country boy”
Yep, that’s Chuckles. It’s important to note that in addition to being a “country boy” he graduated from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, knows all the answers to every episode of Match Game ’78, and impersonates Josh Groban in his church choir.
If you know me, you know I have a loud laugh. I got it from my dad. I have blue eyes. I got them from my dad. I have very fair skin. I got it from my dad. I have a tendency to faint. I got it from my dad. I have a good sense of humor and love a crowd. I got that from my dad. I have a repertoire of hilarious stories that I can pull out of my quiver. I have them because they star my dad.
I shared this story when I gave a toast at Caroline’s wedding.
Our family has farm land that is about seven miles away from our home. Caroline and I and our cousin, Matthew, were riding with Chuckles to the farm. I was four. Caroline was eight. Matthew was four. While we were in transport, I accidentally broke a whip that my dad used to wrangle the cows. Once we got to the farm, he realized it was broken. No one would confess to breaking it. And by “no one” I mean me. I wouldn’t confess. So my dad being the tough disciplinarian that he was, left us at the farm and drove away. We sat there dumbfounded. We’d been abandoned. Now this was 1993 in the middle of nowhere. Nothing was going to happen. And honestly, he probably left us there fifteen minutes to think about what we’d done, but when you’re four, fifteen minutes is half a lifetime. We were all starting to get upset, and sweet eight year old Caroline pipes up with, “if he never comes back, I know the way home.”
Luckily, we did not have to pull a Shadow, Chance, and Sassy and navigate our way back, BUT I did learn a valuable lesson: If you break a man’s cow whip, you confess.
I know that isn’t the best picture, BUT it is what I need as a visual aid for the following story. I took this picture from a back window of my parents’ home. Those black things dotting the yard? Those are buzzards. Yes at least thirty buzzards. A few years ago, my parents had a buzzard problem. As one does. I’ve heard Kim and Kanye have found themselves in similar predicaments.
They tried everything to get rid of them. They read that owl decoys would scare them away, so owl decoys are still nailed to the fence around our pool. My mom read that they hated loud noises, so a few times a day she would go on the back porch with a ladle and a pot and make as much noise as possible. May lightning strike me dead if I’m lying.
Well, my dad, being the country man that he is, was going to send a message to the buzzards in the form of a few gunshots. Think: Drum Eatenton in Steel Magnolias trying to rid the magnolia trees of birds for Shelby’s wedding.
Well, he accidentally made contact with one. Where did it land? On the roof. Huge dead bird on the roof. What’s that huge dead bird going to attract? More huge birds. Our roof is pretty high so getting on a ladder to retrieve said bird didn’t seem probable for my aging father. While he was problem solving, my mom took to Google. Did you know killing birds of prey was illegal in the state of Georiga? Me neither. So there was some incriminating evidence atop the shingles on Moore Street.
What’s a guy to do? Lasso it down. Lasso the buzzard off the roof. Get rid of the evidence. Go inside and watch Wheel of Fortune.
Do you know the book Where the Red Fern Grows? Of course you do. It made you all kinds of emotional in elementary school when you read it. Well, they “coon hunt” in that book. An unusual concept to most. But not to me. It was commonplace. My dad grew up “coon” hunting. Now, before you ask, you hardly ever shoot the raccoon. You just see if your dog can find one up a tree. I’ve never been. I never wanted to go. I don’t understand. But it’s a thing.
Being the youngest in the family, I was an “only child” from eighth grade on, so I have some unique experiences that my siblings do not. One of which being my dad calling me one night to come find him in the woods because he’d lost his dog and his way while he was hunting. Now, a seventeen year old is not going traipsing around in the woods in the dark. Her father would never put her in that sort of danger. BUT he did ask me to go to a certain part of land and start honking my car horn, so he could follow the sound out of the woods. So I did. I got in my Mazda Protege, and honked and honked and honked. And after a long while, Chuckles came ambling out of the woods. You know, just regular father/daughter bonding.
My dad had gray hair (as pictured above) my entire childhood. That’s another thing I inherited from him-premature gray. My hair stylist thanks him for that one. It’s what keeps me going to her like clockwork every five weeks.
I digress. When I was in middle school, my dad was obviously going through something because he started dying his hair. One time he dyed it while the rest of the family was at the beach, and things went even more awry than simply a man in his fifties dying his hair with box dye in his bathroom. It went awry in the way that, as he describes it, his hair was “as black as a grand piano”. So he called Kermit. Yes, my mom and dad went to the same person for their hair-a man named Kermit. The same Kermit whose ice cream recipe we featured on Friday. Kermit’s advice to my dad was to wash his hair in Tide laundry detergent to strip the dye. Well, that obviously just burned his scalp and turned his hair bright orange. So Kermit told him to come to the shop. Kermit then proceeded to strip his hair of all the color, and when he was done, according to my dad, his hair was “as white as Ranch dressing”. (We love a simile around here.)
If you knew Kermit, I would say to insert a Kermit gasp here. After the shock and noise, my dad said to Kermit, “I thought you were colorblind.” Kermit said, “I am, but I can see how bad this is.” They attempted to put more color back on, but so many chemicals had inhabited his scalp over the past few hours, his hair turned red. Bright red. Little orphan Annie red.
Chuckles was supposed to join the rest of us at the beach, and Kermit called my mom to tell her “not to yell at him for how bad it looks.” My dad wouldn’t go to church for weeks waiting for it to wear off. You’d think that experience would scar a man, and he’d think, if Anderson Cooper can own his gray so can I. Nope. This was at my college graduation in 2012. I think he was going for a modern Bruce Vilanch.
To you, Chuckles, we raise a glass and cow whip to say Happy Father’s Day. Thanks for being our dad. Thanks for keeping us entertained. And thanks for ridding the roof of buzzards. You’re a champion among men.