A few thoughts about my father -- Jacob B. "Doc" Garner (1911 - 1997) from Jim Garner:

"My father -- Lordy, what a character. I never understood him and we had a somewhat tenuous relationship for over forty years, but he was a character and a storyteller (mostly "true pieces") with few peers.'

He first saw the light of day near Faubush, Pulaski County, Kentucky, in December, 1911. Doctor Leonidas Hughes (I believe) delivered him and was paid in full for his services with a five dollar gold piece. Pap arrived several weeks early and was so small his parents used a shoebox for his bed and fed him by dipping a piece of cloth in milk and letting it dribble into his mouth. His Aunt Nannie Francis always said Daddy looked more like a frog than a baby because he was so tiny and so blue. The doctor told my grandparents that Pap wouldn't live through the night. I contend that Daddy overheard this pronouncement and proceeded to live nearly eighty-six years just to prove the doctor wrong.

He was, to borrow a phrase from Kris Kristofferson, a "walking contradiction": compassionate, hardheaded, highstrung, devoted to his family, impatient, and completely intolerant of anyone he classified as a fool. (A rather lengthy list, I'm afraid.) Daddy possessed enormous physical strength and an even greater willpower to survive and keep going, despite a number of ailments.

Among his many occupations, Daddy sang and played guitar and banjo at parties, at the silent movies,for Colonel Rabbitfoot's Traveling Medicine Show, and at the Rainbow Garden, a roadhouse that operated briefly in Russell Springs after the repeal of the Volstead Act. He told me the latter was the only job he ever had that he was afraid to quit; the fellow who ran the place was that mean. In the late 1930s or early 1940s, he was offered the chance to perform on the air at Renfro Valley -- and turned it down. (At that time, the Renfro Valley Barn Dance was nearly as well known as the Grand Ole Oprey.) Like I said, I never understood him.

Pap also worked in the stavewoods "pullin' a crosscut saw from sunup 'til sundown for a dollar a day", cutting white oaks that eventually would be made into staves for whisky barrels; did for-hire farm work (cleared six cents one year on a tobacco crop); drove a truck hauling cattle; traded in livestock; and for two summers in the 1930s, he and his brother Gano picked tomatoes in Sharpsville, Indiana for Pete Grayson. He eventually became a blamed good self-taught veterinarian, just as his father Jim Mat had done.

Pap took great pride in saying he'd never asked for credit but once in his life -- and was turned down. He was hired to help build the old Ford or Chevrolet garage in Russell Springs; when lunchtime came the first day, he asked for credit on a dime's worth of crackers and cheese at a nearby store. I've also heard Daddy say that when he and Mother got married in June, 1945, their worldly possessions consisted of seventy-seven dollars in cash and a wornout Model A.

Daddy survived a premature birth; moving so much as a youngster that "every time my Daddy pulled the wagon in front of the house, the chickens would lie on their backs to have their legs tied"; the Depression; making barn calls at all hours of the day and night for over thirty years; and me. Quite a character, indeed.

Last Update Saturday, 29-Dec-2012 15:16:48 EST

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