My memories of Grandfather Holt are all positive and brimming over with warmth. He was a warm, loving and caring person. His sense of humor was outrageous and his talent for practical joking was rivaled by few. When we were all living together there on the farm Grandad,"POP" or "DOC" as we called him, frequently functioned as a baby sitter when Mom and Dad went to town. He would gather all four of us kids around the big fireplace in the living room, which from mid-fall to mid-spring always had a warm welcoming fire flickering and glowing in it, and tell us stories. And what stories they were.
One of the stories I remember very vividly occurred on one of those baby-sitting evenings long ago. The lights were out and only the flickering fireplace silhouetted the closer objects in the room. We five were as one in his big overstuffed chair. Soon, very quietly at first, came a muffled tumm, de-tumm, de-tumm, then, clump clump clump, the sound slowly increasing in intensity and finally featuring the clattering and clanking of chains amid the now very loud clop, clop of horse’s hooves announcing the coming out of a dark, misty night of a rider on a tall, black horse. "Look Look," was rendered in a low, hoarse, quivering whisper, "he doesn’t have a head!" What’s that he’s cradling tight against his left hip with his left hand? Oh NO! Its his head! Look, looook at those dark,glistening, staring eyes and that long, stringy, black hair blowing in the wind at his side." By then, as you might imagine,we had snuggled and hugged in even closer for his protective presence. Then, almost imperceptably, came a long, hissing moan that rose in intensity then trailed off ending with a groaning, moaning sigh . Long before the moaning trailed off, we had all squeezed so close to him we were literally pushing him into his chair, as we knew full well that bloody apparition was going to appear somewhere in that room in person. A long, very pregnant silence ensued accompanied only by a faint, wheezing, slightly-hissing sound. Then, loudly, "Oh Yuck POP!" as a brown, warm, stream of tobacco juice slithered between Rod’s toes from a well aimed splitooe. Grandad chewed and/or smoked a wiry tobacco called "Five Brothers," whose slimy, oily, pretty-brown juice now was slithering over the top of Rod’s toes and down over his foot which was sticking straight out from the chair.
I could go on and on with shenanigan after shenanigan such as this that our very much loved grandfather Holt played on us kids there on the farm as we were growing up. Indeed, I do intend to get back to you from time to time with more of his fun-loving shenanigans involding others as well as us kids .