The little boy front and center is my dad Kenneth (aka Ken, aka Benjamin, aka Ben). My dad grew up in Central Texas during the hard lean times of the 30’s and 40’s. He was the second child in a family of eight children. His family was dirt poor and barely had enough money for food and clothing. In order to survive they all spent many long hours out in the fields, picking cotton. Life was hard, but they got by as best they could. The one thing of great value that they possessed was their talent. The whole family consisted of a hodgepodge of talented musicians, singers, songwriters and storytellers.
His family had very few possessions, but there was always an old guitar or fiddle in the house. When my dad was about six years old, he was allowed to start learning to play the guitar. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn and like the rest of his family, was blessed with a natural talent. He learned to play by ear while listening to a songs on the old battery-powered radio and then figuring out the correct chords to play. In no time at all he was playing entire songs and singing along.
One Sunday after church my Papaw, who later became a minister himself, invited the Preacher over for Sunday dinner (in the South dinner is the meal served at noon and supper is the evening meal. (For a of humorous explanation of supper vs dinner check out the Real Southern Men blog: http://real-southern.com/2011/07/13/twanglish-lesson-supper-vs-dinner/) After dinner, which I’m sure consisted of fried chicken, pinto beans, collard greens, cornbread, and tea cakes for dessert, my Papaw was eager to show off his son’s newly developed talent to the visiting Preacher. Papaw said “Ken go get your guitar and play us a little something.” Little Ken acted shy at first, but with a bit of prodding from my Mamaw, he tuned up his guitar and belted out the following song:
“Well, bring it on down to my house honey there ain’t nobody home but me. Bring it on down to my house honey I need your company. Yeah, your momma won’t fret if you bring it over here. Preacher won’t know and the neighbors don’t care. So bring it on down to my house honey ain’t nobody home but me.”
To this day my dad is still hilarious and full of mischief. Thank you Dad for showing me the importance of music, the art of storytelling and most of all for having such a great sense humor.