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I wish more than anything that Slim Whitman was my grandpa. His mustache, while somewhat sinister to the untrained eye, would have been a constant source of comfort. The scent of sun-heated Brylcreem would evoke memories of neighborhood baseball games. The feel of rough nylon garnering flashbacks of sweet Slim hugs.

Imagine a visit to Grandpa Slim’s house, if you will. You’re 7-years-old and visiting Grandpa Slim’s plantation house during an early summer in rural northern Florida, just far enough from the swamps and their pesky mosquitos but still clear from the ruckus of the interstate. It’s been a while since you’ve seen Grandpa because he’s been on an extended tour in England. They love him in England, almost as much as you do. Your ma says that’s where the Queen lives in her castle.

The morning starts with Grandpa Slim gently waking you by softly yodeling the intro to “Indian Love Call”. Him and Gramawmaw Rose Marie always refer to you as their little Geronimo, their little blue-eyed chief. Your room at the plantation is set up with cowboy and indian wallpaper, leather-tinted shag carpet, and a bunk bed that’s built to look like a trail-tested Conestoga wagon. The closet if full of white jeans and heavily embroidered, pearl-buttoned shirts.



The day starts as any other day would with Grandpa and Gramawmaw. Honey-cured bacon, jumbo eggs sunnyside up, buttermilk biscuits, grits with salted butter n’ sugar, white toast with blackberry jam, and buckwheat pancakes with pecan maple syrup that’s all washed down with a big, cold glass of whole milk. A growing boy needs a hearty breakfast to see him through a big day and there aren’t many days bigger than Founder’s Day. You’re gonna need energy if you’re going to win the potato sack race this year.

Grandpa Slim opens the Founder’s Day celebration with the most heavenly rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” the South’s ever heard. Even the town’s general store owner and self-proclaimed Jefferson Davis historian Jacob Pearson was seen wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. Yes, this year’s festivities are just going to be magical. You can just feel it.

As with every year the day starts out with the Daughters Of The Confederacy’s Annual Swamp Sunflower Pageant. There’s no prizes or ribbons given for the most beautiful Swamp Sunflower because competition is unbecoming of a southern belle.  However, Gramawmaw Rose Marie assures you that if there did happen to be a judge on hand her batch of swamp sunflowers would give Miss Annabelle Johnson’s wilted abominations a thorough shellacking.

Pageant is followed shortly by Troop 334′s Soapbox Derby Race down Cutler Hill. You watch on with cripping jealousy as the older kids race at breakneck speeds down the county’s biggest incline. A boy from Grant Intermediate wins first place and you watch with hungry eyes as he’s presented with a trophy that’s almost as tall as you. Grandpa Slim musses your hair and gives you a wink. “Don’t worry, Geronimo. That’ll be you before you know it, as sure as I’m standing here. Your grandpa’s got some old racing tricks up his sleeve. Yes sir, some real whoppers.”

The hole left in your gut from watching some punk kid take your rightful trophy is soon filled by lunchtime’s smorgasbord of Southern cuisine. Hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork, brisket, fried chicken, and bar-b-que ribs serve as the stage up on which corned pudding, oyster stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle, and coleslaw dance into your quickly ballooning belly. Just as your intestines are about to bust a seam, Gramawmaw Rose Marie sets a heaping plate of banana fosters and apple pie in front of your widening eyes. These delicacies soon disappear down a baby-tooth lined hatch, followed shortly tidal wave of Royal Crown Cola.

After lunch you listen to a little guitar strumming, courtesy of Grandpa Slim. “It aids with the digestives,” he says. Grandpa Slim lays down a  hoppin’ little diddy, left-handed on his six-string acoustic. The missing fingers on his left hand, the fingers that  (according to your Uncle Billy) got cut off turning a steer into a cheeseburger, always freak you out a little bit, but in a good way way. He’s like Frankenstein a little bit and Frankenstein’s pretty cool.

A little digestion is just what you needed because, after all, who wants to run in the Founder’s Day potato sack race with a full tummy? Last year’s second place finish was truly heartbreaking because that cheater Jimmy Willard used a Yukon Gold potato sack. Rules state only Idaho potato bags are allowed in the competition, everyone knows that. But when you cried foul Jimmy had already switched out bags. You don’t know how he did it without the judges seeing but he did. The sly little grin he poured down on you from from his advantageous position on the podium will be forever burned in your memory.

This year, though, Jimmy won’t be a problem because Jimmy’s dead. He took an unfortunate fall off of the big slide down at Seminole Park at the end of last summer. Only thing is, nobody knows Jimmy took that spill, nobody except you and Grandpa Slim. After you pushed him as he summited the slide’s last step, something you did with that sly little grin blinding your better judgment, Grandpa Slim had been there to clean up the mess.

With the same shovel he used to dig the concrete foundation for your basketball hoop, Grandpa Slim to buried Jiimmy Willard beneath the big oak that supports your treehouse. It’s Grandpa Slim’s and your little secret. Now, every time you go out to play secret agent in the treehouse you say you’re “going out to play with Jimmy,” and you and Grandpa Slim always have a good laugh.

With Jimmy now feeding that big oak you’re sure to win the potato sack race. Cheaters never really win, Grandpa Slim always says.

He really is the best Grandpa in the whole wide world!

>>>Click here to download Grandpa Slim’s Very Best

Tracklist

A1 Indian Love Call
A2 Ramblin’ Rose
A3 My Happiness
A4 Room Full Of Roses
A5 Blue Eyes Cryin’ In The Rain
A6 When My Blue Moon Turns Gold Again
A7 Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
A8 There Goes My Everything
A9 My Heart Cries For You
A10 Let Me Call You Sweetheart
B1 Rose Marie
B2 Vaya Con Dios
B3 Roses Are Red
B4 Somewhere My Love
B5 I Love You Because
B6 Una Paloma Blanca
B7 I Can’t Stop Loving You
B8 Sail Along Silvery Moon
B9 You Belong To My Heart
B10 Red River Valley