I can barely remember my paternal grandfather, GW. He died when I was five years old. Stories about him are legion. My father describes him as a huge, gregarious man with hands the size of dinner plates and fingers that big around. I grew up listening to my dad tell story after story about his father and his uncles and all the trouble they caused in their small west Texas town.
GW had five brothers. Their names were Sharon, Faron, Earl, Dick, and Woody. Yes, that’s right. I said Sharon and Faron. Sharon, the family ne’er-do-well, went by the nickname Blacky. With a name like Sharon, I can hardly blame the guy for wanting a nickname. He must have wanted to keep unusual names in the family, though, because he grew up to name one of his daughters Ouida Moody (pronounced WEE-duh). And Faron must not have thought it too awful to have a name that rhymed with his brother’s; he named his own sons Lowell and Joel.
GW and his brothers were a bunch of characters, raised to be openly loving and fiercely loyal. There was nothing one of them wouldn’t do for another, and this remained true throughout their lives. If anyone messed with a member of the Adams Family, they were messing with all of them, and there would be consequences. Family came first. And if any Adams family members decided to visit another, they would just show up at any time of the night or day and stay as many days as they wanted. If they arrived during the night, they wouldn’t wake anyone. They would just walk in, find a bed or a place to sleep, and in the morning the bodies of sleeping family members would be found strewn throughout the house.
One of my favorite Adams stories is about Blacky, the oldest brother, and Woody, the youngest. Blacky was a drunk and a scoundrel, and he did some pretty low things to his own relatives. One time he sold his own nephew’s beloved dog, Ithmy, and spent the money on booze. Yes, that’s right. I said Ithmy. Ithmy dog. Even though Blacky was a deadbeat, everyone put up with him because he was family.
Woody, on the other hand, ended up being a successful businessman. He earned a college degree (rare for those days) in geology while playing football for TCU. After fighting in WWII, he returned to Texas to work for the Gulf Oil Company. Soon after that, he started his own scouting company. His job, basically, was to strike oil, and he did.
When Woody was first trying to get his company off the ground, he needed some financial backing for his venture. So he invited some potential investors to town, hoping to pique their interest and get them on board. Woody, dressed in his Sunday best, was walking this group of men through town, trying to impress them. This was most likely a lively gathering of fellows because in those days, the oil business was full of rogues, wild cards, and charlatans. As the group approached the town square, Woody heard a voice in the distance calling his name.
He looked around. The voice was getting louder and more familiar.
“WOOOOOOOOOOOOODY!?!?!?!?!” it boomed.
Everyone stopped and looked to see where the voice was coming from. Woody’s heart sank when he looked up at the jailhouse window and saw Blacky steadying himself on the iron bars, peering out, and still bellowing out his brother’s name.
Blacky was thrown in jail the night before, and he was still very drunk. Imagine how relieved he must have been to look out the jailhouse window and see Woody walking down the street. It was Blacky’s lucky day! So there he was, hollering at the top of his lungs, trying to get his brother’s attention. Woody and the rest of the group watched from the sidewalk to see what Blacky was going to say next.
You’re probably thinking that Blacky was going to ask Woody for help. If a thinking man had been in Blacky’s shoes, he might have asked Woody to bail him out of jail or maybe find him a lawyer. It would have made sense to ask Woody for help since he was the only family member within shouting distance and the only one with any money. Also, the brothers lived by that anything-for-family motto which meant Woody had to help Blacky. He had no choice. But Blacky was a man who had his priorities straight. Instead of asking for any type of help that might get him out of jail, he hollered,
“BRING ME SOME CIGARETTES!!!!!