This is Brother John’s story –he was there– about a man who called Dad a liar.

“Liar” is what I call a gasoline word to my Dad –explosive– a slur he would not tolerate. And, of course, whether he was lying or not made absolutely no difference: no one called him a liar and remained unharmed.

John said he and Dad were on their way from our farm near Gadsden, Alabama, where we lived then, to Charlotte to make Dixie Dew Syrup — the syrup that “Gives A Biscuit A College Education.”  Dad had a syrup plant in Charlotte.

John F. Stith Sr., age 20-something
John F. Stith Sr., age 20-something

They stopped at a restaurant along the way, a restaurant with booths on the side and picnic tables in the open area. John and Dad sat at a picnic table; four men sat in a booth nearby.

Dad was hard of hearing and, consequentially, he talked too loud. John didn’t remember what they were talking about. Politics, maybe. Religion. But whatever it was the men in the booth could hear. And one of them said, loud enough for Dad to hear, “Whoever said that is a liar.”

It didn’t matter they were all sitting in a restaurant having a meal, heck, it might not have mattered if they had all been sitting in church. And, of course, it didn’t matter that he might have to fight all four of them.

John said Dad didn’t walk around the picnic table, he walked across it. He put one foot on the bench where he had been sitting a moment before, the other foot on top of the table, the next foot on the bench on the other side of the table, and then back down to the floor.

The man who had called him a liar stood up and Dad hit him once and knocked him down. The man made no effort to get back up.

John said Dad looked at the other three, waiting on them to stand up and fight. But they didn’t move either.

Dad then walked back across the picnic table — bench, table top, bench, floor –sat down, picked up his sandwich, and began eating.

The fight was over.

NOTE: My father was 5-feet, 7 and 1/2 inches tall.   Other stories about Dad include “His First Name Was ‘Sir'” on Dec. 16 and “King Of The Castle” on Feb. 13.

Coming Friday: Zinger

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