Ha, Ha, Ha!

The Grandmother Stith I remember was a deeply wrinkled, gray-headed, much beloved old woman with, I guess, a sense of humor.

Her name was Anne Belle Stein Stith.  She was born on April 27, 1865, 12 days before the end of the Civil War, and died Aug. 6, 1949, when I was seven years old.  She was 40 years old and pregnant with her seventh child when her husband, Paul Jones Stith, shot himself in the heart with a revolver, killed himself. She held her family together without him and for that she was revered.

Grandmother Stith
Grandmother Stith

When I was a child we lived on a farm outside Gadsden, AL; Grandmother Stith lived with two of her sisters, Mrs. Emma Screws and Mrs. Hattie Rush, in Birmingham, about 50 miles away. Dad took us to see her on special occasions and Dave and I stayed with her for two weeks after our mother died in June 1947. So I knew her.

She did some grandmother-like things when Dave and I stayed at her house.  She gave us a dime each some days and let us walk to a nearby store and buy ice cream.

But she liked to play tricks.

She had a spring-loaded can of what she said were “nuts,” but there were no nuts in  the can.  When you opened the lid the spring sprung.

She had what looked like a pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum and she offered me a piece. When I pulled the “gum” out of the pack a spring, sort of like a mouse trap spring, whacked my finger.

She also had what looked like a tiny music box, which she would hand to a grandchild. She told me if I pressed the “button” I’d hear music.  I did. Hidden inside the felt button was a pin.

Ha, ha, ha!

Coming Friday: Smart Food

Man Overboard! Or Maybe Not.

The USS Los Angeles was at sea off the coast of Japan and, except for sailors who were standing watch, the crew was asleep, when someone turned the lights on in our berthing compartment and ordered us to get up, dress, and muster.

USS Los Angeles (CA-135)
USS Los Angeles (CA-135)

Lights went on all over the ship –the entire crew, rousted out of their racks, was mustering on deck.

One of our shipmates was missing.

If he wasn’t aboard ship, then he must overboard, which meant the Los Angeles and her escorts would turn around and try to find him.

But was he overboard?

We were ordered to search everywhere, including our lockers — including the small drawers in our lockers where we kept our wallets — everywhere.

The man we were looking for owed money to shipmates who charged an interest rate that would have made the mafia blush — you borrowed $5, you owed $7 on payday.

This was payday and the missing man hadn’t paid up, couldn’t pay up.  He owed so much to so many and the interest on his debts was accumulating so fast, his whole paycheck wouldn’t cover the interest.    

Had he gone into hiding?


He was found laying on a shelf in the ship’s galley, behind a row of canned goods.

Postscript: The missing man was confined for his own safety until we returned to port and then he was transferred.  No one admitted loaning him money and charging interest, which was against Navy regulations.

Coming Monday:  Ha, Ha, Ha!