I wanted to talk about another kind of Hero. One of the type that didn't get enough recognition for the jobs he had done over the years. He is Pa Jack, or just Pa. I first met Pa about ten years ago at the funeral of my wife's Mother. Pa was her brother in law. Pa's place is on about eighteen acres of red clay in LA. That's Lower Alabama to all you northern folks. In years past he had a junk yard in his back yard but it was mostly gone by my time. I have a set of heavy springs from it that Pa gave me to hang my swing on so that it would be comfortable. Out back of the yard was a gravel pit that he owned. He sold the sand, clay, and gravel out of that hole for fifty cents a yard to any that would come and dig it. Most people would find a hole of several acres in their back yard to be an ugly thing but I loved walking in the pit when I was there. Pa didn't walk with me by then because of his legs. He had lived a hard seventy seven years at that point but he would tell me where the deer were likely to be and ask about any other tracks I might have seen. He and I watched my beloved Wolverines lose to UCLA early in that season. He consoled me with a quick wait til next week, and then we watched his Crimson Tide. I'm a bit ashamed to say I don't remember who won that game! Pa was also a quiet fan of Auburn when his grand daughter went to school there. The reason for the junkyard was that Pa was a mechanic that worked out of his home. He worked on about anything. He didn't have the modern conveniences that I enjoy so if he needed something special he built it rather then bought it. No job was too large either, He told me of changing car body's out in the yard with the help of a tree and a friend!
Pa and his wife (Miss Daisy) raised three beautiful daughters that all turned out to be good decent loving human beings. They also had a part time daughter in the form of a niece. (my wife) He told the husbands of his girls, "You know where you found her! I spect you to remember where to bring her if you have a problem with her!" I got the niece so he was a lil bit softer with me but I knew not to cross him. One day I got to wondering where he had been and what he had done. Like anybody some of it was good and some bad but Pa answered any question I asked. He told me of going all the way to Ohio to work. Living in the cold to make a dollar about a million miles from what a Bama boy calls the real world, he did what he had to do to survive.
He was a proud member of the war effort in WWII. He wasn't a vet like so many were, but he did what he could. He worked on the aircraft. He installed the bomb sights in the Mitchell's. He may even have set up the sights on the planes used by Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders over Tokyo. I saw Pa about a month or two ago while there on business, and as I went to leave he once again said to me to hurry back cause he wasn't going to hang around forever. I went to see him this week, any time with him warms my heart. As I placed my pallbearers boutonniere upon his casket I remembered, and I wished for one more football game, and one more talk.