by Robert Fulton, Jr.
Bompa, my grandfather, had two religious experiences that I personally witnessed. The truth of these dual raptures is in no doubt, since other family members were in attendance at both ecumenical events.
Ornery, opinionated, tobacco chewing and smoking, often unshaven-- the pinnacle of "Crackerdom" --he was my boyish view of manly perfection. He gave me a priceless gift, for which all I could offer was adoration, his time.
The first religious experience was at the Thanksgiving table. Bompa had driven out of the Florida Everglades to share the meal with us. Dad had been pushing platitudes about Mom's cornbread ever since Bompa arrived. My mother's cornbread was the sweet kind that's almost like cake. The rich gold was such an enjoyable color to taste.
After Dad said the blessing, Bompa barked, "Pass me that special corn bread I been hearin' about."
Mom expectantly offered the platter of yellow squares of goodness. Bompa freed the biggest piece from its batter mates and slapped a chunk of butter on it. He ripped into the cornbread with his slipping dentures, mouthed it once, and spewed a moist mass across the table at my brother and me. He jerked back in his chair and shouted to the ceiling, "Jesus Christ!" In her rush to get the food ready, Mom had mistakenly put salt where she should have put sugar in the cornbread batter. It was special.
The second religious experience was neither on any holiday nor special event, which added to the spontaneous poignancy of the moment. Bompa was not an "inside" kind of guy, as the sun-baked fissures in the back of his neck attested, so it was an unusual happening when we came though the screen door on that steamy, pre-air conditioned Florida summer morning.
We all sat down at the kitchen table and felt the perpetual sweat trickle into individual navels. All except Bompa, who was up by the ceiling hammering a nail into the cypress paneling. Why Bommie (my grandmother) had him up there I still have no idea. He was balancing on the top of a stool, took a swing with the framing hammer, and we heard the unpleasant "thwack" of steel hitting flesh. Just as we were awaiting the "word of the week"--Bompa was so creative in his cussing--his pants fell down around his ankles.
He stood there, almost martyr-like, with his smashed, blood purple thumb contrasting colorfully against the gray of the paneling and the white of his Haines boxers. In an aura of divine invocation, he held the hammer and thumb high over his head, stared heavenwards, and plaintively exhorted, "Help me, Jesus!"
Robert Fulton is an award winning freelance writer for magazines, literary, conservation, and education publications. He has had forty-eight stories and articles featured in twenty-five different publications. Robert holds an Associate of Arts from Palm Beach Community College, a Bachelor of Science from Florida Atlantic University, and a Master of Education from the University of Florida. He has taught English and writing courses at the middle school, high school, community college and university levels. All those years of editing students' work have developed into a successful business editing authors' novels.
Fulton's book, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! An Editor's Point of View was published in the summer of 2002. Editors, writers, and agents from the real world of traditional publishing, e-publishing, self-publishing, and the newspaper business share their successes and failures. There are no patronizing, simplistic "5 Easy Steps" here, but this is a book packed with humor and practical knowledge for today's hard-working writer.
--W. Horace Carter, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.
This book can be ordered for $10 plus $3.50 shipping and handling by e-mailing RiverGeezer Editing.
Write Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit his excellent web site by clicking here: RiverGeezer.com
COMMENT on this story from: A.D.
Message: "Hallelujah" truly captures the Florida Cracker spirit and desperation. It also captures the delightful sense of humor of its author. Give us more!
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