Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My other, other Dad...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I've always been a bit of a prankster...a couple of these stories might have brought this home, and yes my sisters DO still speak to me! Lol

When I was driving for Perry Drugs, one of the first guys I met was Joe Cain.

Joe was a very dark complected black fella about 20 some years older than me, born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. To say he had an accent would be an understatement...for the first week I knew him I barely understood every third word he said.

But I have an ear for dialect and before long I was translating "Joe" for some of the other drivers.

Joe and I were kindred spirits, both loving nothing more than a good laugh...and if we were the cause of a good prank, even better.

Talking one day, I discovered just how much older than me Joe was...and I told him "You're old enough to be my Daddy!"
He cried "SON!"
I cried "DAD!"

And a comedy duo was born.

We took our act on the road...every truck stop between Detroit and Chicago...and a couple in Milwaukee. 

Our act went something like this:
We'd go into a truck-stop for something to eat, get a table and peruse the menu.

After a time a world weary, overworked and underpaid waitress would appear and ask us what we'd like.

Me: "I don't know...Dad, what are you gonna get?"
Joe: "Well Son, I was thinkin' on the chicken fried steak."
M: "You know Mom wants you to watch your cholesterol! You should get something healthier!"
J: "I was pickin' my own food long afore you was born and I ever laid eyes on yo Mama I'll get whatever the hell I want.."
 The Waitress following us back and forth like the last round at Wimbledon: "You two REALLY Father and Son?"
Together: "Yeah....WHY???"
"Well you're..."
"Unh huh?"
"And he's..."
Waitress walking away shaking her head "Mmm mmm mmm!"
She'd leave, and we'd cut up!

We weren't above pranking each other either...

Many a time I returned to my truck after having stopped somewhere with Joe. He'd give the twirling finger "Let's go" sign, I'd release the air brakes and put the truck in gear to begin to pull out...only to leave my trailer sitting where I'd parked! 

While I was otherwise occupied, Joe had extended the dollys on my trailer, pulled the fifth wheel pin and removed the air lines!!! The last thing I'd see as he pulled away was him bouncing in his seat hooting in sadistic glee!!!

Oh but I got him back...yes I did!

Sometimes when we went to Chicago, instead of getting a room we'd pull into a truck-stop and sleep in our trucks and pocket the overnight money the company gave us.

One such night Joe and I agreed to meet back at the New Buffalo, Mi. truck-stop to catch our 40 winks before heading back.

I had gotten tied up at one of my stores, and was a couple hours late getting there. In an age before cell phones, there was no way to let him know.

It was almost midnight when I pulled into the mostly empty lot, the truck-stop was closed...but I spied Joe's truck all by itself in the back.

As I pulled by his truck I saw Joe, head cradled in his arms across the steering wheel fast asleep...he didn't even flinch as I rolled by.
And I got an idea...a great Grinchy, awful idea!!!

Instead of backing in beside him, I kept going...shut off my headlights and circled the lot.

Arranging it so our trucks were nose to nose, about 40 feet apart...
set my headlights to high beam, turned them on and grabbed a fist full of air horn! To sell it I mimed a scream and threw one arm up as if to hard off the oncoming collision.

Joe came full awake instantly, standing on the brake pedal with both feet and sawing on the steering wheel trying to miss me! Oh, his eyes were like saucers and all color had drained from his face....which is saying something!

He was less than amused when I about fell out of my seat laughing at him...he disowned me for a few weeks saying "You ain't no son'o mine!"

One of my favorite memories, was one holiday the company combined Mon., Tues., and Wednesday's Chicago runs into one day. A Monday, we would deliver that day and come home the next...New Years Eve., Wednesday we were all off for New Years Day.

There were 8 of us, and we decided we'd meet back at the TSA Truck-Stop in Gary, IN., sleep in our trucks and spend our overnight money in a bar that was within walking distance of the truck-stop.

I had the longest, worst run as I was youngest and had the lowest seniority. Which meant everybody got to the bar, well before me.

This bar was your typical truck driver/redneck/biker bar...sawdust on the floor, common fights, occasional shootings/stabbings! But hey, beggars can't be choosers!

A sign over the door proclaimed "No Heifers Allowed" (but it wasn't enforced)...along the wall was a "Fist of Fury" machine, that measured your punching power and a "Bull Wrangler" Machine...built to look like a bulls head, you took each horn in your hand and squeezed the two together to see how strong you are!

The guys got there and started drinking, when they were approached by a "Lumper".

What IS a Lumper you ask?

A Lumper is a nomad that travels around from truck-stop to truck-stop offering to unload your truck for you...for a price. Sometimes it would be $50, sometimes a ride to the next truck-stop. Often times they'd have a con or a scam they'd try to run on you...they are best left alone.

Like Carnies! Lol

This Lumper was a mid thirties well built young man, brown haired and blue eyed. Flannel shirt and jeans. He approached the guys offering to arm wrestle for drinks...appearing three sheets in the wind already, a couple of guys gave him a try...but he sobered up enough to beat them! After winning a few rounds, Joe told him:
"Y'all wait til my boy gets here....he'll give you a thrashin'!!!"

So as I walked in, I was greeted with a resounding "SON!!!"

I walked to the table, a beer was stuffed in my hand and I was given the lowdown on the nights activities so far...

"You gots ta whoop that punk ass bitch...do it fo yo Daddy!" Joe added.

So they called him over, he looked me up and down...seemed unimpressed "So, they think cause you're big you're tough huh?"
He said with a slight southern drawl.

"Oh, I never claimed to be tough...I was just wondering if you were still taking bets?"

"Sure...Whats the bet?"

"Well you were arm wrestling these guys for drinks, right? Let's start there..."

"They got so much confidence in you, talked you up big...let's make it a round. You win I'll buy you all a round, I win you each pay me the price of a beer. Whatdaya say?"

The guys were all nodding and giving me the thumbs up, so I said:

"Sure, why not."

A table was cleared, we set across from each other and locked hands. At the count of three the match commenced...

What the Lumper didn't know, and what nobody felt like telling him was that this was kinda my "Thing", in fact I'd beaten every man there easily back at the shop.

I beat my Dad, and his entire bowling team when I was 13.
Since then I could count on the fingers of one foot how many times I'd been beaten since...

I was more than prepared for the Lumpers initial surge, that's generally how you win...a big burst at the beginning til you have the leverage advantage, then power your opponent down.

He was unprepared for it to have no effect...

He was strong, I'll give him that...but I twisted my wrist, putting him at an awkward angle and started taking him down.

He took losing with good grace...then offered:
"Hey, how about double or nothin'....left handed!!!"

"You sure man, that will be like $40..."

"I'm sure" He said.


Again we lined up, locked hands...as the count started he says:

"You oughta know, I've never lost left handed" and smiled, thinking he had just lined up an easy mark.

"You oughta know" I replied "I...am left handed" He lost his smile.

At one, I put it all into my own burst...powered through his, and rapped the smug bastards knuckles against the table as I won.

"Dat's my BOY!!!" Joe Hooted.

The Lumper let out a "yip" and started rubbing his shoulder...

"That'll be Forty bucks please..."

He reached into his shirt pocket and tossed a couple $20's on the table. Joe gleefully scooped them up and headed for the bar.

The Lumper leaned forward and says:

"Can I ask you sumthin'...?"


"Is that guy really your Dad?"

"Yeah," I said "why?"

"Well cause he's a N..."
The narrowing of my eyes as a leaned closer to him, brought him up short.

"He's a what?" I asked in my most dangerous tone.

"Uhhhh, nothin' man...never mind..." He got up. 

"You guys have a great New Years." he said over the shoulder he was still rubbing as he moved away into the crowd.

Well Folks we drank WAY too much that night, celebration will do that to you...drove home the next day with the worst hangover of my young life. Never regretting a minute of it!

Joe retired almost ten years ago, I'd left Perry's long before that...
Did I make it to his retirement party? You bet your ass I did!!!

He had plans to move back to Louisiana...whether he did or not I'm not sure. I Talked to him on the phone a few times after he retired, each call farther apart..you know how it goes.

Think I'll try giving the old man a call tomorrow...see what he's up to. Share a laugh, I miss it.

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear


  1. So did you call him yet? He sounds like a great guy.

    when I first got together w/ Russell I would chuckle at 'lumpers' and 'lumping a load'. What a funny expression. He said he had a hard time with it at first too...he wanted to know why they aren't just called 'unloaders'. Russell lumps most of his own loads to save money but there are some places that charge but his dispatcher reimburses him for it.

    1. We were never allowed to use lumbers as we also delivered prescription medications...but we ran into them all the time.
      As I said, they always reminded me of Carnie folk! Lol

  2. I enjoyed this entertaining post. You really have a lot of interesting tales which I like reading about. I'm sure Joe will be pleased to hear from his son.

    1. Thanks Michelle! Good to see you again! ;-)

  3. This was a fun read and such great memories. You are awesome! ♥

    1. Thank you Kathy, you're pretty great yourself! :-)

  4. I'm laughing and crying at the same time. When you call Joe up, tell him 'hi y'all from the folks who've never met him, but know they'd have liked too...

  5. Thank you Mary, I think you would...he's a loveable guy!!! Had well over a hundred people show up for his retirement party...he was well loved at Perry's!

  6. Great story - again, as always BB.. So did ya' call him? Does he know you're blogging about him? ;)

    1. The number I have for him is no longer any good and I have been unable so far to track him down!