Lett's Set A Spell
While talking to Grandpa (Puzie Lett) one day about trivia related to the Fourth of July and presidents of the United States, he said that exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Thomas Jefferson, author of the document and third president, died about noon at Monticello on July 4, 1826.
What was even more “quar” (means queer or strange among country folks), according to Grandpa, is that John Adams, the second president, died on the same day as Jefferson six hours later at Quincy, Mass. Meanwhile Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth president, making them the only father-son presidents until George Herbert Bush and George W. Bush. Rumor has it that the fifth president, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, in New York City, where he had moved after financial problems forced him to sell his Virginia home.
While Grandpa and I liked to talk trivia and could spend hours yakking about nothing anyone else could find remotely interesting, we had an understanding: he did most of the talking. When the air seemed thick with silence, he felt obligated to fill it with “chitter chatter,” but it was in the spaces between that we bonded most. He’d look at me with that twinkle in his eye and smile, and I’d grin from ear to ear.
Grandpa and I didn’t always agree on important things like religion and education, but we were kindred spirits. We loved news and history in the making — we relished the ongoing story of various “hises” and “herses” who stopped to set a spell at Grandpa’s country store.
LIKE GRANDPA, I grew up to be an entrepreneur, using my education and experience to write for readers and speak to audiences. I’ve published articles about the rich and the famous and various so-called powerful people, but none have compared to the genuine tell-it-like-it-is folks at Grandpa’s country store.
As the years pass, I find myself drawing upon the wit and wisdom of the colorful characters who starred in the everyday drama near “Lettsville” ... the unfolding soap opera in the Buckhorn community, expanding to Broadway and Sanford and greater Lee County and other places in North Carolina.
Like Grandpa I value the flexibility and freedom of my work, pumping out stories instead of gas, serving up food for thought instead of “dranks” and “nabs,” and remembering to always set a spell with the country folks who have much to offer.
Like Grandpa I know the most important thing in life is feeling free, and we both found it by living in a land of opportunity where we could turn our avocation into a vocation. Even the days when we would work our fingers to the bone, we could look forward to the times when we could talk trivia and do pert-near anything else we pleased. That’s freedom!
Sure, sometimes freedom means honoring the “musts” and “shoulds” that dictate our society’s norms. More often freedom calls for being true to our beliefs and standing up for the people we love.
Today, as I glide my hands swiftly across the keyboard of my computer, I think about how Grandpa would roll over in his grave if he saw the fancy equipment in my office. However, he’d love the books and would probably sit down and read to his heart’s content, gathering ammunition to quiz me about later. I’d tell him how his various entrepreneurial activities and country store dramas led to his strange grandchild becoming a creative writer and a free spirit.
I miss you, Grandpa!
AlexSandra Lett is a professional speaker and the author of “Natural Living, From Stress to Rest;” “A Timeless Place, Lett’s Set a Spell at the Country Store;” “Timeless Moons, Seasons of the Fields and Matters of the Heart;” “Timeless Recipes and Remedies, Country Cooking, Customs, and Cures;” and “Coming Home to my Country Heart, Timeless Reflections about Work, Family, Health, and Spirit.” Lett can be reached at (919) 258-9299 or LettsSetaSpell@aol.com.