by Pettus Read
Over the last few weeks in Tennessee, unusual heat has been a major discussion topic around every country store, church meeting and over at the Coop. And it hasn't been any different out on Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie's farm either. You haven't even been able to sit a spell out on the back porch and sip Aunt Sadie's fresh homemade lemonade without a funeral home fan in your other hand to accompany your drink. In fact, it has been so hot at their place that I finally talked them both into making a trip to Gulf Shores to see the beach that neither one have ever seen. The only overnight trip they have made away from the farm their entire married life was to Chattanooga back in the '50s to visit our cousin Logan who took them to see Rock City and the seven states. Getting them to agree to go down to the Gulf took a lot of perseverance on my part, but with all the planting taken care of and someone Uncle Sid trusted to look after things around the farm, they both finally agreed to pack up and go.
Aunt Sadie met me at the kitchen door wiping her hands on her apron the morning we left. They had all their worldly possessions in two borrowed suitcases and four Walmart bags setting by the back door. There was even a plastic container of teacakes among the baggage to take care of hunger for the long trip down I-65. After four trips to the barn to check the cattle, Uncle Sid finally got in the car and we were on our way. Aunt Sadie was decked out in her summer print dress and Uncle Sid had bought a brand new pair of overalls for the beach. There are some things in this world I have learned that you can't change no matter what, and Uncle Sid's attire is one of those things.
Our first day on the beach was well worth the trip down. We rented beach chairs with umbrellas and Uncle Sid found out that brogans don't walk well in sand. It was neat to see the two of them kicked back in those chairs looking at the ocean and their bare feet enjoying the sunshine for the first time in a while. Uncle Sid had even pushed his pants legs up to his knees and made comments about not believing there was that much water anywhere.
One afternoon, as I visited with Uncle Sid out on the condo's patio, I noticed he was somewhat preoccupied with things that were happening down by the beach. As I sat there watching him, I noticed he was looking at a couple about his age walking near the water's edge. I could see in his eyes that any moment I was about to hear some bits of wisdom come from the old man.
"Boy," he said still looking down at the beach, "I've witnessed some very interesting sights the past few days. In fact, sights that my forefathers would never have believed. If they had seen what I have seen, they would never have written those famous words, 'All men are created equal.'"
Pushing his cap back on his head he went on to say, "Down there on the beach, you immediately realize that all men or women are not created equal. In fact, many of us are not created to wear anything less than overalls and a topcoat. We should all take a lesson from Adam in the Bible. When he messed up in the garden, he realized right quick that less was not best. I'm not judging, just merely stating facts."
As we sat there a school of dolphins were jumping just off in the distance. Uncle Sid pointed at them and said, "Look at those dolphins jumping in the ocean. They are making those funny chattering noises they normally make as they swim near the beach. Scientists say they do that to communicate. To me, it sounds more like they are laughing at all of us on dry land as we pretend to enjoy cooking ourselves in the sun and heat. I've had a good time seeing all of this, but from now on I think I will just remain inland as much as possible. At least inland there is less of people to see."