of the Trade
grandparents lived in the mountains of North Georgia in a small,
white farmhouse up on a knoll surrounded by a lot of pastureland.
While my grandmother cared for their four children at home, my
grandfather worked at several different jobs over the years. In
my opinion, no position suited him as well as the title Horse
Trader. Not only did he trade for horses, but anything else he
could make a dollar on. He made the remark once, "Ive
done just about everything to make a living, except steal."
Of course, he lived during the Great Depression, so it was no
easy task to make a living at all. But his charming personality,
which made everyone feel comfortable around him, served him well
as a horse trader.
long ago, a family member shared with me one of my grandfathers
experiences. It seems Grandpa was trying to sell a man a coon
dog. They talked back and forth for a while to break the ice.
Then the man asked my grandpa, "Adam, will this dog tree?"
Grandpa replied, "Why son, it will do your heart good to
hear this dog tree!"
a few more questions, they made the trade. In a few days, the
man came back to see my grandpa with a sad countenance. "I
thought you told me that dog would tree a coon," argued the
grandfather looked up with a smile on his face and said, "I
never told you that dog would tree. I said it would do your heart
good to hear him tree!"
Another incident occurred that was quite similar. A man by the
name of Alfred came to my grandpas house with his cow and
wanted to make a trade. Now, they had both had a few drinks of
whiskey during this interchange.
Grandpa said to Alfred, "This is a fine milk cow, and it
will give you a gallon of milk a day."
Alfred, feeling good, was convinced quickly, and they exchanged
cows. The next morning, when Alfred had sobered up some, he walked
out to the barn. He couldnt help but stare as he looked
at the white cow he had bought the night before. He could have
sworn he bought a red one instead of the white one standing in
his barn. Worse yet, when he milked her, she only gave a pint
of milk. Alfred laughingly told me years later that his wife was
so mad because he traded their good milk cow that she made him
march right back over to my grandpas and bring it back home.
friend of mine shared this incident recently with me about one
of my grandpas shenanigans. He went regularly to the livestock
sale held in Toccoa, Georgia. On this particular day, Bud noticed
he had a dog sitting in the back of his truck. Another man walked
up and said to my grandpa, "Adam, how much do you want for
I couldnt part with this dog. It means too much to me. Its
like part of the family. It rides with me everywhere," replied
Adam. Grandpa hesitated for a moment before continuing, "Ill
listen to you though, if you want to make an offer."
man thought a minute before speaking. "All I got is twenty
dollars and this wheelbarrow. Ill give you that for the
"Well, I shore hate to part with it," said Grandpa,
"but Ill go ahead and trade with you."
laughed as he walked off saying, "I was behind your grandpa
that morning, when he picked up that stray dog on the other side
of the mountain!"
another occasion, Grandpa brought home a pet squirrel he had bought
on one of his excursions. My gentle grandmother, who could tame
anything, had it practically eating out of her hands in a week
or so. She could even let it out of its cage to play in the yard.
But one day as I was visiting my grandmother, her inside dog,
Penny, who we thought was locked in the house, somehow managed
to get outside. All of a sudden, the race was on. In the blink
of an eye, the squirrel made a mad dash for the porch and straight
up my grandmothers long dress. All of a sudden my kind,
easy-going grandmother went bananas. She was screeching and screaming
with a loud shrill, and it sounded like she was saying something
like, "Oh, Godee!" She then began dancing all over the
porch. I was so shocked by her behavior that I doubled over into
a fit of laughter.
after what seemed like an eternity, she managed to grab the squirrel
through her long dress and sling it back out into the yard, where
the race resumed. In a few minutes, Grandma pulled up her dress
and began to assess the damage. When I saw her tiny legs covered
in scratches, that set me off again. Even though she gave me a
stern look, I could not get myself together long enough to help
her no matter what condition she was in. As I write this twenty
years later, I still want to laugh out loud.
was one thing that happened to Grandpa, I never could quite figure
out. He weighed about two hundred pounds and was six-feet tall,
and Id never seen him ill.
However, one day he got sick and had to be hospitalized. The doctors
couldnt seem to find out the problem, and in a few days
I became worried as to what was the matter. One day, when I was
visiting him, a man walked up to the door and asked to talk to
my grandpa on some business. I heard my grandmother say real low,
"This is not a good time to talk about work," but by
that time the man was already in the room. I heard him say, "Adam,
Ive come to pay you for that horse I bought from you the
other day." The man pulled out his billfold and counted the
money before handing it to Grandpa. After a bit of small talk,
the man left.
was shortly after, that I began to notice a change in Grandpas
appearance. His color seemed to come back into his cheeks, and
he began to sit up and talk more. It was like a miracle. In only
a day or two, he was back on the road, traveling here and there
doing what he loved best.
dont have my grandfather or grandmother anymore. They passed
away years ago, but what valuable lessons they taught me. Grandpa
was a determined man, hardworking, and provided for his family,
no matter what it cost him. Grandma was a gentle soul that nourished
me with her kind ways. Not only that, I learned to love all kind
of animals because of them. Never have I been able to pass a stray
dog on the side of the road without wanting to stop and pick it
up. Lastly, my mother paid me a fine compliment not long ago.
She said to me, "I believe you have your grandfathers
personality; you can talk to anyone. You never meet a stranger."
Barrett, a poet, writer, and artist lives in the mountains
of North Georgia. Her work has been published in Woman's World,
Farm & Ranch Living, Nostalgia, Grit,
Psychology for Living, and other magazines and journals.