THE EARLY YEARS
When my grandfather ran away from home in 1905, he ended up in Pee Dee, SC. He found work in one of the many lumber camps that were sprinkled throughout South Carolina. I’m sure that every job he had at first was manual in nature and hard. But, if he was anything like he was all the years I knew him, hard work was just something to do, not fret about.
His prime mode of transportation in those years was the railroad. He was quick to point out that he was a hobo – and not a bum. He said that a hobo would work for his keep and a bum just rode the rails and bummed around.
Two things were begun during his five years on the road that would never change during his entire life. The first was the growing of a mustache. He told me he grew it to look older and to my knowledge it was only removed once in his life. A nurse at Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury removed it when she shaved him. He was at the end of his life and was in no condition to have a say in the matter. And, I guess at that point, it really didn’t matter.
The second was the beginning of his lifelong association with Prince Albert tobacco. He didn’t have much money in those days and, when a salesman gave him a free sample, he showed his gratitude by using a can of it every day for the rest of his life. I never saw my grandfather that he didn’t have a can of Prince Albert stuck in his hip pocket. In his latter years when he could afford them, he showed the same loyalty to Dunhill pipes. When he was finished smoking a bowl full, he would empty the bowl of burnt ashes by beating the pipe against the nearest hard object, usually the brick wall of whatever he was building. It didn’t matter whether the pipe was new or old, it received the same whack. One time, he broke a quarter-sized piece off the bowl and, since the pipe was fairly new and they were expensive, he decided to have it repaired. Not just any repair but an Albert Disharoon production. He put a little glue on the broken piece and reattached it to the bowl. He then took it to a jeweler and had him fashion a sterling silver band about ¾ inches wide, complete with his initials, to encircle the bowl, thus holding everything in place. He was so proud of that pipe until he lit it for the first time and it became red hot. It looked good, but he could never smoke it again.