Flashback in Time VI The Final Entry

The following section is the last of my father’s journals, which really turned out to be more of a memoir. This part is devoted to his childhood, so I have included pictures of him as a little boy. I hope his writings have offered enjoyment, knowledge, or comfort. 


A special, special thank you to S.M. Marlowe. I am so grateful for your service. Thank you for serving in Vietnam. Thank you for contacting me. I hope we can keep in touch. — Delonda Shown Anderson


Incidentally — the surname “Shown” is pronounced like the word “brown.”


Without further adieu . . . Please enjoy this last entry . . .


It’s difficult to empty one’s soul while realizing the human mind is a computer that not only records but also reveals painful moving pictures to the writer – pictures of the past, times in living color that, for a few moments, put you back in scenes that are best left to rush along the winding river of one’s memory, forever waiting for an eddy to still its flow. But, if I’m not boring the reader too much, I’ll continue on toward memories of days gone by.

Benny at around 7 or 8 years old, his daughter’s favorite childhood picture. She loves the little mischievous grin. {Delonda Shown Anderson Collection}

My childhood flashes back in time. When I was a little lad of about seven or eight years old, I remember building roads as I dug in the bank next to the old tree in front of the house. I’d take my wagon, a pick, and a shovel, and work endless hours building roads to play on while my dad was at work and my mother was washing clothes on the front porch in an old wringer washing machine. I reckon I’ve hauled a ton of walnuts in a towsack around October when they’d fall. I’d pick them up and haul them through the fields in that same wagon and dump them in the driveway for dad to run over and hull them out. My hands would be stained long up into the winter when it would have to wear off. I used to sell some of them and crack some of them for mom to make candy and cakes. I can remember liking to hunt like Davy Crockett. I remember one hunting trip I went on with my (flipper) sling shot. I was hunting lizards on an old rock fence near the Hugh Myers Farm when I saw a black animal run under some rocks and left its white tipped tail sticking out. Well, needless to say, I soon found out what it was. I drug it out and it sprayed me good. But I shot it with a rock in the head and killed it. I thought it had a pretty pelt so I was going to skin it and make me a hat, but I didn’t know how. I had to wear that smell off, too. It wouldn’t scrub off. I got in a little trouble for that trip. Later, my Grandpaw Shown told me how to skin that skunk out. He said to find a sandbar in the creek and bury it there and go back in four days and dig it up and it would be easy to skin. It sure was. He got a big laugh out of that. I guess that ended my fur trapping days, because it had decayed so bad that the skunk smell even smelled good. I buried it back in that sandbar forever.

I can see my Grandpaw Shown as the big man sitting on the front porch of an old country frame house just beyond the woodshed and smokehouse. He sat in an old cane bottom chair, wearing a white shirt and bibbed overalls, beside the box of tools and other things that anyone seldom got a chance to plunder. One Sunday, Dad had bought an old Hudson Hornet and I could see just barely over the window ledge. But I could see and can see today as if it were happening now. As we pulled up to the old shed, I opened my door and stepped out. I heard Grandpaw say as he stood and slapped his big hands together,

“Good God, Almighty! Lookie here what a man coming here!”

I’d run and jump up in his arms and sit on his knee and try to get his big hat off. His name was Heseys Franklin Shown. But, to me he was Grandpaw, and everyone else called him Papa. Grandmaw would always come to the door. She was a big woman. Her name was Susan Vinsant Shown, but, like I said before, she was Grandmaw to me. Everyone else called her Mama. I can remember well her chocolate cakes with white icing. Her cooking was something to behold, let me tell you. I sure loved her cakes and I can remember when we would go out to their house, I’d sneak in there to the old wood cookstove, climb up on the wood box onto the warmer side, reach up in the top warmer, and get me a piece of hog jaw1)Hog jowl – a cut from a pig’s cheek, aka jowl bacon. and sweet tater and a biscuit. Then, I’d run out to the corncrib and hide and eat it all, so none of the other cousins could find me.

Before dinner, we would all go into the sink, get a dipper of water, put it into the wash pan, and wash our hands with some of Grandmaw’s lye soap she’d made last fall during hog killing time. The water had been carried by Grandpaw. I remember Grandpaw would carry two big galvanized buckets of water from the spring, all the way up that hill. He’d sometimes get me to go get water with him. I remember one time in particular when we went for water. He gave me a small lard bucket about ½ gallon to carry and took his two big buckets. He’d put two patties of butter in one bucket that Grandmaw had churned from the fresh cow’s milk that Grandpaw milked every morning at the barn. Well, we would go down that hill to the spring. Grandpaw kept milk down in the cold spring water along with butter, and sometimes a watermelon or two. I’d watch him dip those big buckets in the clear water and lift them out with one hand. So, I’d dip mine and get about a half bucket full, and we’d be off up the hill towards home and dinner. Grandpaw would never stop and rest up that hill. I’d change hands several times carrying my little bucket and think how strong Grandpaw had to be because I guess I just about could climb in one of those buckets. I sure did love him. Well, we would eat and then go into the living room, then set down in front of the big fireplace. Grandpaw would throw a big log on the fire and poke it with a poker a time or two, then set down in another cane bottom chair over to the side. Grandmaw and Mommy would sit in rockers and watch the fire burn, along with Daddy, me, and Grandpaw, and my sister, Shirley.

Shirley holding her brother, Benny ca. 1948-49. {Delonda Shown Anderson Collection}

Shirley was the first born. I was the second born and the firstborn son. Shirley had pretty blonde hair and went to school. I was, I guess, about five years old then. (Shirley and I didn’t know it but we would later have two more brothers and two more sisters.) So she and I with our parents and grandparents sat around the fire. Grandpaw and Daddy would be talking about the Bible and then politics and just things in general, and I’d be trying to get all the attention as Grandmaw and Mommy would be talking along with Shirley. Then, I’d have to sing Grandpaw a song. He liked to get me to sing for him. I cut loose on an old Hank Williams song and he would clap his hands and pat his foot. He really enjoyed those evenings with his grandchildren as I do now with mine. I know in my heart he’s still out there somewhere. There are times I can feel his presence yet today. I saw both those wonderful people leave this world. I guess there is not enough ink to write all the memories of Grandmaw and Grandpaw Shown, but maybe this brief memory can give you a flashback in time of the roots in my tree.

The other half of those roots came through my mother, Pauline Goodman Shown. These memories bring me down in Vasper, Tennessee, a small community between Caryville and Lake City, where my other Grandmaw and Grandpaw lived. Grandpaw Goodman was Lawrence Goodman. My grandmother was Zora Daugherty Goodman.

(Click the link for more information about the Cross Mountain Mine Disaster.)

Grandpaw Goodman was a coal miner who worked his life away in the coal mines2)Lawrence Goodman worked at Block, among other mines. Block was a mining camp established in 1889 and named after “a seam of coal called a “block.” of Tennessee and Kentucky. He was a little man, like myself, but, to me he was as big a man God ever created. He was real religious. I remember him telling me about crawling back into a mine somewhere in the Caryville area in a seam of coal about sixteen inches high, laying on his belly, and digging like some animal trying to scratch out a living for his family. He told of the earth shifting and sometimes it would tremble and the top would touch his back. Sometimes he’d crawl on his back and the tip of his nose was no more than six inches from the seam. I remember seeing him leave before daylight and come home at dark with coal dust so thick, all you could see was his eyes. He would be so tired, but he always had a kind, tender, soft word for me, and, even if he was upset, he’d say,

“Dad Jimmit, I’m tired.”

Grandmaw would always tell us not to put our trust in man, but to trust the Lord. I remember her prayers at the dinner table. They were so humble. Grandpaw used to make things — all kinds of gadgets. He was truly an inventor to me. He made me a dresser one time from dynamite boxes used at the mines. He’d save everything. Grandmaw would cook all day on Sunday. It seemed to me as if food would come from everywhere when we’d get ready to eat dinner. The Lord had blessed them well. I watched them leave, too.


**End Note from daughter, Delonda Anderson. My father’s writings have offered me a better understanding of him, and, in a way, closure. This year, he’s been gone eight years. I talk to him in one form or another just about every day. 


He was a jokester, a master woodworker, musician, singer, and artist. He was a bag boy, a soldier, an insurance salesman, a carpenter, an auto mechanic, a bread man, a dynamite maker, police officer, and security inspector. He was a Christian (Baptist) and Mason. He was a son, a husband, father, and friend. War made him complicated, mean, emotional, reactive. Life made him easy-going, loving, empathetic, and a listener.


Though he was short in stature (around 5’7″) he was bigger than the world to me . . . And he still is.

**Featured image of Benny Franklin Shown Sr., ca. 1949, at his grandparents’ home in Shown Hollow (aka Shown Holler), Pinecrest, Tennessee. He is pointing forward. {Delonda Shown Anderson Collection}


1 Hog jowl – a cut from a pig’s cheek, aka jowl bacon.
2 Lawrence Goodman worked at Block, among other mines. Block was a mining camp established in 1889 and named after “a seam of coal called a “block.”

1 Comment

  1. Thanks so much for this he was certainly all the things you mentioned he and always looked out for one another as some say I had his back and he had mine. We left local board number 7 In lafollette going to Knoxville to be sworn in we were friends from the start when on the bus a lot of others from the area went also but we didn’t have any idea what awaited us but he and I made friends and remained friends he was a very good person always believed in God so did my life growing up was a lot like his and many things memories we shared of time gone bye. I remember him telling me that him and his family used to sing a lot And it’s been a pleasure reading his journals thanks so much

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *