Rollin’ your own not all it’s toked up to be

Published 12:11 pm Thursday, September 8, 2016

“Come on with me.”

That is what my Granddaddy Pete said to me one morning during a family visit. Off we went, just the two of us in his black, fairly beat up truck to his turpentine farm in Naylor, Georgia.

I was just 6 years old and happy to do anything with my granddaddy. I think I have told you about my granny and granddaddy Pete before but they were real characters who lived in a little shotgun house in the tiny town of Naylor, Georgia. Neither of them had a tooth in their head nor were they educated. Granddaddy Pete could neither read nor write while Granny Pete had taught herself to do both a little bit.

He was naturally very funny but she was serious and kept things going and in order. They married at a very young age, and my main memory of them both is that they were extremely kind to everyone.

Naylor was about 250 miles from our Atlanta home, and it was an all day trip to visit them. My two younger brothers did not like going there, because, “There is nothing to do but chase the chickens around the yard.” I, on the other hand, loved going there, because I was the favorite grandkid and got to go places with Granddaddy Pete by myself and got to set the dining room table for meals. So, when he asked me to go with him that morning, I couldn’t jump in his truck fast enough.

Off we went. After about a 20-minute drive, we stopped deep into his woods. He got out and told me to do the same. With a huge toothless grin on his lined face, he reached into his left pocket and pulled out a little burlap pouch filled with loose tobacco. With his other hand, he got white, small papers out of his right pocket. He looked at me intently and said, “Now Jean baby, watch me close. I am gonna teach you to roll your own cigarettes.”

I recall looking at him with utter respect all over my face. I mean, what did I know? Just imagine! I would know how to make my own cigarettes AND then how to smoke them! Boy oh boy, all my friends would be so impressed!

The lesson proceeded. He showed me how to spread the smooth paper out in the palm of my left hand and then how to evenly sprinkle the tobacco in a line in the paper. Next he showed me how to wet the edge of the paper with my tongue and roll it up. When I managed to do one to his standard, he struck a match on the bottom of his boot and held it to the end of my creation. “Now, baby, take a deep draw. Now, ain’t that nice?”

NICE?!?! Lord have mercy! I thought I was going to pass right out at the bottom of a turpentine-tapped tree. The world was twirling, my head was pounding and my eyes no longer functioned. Never in my life had I felt like that but I did not tell my Granddaddy Pete that. Oh no. What I did say was, “Wow, that was great.”

Because it was close to lunch time, we piled back into the truck and headed for home. No sooner had we walked in the front door that my mother said, “Phew! What’s that smell? It’s awful! Jean, where have you two been?” One look at my mother’s face all red and funny looking, I figured out what we had just done was not only not something to brag about, it was something I was gonna’ be in deep trouble for. Anyway, by then I felt like I was for sure going to throw up.

I do not know which one my mother was madder at, Granddaddy Pete or me. However, one thing I did know for sure. It flat was not what it was cracked up to be. I also told him in front of everyone in the room that anyone who wanted to pull that smoke into your lungs, it was sickening.

I think he was disappointed in the whole thing and not too happy to have my mother so mad at him. To be honest here, I don’t think he understood what he had done with me was so bad. I guess things were just different in south Georgia back then.

The view from the mountains is just wondrous right now. The mountain air in the early morning is quite cool and crispy. As the day comes around, the sun comes out and warms us. It is a lovely time, fall in Colorado.