Passing Time and the Jug
Zeke Dooley is a man of opinions. Like Zeke, who turned 90 last year, these tend to be a little out of style. Just the same, it's always worth the trip to Blairs Creek to discuss the changing times with a man who has made his own living, his own "cold remedy" and his own way in the world for more years than most of us have been around.
With his wife Perletta, his mule "Old Maybe" and a dozen or so hounds for company, Zeke spends most nice days on his porch, ready to "squander an opinion" with me and hold the years (and the common cold) at bay with his jug of remedy. Here are the results of my last visit.
Zeke on the Golden Years
Mitch: Zeke, how long have I been coming down here to visit?
Zeke: Well as near as I kin make it out, we got acquainted long about the year of the big freshet when the creek got up outrageous high. Long about 19 and 64.
Mitch: Over 30 years ago! By the way, when did you retire?
Zeke: Oh me and the womern has always laid down around nine of a night.
Mitch: No, I mean when did you quit working?
Zeke: Well, 'cordin to Perletta, when I was about 20.
Mitch: Is this part of your life "the golden years?"
Zeke: Naw, we had that gold weddin' 10 year back.
Mitch: I think "the golden years" means the best part of age, Zeke. Is there such a thing?
Zeke: Well onct you get past 65 it evens out purty smooth, but 65, that's the rough one.
Mitch: Why 65?
Zeke: That's when everbody figures if you ain't dead yit yer missin' a good chaince. They all fly in to sell you yer box or a plot to plant ye or burial insurance, or they set in to put ye in a home som'ers.
Mitch: They all came at you at once?
Zeke: Hit was a sight on earth. Had to nail up a barrel fer a mail box to catch all the dodgers fer rockin' cheers and wheel cheers and funerals and old folks magazines and nostrums fer regularity and perpetchural keer fer yer plot and rest homes and nursin' homes and a whole outlandish bunch of other plunder I cain't remember.
Mitch: Weren't interested, huh?
Zeke: Well sir, I bottled up a batch of my cold remedy jist fer us old folks. I call it "Ol Quiet Owl."