All in the Family

White Rock's Edge before he became so edgy ... but, he still had some mischief in there. — Family Photo

By Bruce Felps

In honor of Father’s Day I decided to work a little extra this weekend and pay all due props to the two greatest men to have graced my life — my father and his father.

Of course, when I say “pay all due props” I mean make as much fun of them as I can. And I can … because I love them.

Dad’s dad, man’s man

My grandfather, PawPaw as we called him because the family roots grow out of southwestern Louisiana, passed away at 87 during spring 1981.

By the time I knew him, when I was cognizant enough a human to know someone, PawPaw was long retired from the Port Arthur refineries and living back in Baker, La. His work life rendered him partially deaf but damn sure not dumb. One of the smartest guys I’ve ever known who didn’t even come close to college. Yeah, virtual fist-bump, there, PawPaw.

His first wife, my dad’s mom and my maternal grandmother, died way before I was born. His second wife, Edna, ties into the here-and-now of East Dallas in the roundest about of ways. Wait for it.

She was not a lovely individual. PawPaw’s near deafness left him wearing a hearing aid. Back in the day those big boys came with a hook-like element that fit around the ear to hold it in place. A wire ran from the earpiece to a battery pack PawPaw carried in his front shirt pocket, and all his shirts had front pockets.


When Edna started to talk, which sounded like a shrill Southern-fried squawk-squeal of a harpy, PawPaw eased his hand over — because you don’t make a sudden movement around a harpy — to his shirt pocket and turned off the hearing aid.

Told you he was smart man.

Now the East Dallas tie-in: PawPaw retired to acreage. Not a whole lot but enough to tend a garden, near-farm, that covered at least a half-acre if not one full acre or more. Ask me sometime about eating a quarter-wheelbarrow full of raw peanuts.

Anyway, okra came in as a bumper crop one season. Edna served my sister and me okra with every freakin’ meal during our annual summer two-week visit, and that slimy boiled crap is not a fitting complement to scrambled eggs and bacon or cereal, milk, and toast. That is why I passed on yesterday’s Okra Fest.

Sorry, Elizabeth, still working out that one with the doc, ya know?

Dad part II

I went into some degree of detail about my dad back in February when he turned 80, the deranged old man. He proved me right that weekend when my sister and I visited for the milestone.

The garage at the house he and his wife, Johnnye, share is barely big enough for both their cars, so we waited on the driveway as he backed out before going for dinner.

When we returned, he stopped on the driveway, we got out of the car, and gathered near the door to the house, waiting for him to pull in the garage, park, turn off the car, and unlock the door.

Oh, he pulled in all right, honked the horn in the garage, watched us all jump, and then sat in the car for a few minutes just to laugh, and laugh, and laugh … demented old man. Evil genius.

Swimming the Felps gene pool

My grandfather, father, and I share multiple traits. Right, big surprise.

My PawPaw’s full name was Jones Samuel Felps. My full name is Bruce Michael Felps.

His name should have been Samuel Jones Felps but the Army mixed up the name order on some paperwork and he never argued being the good soldier following orders. My name should have been Michael Bruce Felps but some hospital administrator mixed up the order and, maybe, dad said, “Well, it was good enough for my dad so it’s good enough for my kid.”

Among us we have two Samuels — my dad and granddad — and a Michael in terms of Biblical names, and they are decidedly more sanctimonious than me.

Lastly, and whew, we each share a prominent physical trait that manifests during our later years.

Jowls … freaking jowls … that flabby jaw-line protrusion between the hinge and chin, and I thank you, Jones Samuel, every morning when I look in the mirror and say, “PawPaw, what the hell are you staring at?” No, really, thank you. Love it.

And I love you, my father and my grandfather.

Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times. He owes it all to Jones Samuel and Lynn Samuel Felps. Duh.


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