Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ol' Man Rivers

Joe Rivers Posted by Hello

They say ol' Joe Rivers was a mean one. They also said he was a womanizer and had his way when it came to that sort of thing despite being a married man. I guess just like today where the dangerous, crazy, gangsta-like mentality wins out over the so-called good guy.

Mean Joe Rivers was something else. I can almost hear his voice when I look at the picture. He'd say "whatcha got there?" He'd smile when you tell him it's a camera and then he'd say "let me sit on down here, take my hat off and you get a picture of my good side!"

"Which side is that?"

"Why, that would be right in front so folks can see Ol' Joe was a real proud man!"

He was definitely a proud man. A father of many and what they call a frontiersman. He accumulated about eighty acres of land located deep in the backwoods of Daingerfield, Texas. He lived not too far from his brother's, Solomon, General, and Charles. He had children that I'm not too clear on who their mother was. I've been trying to get that story straight during many of my recent visits to Texas. Each time, I come back with another story instead.

Upon my last visit I was told about a moment when Joe Rivers acted as if his manhood and leadership had been threatened. Joe had been away for a few nights. No one knew specifically where he had gone but they did know he was with another woman. It wasn't like he was really a traveling man so when he spent time away from home without letting anyone know, it was pretty easy to figure out what he was doing.

During this particular time, I was told that Joe was at the little market nearby and had seen his older son, George. He was shocked because George had money and was buying food. He'd learn later that George did whatever he could to earn that little bit of money from stacking wood to mowing acres of grass. George didn't want his family starving just because his father found something more fun to do than providing for his family. George figured he'd step up and be the man around the house.

Joe watched from the back of the store. Inside he was fuming mad seeing his son actually shopping for real food. After George finished paying for everything, he noticed he had enough change leftover to buy this little rag doll he'd seen hanging behind the counter.

"This here enough to buy that doll ain't it?" He asked the store owner.

"Sure is... It'll be an even trade there, boy!"

"I'll take it and give it to my little sister."

George left out of that store with a smile on his face. He got on his horse and carefully rode back home so he wouldn't drop anything. Joe bought the things he needed and was only about five minutes behind George. That was enough time to reach a boiling point once he'd made it home.

Joe saw George removing the saddle from the horse. He walked up to him and began whuppin on him, all the while letting George know what he'd done to deserve this beat down coming from his own father.

"You think you the man of the house now?" Joe shouted as he slapped George in the side of the head.

Most of the blows were open handed. It was his father's words that hurt George the most.

"I'm the man of this house! I takes care of this family!" Joe's voice echoed throughout those backwoods. Even the other kids could hear what was happening despite not seeing what was going on.

"But you not around!" George defended.

Joe's open handed blows turned to a close fist and one punch sent his son to the ground. Joe was a very strong man physically and just like all his brothers, Joe had big hands that felt like stone when clinched into a fist. As he seen his son lying on the ground, he took a deep breath and uttered one last time, "I'm the man 'round here son."

Joe disappeared and didn't come back home for another week acting as if nothing had ever happened. Life went on...

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