Jake Goes to the Doctor

Jake Goes to the Doctor

By:  Garland Davis

I grew up in the hillbilly enclave of 1950’s Western North Carolina.  This is a fictional conversation but if the characters bring anyone to mind, there were and still are people like this.  It mirrors many such conversations that I heard.

There was a one-story country store located at the end of a dirt lane off an unlined two-lane blacktop road.  The store was a three room house that was converted into a one-room store.  A porch across the front ran the width of the building.  Sitting on a Coca Cola crate near the edge of the porch was a man.  He was wearing denim bib overalls, brogans and a fedora. He was whittling on a piece of two by four, chewing tobacco, and spitting into the dust near the edge of the porch.

A dusty pickup truck turned into the lane leaving a dust trail as it drove into the store yard and parked beside another equally dusty pickup already there.  A man wearing a dirty white painters cap and overalls climbed out of the pick up and walked to the end of the porch, stepped on a flat stone that had been placed there as a stoop, and then onto the porch.

“Hey Hank, how you doin’”, he said as he walked to the door. “I’ll be back, soon as Ah gits me a drank and a plug a ‘baccer.”

“Hey Jake. Ah’ll be raht here.  How ‘bout brang me that RC ya owes me.”Hank said as Jake entered the store.

A few minutes later Jake came back onto the porch carrying two RC Colas and handed Hank a bottle saying, “Ah already paid back that drank t’other day at Pete’s store, now ya owes me one.”

Hank eyes the plug of chewing tobacco and says, “How ‘bout cut me offen a piece a that plug. Ah lef’ mine in my other britches.”

Jake says in exasperation, “Dam’ an Ah ain’t even had a chainct to git it open up and ya already tryin’ ta bum my chewin’ ‘baccer.  An’ ya ain’t got but one pare a britches. Ah din’t take ya to raise.” He cut a chew off the plug and passed it over to Hank, who popped it into his mouth and took a pull on the cola.

Hank asked, “Ah din’t see ya ‘round yore ‘baccer fields and barn t’day.  What ya been doing’?”

“Ah went to tha doctor.  My Ole Woman been on me bout gittin’ a fiscal check up.  Ah done tole her that they ain’t nothing wrong wi me.  I got’s that plantar stuff on mah lef’ foot that makes mah heel hurt when Ah gits up in tha morning but after ‘while hit’s okay’.  Ah tell ya, when a woman gits her mind sot on somthin’ ain’t nothn’ fer it but ta do whats they want.” Jake replied.

“What’d tha doctor do? Did he take some a them x-ray pi’chers? Asked Hank.

“Yep, well he din’t do it.  Some other feller there took a whole bunch a them pic’hers. .  He took some a them pic’hers a mah foot too.“ Ah thank they was somthin’ wrong with that feller.  He kep’ lookin around and at me like I farted or sumpin’.

 But, ‘fore that, some gal asted me a whole bunch a fool questions.  She ast me when was tha last time Ah seen a doctor.  Ah told her that Ah seen Doctor Garret over to Walkertown Yistiddy.”  She wanted ta know why Ah seen him.  Ah told her Ah was drivin’ past his house an’ he was settin’ on tha porch, so I thowed up mah hand.  Must be sumpthin’ wrong with that girl, tha way she was shakin’ her head. Then she ast me when was the last time I was ‘zamined by a doctor.  Ah told her that a Army doctor down to Fort Bragg had poked me some when tha Army called me up fer Ko-ria.  She ast me what he said.  Ah tole her that he said a bunch a’ stuff, but I din’t unnerstand a bit of it ceptin mah feet was flat an he kep’ goin on ‘bout some pore feller’s high jeans an then he tole me tha Army din’t need me and let me come on back to Fa’syth County.  Then she ast me what doctor Ah goes ta see when I git sick.  Ah told her I goes to see Granny Ledbetter up in Yadkin County.  She makes the best potions an’ poultices an’ stuff.”

“She ast me iffen I had been to a doctor since tha Army doctor.  Ah told her Ah ain’t.  She tole me that Ko-ria was nine year ago.  Ah tole her I knowed that  I ain’t dum’.”

Ah tell ya Hank, Ah don’t know ‘bout that girl.  She told me to wait and was shakin’ her head and talkin’ to herself”. Jake told Hank.

Hank said, “That feller what was takin them x-ray pitches was prolly smellin’ yer ole stankin’ shoes an’ feet.”

“What ya talkin ‘bout.  Mah Ole Woman made me take a bath last night.  I tole her, Ah ain’t never heered of a body takin’ a bath on Winsdy night. Ah tells ya, Ah was smellin’ sweet as a flare.” Jake went on.

“What’d they do nex’?, asked Hank.

“Tha feller that took tha pic’hers took me in this little room and wrapped this thang like a inner tube ‘round mah arm and pumped it up.  Then he took this thang that had three thangs and put two a tha thangs in his ears and stuck tha other thang onto tha inside a my elbow and started to let tha air outten tha innertube whilst he was checkin’ tha time on this clock thang that was hooked to tha innertube.  After that, he made me git on a scale and wayed me like I was a hawg he was gonna sell.  Then he wrapped this rubber thang ‘round my arm and pulled it so tight, Ah thought it was gonna squeeze mah arm off.  He give me a ball in tha same hand that was bein’ squoze and tole me to squeeze tha ball.  Then dam’ if he din’t stick a needle inta mah arm and start dreenin’ mah  blood out inta a glass thang.  Then ta beat all Ah ever heered of, he give me a thang that looked like a dranking glass with a led an’ tole me to go in tha toilet and give him a specimen.  Ah tole him Ah don’t have no idée ‘bout this specimen thang.  Ya ain’t gonna b’lieve it, he tole me to piss in tha glass and put tha lid on it.  Ah din’t know how much he wanted, so Ah filled her all tha way ta tha top.  With all this stuff goin on, Ah haf ‘spected him ta want me to shit in sumpthin’.”

“After all that, tha feller took me into another room and tole me to take all mah cloths off but my underware.  Ah tole that feller that, women ware underware, Ah am a man Ah ware’s  draws, ‘ceptin’ it’s summertime and Ah don’t ware no draws in the summer ta keep cool.  Ah tole him Ah wares long handles in tha winter to hep keep warm.   Then he give me this white thang that looked sumpthin like my Ole Woman’s robe an’ tole me to take off my britches an shirt an ware it. Ah ast him iffen Ah ortta tak off mah shoes too.  He tole me to wait till he lef’ tha room.

Ya know Hank, that doctor got some strange people workin’ there.  People ain’t right walkin’ around talkin’ to their selfs is they?”

“Did ya ever git ta see tha docter,” Hank asked. “Mah Woman is been talking bout me goin’ ta git a check up too.”

“Ah tells ya, ya better find a differnt doctor.  Ya ain’t gonna believe what he done.  Ah took off my britches an shirt an shoes like that first feller said an put on that robe thang.  He give me one that was too little.  Iffen Ah din’t hold tha front uv it, anybody could see mah thang. 

Tha Doctor come in.  He told me ta set on a table.  He had one of them ear thangs too.  He stuck them two pieces in his ears and stuck tha other piece onto my back and tole me to breathe.  Ah tole him Ah usually did.  He moved that thang aroun’ four or five times.  Then he put it on my front and tole me not to breathe.  Din’t seem ta be able to make up his mind. After that he took a hammer and begun to hit my knees.  Not hard ‘nough ta hurt, but it made mah legs jump.  Now Hank, ya ain’t gonna b’lieve what he done next.  He said he wanted to check a prostertate or sompthin’g like that.  He tole me to turn around and bend over.  Ah done it.  An he stuck his fanger in mah butt.  Iffen Ah wadn’t so s’prised, Ah would a jumped all that way over that table. Ah ast him what fer he done that.  He said it was the way they checked the prostertate.  I ast him if hawgs had them proster thangs.  He said the boar ones do.  By George, tha nex’ time Ah kills hawgs, Ah’m gonna check tha butthole.  I wants ta see what them proster thangs looks like.”  Jake continued.

Hank, shaking his head, says, “Ya got me worried, Ah don’t want anybody sticken their fangers in mah butt.  Onliest thang that I know of in yore butt is turds. What happen’d nex’?”

Jake went on with his tale. “After that he tole me ta put mah clothes on and he would come back in a minute.  He must a farted, Ah din’t and Ah din’t smell anything.  He had that look on his face.  Ya, know tha face ya Ole Woman an dotters makes when ya looses a bean fart.”

“After Ah got my duds on, he comes back and tells me that he’s finished with mah check up.  He said he’s saprized but Ah ‘peered ta be in purty good health all thangs considered.  He tole me that I ortta stop chewin’ ‘baccer.  He said chawin’ and smokin’ and dippin’ snuff aint good fer a body.”

“I ast him if he had tha okay ta be a doctor in No’th Ca’lina.  He said he did. I asted him if they knowed he was talkin’ ‘gainst ‘baccer. Most everbody in No’th Ca’lina makes their livin’ from ‘baccer.  He laughed at me an’ said that some Surgery General feller , I guess he is prob’ly in tha Army iffen he’s a General, says that it is bad fer folks an don’t do it. I figger since Ah aint in tha Army, it’s okay.”

“I guess we’s lucky ‘cause we wear overalls stead a jeans and ain’t pore.  He went on like that Army doctor down to Fort Bragg talkin’ about some pore feller with high jeans.”

I heard conversations like this around country stores, gas stations, tobacco barns and pack houses during my formative years.  If you had a hard time reading that, I understand.


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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.



Beer and Decisions

Beer and Decisions

By:  Garland Davis

Most people use certain procedures and receive help from outside sources to make decisions, both large and small, that affect them and their lifestyle.  While growing up, the primary influence is from the parents, family members, teachers, and, as one moves into the teen years, their peers become the primary source motivating decisions.  No one wants to differ from the crowd and the great efforts a person makes to emulate others becomes a driving influence on most life decisions from the brand of soft drink, the style of undergarments one chooses, or the haircut you sport.

As you move into adulthood, experience, accumulated knowledge, societal morals, and other influences motivate decision making.  Once I entered the Navy, many of these decisions were already made for me.  All I had to do was conform to the regulations. Looking back on my late teens and advancing into my twenties and my early, and exciting years as a sailor in the Asia Fleet, I now realize that one of the biggest factors influencing my decision making was beer.

I grew up in the hillbilly enclave of Western North Carolina where, more often than not, moonshine was the drink of choice.  Actually, it was often the only thing available as most of the state was “dry.”  Moonshine did the trick, but when the county authorized its sale, I learned to love beer.

Arriving at NAS Lemoore, California is 1961, after boot camp, I learned the sophisticated sailor’s choice of libation was Olympia beer.  Not wanting to be different, I became a connoisseur of Oly.  It prompted and assisted me in making many decisions.  And they weren’t always good decisions.

Olympia’s influences were not always the best. For instance, Oly decided that I should enter the bull riding event in an amateur rodeo.  Being easy going I went along and signed.  I didn’t realize the stupidity of that decision until they pulled the gate and I ended up on my ass, with a broken arm.  By the way, I was still in the chute.  The bull left without me!

Another time, after imbibing a quantity of this sterling product of Tumwater, Washington, another fool and I decided to go from Fresno to Los Angeles.  We only had enough money for one-way bus tickets.  We thought we would hitch hike back.  We barely made it back to the base, hungover, sick, and sleepless, after hitchhiking and walking all night.  That was one of the longest, most miserable days I have ever spent working in a Navy galley.

A year later, finally in the fleet and in WestPac, I was introduced to the quality fermented beverages of Kirin, Sapporo, Asahi, and that real detriment to sound decision making, San Miguel Beer.  Not only did one make foolish decisions, the actions were often repeated.  For example, I was a pretty good poker player, and, more often than not, was a winner in the nickel and dime games played on the mess decks.  After a few beers, I decided that I was good enough to play in the higher stakes games played at CS1’s house on weekends.  Lost my ass a few times, always after the beer of the moment convinced me that playing in that game was a sound decision.

In Yokosuka, a bluejacket could check a case of American beer, or bottle of whiskey, into a Japanese bar for a fee.  The sailor was given a ticket and a number was marked off each time one of the beers was ordered.  The tickets were usually good for three days and then unless another fee was paid, the beer became the property of the bar.  It was common practice to check cases in three or four bars so one could bar-hop and have cheap beer available.  The night before the ship sailed became a marathon of trying to drink all the beer checked into the various bars.  Not always the best decision!

But all the decisions prompted by beer were not bad.  In 1964, I received orders to the Commissary Store, Yokohama, Japan.  The only thing I can say is that, in 1964, duty in Yokohama was akin to going to heaven.  The single enlisted men lived in an old Army BOQ.  We had private rooms and there was maid service available for a pittance.  The maids did laundry, shined shoes, made beds, and cleaned the rooms.  Most of the maids were older women who spoke little or no English.  When a sailor wanted to communicate with his maid, he would go to the Billet Office and have the young girl that worked there translate for him.

We were drinking beer and someone asked if I was bringing a date to the Navy Day Ball. That was when the beer kicked in.  I told them that I was going to ask the girl from the Billet Office.  They laughed and told me that she didn’t date sailors.  Many had tried and failed.  After a couple of more beers, I decided that now was a good a time as any to ask her.  So off to the Billet Office I went. To make a long story short, ten months later, she became my wife.  We have now been together for over fifty years.  If it wasn’t for the beer, I may have believed my shipmates and not have mustered the courage to ask her.

Another decision that began as a poor choice actually worked out well.  I was in China Town drinking with some shipmates. We decided to go to the club and walked out to find a taxi. I saw a puppy in the window of the pet store next door to the bar.  The puppy was cute, I was tanked up on beer and decided to buy him.  I carried the puppy home and gave him to my wife. In the taxi on the ride home, I was worried that she would be upset that, I had spent money on a dog.  That cute little puppy, Taro, grew up to be a beautiful Akita and became her companion through many deployments.  He was with us for fourteen years.

I was probably thirteen or fourteen when I drank my first beer.  That means beer has been assisting me with my decision making for the last fifty-six or fifty-seven years.   I have lived a good and eventful life.  I choose to believe beer contributed more positively than negatively to the decisions that led to the present.

I do know that it has been a helluva of a ride and without the beer, it would not have been as near as much fun.

If you attend the Asia Sailor reunion in Branson this year, look for me in the chair nearest the cooler!


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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.