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Uncle Bish and the Grapefruit

Updated on April 10, 2012

About the Author

This is a short remembrance written by my grandfather Michael D. Martin of Eden, NC. These stories pertain mostly to our family and his time serving in the Eden City Police Dept. Michael Martin was born Oct. 6th 1943 and passed away Oct. 1st 2010. They are transcribed as he wrote them to keep his writing style alive in the stories. Some are historical and some are just for the humor. If you find these stories enjoyable and would like to read more there is a link at the bottom to more of his stories.

Uncle Bish and the Grapefruit

I am an old man now, but when I was a child I had this beautiful, sweet great uncle named Milton Bishop Martin. He was called "Bish" all his life and he was my poppa Nick Martin's brother. Poppa came to Spray to work in the textiles about the turn of the century and Bish stayed on in the mountains to look after his mother and father and after they died in the 1930's Bish lived out his life in the old "homeplace" in the mountains of Patrick County, Virginia. (sidenote: I actually have a picture of our families old homeplace the house is no longer there but, the frame of the picture is made out of wood from the house.)

Bish never drove a car and the homeplace had no electricity nor running water. There was a sparkling spring near the house and an outdoor "privy" for private stuff. The house was heated by a fireplace and a woodstove for cooking... life was sweet and simple in the mountains.

I can see Bish now in my heart's eye, I was a little fella so Bish seemed tall and I know he was thin. Bish had a shock of black hair that seemed like it just jumped out of his head, he wore "osh-kosh" overalls, a white shirt and plain toed shoes and the only job he ever had was operating a moonshine still for Harbour Handcock, come to think of it, back then I knowed Harbour Handcock, too.

Now, I have layed the foundation, I'll tell you the story. My beautiful sweet grandfather, Nick Martin died in September of 1957 and was buried on the homeplace. Later folks from the mountains told grandma Rosie that Bish was grieving real bad.

My Beautiful Grandmother, Rosie DeHart Martin was the most Christian woman I ever knew and she sent my daddy Karl and Uncle Roy Martin to the mountains to fetch Bish back to Spray to stay with her a while. Bish put some fairly clean socks and a change of underwear in a paper sack and rode to Spray with daddy and Roy. He was determined to be a good houseguest but, Bish won't real sure about life in the big city. I guess things went on fairly good even tho it was a culture shock for Bish, he could not figure out indoor plumbing and it didn't set right with him that a man would want to go to the toilet inside his own home.

One morning Rosie got up and cooked Bish a small mountain of eggs and bacon, she made him a cup of hot coffee and then she cut a grapefruit and put half of it on a plate and as Bish sat down, she went about her chores. Grandma looked in on Bish later and asked "Bish, are you got enuff???" "Yup, Yup," he said, "I got aplenty." "Bish, you want anything else?"

"Nope, nope... I'm bout full," and Bish got up and went outdoors for a walk. When Grannie started cleaning the table she noticed that there was none of the grapefruit left... Bish had eaten it all, including the rind and seed. It dawned on grandma that Bish had never seen a grapefruit before, didn't know how to eat it, but he was determined to be a good houseguest and clean his plate.

Bish went back to the mountains and told Harbour, "Yup! Yup, Rosie looked adder me real good... but that thang she put on the plate that morning... hit was plumb awful!"


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    • buckey777 profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Mitchell 

      6 years ago from Bangor, Maine

      Thank you for reading, I wonder where we went wrong over the past 50 years. Nowadays it amazes me how much is wasted and taken for granted.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Now that's what I call the perfect houseguest - eats everything you put before him and never complains. And this is what I call a perfect story - kept me enticed until the end. Thank you, buckey.


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