By Anne Washburn Morse
“Twenty-nine,” I said. “Twenty-ten, twenty-eleven….”
“No,” Daddy told me. “After twenty-nine, you say thirty.”
When I was four, he taught me how to count.
When I was 13, he taught me how to milk a cow. Daddy could fill a bucket with foaming white liquid in record time. For him, Spot would stand still. But when I began squeezing and pulling, she would move a back hoof over onto my foot or hit me across the back of my head with her tail. “Get it all,” Daddy would say. Then, with his thumb and forefinger he would strip the teat. Under his tutelage I could do that, too. I could even milk in the dark.
I did that a little more carefully after the night I mistakenly sat on the overturned milk bucket while I milked into the feed bucket which generally served as a seat.
When I was 16, Daddy taught me how to drive a car.. At that time weowned a l933 black Ford which was l2 or l3 years old. It was a four-door and the back doors opened backwards. Daddy guessed that I, being short, would have a hard time knowing the car’s exact position on the road. He gave me a suggestion I still use. “Line up the left fender with the middle stripe in the road.”
He showed me how to beat an egg white and how to paint around a windowpane. “Hold your brush like this and you won’t smear paint on the glass.” My egg whites stand up very well and I like to paint, though I never acquired his expertise.
He taught me that life is made for love and laughter. Often he reminded me of the proverb: “Smile and the world smiles with you. Weep and you weep alone.” He taught me that impossible is not a word, but that courage is. Crops failed. Tornadoes struck. Lay-offs took place at the cotton mill. Sickness came. But he never lost his optimistic outlook.
If he wanted something and didn’t have the money to buy it, he used the materials he had, and more often than not, made it.
He taught me that God’s Word is exciting reading material. He said it is full of truths to be lived by. And that he not only told me. He showed me.
Thomas Emmett Washburn, named for his grandfather, Thomas Langley, and for the songwriter, Dan Emmett, was born February 3, 1903, and died August 1, 1971.
He used well his brief 68 years.