The Poutin’ House after Ivan

Alabama Living Magazine
Illustration by Dennis Auth

I remember back in September 2004. I was in Jacksonville, watching the Weather Channel, as Hurricane Ivan churned toward the Florida Panhandle. After landfall it was predicted to move quickly into South Alabama.

So I called my Daddy down in Grove Hill, about 90 miles north of Mobile and right in the projected path.

“I’m coming to get you and Mama,” I told him — which I knew when I said it was the wrong approach to take. You didn’t tell Daddy what you will do if it involves him — you ask if you can.

“No, you’re not,” he replied. “You stay there and look after yours.”

I tried to reason with him.

He hemmed and hawed. 

Then he fessed up.

“Mrs. Margaret and Aunt Stella are going to ride it out with me and Mama. We will be just fine.”

There you have it. My Daddy. My hero. My role model. At age 87, fixing to have a hurricane party with three women, the youngest having just turned 80. If I can do the same when I reach his age, if I reach his age, I will have lived life to the fullest.

So, we kept in touch by phone. They made it through the night but woke to find no power. Then, about mid-day, the wind hit them full force. A big oak in the backyard was uprooted. Smaller trees were snapped in two — just snapped. 

However, Daddy’s Poutin’ House survived, and its survival undid my plans.

In the wake of the storm, word reached me that power down there might not be restored for a week and that they would soon lose water as well. Hearing this, I called again.

“Pack to leave Daddy, I’m on my way.”

“We’re staying here.” (Didn’t I learn the first time? Ask.)

“You won’t have power.”

“We’ve been without power before.”

“For a week?”

“Longer.”

“What about water?”

“We’ll go to the spring at Hebron. It is gushing out there and folks are lined up with buckets.”

For every point I made, he had a counterpoint. 

So, I put my wife on the phone.

Now my wife can argue the bark off a beech tree, but she was no match for the unpersuadable Jackson. Not even the lure of watching the Auburn-LSU game would get Daddy to budge. 

And besides, he pointed out in closing, “Mama just fixed me a hot breakfast.” 

Then I knew I had lost the fight. 

It seems that while we were arguing, men from the Co-op worked their magic and as if someone had said “let there be light,” there was light. So mama had cooked up a mess of eggs, grits and bacon, and made a pot of coffee.

Now how can you argue a man away from that?

I couldn’t.

I surrendered.

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at hhjackson43@gmail.com

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