Sport's only son, J.D., was right in the middle of everything with him. And, J.D. carries his genes. He's a lot like him. Once, Sport had loaned Albert, his nephew, his shotgun to hunt with. He handed Sport his gun back just as a Game Warden pulled into the yard behind him. He started ragging Sport pretty good about loaning his gun to that kid. Sport had enough. “Did he hurt anybody with it? Did he damage anyone's property with it?” “No, but - “ “Then get in your truck and get off my property.” The shotgun, still in Sport's hands, added emphasis. He left. Barbara, as a little girl, witnessed this exchange, a rare event. She was scared they were just going to come and arrest the lot of them.
Sport would just not allow any man to take anything from him. Or push him. If you pushed Sport, there would only be a small number of possible outcomes. Sport would get hurt, you would get hurt, or he would stop you. And Sport always handled that option in such a way that it never happened again. The humiliation prevented that..That is best illustrated by this little example----
Once, a very cranky old neighbor had two large dogs. They were very bad at chasing and killing livestock. They struck Sport's livestock, and Sport went to visit the man. “That has to stop.” The old man said, “You mess with my dogs, and there will be some killing going on.”
A few days later, they struck again. Sport had J.D. bring the gun. Sport gave the word as the dog ran by, chasing a calf. J.D., a dead shot like his father, took him out. Soon the other was dead too. Sport loaded them up, and they went to visit the neighbor. Sport threw both the dogs up on the porch, and pounded on the porch with his shotgun. When the old man emerged, saying, “What's going on here?” Sport said, “You told me, if I messed with your dogs, there would be some killin'. I'm here to start it.” Well, the old man wilted. “Now, don't you worry none about those dogs!” They left. J.D. was puzzled. “Why did we not just take the dogs down and throw them in the Bayou? He would never have found them.” Sport answered, “ If we had done that, that old man would have been bad mouthing us all over the country. This way, there will never be another word said about it.” And there wasn't.
One of Sport's cows wandered off into a neighbor's pasture. He sent J.D., a young boy, to get it. The neighbor man told J.D., “It's in my pasture now. It's mine.” When J.D. told Sport, Sport said, “Let's go get it.” Sport started up toward the man's house. J.D. said, “We could cut the fence in the back and get it out.”. Sport shook his head. “I'll get it.”. He walked up by his front door, into the pasture, got behind it, and drove it through the man's front yard. Nothing was ever said.
The road grader man started making his turn through Sport's bean field, taking out more and more of Sport's beans. Sport stopped the man, told him to stop doing that. Well, before long, he did it again. Sport ran him off, this time with a shotgun. A short while later, the County Judge found the road grader man a new place to turn around.
A rich, big landowner bought up some land next to Sport. Told Sport, “The old survey is wrong. You'll have to move your fence back 50 feet.” Sport replied, “That fence has been there since 1927.
It stays there.”
Well, a while later a couple of surveyors showed up, started setting up their equipment. Sport and J.D. walked down. Sport: “Nothing is going to be changed down here." The surveyor started explaining, “We're doing the job we were hired to do, check these old lines.” Sport said, “I've got a shotgun here that says you're not going to survey anything here.” The younger man wanted to get bad, but JD stopped him. “You just really don't understand the situation. If that old man says you don't, you don't. For your own sake, you best go home.” The older man toned the younger one down, and they went home. They never came back.
The girls, for the most part, never knew about any of this. Their sweet Daddy could just never have said any of those words. And that fits right in with my daughter Kinley's memories of sitting in his lap, putting rollers in his hair, and painting his fingernails. But in the “wild west” of the early delta country, a man had to stand his ground or just move. Sport never moved. I fully believe all of this for two very good reasons. First, J.D. is just like him. Second, I've seen those strong genes of Sport's in every one of those girls, cropping up from time to time. They call it “Dunnahoe Nerve.” They are all very strong women, always ready to stand up to whatever life throws at them. All us inlaws were very fortunate to find a member of this family to scoop up and marry. Sport just had that unique ability to be a fun loving, lovable person, always loved dearly by all those around him. But he had rather die than allow himself to be pushed. If Sport Dunnahoe had been my father, I could never have loved or respected him more. When I fished with Sports grandson's, and great grandson's, I came to realize, some of them only know Sport Dunnahoe by his name. I hope, in writing this, they will come to realize what a great man he was. On my “Great men I have known” list, Sport Dunnahoe stands right up there with the best of em'. An ancestor to be proud of.
Later in life, Sport was diagnosed with dementia, but he never lost his sense of humor. A doctor was interviewing him in his office to determine the extent. “Mr. Dunnahoe, what is today's date?” “Thursday, August 4.” Very good, Mr. Dunnahoe. How did you do that so easily?” With a little grin on his lips, Sport replied. “Its on the calendar, right behind you.” Another time, he was in another doctor's office with a daughter. The doctor came in. She immediately started giving instructions to the daughter, ignoring him. She was saying, “Take one tablet, four times a day, and-” Sport was pulling on the daughter's sleeve, with that little grin.. “What is it, Mr. Dunnahoe?” “Well, that just looks like it would be sorta hard – taking the same pill, 4 times a day.” “Point well taken, Mr. Dunnahoe. The next time I will talk to YOU about your medicine.” Barbara was taking Sport home from the Hospital. At the door, she instructed, “Stay right here while I go get the car. Don't move.” Sport was getting around pretty slow by now, and said, “I could start right now and not get outta' sight by the time you get back.”
Sport left us all with a vast array of “Sport-isms.”. My favorite is, “being right won't help yore' old haid' none.”
After Verla Mae died, Sport just couldn't go on without her. He gently explained to all his girls, “I just can't live without her.” Just a few months later, Phyllis found him dead in his bed one morning. The Paramedics said it must have been a heart attack, there was a blue spot on his chest. But we all knew. A broken heart is just one kind of heart attack. Verla Mae's death had pushed Sport to the point of no tomorrow.
Thanks for reading. My next post will be, "Sometimes, its Just Best to Lose."