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 Texas : Features : Columns : "Good Day for a Story"
"Good Day for a Story"

Mr. Chick
by Jeanne Moseley

In the Arkansas rice country,
to be known as Mr. Chick's granddaughter said it all.
I wore the identity like a royal robe.
Dad's big Cadillac sauntered through the winding dirt roads of his old farm place. There had been little opportunity for us to take such a leisurely drive, but this crisp fall afternoon found my parents and me back in Arkansas driving toward the White River.
Mr. Chick
This photo of William Richard "Chick" Tuck of St. Charles, Ark., appeared in Life magazine on April 4, 1959

Courtesy of Jeanne Moseley

My mind was filled with treasured childhood memories of the many times I had journeyed down these same roads with my grandparents. I'd often made the trip back to St. Charles, where I would delight myself in the overflow of their love, which grew as abundantly as did my grandfather's rice fields.

In these parts, I was known as "Chick Tuck's granddaughter" and that said all that would ever need to be said of me. I laid claim to this identity and wore it like a royal robe. While not a wealthy man, the power of his word made him seem so.

Pepaw was known mostly for his strength of character. He taught me that a contract is only as good as the person behind it, and I took note of his skill as I observed the way he guided the farm help through some pretty rough times.

I vividly remember the voices as they'd call out from the sidewalk's end, "Mr. Chick. Mr. Chick." Here in the middle of a dark summer night, I'd carefully peek through the curtains and hear the screen door flap behind my grandfather as he approached a waiting farm hand or neighbor.

At breakfast I would learn that he had given advice or money for emergencies, and sometimes the loan of his truck. With each of my visits, I could expect to hear the voices return. He continued to hand out whatever took care of their needs.

Weekend mornings, Pepaw would allow me to drive the farm with him as he made his inspection. His pickup truck was full of clipboards, tools and plenty of dust. Off we'd go, Pepaw with his arm resting on the open window and me sitting midway between the door and his side.

Together, we'd explore the wonders of the rice fields and stop for a visit or two with passing farmers. Always, though, no matter what their rank or status, they called him "Mr. Chick."

The best summer at the farm was when Pepaw decided it was time for me to drive. After his day was done, we'd get in my grandmother's big Ford and head out to the nearby landing strip. There I would drive at will while Pepaw sat silently in the passenger's seat reading his newspaper. Every now and then, he'd look up and give me a few pointers.

Now and again I'd take a short trip with my grandparents, and Pepaw would brag about what a fine traveler I was: "She can go to California and back on a pack of potato chips and a Dr Pepper." If only that were true.

There have been few times as comforting as those on the farm with my grandfather. In his arms and on his lap was the best sleep I ever had, and there was never any storm too fierce for him to handle. And though few words were ever exchanged, I was more certain of his love and adoration than most anything else in my young life.

I grew up knowing that if I never became anything more than Chick Tuck's granddaughter ... well ... that would be enough for me.

March 2001
Copyright 2001 Jeanne Moseley


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