Some Odd Things Float To The Top
Hubert McKee was my only father-in-law, and a truly great one at that. I was married a second time, but my second wife’s father had passed away before I met her. Like most young men from the rural south during the time of “The Greatest Generation,” Hubert had no formal education. He told me once of raising a cotton crop in the first year of his marriage and had nothing to show for it after a year of hard work. He gave up on farming and moved to the nearby town of Meridian and obtained a job as a mechanic at the airport there. But this was during World War II and soon Hubert was drafted into the army.
Hubert liked to take a drink occasionally. He once told me of how in Germany his unit had come across some bottles of German whiskey. The platoon leader held a bottle aloft and asked if anyone would like to take a drink. For several moments there was no response. Then, Hubert stepped forward and said, “I reckon I’ll have a little drink.” Hubert survived the war and returned to live in Meridian for the remainder of his life. But he still enjoyed an occasional drink or two of whiskey.
Hubert eventually became the body shop manager of the local Ford dealership. His responsibilities required him to stay late after each day’s work to finish up the paperwork from the day’s activities and sometimes he would have a drink or two as he sat there totaling up the plusses and minuses from the efforts of the day.
Some 40 years ago, his wife Julia told me the following story after he had passed away at a relatively early age.
One evening, he had apparently had a little too much to drink and was still under its influence upon his arrival at home. In fact, as the evening progressed, he became so ill that he had to bid a hasty retreat to the bathroom thereby purging his stomach of its irksome contents. Soon thereafter, he realized that he was missing his dentures. Despite a determined search, they could not be found, and he had to make the sorrowful conclusion that they were lost forever in the bowels of the commode.
They still had not been found the following morning and he had to go to work without them. His co-workers of course noticed their absence and he was forced to tell them of the ignominious events of the previous evening and his conclusion regarding their loss. By lunchtime, all of the employees in the shop and office were aware of Hubert’s predicament and the unusual manner of the loss of his dentures.
Early in the afternoon, Julia called Hubert at work with the welcome and exciting news that she had found his dentures. When asked where she had found them, she informed him that they had floated to the top in the commode. Hubert immediately began giving her instructions on how to clean them. Unwilling to hear any of that, she huffily told him that he had caused the problem and that he could clean them himself when he got home. Despite this rebuff, Hubert was so glad to hear of the recovery of his dentures that he informed everyone in the dealership of his good fortune and the unusual manner in which they had been found.
When Hubert arrived at home, Julia had apparently removed the dentures from the commode as she passed them to him on a piece of paper. Hubert then laboriously cleaned his dentures to his satisfaction, installed them with a touch of distaste, and was ready for his evening to return to normalcy.
That is when Julia chose to spring the trap of her lesson on Hubert. She told him they had not been in the commode after all but had been found elsewhere. Hubert took the lesson good-naturedly but did not look forward to correcting the story he had told of all of his associates at work.
At work the next day, Hubert’s friends were still excited at the unusual manner in which his dentures had floated to the top in the commode. Hubert was forced to confess that they hadn’t been in the commode after all, and that Julia had fooled him completely with her story.
Larry Gibson is a published author and storyteller and a longtime resident of the Kipling Community in Kemper County.