Wednesday Prompt – SOBRIQUET
1640s, from French sobriquet “nickname,” from Middle French soubriquet (15c.), which also meant “a jest, quip,” and is said to have meant literally “a chuck under the chin” [Gamillscheg]; of unknown origin (first element perhaps from Latin sub “under”).
My Grandpa Shorty was known for his teasing, his practical jokes, his skill as a cabinet maker, his gardening genius, and his lack of height.
It’s his fault that I barely stand five feet tall.
What I remember about him, though, has nothing to do with his physical height. I remember what he smelled like, for one thing. When he came home from a day of working, he’d scrub his hands, arms, and face with Lava soap. To this day, I think of him when I smell Lava soap.
I remember the bumps he had on each arm, just below his elbows. I would poke at them. He’d laugh and say, “Those are my spunk bumps!”
I was fascinated by his hands. There were fingers missing on each hand, from various accidents over the years. He never let that keep him from working with his hands, though.
He had what I now realize was a very good singing voice. He loved country music, which didn’t appeal much to me, but he could sing every word of every song on the radio in his truck. He taught us Oh, Susanna and I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad. And Jimmy Crack Corn, and Clementine.
He would stretch out on the grass between my sister and me in the evenings, and we would sing. He would tell stories, probably exaggerated to the max, and sometimes we were just silent. I loved being with him.
We got to see him rarely, maybe once a year, when we were small. We’d go stay with him and Grandma Millie, his second wife, in the big old Victorian house that Grandma Millie had turned into a home for the elderly that she took care of. Later, they bought a cafe in Marshall, Minnesota. Millie’s Cafe. She was known all over the area for her amazing cinnamon rolls. Grandpa Shorty was known for his yarns.
Shorty was his sobriquet. His real name was Homer. I think he liked Shorty better 🙂