My grandfathers were most unusual men.

As you have heard people say, they were as “different as daylight and dark.”

My maternal grandfather, Will Herod Brim, was just shy of being a recluse. He spent most of his life in Brim Hollow. My mother, his only daughter, told that he was never gainfully employed after his father died. He rented out his tobacco base, had a few goats and sheep, and lived off the land. In the 12 years that I knew him, he allowed me to see into a world a generation before.

The house he lived in had no running water. Electricity was limited to drop cords in the center of two rooms. Air conditioning amounted to opening a window and hoping for a breeze. In the winter, the house was heated by a large, open fireplace, and a wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen. His meals were as simple as his surroundings.

He ate two hard-boiled eggs at every meal, three times a day, 365 days a year. The routine never varied. He would chop up the still-warm eggs with a fork, add a pat of hand-churned butter and a dab of salad dressing, salt and pepper to taste, and combine thoroughly with his fork. He preferred white bread toast cooked to a crisp with his eggs but relied on saltine crackers from time to time. Occasionally, he would enjoy a piece of fried side meat or fresh tenderloin, but he mostly stuck with his eggs.

In the summer, when speckled butter beans came in, and my grandmother seasoned them to perfection, and cooked them to a dull, grey. He would add them to his plate … but always with his eggs.

He sat at a table he had built himself. My mother said that the wood from which it was built cost 75 cents. The tabletop was constructed of rough-cut poplar boards and covered with red-and-white-checked oilcloth. The chairs that surrounded the table were of the straight-back, cane-bottom variety.

My paternal grandfather, D.T. McCall, was just as unusual, but in a different way. If ever there was a natural-born salesman, he was one. He loved people, and he loved the sales game. He showcased a can-do attitude years before the phrase was popularized by modern sales motivators.

D.T. McCall wore a shirt and tie to work every workday, and his day started at the feed barn. He had no taste in clothes, sometimes wearing a plaid shirt with a plaid tie, with a plaid sportcoat. In the Middle Tennessee area, his flat-topped, straw hat was legendary. He brought the same flair to the breakfast table.

Pa Dave, as we called him, believed in a big, hearty breakfast. I can never recall his eating lunch. Unlike the kitchen in Brim Hollow, my Granny Amy’s kitchen featured the modern conveniences of her day. She served up poached and sunny-side-up eggs for my grandfather’s breakfast. He liked sausage, bacon, as well as country ham. Toast and biscuits were the order of the day. But the finale to his breakfast each morning, I shall never forget.

After he has finished his main course, he would fill his plate with All Bran. I think it was of the Kellogg’s variety. When I say “fill his plate,” I mean, at least a cupful. That’s a lot of bran. It looked like a haystack in his plate. Speaking of hay, I would rather have tried to eat a block of fescue hay. It got worse.

Then, he would take whatever liquid was left on the table and pour it in the top of his pile of bran. I’ve seen it all — coffee, honey and orange juice. Occasionally, I think for effect, he would pour the runny yoke of a poached egg over the bran. It was nothing short of disgusting.

It may have scarred me for life.

Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.

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