I’ve often been accused of going on and on, taking more time than necessary to make a point. Regardless, I’ve always disagreed. I was the fourth child of 11 and the oldest boy. In a family that large, our parents had to use their time spent listening to each of us efficiently. Otherwise, farm chores would never get done. As a result, we were told that whenever we had something to say, to “make your point, and be quick about it!”

Raised on a farm in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the Eisenhower years, there were too many of us to play word games. If we were allowed to go on and on, dragging our conversational points to the 12th of never, our poor parents would’ve been up all night listening. Knowing words wouldn’t work to get our way, we periodically resorted to other types of shenanigans.  

Being told to make our point, could’ve been a throw back to our Bavarian/Scotch/Irish ancestry. My Grandpa Chronister was one of those who was able to swiftly see through our shenanigans and, with devilish gleams in his eyes, he’d simply tell us he was busy.

Grandpa used excuses that made sense to us then, but as we grew older, we eventually realized a fast one had been pulled. “Gotta get ‘em cows in and milked ‘afore their milk turns sour,” he’d say as an excuse whenever we’d start yakking away and he suspected we were going nowhere with our idle chatter. “Hey Ma,” he’d call out to grandma, “listen to these here young’ins, will ya. I’m a mite too busy ta foller their chatter.”

Whenever I hear conversations that start with the words, “As a matter of fact,” I can just hear him. “Ya mean all this time ya been playing loose wit’ tha truth?”

Or, Actually. “Whadya mean, actually? Ha’ ya been living in some fantasy world, child?”

And I’d rather not touch the phrase ‘to be quite honest with you’ that young folks use so often these days. If my grandpa ever overheard us start a conversation like that he would’ve been mortified. He would’ve told us to tell grandma and then he would’ve walked away.

Regardless of the season, he’d always come up with some lame excuse like, “I gotta get tha corn in ‘afore ‘em ‘ere snows come and ruin my crop.” To grandpa, it was okay to have poor grammar as long as you made your point.

One year at the family reunion I listened to a relative tell about a fish he hooked. “It hit my line like, BAM!” my cousin said, trying to simulate the sound by clapping his hands in synchronization. “Like man oh man, like that was one of the gosh darn pertiest rainbow trouts I ever did feast my two blue peepers on. You know, like it actually jumped so high, to be quite honest wit’ ya, like the ol’ sun just glistened off its sides, showing every color o’ the rainbow. Why, if ev’r a pertier fish ev’r been hooked, I ain’t nev’r heerd tell of it. Must’ve been a world record!”

And he went on and on! I never did find out if he landed that fish or if it spit the hook. For the trout’s sake, I pray it was the latter.

If Grandpa had ever heard him, he would’ve said, “Make yer point, son an’ be quick ‘bout it.” Without uttering another word, Grandpa would’ve made his point. He would’ve picked up his home made pole, tackle and worms, been out of sight in a flash and, with a gleam in his eyes, gone fishing - probably for that very same rainbow trout.

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