The Big Indian

Howdy, back for another thrill filled blog adventure I see.  Well… thrill filled is a bit of an exaggeration. 

It’s probably more along the line of, you didn’t have any thing better to do or you can’t get to sleep and you are looking for a verbal sedative. 

Well, you’ve come to the right place.  I have found in my life that we tend to find what we’re looking for.  For some, this blog will knock you out pronto and to others it could hit that internal sweet spot sending a tingle up and down your leg (I hope Chris Mathews is reading this).

As most of you know I have been on a new personal journey that started January 4, 2010 with my first blog entry.  I have been mentally meandering looking at the joys of life and trying to put into place those things that tend to trap me from experiencing more of life’s amazing gifts.

The journey has been very forward looking but the past couple of blogs I have been looking back.  I discovered a time box from my youth that my mom had assembled before she passed away. 

This is not a morbid retrospective examination of my youth but an amazing blessing of context.  An honest open look at the past periodically is important to do… as long as looking back motivates forward motion. 

So while digging in the box I found all sorts of things that stirred deep stuff… good stuff.

The Birthday Card

Maybe it was me, maybe it is characteristic of youth, who knows… but I really didn’t appreciate things then that I cherish now.  When I say things, I don’t mean tangible stuff.  Frankly we didn’t have much stuff.  I didn’t know it at the time but we were actually pretty poor.  We knew that we couldn’t afford things like other people but it didn’t seem like we were poor.  Mom and dad (especially mom) was good at keeping us from feeling poor.

One thing I absolutely cherished then and now were my Grandma and Grandpa Woods.  This was my mom’s mother (Polly) and her step-father (Frank).  They were full of life, joy, fun, and unconditional love.  I loved my father’s parents but… they were old and acted it.

Side Note:  Mom’s dad, Bennie Palmer, died when she was 8 from a ruptured appendicitis.  She, a younger sister and baby brother and grieving mother were left alone… during the Great Depression in Missouri.

My grandpa Woods came on the scene and filled the void. 


Grandpa Woods was full-blooded Cherokee Indian.  Although we were not blood related, we were his grandkids, he absolutely loved us and we him.  He was a short rotund man whos belly bounced when he laughed.  I remember him being a very hard worker. 

Because he was a full-blooded Cherokee he gave all of us kids Indian names.  And he called us by our Indian name.  I honestly believe he did not know what our real names were… seriously.

The Indian names were really cool.  My sister was “Morning Star”, my cousin was “Buffalo”, another cousin “Papoose”. 

But then there was my name.  Well, you might say it didn’t have quite the flare the other names possessed.  (Hold on, hold on, I’ll tell you in a minute)

In the time box I discovered a birthday card from my Grandpa Woods on my first birthday.  Inside he wrote….

          “To little Pumpkin Head Jerry.  From Grandpa Woods”


Pumpkin Head!  That may be cute for others but you ought to live with it.  This is especially true as a teenager.  Seriously… when we were in a store or at church he would yell across the room my name.  He did this not to make fun, he did it like anyone would to call someone’s name to get their attention.

Being called “Pumpkin Head” is especially not cool when as a 15 year old you’re talking to a girl… not fun at all!  He called us all by our Indian names into adulthood until he died.

When younger I was embarrassed.  I was concerned about what people would think and that I would look bad.  I’m not different from most folks but it’s pretty sad the focus we place on making sure we look ok to the world around us.

I have a couple of questions for you.  What do you value now that was not important when you were younger?  Is there anything that embarrassed you when you were young but now you see that it is a part of the fabric of your life that makes you who you are?  

I don’t know about you but I sure would like to hear him call me “Pumpkin Head” again. 

Signing off, see you Thursday.

Pumpkin Head

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