"The Deerskin Jacket"
23 February 2010
My Dad was an outdoorsman. He was happiest when he was either hunting or fishing or simply out in the woods for whatever reason. Now do not confuse being an outdoorsman with being a hiker or a camper as he was not specifically into either of these outdoors activities, but he hiked his share to get back where the game roamed and he camped his share to be fresh and there on "opening day."
Now my Dad had 3 brothers and when I was growing up, each and every deer hunting season, my Dad with 2 and sometimes all of his brothers plus both my grandfathers and 2 of my other uncles would all go out together or at least be in the same general area hunting area. And if things went well, at dark, my Dad would pull into the front yard of your rented house and display a buck roped to the front of his 1950's Ford. The grin, the happiness, I saw on my Dad's face those years in the Ford's headlights shining right into our house, with him holding up the buck's head by the horns, rack, well, it is how I remember him now.
During those years of my youth, we lived on Woodland Avenue (strange I never made the connection between the street name and my Dad before) and along one side of the yard we had, ran a dirt road, path really, down to a single car, clapboard garage built on the edge of a pretty steep bank. And although I never remember seeing a car parked in the garage and I wonder now if the floor in it could have even supported a car, I sure remember deer hides hanging from the exposed roof joists and how they smelled so strong in the summer.
Not sure I was ever told the reason for those hides and can not remember how many in total ever hung there and never had any sort of interaction with them other than to take local kids into the shed to get a good strong whiff and see them run but one day, the hides were all gone and then suddenly, my Dad was sporting a deer skin jacket, to include lots of nice long fringe hanging down from both long sleeves. What a wondrous color it was, so soft on the eyes and to the touch and although he could not say it, as "pride" was a sin in our protestant church, you could see him just beam when he wore it. I suspect that if he had had the time and a teacher perhaps, he would have made the coat himself. I am sure, he felt like the American Indians that made their clothes from the animals they took as meat. We always ate the deer meat my Dad brought home.
Do not know of another deerskin jacket in the family and do not remember whatever happened to the one my Dad had, but do remember than one year, with some co-workers, he wore the jacket to the Virginia State Fair in Richmond and during one of the few times he drank a little too much alcohol, he spilled coffee on one arm and it stained terribly. Perhaps just my memory, but do not remember him ever wearing the jacket again.
Just a deerskin jacket. Just my Dad. Just a memory.