The Orphan and his family lived in very different worlds than the worlds lived in by his friends and their families, and because of those different worlds The Orphan always had to be able to change and move quickly between the worlds.
The Orphan’s world was one of transition from agrarian life to city life and this world was filled with love and approval by The Mother and The Daddy (except when he metamorphosed from The Daddy -- the Dr. Jekyll role -- to The Forbidding Giant -- the Mr. Hyde role).
From the beginning The Mother nurtured The Orphan and tried to teach him skills and right things – but as she had been taught them, of course. The Mother was still nurturing and trying to teach The Orphan in the year 2003, well into her 93rd year.
The Daddy was almost always in his Dr. Jekyll role and, after The Orphan was older, he took The Orphan on what seemed like a million fishing trips to places like Dacus Camp and The Old Run of The Mississippi River in Arkansas, and Sardis Lake and Tunica Cutoff in Mississippi, where a flat bottomed boat would be rented and would be
sculled to good fishing places by the mighty arm of The Daddy.
When The Orphan was even older, The Daddy would take him on trips by automobile to many places. Much later The Orphan would take The Daddy on trips to places like New Orleans and Hawaii. The Daddy loved The Orphan and The Orphan loved The Daddy – except during a Mr. Hyde “…whuppin'…”
The worlds of all of The Orphan’s friends were very different. They were worlds of sophistication, wealth and education.
The Orphan’s friends’ mothers played bridge, went to teas and presided over formal dinners – which The Orphan was often invited to – but had to use “manners” – one could not lick one’s fingers. The mothers liked The Orphan and were always gracious and tolerant of the different world of The Orphan. The Orphan, because of his intense
curiosity and strong work ethnic, was often considered “…a good influence…” on his male friends – or “…a fine catch…” for his female friends.
The Orphan’s friends’ fathers had professions and wore suits to work. Some of them were bewildered and amazed by The Orphan and all of his work and learning activities, and would exhibit curiosity as to his spawning. All of the fathers liked the Orphan. Mr. Cox once warmed the heart of The Orphan by telling a friend – unaware that
The Orphan was within earshot,
“…That boy will amount to something and will succeed in life…” Mr. Cox had a better opinion of The Orphan than most of The Orphan’s relatives.
So, in spite of the long relationship with the family Cox, because of their different worlds neither Mr. nor Mrs. Cox nor The Gail would ever meet or see The Orphan’s Mother or Daddy – but they did meet The Orphan’s spoiled younger brother David Ray.
Mrs. Cox, who had a great influence over the development of the “social skills” of The Orphan, was an anomaly because she would deal only with The Real Granville. Mrs. Cox would never acknowledge The Little Orphan Granny. When The Orphan was on stage, it was as if he were not there. It was only when The Real Granville emerged from
hiding (the coward) that Mrs. Cox would be able to interact.
The Real Granville (arrogant sissy) relished this situation:
“…Orphan, see why you are an orphan. It is always me who is important when something really meaningful occurs and you must know that you exist only for my amusement…”
However, the next time a tense situation arose for The Real Granville, he hid, kicked The Orphan in the butt and said,
”…Orphan, see why you are an orphan. Go and protect The Real Granville for he is your only friend…” The Orphan was not sure of this truth, for The Real Granville was a friend who hid while The Orphan was striving mightily. But at least The Real Granville was always there – unless he was pouting.
Southern Belles have a rigorous program of social arts and skills that must be acquired regardless of the presence of any talent. So, in addition to piano lessons, it became time for The Gail to learn art and to learn to paint. Mrs. Cox enrolled The Gail into painting classes at The Memphis Art Academy.
The Orphan, of course, “walked” The Gail to her art classes and of course The Orphan went into the class to see what an art and painting class looked like. The Orphan observed people with burnt matchsticks (called charcoal sticks) “…sketching…” things they were looking at. The Orphan thought sketching looked to be great fun and – not
knowing that The Memphis Art Academy was not a free service as was The Cosset Public Library or Memphis Central High School – appropriated a charcoal stick and a piece of paper and started sketching an ancient ceramic canning jar and a ceramic demijohn.
After several classes, one of the teachers finally came to The Orphan and said,
”…We do not know you – are you a student? …” The Orphan proudly said, “…yes, I am a student…” since he had been going to school for many years.
There was much consternation as to exactly what The Orphan was, but then the teacher said,
”…That is an excellent sketch…you have a talent and you should enroll to study painting…”
The Orphan, embarrassed and ashamed as he learned that this school cost money, said,
“…But I have no funds…”
After studying the sketch, the teacher said,
“…We will permit you to audit this class and here are some brushes and oil paints and you should paint a picture of the ancient ceramic canning jar and ceramic demijohn you have sketched…”
The Orphan then painted with oils on canvas a picture of the ancient ceramic canning jar and ceramic demijohn and the art teacher praised the painting.
Then the art teacher said to The Orphan “…you should now paint a picture with oils using colors…” and the art teacher arranged a greenish vase-like thing with two apples and said ‘…you should paint that…”
The Orphan then painted with colored oil paints on a canvas a picture of the greenish vase-like thing with two apples and was again praised.
These were the only two pictures that The Orphan painted at The Memphis Art Academy because The Gail’s class was finished. The Gail’s paintings were Dali-like things and did not collect the same level of praise collected by the paintings of The Orphan.
When The Orphan told the art teacher goodbye and thanked her for her instruction, she cried,
“…but you must stay because you paint well…” The Orphan had to demur.
The art teacher called The Mother of The Orphan and pled to have The Orphan continue his art studies. The Mother, who did not have in her plan for her favorite child the profession of artist, was of no help. The art teacher cried.
Thus did The Orphan also study art and learn to paint oil pictures.
There was also an eighty-pound mass of flexible muscle named Peggy Holden who was a customer of The Orphan in his role as Independent Contractor Paperboy. She called The Orphan “…Grenville…” – with a slight lisp.
One afternoon, as The Orphan was collecting the weekly fees of $.35 from customers, Peggy Holden approached The Orphan and said all in one breath,
“…My adagio partner has abandoned me and I need a new partner who is strong, agile, brave, reliable and who will mind…and Marjorie Duckett will give you free ballet, tap and adagio lessons…”
The Orphan was agog and said,
“…Little girl, what is an adagio…?”
Mistake. Out spewed,
”…I am not either a little girl. I am a dancer and I can lean over backwards and look at you through my legs and maybe you aren’t strong enough to do adagio – which requires you to lift me and throw me in the air while smiling serenely…”
The Orphan said,
“…I am mighty but I do not wish to do sissy stuff like ballet and stuff in a tutu…”
Again a spew of,
“…You know not of what you speak. Ballet and adagio are more grueling than any baby work you have ever done and you will have to get in shape…and I can see you are interested…”
Peggy was correct. The Orphan went to Marjorie Duckett’s School of Dancing and found what it was like to be achingly sore for weeks until he was in shape.
The Orphan danced adagio with Peggy Holden at talent shows at Memphis Central High School while Elvis Aaron Presley was gyrating close to the moral wall as he sang in talent shows at Humes High School. (Much later, The Orphan was to be quite surprised in 1954 while listening to the radio, when he heard “…you ain’t nuthin’ but a hound
dog…” being blared out by that Presley guy. The Orphan remembered hearing him practice in the garage next door to one of The Orphan’s many girl friends.)
The Orphan’s wondrous new learning and many new friends resulted in new adventures.
The Orphan was “hired” (for no pay) to be in both the dancing chorus and singing chorus of performances at The Memphis Open Air Theater (MOAT) in Overton Park. The Orphan danced in Miss America where the real Miss America of 1951, Yolande Betbeze, was the star, and was also allowed to sing in Brigadoon,
for the chorus was very large.
The Orphan was included in plays by the social club of The Gail and wore Egyptian costumes. The Orphan was included at parties and dances that were hosted by parents of The Group. The Orphan was in a happy daze of a full life and was feeling smug.
However, one of the friends of George Hearn, the archer and singer of renown, was The David Nunnally who, in spite of being the most intelligently arrogant bastard The Orphan had ever met (and that is still true today),
became a useful acquaintance of The Orphan. When The Orphan was feeling too smug, a
visit to David Nunnally would promptly deflate him.
Thus The Orphan learned more of the so-called finer arts: painting with oils, dancing ballet, tap and adagio, and performing on stage (a concept dear to The Orphan all of his life), along with table manners, playing the piano and listening to opera music.
Alas -- all of these adventures – even reading for pleasure -- would completely stop – but not girls – never girls -- for five years when The Orphan was deported to Engineering College at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Some of them were to stop forever.