The reason for this memory, though, is not only the actual chocolate itself, but the memory associated with it. I do love chocolate, oh, boy, do I love chocolate. But I love this memory more.
My maternal grandfather, Chandler (isn’t that the best name?) Shepherd, worked the railroad. From the time he was about 14, being large in stature, he was able to land the job he would hold dear for most of his life. Over 50 years he rode the rails. There are lovely stories about how he would rarely be home and how Grandma Luetta Violet Shepherd, would dress all the kids up in their Sunday best on payday and they would wait down at the station for the train to come through. Grandpa would tie his pay (cash) up in a bandana and toss it from the train as it came through. Then grandma would march her brood down to a local diner and there they would eat among the elite that could afford such a luxury during the depression years.
Because grandpa was rarely home, he barely knew his children. When he was home, he would address them only as girl or boy. “Come here, girl.” “Run and fetch the mail, boy.” This would have a powerful impact on his children in their adult years. But for me, on the rare occasion I was around to visit with him, this was a novelty. I liked being called simply girl. Everyone else referred to me as Becky Lyn.
My mother told me that when I was a baby, my grandfather would get out of bed at night to check on me. He would just stand over my crib and watch as I slept.
He wore one of those great big gray conductor’s jackets with all the big pockets. He always smelled of horehound candy and Old Spice. And whenever he came home, he would have a lovely, big Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar in one of those pockets. The task, for me, was to find which pocket held the sweet reward. “Come here, girl. I’ve got a Hershey’s Bar for you.” Comfortable memories. And today, when I indulge myself with one, I still smell the horehound and Old Spice and I’m being watched over by that giant of a man that rode the rails and I am still his “girl”.
LEFT: Grandpa Shepherd when he was just a boy getting ready to go fishing with his brothers! He's on the right.