" 'Moore, I hear you throwed the Armenian.'
" 'Yep, I did!'
" 'Well, so did I. We got to wrestle.'
" 'No. I'm going to see my girl. These are new trousers.' "
His brother Archie appeared, to hold Grandad's shirt, indemnify his trousers against damage and take bets.
"So I throwed Big Alec twice. And then he was hot and wanted to fight in the streets. And I couldn't get my shirt back from Arch because the bets were going higher. I liked that girl, but I missed her that night, with my knuckles all stove in."
He liked a lot of girls. When he was 20, he went to Carlisle, Pa., where in later years he would watch Jim Thorpe play football. "I wove the first piece of silk made in the mill there. It was downtown in the big store, with my name up alongside it." In Carlisle he met Gertrude Lloyd, a girl of delicate features and glossy chestnut hair. "She had sisters who died of consumption," said Grandad. "She said to me, 'Let's wait five years. If I haven't got consumption by then, we can marry.' "
Grandad's reply was characteristically blunt. " 'Five years!' I said. 'I ain't going to stick around here that long.' " They corresponded, and he went back to Carlisle three years later, to bury her after she, too, had died of tuberculosis. Still later, he named his first son Lloyd, after her.
In February of 1898, when Grandad was 21, the battleship
was blown up in Havana harbor and the Spanish-American War began. "I went down to Philadelphia to enlist, but my teeth turned me down," said Grandad. "I thought, well, they won't be so particular in the South." So began an odyssey through freight yards, railroad camps, barges and boiler rooms that was to last only four years but took many lake crossings to tell to his grandsons.
"First, I had all my teeth pulled out. I got to New Orleans and the doctor said, 'Why you're as sound a young buck as I ever seen, but I've got to look in your mouth,' and it turned out they were just as particular as in Philadelphia."