Grandaddy Cat

Grandaddy Cat was likely the smartest man in North Carolina. It was him outsmarted old King Duke and put himself at the top of the heap of tobacco growers, him who made the most money a season, year after year.

So why you never hear of him? Why you see that King Duke name on university buildings and stadiums and in the tiny print on most every pack of smokes in a newsstand?

Well, on top of being smart, Granddaddy Cat was stubborn. What he knowed, he knowed and God himself could not change his mind. One thing he knowed was that men—real men—was never gonna smoke no fancy machine-rolled cigarettes. Real men smoke pipes and cigars. Always had, always would.

So when that fellow Bonsack come down here with his automatic cigarette rolling machine and try to sell it to Grandaddy Cat, why that old man don’t even let him into the house. So Bonsack goes up the road to the little King Duke house. I tell you, that house ain’t little no more. When old Duke’s grandson died last year, they donated it to the university. Now the president stays in it when he come to town.

This here is Grandaddy Cat’s house. They  fixin’ to tear it down.

 Sunday Photo Fiction



This story is based on the 2003 Ross McElwee Documentary Bright Leaves, a short film well worth watching.


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  1. Joy Pixley

    Great parable of missed opportunities due to the hero being stubborn (classic “romantic flaw”). The visual comparison of the outcomes helps illustrate that — the rundown house about to be torn down versus the fancy university president’s mansion. It’s hard to pull off a voice like this without seeming hokey but I think you did a good job of it. (Although the “they’re” in the last paragraph struck me as inconsistent.) Nicely done!

Don't just stand there.