Meet the Lites – Daddy
Good morning, y’all. I tell you what, it’s so hot that Mulva bought a loaf of white bread over to the Walmart and it had turned to toast by the time she got home. I reckon we’ll be having BLT’s for lunch today with fresh tomatoes from the garden.
Today we’ll climb up the branches of the Lite family tree.We’re going to go up one level, to a stout limb called Daddy. Bocephus Buford Lite, or Bo Lite to his family and friends, came into this life in 1923. He was born on a farm with seven siblings, four boys and four girls in all. He was the baby boy, and by all accounts, spoiled rotten. He was clever and funny and used his talents to avoid as many chores as he could. He grew up during the Depression. The times were very hard, and everyone was supposed to pull their weight. Aunts and Uncles relate that Daddy did the minimal required to avoid a switchin’ and pursued his own interests.
When the CCC came to our area, Daddy took a job for some spending money. As it turns out, he learned some journeyman skills in construction. His CCC experience came in handy when he was drafted into the Navy in WWII and was placed in the SeaBees. Prior to leaving for the war, Daddy married Mom. He was eighteen and she was fourteen. Fourteen was young even by mountain standards, and they had to go over to South Carolina were it was legal. Daddy used to say, “we were going to Greenville, but got to Aiken and had to stop”. I was older before I got the joke, but it was a joke that has played out as a tragedy for all of us.
The SeaBees were the Navy version of the “C”onstruction “B”attalion. Their job was to provide infrastrucure to the U.S. occupying forces as the U.S. retook hostile territory. Driving a ‘dozer with a rifle in one hand was a skill Daddy had to learn for survival. Everyone is changed by war, and Daddy was no exception. Daddy brought back a vice from the war, and a constant reminder of where he had been. The vice was gambling, the reminder was a full torso tattoo of Buddha with Buddha and Daddy sharing the same belly button.
I don’t know how long that tattoo took, but it was done while the SeaBees were tasked with building infrastructure outside of Hiroshima. There were people who wanted to measure the effectiveness of the Atomic bomb, and the SeaBees built Quonset huts for them to live and work in. Now, from personal experience I know that a tattoo of that complexity would have taken some time, and there’s no telling how many rads of radiation Daddy got while he was stationed there. While I’m curious about exposing so many of our own servicemen to a known painful death sentence, I’m equally curious about what Daddy was saying by the Buddha tattoo.
Daddy wouldn’t talk about it, and maybe he was drunk the whole time and doesn’t remember. It does seem to me like he could have gotten a smaller tat, and maybe bought a little Buddha statue for the mantle. Anyway, Bo Lite came back home, and brought with him two constant reminders of WWII. For the rest of his life, Daddy was addicted to gambling. The tattoo that prompted some folks to call him Buddha behind his back, was also a sign that Daddy was not “right”, when he came back home.
Well, I feel like I been chewed up and spit out. All of this remembering is painful. I’m gonna head back over to Number Two before Mulva sends out a search party. We’ll catch up with Daddy tomorrow.