snuff

Do you ever wonder how your dearly departed loved ones who’ve gone on long before would react in today’s world? I often think about my great-grandmother and what if by some witchy quirk I could conjure her back up today for just a visit. 

What would she think about all the modern gadgets that we take for granted — and all our wanton ways.

I can hear her “Lawsy!” exclamation as she witnesses the miracles of the Android phone and Plasma TV.

I would love to introduce her to her great-great-grandson and watch the joy spread across her face as she picked out the qualities that she had a hand in generating.

I can just imagine the outright indignation as she sits in the Walmart parking lot and spies the very scantily clad young women who’s style sense is “letting it all hang out.” Boy, would she have a good ole hissy fit. She’d be burning some young ears with lectures on modesty and the decorum of a Southern lady.

GreatGrandma was a “character” to be reckoned with in her day. She died in her late 80s when I was somewhere around 10. But her unique personality made a big impression on me. That, and all the stories that the family told me through the ages.

She was all of 5 feet tall but she seemed gigantic because she dominated a room with her essence.

The community affectionately dubbed her “Little Annie Oakley.” 

She earned that moniker by shooting the head off a snake who dared to take up residence in her flower bed. She was mighty handy with a gun, my  great-grandma.

Dad used to tell me tales of his and Grandma’s goings-on when he was a lad. Grandma was the quintessential Southern lady — on the outside, at least. Greatgrandma believed that ladies must always dress, speak and exhibit the manners of gentility. Thing was, Great-grandma had one big flaw.

You see, she had an addiction. 

She loved snuff. Yuk. Phew. 

She would bribe my dad with a nickel to run down the road to the local country store and buy her a little “fix.” He was her enabler and little hero. And he wasn’t above playing a little bribery game with his gram to get things he wanted. 

Nobody ever saw her take a pinch. It was her big secret not to be revealed by my dad until long after her death.

She lived with my grandmother and granddad. They had no clue. She was very devious and clever and thoroughly enjoyed being a snuff junkie on the QT.

Dad being a naturally inquisitive little tike, began to wonder what fascination with this brown junk held for his gram. You can guess what happened. Yes, he bought himself a tin of terror at the old country store. (They didn’t card in those days, heaven forbid.) 

Being a novice, he swallowed some of the vile brown liquid. Good thing we had a doctor cousin in the family. He was on call that night. 

Dad never owned up to the reason for his heaving and spewing but I think the doc may have figured it out. Dad said he looked inside his mouth, grinned and winked. Never ratted him out, though.

That’s what families do — stick together.

Dip is sometimes mistakenly called “chew”; because of this, it is commonly confused with chewing tobacco. It is a version of the Swedish “snus” that was brought to America by Swedish immigrants in the 19th century. Instead of literally chewing on tobacco, a small clump of dip is ‘pinched’ out of the tin and placed between the lower or upper lip and gums. The dip rests on the inside lining of the mouth for approximately 30 minutes to an hour.

 DALE LILLY is Lifestyles Editor and can be contacted at lifestyles@desototimes.com.

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