“I made the wine to get the potato help. You see, everybody needed potato help. You know with plantin’ them and weedin’ them and diggin’ them, but we were too poor to pay the best wage, so instead of the extra penny or two a week I would hand out a jar of wine to every worker each Friday. That jar cost me nothing but time and meant the children could eat a little more each night.”
My grandfather is the closest I have ever come to having an icon, something to worship in the tangible. A man of few words and fewer needs, he has always been the hardest person to get to know. It was in his helping me to make what he calls “the potato help” that I feel I have finally found a way to his core. The busyness of hands, it seems, has led to the busyness of words as the once stoic man becomes a wellhead of crass humor, apologies to those already passed, and knowledge I should have to pay a lifetime of labor to learn. It is foreign to me that a man who has not planted a field in thirty years still views the wine he will not drink or sell as more precious than the dollar in his pocket.