The shirt off my back

By Larry Dablemont
    Down at the pool hall when I was a kid, I heard some front bench regulars talking about the funeral they had went to. They said of the fellow being laid to rest that he was a guy who would give you the shirt off his back. I thought about how I would like to think they will say that about me at my funeral, if I was lucky enough to have one--- Some kid who lived the life I lived on the river could never be sure of that. But I thought how great it would be if I was referred to as “A kid who would give someone the shirt off his back.”

     And what do you think happened to me a week or so later when I was down on the river baitin’ my trotline? Here came two fellows in a canoe and the one in the back had no shirt on. He was getting sunburnt something terrible and it came to me than that the Good Lord had given me the chance to do something of significance maybe for the first time in my life, and I could tell the old-timers at the pool hall what I had done.
    It isn’t that I am selfish or vain…I never have been neither. I recently pointed out to a friend of mine that today I give away lots of fish to elderly folks I know on a regular basis. But he pointed out that I don’t like to eat fish and asked how many times I had given away a wild mallard, or a wild turkey or a batch of mushrooms. He had me there…I have always been a bad one to put a dime in the offering plate when I had a couple of quarters in my pocket. Well that’s the way it was when I was a kid anyway and had some quarters.
    “Fellers” I said to that shirtless canoeist as they pulled into a nearby gravel bar long ago, “ You are obviously in need of some good sunburn lotion or a good shirt.” With that I just pulled off my shirt to give it to him. It was one that had a Houston Tigers logo on it. I guess it was a little faded, but for cryin’ out loud there weren’t no holes in it as I remember. It was one of my favorites!
    He thanked me for the offer and told me I could keep my shirt… said he had his own shirt in the canoe, but just wanted to get a suntan. He added that mine looked a little small. That was back when I hadn’t got very muscular yet. They went on down the river, and I muttered under my breath that I hoped they didn’t catch one good fish the whole day. I felt guilty about that afterwards. I don’t know if it will ever be said of me, “ol’ Dablemont would give a feller the shirt off his back”! I have often looked for that opportunity but never had the chance to do it.
    But I would do that if the opportunity arose, and I think it should be noted as something I would like to have said of me at some kind of memorial service by someone who isn’t a relative. It might be a stretch to figure someone would be there who ISN’T a close relative of mine. But it doesn’t matter. I know, and the Good Lord knows that I’d give most any shirt I have to someone who didn’t have one... Except for the one my daughters gave me a couple of years back for father’s day. That one doesn’t have a stain on it.

    Thought maybe some of you readers might enjoy this little poem I wrote the other day when I sat on my screened porch and began to sweat for the first time this year and recognized that the spring of 2020 is now a thing of the past…
I was glad to see the spring come, I hoped it would last awhile.
    The hatching birds and flowers, always makes me smile.
    The breeze is warm, the fish will bite, and wildlife will be lively.
    But then before you turn around, summer will arrive.
    And there’ll be snakes and ticks and heat, that hangs on like the plague.
    ‘Cause spring’s a fleeting young beauty, and summer’s a mean old hag.

    Remember that if you need to send me a letter the address is Box 22, Bolivar, mo 65613 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. My new website is just