Ernest Daniel


Ernest Daniel

Ernest "Pop" Daniel

About everyone that I have ever ran into in Newton County knew my Grandpa, Ernest Daniel. George and Nellie Daniel's son, from over around Lurton. Nellie was one of the Woodard girls. Ernest Daniel was quite the fellow. When I was 2 or 3, we moved back from California and lived with Grandpa Ernest and Grandma Margaret. We only stayed a year or so, until my dad, Richard, got a job at General Motors, up in Kansas City, building cars. But we would go back down there about twice a month, and for a good part of every summer. Down to "The Mountain". That is what we always called it. My little brother, Tommy, always insisted that we weren't really in Arkansas until we turned off onto 123 in Lurton toward Mount Judea, where it turned into gravel. It made me kind of sad when they finally paved it, in 1998.

My grandparents spoiled me rotten! I was the first grandchild, and I definately ruled the roost. Grandma Margaret used to put a towel around my neck to use as a cape and play Batman and Robin with me. She also would put me in a box on top of a sheet and pull me around to polish her floors. That was my "BatMobile"! When she drove the school bus for Deer, I got to sit up beside her on the heater...and she would take me by Sain's Grocery and buy me a candy bar, if I was good (and sometimes when I wasn't!).

Grandpa bought me a baseball and a glove when I was about 4. I accidently broke a window throwing the ball. Dad wanted to tan my hide, but Grandpa wouldn't let him. He just laughed and told me to come on and help him dig some worms, because we were going fishing.

I had a big rocking horse named Blaze that I must have rode a thousand miles on. All of us kids put Blaze though his paces. I'll bet that old horse has more miles on him than most cars. I found him in the attic in Grandpa's shed a few years ago, and cleaned him up. Tommy Charles, my two year old, is riding him now. No telling where all they will travel to!

Grandpa used to do a lot of welding and metalwork for folks. He would let me come out with him, but always made sure that I didn't look at the arc. Once, we were out in the shop, and Grandpa was welding up a headgate for someone. I was looking around, everywhere but where he was welding, and saw what seemed to me to be the biggest snake in the world start coming down from the ceiling. I screamed and pointed at it, and like magic an axe appeared and cut that snake's head off.

About that same time (I was around 6), he started letting me help drive his old truck while he was feeding. He would just put it down in Granny low and let me steer it around while he got up in the back and threw out hay for the cattle. I couldn't reach the petals, but one day I decided we weren't going fast enough, so I slid down into the floorboard and tromped on the gas! After Grandpa picked himself up out of the field, he explained to me that I was just supposed to steer, and that we were going quite fast enough!

It seemed like there was always folks stopping by to visit or coming to fish in the pond. He taught me not to bang the paddle on the side of the boat, and the rule was that if you got hung up three times, you got to paddle. I always seemed to end up paddling...

The only time I ever saw him really get mad was when my brother Tommy and I were staying for a visit in the summer and we were playing a card game called "crazy 8". Grandpa left the room to get something out of the kitchen, and Tommy stacked the deck. When we started playing again, it was pretty obvious, and Grandpa threw his cards down and explained in no uncertain terms that we were NEVER to cheat at cards, EVER!!! It really upset him. He wouldn't play cards with us again for three or four days. I have never cheated at cards since.

After I was grown and working down in Russellville, I ran into a fellow from Newton County. I asked Grandpa about him, and he advised me to stay away from him, as he had seen this fellow rob someone else's limb lines some years back. He didn't hold with that kind of nonsense.

Of course, you can't talk about Ernest Daniel without mentioning that he loved to play the fiddle, and didn't need much of an excuse to do it. If he heard that someone was playing music somewhere on Friday or Saturday night, chances are that is where you would find him. Any time that I hear someone fiddling those really old tunes, I think about him.

In his later years, he started making knives. He always traded around and swapped them, but he decided he wanted to make them. All the kids and grandkids got one, of course, and most of the neighbors. He made one for a friend of mine. A fancy custom job with a stag handle and finger grips just made for the guy's hand. I think it is one of the most beautiful knives that I have ever seen. After Grandpa died, I offered my friend $500 for it. He just laughed at me and said that he couldn't replace if for five times that, but he did promise that if he ever did sell it, I'd get first chance at it.

Anyway, there is a little something about Ernest "Pop" Daniel. He died in 1991, and the world has been the less for it. At his funeral, there were more people outside the Lurton Assembly of God church than there were inside, and inside was packed full. I know that for his family, he was definately the Sun that we all orbitted around.

The above was sent in by John Daniel ...Thank You for sharing memories John!

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