Happy 94th Oliver Jeffords!

Mar 8, 2012 | 3 comments

      Oliver Jeffords is my second-cousin-once-removed-in-law (I think) – related to me by his marriage into the Espy family long years ago.  He is an amazing man, not only because of his longevity but because of his totally positive attitude.  His cup is way more than half full all the time!
      Just recently, Mr. Jeffords took up creative writing.  He attended classes at the senior retirement home where he was living and several of the resulting stories were chosen for their monthly publication “Memories and Musings.”  I was deligted to obtain his permission to share this one:
                                                             Hiding in Plain Sight
                                                               By Oliver Jeffords
      I have a Charlie Chaplin ceramic music box dating back to the 1920s.  It is a valuable antique now representing the twenties; that was the most interesting era which lately has been depicted as Prohibition time.
      During this time the 18th Amendment tried to promote temperance by forbidding liquor and trying to legislate morality.  The noble experiment turned into not noble times.  It brought about speakeasies, organized crime, bootleggers and rum runners, flappers and jazz, and an econmic depression of the 1930s.  It also brought the woman’s right to vote, and the political division of Democratic wets and Republican dries.
      It was a turbulent era and my ceramic music box was a liquor decanter in disguise.  If you removed Charlie Chaplin’s derby hat, it showed a cork.  I went a step further and placed a beanbag tam-o-shanter over the derby hat and wrote a card, “Charlie Chaplin has a tam-o-shanter on his sham decanter.” It was truly a liquor hiding place in plain sight!  This was one of the many clever disguises of that era.
      By the way, the music box played…”How Dry I Am!”
      According to Mr. Jeffords’ daughter, Cheryl, the back-story is the funniest part of all.  “He bought ‘Charlie’ at a second-hand store as a gift for my mother, a teetotaler, for her music box collection.  Neither one of them realized it was a wine decanter!”
      That discovery was made by a friend a number of years later.  ‘Charlie,’ who cost Mr. Jeffords $10, has been appraised for $400.  I can’t help but add, though, that the resulting story by this 94-year-old retired Agricultural Engineer and Drainage Expert is… priceless!
      Have a great birthday, Mr. Jeffords!  And keep those stories coming!


  1. Nancy

    Delightful story, as written by Mr. Jeffords and as shared by Mrs. Stevens. Loved reading it! And yes, Mr. Jeffords, keep those stories coming!

  2. Cousin Ralph

    Thanks for the awesome tribute to Dad!

  3. Jo

    What a wonderful story. His writing paints a picture, easy to imagine without a picture. Happy Birthday Mr. Jeffords.


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