Robert Hitt Neill column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Doots rewarded with her own song after Easter dinner

Nearly six years ago, when imminent grandparenthood was fixing to be thrust upon the Brownspur tribe of Neills, I’ve already told you about how I became The Grunk: Grandaddy Uncle Bob was too long, so became GrandUncle, then Grunkle, then Grunk.

Betsy’s childhood nickname was “Doots,” which devolved from her grandparents having emigrated from Germany, and was their name (Southernized) for a child from the old country. Her Daddy, even though he fought through World War I in the United States Army, was nicknamed “Dutch” by his hometown friends.  

When I met her at a sorority party at Ole Miss, her nametag said “Doots.”  Knowing that, the kids resurrected the title, with her consent, for her grandmother name. Therefore, we are “Doots and Grunk.”
She and I had a quiet weekend before Easter, and after supper one night I plugged in comedian Bill Cosby’s “Himself” DVD. I grew up loving those type good-taste comedy stars like Cosby, Brother Dave Gardner, the Smothers Brothers, Justin Wilson, Jerry Clower, Carol Burnett and her team, especially Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. I hope I spelt everyone correctly there.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

At any rate, we’ve not watched that video in several years – since oldest Grandboy Sean was a baby, matter of fact. We laughed until we cried at some of his routines – and our kids can do most of them from memory: “Zjumpah, Zjumpah, Zjumpah…. Noah!…. What?”  

When something stops suddenly up against something else, we say, “Wop!” from a Smothers Brothers scene. I just told son-in-law John when I handed him something, “Here, Julius, hold this,” which was a Brother Dave line. It’s ingrained in our family.

At least that was comedy you could watch with your grandmother, or your grandson, without blushing!

Easter evening, daughter B.C., John, and the Grandboys showed up for supper, and at dessert, Betsy came out with chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream, which she served on top of the cake.  

Sean (“Sir”) and I took some fresh strawberries and improved it even more, by chopping up the red berries, dripping with juice, on top of the ice cream. It was a fitting end to a typical Doots feast.

Crash, the younger Grandboy, came into the den later on with a toy he had dug out of the huge basket of Grandtoys, an echo chamber microphone that actually works pretty well, and has proven almost indestructible.

We three did our version of the Kairos Prison Ministry Favorite by Delta boy Jimmy Phillips, “The Fried Chicken Song,” to the applause of our audience, and then an encore idea hit me, left over from the Bill Cosby DVD, but it certainly applied to the dessert that we had just finished: “Doots is great, she gives us chocolate cake!”  

We kept repeating this chorus as the boys danced around their Doots, who was laughing merrily in acceptance of their praise.

Then Sean, the five-year-old, on his own added another line: “Doots is great, she gives us chocolate cake, with ice cream on the top….” I chimed in with a rhyme to complete the second verse, “and strawberries all up-chopped!”

Hey, it took me threescore years and then some to write a song! If my progeny is cranking them out at five, I’m gonna sure support him!

“Doots is great, she gives us chocolate cake, with ice cream on the top, and strawberries all up-chopped,” we sang as the boys were herded out to the car to head for home, a memorable Easter evening under their belts.

Okay, I realize that your own grandchildren were writing songs and playing the piano to accompany themselves in the studio, before they were even out of diapers. But I’m just a country boy who married the best-looking girl from a college that was famous for its good-looking girls, and mine just happened to turn out to be the World’s Best Cook as well.  

She ain’t had enough songs written in her honor yet, and if we get enough inspiration from people like Bill Cosby to make our five-year-old Grandboy start his own music-writing career honoring his Doots, then I say, “Praise the Lord! Doots is great, she gives us chocolate cake….”