Quite a Character

December 18, 2009
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When my grandparents were first married, my great- grandfather planned to mow the front lawn. Papa, as his grand and great- grandchildren called him, had one very old lawn mower in his garage. He took out the lawn mower and began to mow the yard. After 5 yards or so, the mower slowly puttered to a stop. He went into the garage, dug out his tools, and continued to fix up the mower. Then, he filled it up and started off again. He went another 4 or 5 yards, and it puttered to a stop. Again he fixed it up and checked the oil. The mower came to life and went on its way across the yard. Once again it stopped. This time Papa was not going to fix it. He went in to the garage and brought out some gas. He poured the gas all over the lawn mower. Then, he flicked a lit match onto the mower, and the mower went up in flames. Papa then proceeded to go to the store to buy a new lawn mower. Papa was quite the character because of his compassion, determination, and humor.

Ladonal (L.D.) Pinter was born on Sept. 17, 1907 or “19-7” as he called it. His grandfather had come to the United States from Germany and lived in Georgia. He was born in Mississippi to Luke and Lou Ella Pinter. He was the 2nd oldest of 6 brothers and 5 sisters. In 1935 at the age of 26 L.D. married Claudine Hillman who was only 18 years old. L.D. had three daughters: Patsy, Martha, and Nancy. They all lived in Union, MS which is east of Jackson, Mississippi. L.D. was not a well educated man. He worked for the Illinois Central Railroad and the Mississippi State Hospital. Papa had dark skin; it was a red-brown like the color of a brick. When he died, his skin was like leather from working outside his whole life. Patsy describes him as having “great big hands”. Papa was physically strong, but he was also strong willed. “L.D. Pinter was bigger than he really was.”

L.D. Pinter was brought up in an inexpressive family. “Papa doesn’t remember his parents telling him he loved him. It made it hard for him to show love,” said Patsy. “My mother used to get her feeling hurt because he wouldn’t show his love for her.” At about the age of 40, Ladonal accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. From then on, he was a different man. He became a gentle and caring person. Patsy remembers back when most people didn’t have cars, Papa would drive people free of charge to town and to see the doctor. “Papa would do anything for his children.” Patsy remembers. She recollects a time when her 2nd grade class held a beauty pageant charity event. Each student would collect money from people who wanted to donate, and the winner of the beauty pageant was the person with the most money. Patsy won, but she needed an evening gown. At the time, Patsy’s mother had recently given birth to Patsy’s younger sister, Nancy, so her mother was unable to make her a dress. Subsequently, Papa decided to make the dress himself. L.D. cared very much about his family. He had his harsh moments, but he was “an old softy” on the inside.

Papa Pinter was funny in his own ways sometimes in ways he didn’t mean to be. “Jackson had changed a two-way street into a one-way street. Papa didn’t know this when he went into town, and turned the wrong way down the street. When a police officer pulled him over, he said, ‘Sir, you can’t go down this way,’ and Papa replied, ‘Oh, I think I can,’ and drove off. The officer never gave him a ticket,” said Patsy. Later on when he had grandchildren, he took his grandson, Mark, to a church sing with him. Now, Papa loved to sing but was not a good singer. He would sing loud and off key. Mark did not want to sing for the church so Papa sang with him. They sang “I’ll Fly Away”. Mark remembers this as an embarrassing moment as a child but would give anything to sing with him today. Also, when Papa went to visit his brother, Papa would sing with him. “Once, he asked me to record them singing so that he could sing at his own funeral,” Patsy remembers.

Ladonal Pinter did not give up easily. He grew up with many hardships growing up and as an adult. Growing up, Ladonal’s father demanded so much of him. L.D. raised his family during both world wars and the Great Depression, yet Papa did not give up. When Papa worked for the railroad, he worked on building and fixing the railway on the bridge. One of his co-workers was picking up a piece of lumber and knocked Papa off the bridge. This bridge was over a wide ravine, and Papa landed on his feet, jamming his spine. For a long time, L.D. couldn’t walk or work, but he never gave up. He was forced to stay in bed for long periods of time. To get money for his family, he sold his farm and moved in with his mother-in-law for about 2 years. He also filed a lawsuit against the railroad company, and he received some money from them. Still, Papa was not able to help his family financially for many years. After his back healed, he built his family a house. Odysseus confronted many hardships while trying to get home, yet Odysseus kept going and never lost hope. For this reason, Papa is a hero.

Ladonal Pinter died in 1999 at the age of 92. He had touched the hearts of his whole family with his kindness and character. Papa was a great man to would give an arm and a leg for his daughters whether it was a dress or something as simple as food. “Papa would’ve done anything for his family,” says Patsy. His heart was as soft as butter when he was around his family. He is a hero because of his benevolence and perseverance. He brought joy and humor with him where ever he went. Papa was quite the character.

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