Back then, fathers never told their sons they loved them


Jack D. Smith of Auburn, wrote a book about his father in 2009, titled “My Father the Ghost,” which has to do with Jack’s dad, Franklin Smith, who served as sheriff of Lawrence County, two terms from Jan. 19, 1951, to Jan. 19, 1959.

The focus of the book is about how Sheriff Smith became known as “The Ghost” because he would remain so still and quiet while staking out a still that the moonshiners would not know they were caught until they were caught.

I wrote a review of the book a couple years ago, but I was never satisfied with my review because I did not emphasize a significant chapter of the book, and it has been bothering me ever since.

I did not mention Chapter 13, titled “Speaking Personally.” It is about how it was that fathers back then did not tell their sons they loved them.

I grew up during that time and my father never told me he loved me, and, of course, I never told my father that I loved him because I was too stupid.

I resented him, too, because he never came to my team’s ball games.

In this chapter, Jack told stories about his father and why he was the way he was. After reading Jack Smith’s book, I developed a stronger relationship with my dad’s memory.

And I realized how helpful Jack’s book had been for me.

I thought there might be some more codgers out there who, like me, could benefit from Jack’s anecdotes about why his father “never said he loved me.”

Jack is retired now from the Auburn University Extension Service. He also taught newswriting in the AU Journalism Department. He lives at  2521 Middlebrook Lane and his phone is (334) 887-8205.

I’m going to send a copy of the book, and this write-up to Opie in Hollywood, if I can find his address.


Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at


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