T-Bone, Santa, and the Refrigerator Boxes

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About Jack Varnell

Jack Varnell is a writer, poet, photographer
and social media addict living in the suburbs
of Atlanta, GA.

He is a regular contributor at
various online publications.

He can be found:
Twitter, @jackvarnell
Google Plus +Jack Varnell"
and About Me about.me


  1. Jack Reading this reminded me so much of my God Father (No Italian Connection) – and he was called Jack too.

    He was a massive man in so many ways. He was 6 feet 6 inches tall and all muscle. He had missed out on so much in life due to poverty, and that included an eduction. He made his living as he put it “At the wrong end of an idiot stick” digging holes for gas service companies.

    I often saw Jack about town with his Idiot Stick. You couldn’t miss him. He always smiled at people and always found time for people. On day I saw a guy walk up speak and then Jack climbed out of his hole and walked off with the man. Jack came back a few minutes later and picked up the Idiot Stick.

    I asked Jack about it and he told me that the guy had said he was hungry and asked for money. Jack knew the guy was an alcoholic and homeless, so he took him to a diner and bought him a meal. Jack told me there and then to never give an alcoholic money, it never helps them.

    Jack had one foible in life. It was a funny family secret that Jack vanished every Christmas morning for a few hours and then came home. One Christmas Eve he told me that I had to be up dressed and ready to go out the next morning 6.30 sharp. he would be outside in his car. I asked if it was necessary – It was Christmas. He told me to be ready – so I was.

    Jack drove all over town that morning. I was shocked at the first stop. A lonely vacant lot with a fallen over workshop. He opened the truck of the car and took out a bottle of whiskey. He then went to the collapsed building spoke to a guy and handed over the whiskey. It was evident the recipient was an alcoholic.

    Jack got back in the car and I was confused. I asked him what he was doing?

    He looked at me and smiled. As he said Alcoholics hate Christmas. All the places to buy booze are shut and they have no choice if they drink or not. DT’s are terrible and described as Rattling. It is terrible to see. He had not given the guy a bottle of whiskey, he had given him a choice on the one day of the year when that choice was taken away.

    That was so Jack giving people the gift of a choice.

    I never forgot that!

    I will never forget when Jack died. His Funeral was amazing. The Church overflowed with more than a 1000 people. Even Jack’s wife was shocked by the number of people. One guy took her hand and said what a privilege it had been to know Jack. He had been 25 years sober and had a whole new life because one Christmas Morning a Big Guy who pushed an Idiot Stick gave him the gift of a choice.

    I wish there were more Jacks about!

    • What a great story and I would be proud to have that one in my repertoire of family tales. A wise old alcoholic told me two things one day when I said the same thing about giving an alcoholic / homeless / junkie etc money. He said , ” if you are asked and have it it’s because that power greater knows your ability to give a gift, and when you give it, it is none of your business what happens after that.” Secondly, “that just might be the money that buys him his last drink or drug, and gets him on a path to his recovery..That’s none of your business either ! Now, put some legs on those prayers, boy…”

      Truly “Good Men” are everywhere, and usually don’t have to tell us how great they are. Ha, unfortunately I tend to brag about the good changes in my life too much, to fully qualify !!!

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and for the great tale. It is a treasure .

      • Jack – my Uncle Jack gave freely in his life and bestowed many gifts. He was also a most humble man. If his story is of value to others he would be very happy, whilst remaining humble. He was one hell of a guy and it was an absolute privilege for me to have him as my God Father. His funeral was some 20 years ago yesterday. Thank you for allowing me to celebrate that anniversary with a gift. He would be smiling wryly.

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