GOODBYE FAMILY HEIRLOOMS

Table

© 2018 Bill Murphy

Today, another heirloom from the Murphy’s past has exited the scene, stage left. I had mixed feeling about this one, both sad and glad.

A few years after my Carthage grandparents passed away, their beloved old barn was torn down.  Now that was a relic to be sure.  My Dad helped split the cedar shingles which formed its roof.  As a child, all the young Carthage-Cousins practically lived in that old barn.  Knowing it was to be demolished was like seeing an old friend on his death bed.  Before the barn was no more, I removed dozens of those worn and weathered cedar shingles.  I still have many of them… kept as unusual, but treasured keepsakes – heirlooms if you will.

This very morning, a formal dining room table which had been among the first pieces of furniture my parents acquired after marriage, left my possession – sold in a yard sale.

Mom and Dad married in the mid 1930s.  Dad was working for Jitney Jungle.  One of their customers, who owned a moving and storage business, approached my father with an offer.  He explained that several years back, a local doctor put an elegant dining room suite into storage.  Now they’d moved away, and could not be reached.  He needed the room, so… would Dad be interested in buying it?  He did.  For only $35.

This was NOT particle board and veneer furniture… but GOOD stuff.  Included was 6 padded chairs, the table with 2 extensions, felt table pads, plus a china cabinet and large buffet.  All for $35.  I sat for 19 Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations around that table while living at home… and many more after moving away.  Yes, I had a fond attachment for it.

After the deaths of Mom and Dad, it became mine.  As nice and elegant as it was, it really wasn’t 100% practical.  The legs were large, and the ornate lower bracing seemed to always get in the way.  Coupled with those tree-trunk-like legs, it could be annoyingly uncomfortable.  When Carol and I moved to Illinois, we put the thing in storage!  One of our daughters attempted to use it, but soon discovered it’s annoying ways.  She bought a new set, and back into storage the treasure went.

This weekend, we’re having a yard sale.  We decided that its about time to part company with this uncomfortable heirloom from the past.  A couple paid $75 of the table and chairs… more than doubling Dad’s original investment.  I think he would have been proud.

 

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MY DRUG OF CHOICE

 

BreakfClubBlueBill Murphy ©2018

Today we live in a drugged society.  I’m on 5 medications myself.  The problem is with what are called ‘recreational drugs.’  Most folks today have no perception of our  practically drug-free 1940s utopia.

But we did have drugs in the 40s.  The number one drug of choice was nicotine.  And yet, my family was practically unaffected by this drug.  Of my 28 aunts and uncles, I knew of only one uncle who smoked.  My maternal grandfather had a corncob pipe (which I now have), but I never witnessed him smoking it.  And for a while, my maternal grandmother dipped snuff.  I’m so thankful that my upbringing helped me dodge the nicotine bullet!

The second most prevalent 1940s drug was alcohol.  And again, my family was largely untouched by this free-flowing drug.  At the very end of our street was the Night Owl Cafe, a neighborhood ‘watering hole’ which sold beer.  I only set foot in the place one time in the 19 years I lived on Evergreen… and that time was to get change to ride the city bus.  However, I did taste my first beer when I was 5… when my mother gave me a tiny sip of the nasty brew she was instructed to drink… as an aid in milk production… when my sister was a baby.  Crazy, huh?

The third drug of choice, and the one on which I was soon hooked, was caffeine… served hot, administered orally, suspended in delicious coffee.  My snuff-dipping grandmother lived next door.  By the time I was two, Mamaw Fairchild would stand at her back door, and Mom would watch for ours ‘s, as I toddled across the driveway and along the well worn path to Mamaw’s.

Mamaw’s kitchen was tiny.  Her small table was pushed against the rear wall, allowing for only 3 chairs around the table.  And there we’d sit, almost everyday, enjoying one another’s company while eating hot buttered toast and drinking coffee liberally laced with sugar and milk – while listening to Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club on the radio.

In my case, that happy morning ritual of 75 years ago got me thoroughly hooked on coffee.  The positive reinforcement that coffee, Mamaw, and Don McNeill gave my psyche was solidly welded in place.

Mamaw Fairchild has been gone for decades, as has Don McNeill.  Gone also is that tiny kitchen… that cherished haven of contentment.  But what has not faded are those valued memories.  Today, each sip of coffee, takes me back to those wonderful, carefree days of childhood… back to when we danced in our minds around the breakfast table, with Don McNeill.  Good Morning Breakfast Clubbers… I’ll drink to that!

 

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REMEMBERING GRACE METHODIST CHURCH

Grace Church copy

©2018  Bill Murphy

Grace Methodist Church sat diagonally across the street from George Elementary School, on the north/west corner of Winter and Union streets.  Why is it that you fail to take a snapshot of those people or places you most want to remember?  Above is a photo taken by my mother sometime in the very late 40s, of a George School activity.  I suppose I’m in there somewhere.  Behind us is the old church building, before it was remodeled in the early 50s.  The parsonage is immediately to the right.  The white frame structure to the far left is the adjoining Sunday School rooms.

Grace was a neighborhood church, with no church parking lot.  There was ample parking on the streets for those who drove.  I walked to church many times.

This was my home church for my first 19 years.  Dad was on the Board of Stewards, and Mom was Superintendent of the Primary Department.  I sang in the choir when in high school.

Our family was always there – dependable, we were.  Sometimes we did miss a Sunday or two, but only for a valid reason… such as vacations.  Driving to Quebec, lower Florida, Vancouver, or deep into Mexico… on those pre-interstate 2 lane highways, you needed all the travel time available.  But our family attended church as we traveled – so that my sister and I could still be in the perfect attendance category.  One Sunday morning in Utah, we couldn’t find a Methodist Church anywhere – so we attended a Mormon service held in the Bryce Canyon Lodge.

I dearly loved Grace Methodist Church.  I am who I am today largely because of the instruction, foundation and examples I received from Grace Church.

I’m blessed to have participated in many memorable, spirit-filled, soul-jarring, life changing worship services in other churches over the years, yet I can truthfully say that none of those ‘pinnacle’ services compare to a typical service at Grace Church.  How? Why?

Because Grace Church was what it was!  I miss those wonderful days there, the place we thought of as “God’s House.”  We considered it to be a Holy Place.  And why did we feel this way and why did we feel such awe in simply entering the building?  Because… as small kids, we were taught that it was not just a building.  We were taught that it was “The House of God,” as if He dwelled there!  We learned to reverence it, respect it, and love it.  It was special… very, very special.  And because of this, we expected Him to be there with us and among us each time we entered that Holy place.

Were we lied to?  Was this some adult trick or ploy to make us behave?  Hardly.  Scripture plainly tells us that where two or three are gathered together in His name, then He is there! (Matthew 18:20).  And we knew to respect and reverence not only His presence which actually was there, but also His ‘house.‘  It was all real, very real.

Grace church was never locked when I was a child.  It was alway open to those who wished to enter, to feel His presence and love, to come kneel and pray.  There was a water fountain in the hallway of the ‘education’ department… and on hot summer days, we kids often entered the church to cool off and drink.  Although just a hot and sweaty pack of 8, 10, or 12 year olds, our parents may as well have been watching over our shoulders.  When we passed over the threshold, our very countenance transformed, automatically.  Why?  Because we knew to respect and to reverence that place, be it Sunday morning during church service or Tuesday afternoon.  We had been taught to give honor where honor was due… and God’s ‘house’ was due our honor and respect!  We neither talked loud nor ran in the hallways.  We had ingrained respect for where we were – because we’d been taught to have that respect.

I appreciate those life-lessons more and more each day that I live.

We didn’t have a ‘praise and worship leader’ at Grace Church.  But we had praise… and we had worship.  We had both in bountiful measure.  We had a choir director, but his duty was to direct the choir, not to serve as a cheer-leader.  We didn’t require a cheer-leader, because we knew that God was there, in our midst.  One could not help but feel His presence.  It was easy to worship Him at Grace Church.  This was His House!  And we respected it.  We hallowed it.  I think that it was this ‘attitude’ of respect and reverence that we brought with us to church that made it so easy, so natural, to worship.  We passed through the door expecting to meet Him inside!  And we were never disappointed!

My very favorite memories of Grace Church were the Sunday night services.  After 2 or 3 songs, and the announcements were read, the pastor gave his message.  Then we sang another hymn.  The lights were lowered, giving one just enough illumination to see, and then the pastor told us that the altars were open for those who wished to come and pray.  I always went forward.  There, in that darkened and quiet time, in that Holy place, it was as if I was not among dozens, but rather, alone with God.  It was so easy to feel His presence, His loving hand on my shoulder, His breath on my cheek.  It was just the two of us.  I worshiped Him.  And He filled my young heart with His presence, and His love.  It was like Heaven on earth.  I treasure those memories.  To think that the creator of the universe paused long enough to spend quality time with me!  A reverent soul is but putty in the hands of God.

Alas… Grace Church is no more.  Even the new building grew old… and time marched ever onward.  Folks prospered and moved away to bigger and better things.  Due to his strong work-ethic, Dad continued to get promotions at Jitney Jungle.  He and Mom moved away from Evergreen, to a larger, nicer home in north/east Jackson.  The congregation of Grace Church began to dwindle… until it was no more.  Sitting unused and uncared for, the leaking roof began to collapse.  A few years ago, the building was leveled.  Where the House of God once stood, and where heaven once opened its doors to a young boy… is now but a vacant lot.

Grace Church may be gone – but Grace Church is not forgotten!  Not in this heart anyway.

 

 

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Uncle Earle’s Half-Uncle

Earl.MayThe following story is a 2-part chapter from a collection of fictitious stories about my imaginary Uncle Earle and Aunt May.  I presented the first part on this blog around a year ago.  Last night, I took the 2nd part of this story to my writer’s club meeting – but I realized that the first part of the story is necessary to explain the second.  Therefore, I’m including both parts in this posting, in case you may have missed the first part.

 

UNCLE EARLE’S HALF UNCLE, Part One

Uncle Earle’s Grandpa Clovis settled in Tennessee.  Not Memphis or Nashville, but way out in the sticks – a place so remote, as they say, sunshine had to be piped in.  Grandpa Clovis married late in life, just after he’d started a little pig and tobacco farm.  Back in those days you didn’t hire farm hands, you had ‘em!  So Grandpa Clovis married Adeline Wilson… and started up a family of farm-hands.  While Adeline was expecting their first child (it turned out to be a girl), he built a simple, but comfortable, ‘dog trot’ house for his growing family.

A dog trot was like two houses joined together.  They shared one big floor, and one roof covered both.  The two ‘house’ areas were separated by an open hallway that ran front to back.  Because there were no doors on the ends of this ‘hallway,’ yard dogs simply trotted through, hence the name.  Bedrooms were on one side and the kitchen and sitting areas on the other.  Of course the privy was out back, as this was way before inside plumbing.  Grandpa Clovis expected to have a large family, so he built a three holer.  The first 3 children were girls, who unfortunately, don’t usually make the best field hands.

About that time, Grandma Adeline’s younger sister Elvira married a fine hunk of a man from the next county.  Rudolph, Rudolph Benson was his name, and he worked at the saw mill just over the ridge from the dog trot.  The old saw mill had seen better days.  It had been powered by a rickety, wood burning steam engine.  The mill owner complained about burning up all the profits fueling the steam engine – so his remedy was replacing the wood burner with an old T- Model Ford.  The old Ford had been wrecked, so he replaced the radiator, took off the wheels, put it up on blocks, and began powering the mill with that old Ford.

Like I said, the old sawmill was in sad shape.  The apparatus that fed logs into that big spinning saw blade needed manual assistance.  And like I said, Elvira’s new husband Rudolph was a hunk of a man.  By default, he became the log pusher, manhandling a rough-cut 4 x 4 ram.  If you’ve ever used a table saw, it’s the same principle.  When you’re not careful, the spinning blade can kick the wood back at you.  This is exactly what happened to Rudolph.

The day started out badly.  It was cold, damp and foggy.  It took quite a while to get the old Ford started.  Rudolph got a bad splinter picking up his 4 x 4 ram.  (He’d left his work gloves at home.)  As he was feeding the first log of the day into the saw… it kicked back violently.  The log struck Rudolph squarely in the chest.  The blow crushed his chest like an egg, killing him instantly.  The log hurled him backward, slamming him into the T- Model, rupturing the gas tank.  The gasoline splashed all over Rudolph and everything else for six feet in all directions.  Because of the nip in the air… they had a fire going in a 55 gallon drum nearby.  With a sudden WHRRRRRRUMPHHH… everything exploded in a fireball.  It consumed Rudolph, the old T-Model, the mill itself, everything.

Everyone escaped, except Rudolph.  After the fire cooled, all that remained of Elvira’s poor husband was a few brittle bits of bone, charred to a snowy white.  Perhaps this was a blessing.  Elvira was so attached to Rudolph that she’d have found it exceedingly difficult to let him go.  Now there was precious little left to hold on to.

After the funeral, Clovis and Adeline invited the grieving Elvira to move in with them for a while.  Grandpa Clovis converted one of the rooms on the kitchen side of the house into an apartment for her.  ‘For a while’ stretched into years, and years, and more years.  The three of them lived in that old house for the remainder of their days.  But it wasn’t long before the grieving widow and hospitable sister were sharing more than just the kitchen and privy.  It wasn’t long before the yard dogs weren’t the only ones trotting back and forth through the hallway.  Over the years Grandpa Clovis and his wife Adeline raised six kids in that old house, and Grandpa Clovis and Elvira, (his wife’s sister), raised five.

“Clovis was no better ‘n a dog his-self,” raved Aunt May when she first heard the story. “DOG TROT was a fittin’ name, that’s fer sure!”

Uncle Earle’s father was Clovis’ six child by his legal wife Adeline.  And Uncle Earl’s favorite uncle, Edward, was the third child of Clovis and Elvira.  So because those two boys were HALF brothers, Uncle Earle just naturally considered Edward to be his HALF-uncle.  It makes sense to me!

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UNCLE EARLE’S HALF-UNCLE, Part Two

Uncle Earle received a letter from relatives in Tennessee, saying they’d just buried his favorite Uncle, his Half-Uncle Edward.  And… the letter also said that, at the same time, they’d also buried Edward’s wife, Connie.

Now Edward’s burial came as no surprise.  The old gent was way past ninety.  What came as a surprise was the burial of Aunt Connie.  Uncle Earle KNEW she’d been dead for fifteen years or more!  The letter contained a long newspaper clipping, which explained some of these strange circumstances.  Uncle Earl knew about Edward and Connie’s early years.  It took some digging to turn up the story of their latter years.

It seems that after the eleven ‘dog trot kids’ were grown, they moved away, all that is but Edward.  He stayed on and looked after the old threesome until they died.  2 years after the last one passed away, the old place burned.  By then Edward was thirty-seven, and ready to look for a wife himself.

Down the road lived the family of a staunch Baptist minister who presided over no less than three small congregations in the area.  His eldest daughter, Connie, was the conscripted organist/pianist for all three churches.  I suppose that 4 Sunday Services each week (one of the churches met Sunday Mornings and Sunday Nights) and 3 mid-week services a week were a bit much for Connie.  It didn’t take a crowbar to pry her away from her family.  After the wedding she and Edward promptly moved to the other side of the mountain, too far away to be the three-church organist/pianist anymore.

What Connie may have lacked in physical beauty she more than made up for in inner beauty.  As if in reward for caring for his elderly parents, Edward was blessed with the grandest wife a man could hope to find.  Although they never had children of their own, their home was a haven of love and joy to every child in the area, and for friends and neighbors alike.  And then tragedy struck.

Connie was stricken with a rare and incurable liver disease.  Edward was positively devastated.  I suppose Edward had heard his mother, Elvira, talk about the loss of his father, and all the pain caused.  As he approached the loss of his beloved Connie, Edward could not imagine that eventual reality.

Now Edward often hunted and fished with a strange recluse who lived in the next ‘hollow.’  Folks in the area called the ole fool Wild Bill.  He was a wild unpredictable half-wit… the often result of backwoods inbreeding.  But Wild Bill was an expert fisherman, and a crack shot.  His humble dwelling was filled with game trophies… a large mouth bass, seemingly as large as a tuna, adorned one wall.  There were snarling bobcats, dainty foxes, rabbits, squirrels, deer heads, and even a large black bear standing erect and threatening.  On a table near his front door was his pride and joy, a large bullfrog holding a lamp, the first animal he’d ever done.  Wild Bill was an amateur, yet quite proficient, taxidermist.

“Earle, one a these days I wanna to do me a person,” Wild Bill had once confided to Edward.

Connie lived only 3 months after her diagnosis.  By then, Edward had made his decision.  Like good economy, supply was ready to satisfy demand.

When you live as far back in the sticks as these people, the niceties of civilized law and custom aren’t always followed.  Few had birth certificates.  Death certificates were practically unheard of.  So Edward convinced everyone that Connie didn’t want a viewing… that she wanted everyone to remember her as she was in life.  She died at home, in Edward’s arms.

Edward built a pinewood coffin, beautifully varnished and waxed… and with brass fittings.  It was fitting tribute to his beloved Connie.  Into this farewell box he carefully laid several bags of sand… and nailed it shut.  The afternoon of her death, he and Wild Bill ‘did’ Connie.

Of course, a human doesn’t have the same hide or hair as a bass or rabbit.  So when finished, Connie left a bit to be desired.  Edward had to apply a LOT of make-up, causing her to look not at all unlike Tammie Faye.  But at least he still had his beloved Connie.

After dressing her in her finest Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, he laid the body on an old frame bed hidden away in the attic.  Then he contacted her family.

After a tender and sweet farewell service at the Baptist Church, they took that beautiful pinewood box (of sandbags) and buried it beneath a stately oak in the REST IN TRUTH CEMETERY.  Rest in peace.  Ashes to ashes.  In this case would that be sand to sand?

Of course Wild Bill had been sworn to secrecy. He proved to be a man of his word. It was only in the past few days, when Edward too had passed way, and his few remaining relatives began searching his old house for family remembrances… that someone happened into the attic and discovered the true resting place of Aunt Connie.

For a man to have had such a checkered ancestry, dog trots, half-uncles, and a taxidermied aunt… I suppose we can cut Uncle Earle a little slack.  I know I can.

THE BOY WHO COULD SEE TOMORROW

© 2018 Bill Murphy

People often ask writer’s how their stories come to be.  I my case, it’s usually that I first meet the characters – in my mind – as if meeting a flesh and blood person for the first time.  Then, these factious people tell their stories to me.  Their story simply unfolds. Such is the case of the boy who could see tomorrow.  I met his parents first.

Their story is, I’ll admit, a dark tale. It’s neither dark in the spooky sense, nor is it evil.  It’s just a story that we hope will never happened… period.  Some things, although not specifically sinful per se, simply should not be.  I’ll not ask you to enjoy this story.  Just think about it. 

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THE BOY WHO COULD SEE TOMORROW

Paula Wilson, the Mother –

Bucky was our middle child.  His birth was special, as was his life.  He was not suppose to be… and that in more ways than one.  His older sister, Connie, had a difficult beginning herself.  I was sick much of her pregnancy, and her birth was a long and difficult affair.  The small country hospital where she was finally delivered didn’t make matters much easier, on either of us.  Connie was a late talker and walker.  But when she blossomed, into a beautiful, radiant bloom.

The doctor’s told us that I’d probably not be able to conceive again.  That’s why Bucky was such a welcomed surprise.  We thought of him as our miracle child.

My pregnancy with Bucky went as smooth as silk, and his delivery also.  He was such a healthy baby.  We considered everything about him such a blessing.  He was always spot on with his developmental abilities – and even early with some.  He was an early walker and talker, much to our amazement.

His special ability, if I can call it that, was difficult to spot at first.  There were small clues to be sure, but when one is not expecting something like this, it’s difficult to grasp, and impossible to understand.  Looking back now, I think the first clues were those exhibited at feeding time.  Even as adults, all of us have differences in taste.  So it’s not surprising when a small child refuses strained spinach or squash.  Bucky was always a good eater. But when he didn’t like a food… say… beets – he’d turn his head away before he’d ever sampled it.  See what I mean?

By the time he was three, my husband and I knew that Bucky was different.  Evidence of his unique ability began to surface more frequently.  And it frightened us.  But Bucky was far too young at the time to discuss it with us.  And there were his frequent headaches. He whined and cried, holding his head.  They didn’t last long, but were frequent.  The doctors were baffled.  They could uncover no reason for them, none at all. Of course, we didn’t discuss with the doctors our growing knowledge of Bucky’s ability to seemingly peer into the future.

The first time Bucky seriously spoke with me about this was when he was 4.  He was having another of his headaches.  He’d crawled into my lap, cuddling close.  He turned and looked into my eyes.  “I don’t like the headaches,” he said.  “I don’t want to see tomorrow.”  Then his little arms squeezed me tightly, as if he was attempting to bury himself into my body.

I’ve never believed that seeing into the future could be a good thing.  And I’ve never believed in so-called fortune tellers.  I can’t see how this would be a natural and normal, in any form.  If it were possible to see into the future, it would open wide a door to opportunities ripe for corruption and ruin.  It would not be a blessing.  It would be a curse.  But somehow, my son was gifted with this curse.  He could see into tomorrow.

Franklin Wilson, the Father –

Bucky was the son I always wanted.  I was one happy camper at his birth.  I considered changing jobs when he was born, just to have more time with him.  Traveling like I did may have brought in more money, but then, money isn’t everything.  I missed the day he first spoke a recognizable word, and when he took his first step.  I missed a lot of his early days.  Perhaps this was why I was the last one in the family to admit the truth of Bucky’s unbelievable ability – or maybe that should be… disability.  It was a disability, for sure.  It set him apart from all of us, from everyone.  It made him different.  Our great love for him was intermixed with fear and dread.

Yes, I know that in certain cases, a glimpse into the future could be a reassuring and positive thing – but for the most part – personally, I have far too much stress coping with the present, to add knowledge of the future on top of that.  And this ability could be exploited – a unique tool to increase personal gain, wealth, influence, leverage.  But that would be like having the keys to every safe in town… and this could not be good.  The weed of temptation finds itself in every garden – there’s no point in watering and fertilizing it!

Once I accepted the unassailable fact that my son somehow possessed this dangerous ability, it shook me to the very core.  Oh what an tremendous responsibility had been give my wife and I – to raise and protect this ‘innocent’ child – a child who was of such great danger to himself, and to others.  Only a fool would think of it otherwise!

Our first ‘scare’ came when Bucky was almost 5.  I’m not sure what we were thinking at the time, but to give the lad as much ‘normalcy’ as possible, we enrolled him in a local daycare/kindergarten.  Bucky loved it!  By this time, we’d talked to him about the fact that no others ‘saw tomorrow’ as he did – and that they would be alarmed if they thought that he did.  We strongly urged him to keep his ‘visions’ or what ever they were, to himself.  What were we thinking?  Bucky was only a kid!

Bucky’s group was scheduled for a field trip on Friday.  They were going to the Municipal Opera House, for a tour, and hear the orchestra practice.  Friday afternoon, when his mother arrived to pick up Bucky after school, she was directed to the principal’s office.  Something very strange had happened concerning Bucky.  It seems that there had been a change in plans for the field trip.  The orchestra’s conductor had fallen ill – so the Opera House tour was off.  Instead they’d gone to the zoo.  This was not known until after school on Thursday.  The conductor was hospitalized late Thursday afternoon, and the school notified after the end of the school day.  It was then that the plans were changed – to take the kids to the zoo instead.  Thursday night, the principal called Bucky’s teacher, and told her the change of plans.

Then Thursday morning, as Bucky’s teacher greeted each child as they entered the building, the first thing out of Bucky’s mouth was, “I’m glad we’re going to the zoo today instead.  That opera stuff is boring.  I can’t wait to see the elephants, they’re so neat!” How did he know?  The change in plans had not as yet been announced to the children.

Monday, the daycare was called, and told that Bucky was ill.  And the family made plans.  This scare of discovery had been too close!  Bucky never went back to the daycare. Within 3 weeks we moved to Birmingham… 500 mile away.

Connie Wilson, the Sister –

Bucky was born the summer before I started 1st grade, which would have made me six, barely old enough to be somewhat of a help with Bucky.  Dad was ecstatic when Bucky arrived.  He’d wanted a boy, and Bucky was the answer to all his prayers and dreams, or so it seemed.  I admit to being thoroughly jealous, up until the newness of the new baby wore off.  Neither Mom nor Dad had any siblings, and where we lived, so far out in the country, meant that neighbors were few and far between.

I was not often around other babies or small children for comparison, but Bucky seemed to me to be just like what others were like.  We went to church, but not on regular basis.  Dad traveled in his work.  Although it was only a two state area, it was the states of Iowa and Nebraska, meaning a lot of driving for little business.  Dad needed his down time at home on weekends.  But we still considered ourselves Christians.

The first time I remember seeing Bucky using his – strange ability, was when I was in 4th grade.  It was a school day, and I was walking to the front door to board the school bus, when Bucky stopped me.  “Don’t go,” he said,  “I don’t want you to get hurt.”  But I pushed past him, laughing.  Little did I know – that he knew.

At recess, Moli Trent applied greasy sun-screen to her arms, and then climbed the jungle-gym.  I was behind her, my hand slipped when near the top wrung, and I fell – breaking my arm in two places.  Bucky knew it would happen.

This awareness of future events happened more and more often.  But even once a month was too much for me.  They frightened me.  Bucky frightened me.  And then we moved to Birmingham, I thought that things might be better.  They weren’t.

Paula Wilson, the Mother –

After the day care scare, my husband and I had a long delayed pow-pow.  What to do about Bucky?  We were both in agreement that Bucky’s gift was laced with danger, and not just to himself.  We where forced to look at the big picture.  His ability posed a threat not only to our family, but – if we were honest about it, to all of humanity.  I’m forced to agree that in some specific cases, a peek into the future could be a positive thing, but on the other hand, in the grand scheme of things, this unique ability could adversely cause great havoc.  Yet – think about it – if one knew what tomorrow will bring, can one still alter tomorrow and make it different?  I think not.  And I was not about to test this hypothesis with some hair-brained experiment.

This was way over our heads.  This was an issue, a problem, out of our league.  But still, try as I might, I could see no reason to believe that Bucky’s strange talent was anything but a curse, an unwanted and unneeded freakish ability.  It could serve no positive purpose.  But it could propel him, and our family, into great turmoil and danger.  But what were we to do?

For starters, we decided to homeschool Bucky.  We thought about moving to some remote and desolate location, to live off the grid, to hid ourselves from the world.  But we are not off the grid type people.  We moved to Birmingham to get away from the daycare fiasco, to distance ourselves from the fallout we feared it would bing.

Birmingham is definitely not off the grid, but at least, no one knew us, or knew of us, there.

Franklin Wilson, the Father – I’m not sure what the founding fathers of Birmingham were thinking when they turned over that first spade of soil.  There’s actually a lot of level ground in Alabama… but not in Birmingham.  And yes, we did buy a home in the suburbs of that great city, where it is much, much hillier.

We got a fantastic deal on the place!  The home was in foreclosure, and we bought it, as is, from the bank.  The former owners had gone thru a bitter divorce.  The struggling, weak willed mother, who got the house, was left with two traumatized teenage daughters.  She allowed the two girls to redecorate the house, any way they wanted.  The colorful result was a cross between psychedelic brothel and carnival fun house.  And the girls painted it themselves, in what looked like one weekend.  You’d have to have seen it to believe it.

It took us several weeks to restore the place to its original sanity.  The house was set on a hill, a very steep hill, especially in back.  The backyard had no problems with drainage, the 25+ degree slope took ample care of that.  The driveway was on the left side of the house, with a large parking pad beside the house, where it opened into the garage/basement area.  The front of the house and entry way, were at ground level, with steps leading upstairs to what for all practical purposes, was the ‘first floor.’  This contained the den, dining room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  All were large and spacious.

Just off the rear of the house, and at ground level to the house, was an addition – a small ‘mother-in-law‘ apartment with 3 rooms.  This apartment could be accessed from steps inside the garage and leading down, or directly from an outside door on the rear of the house.  A small, brick and stone patio wrapped around two sides of the apartment.  Above this patio, a small narrow balcony had been added off the master bedroom upstairs.  It was almost 20 feet from the balcony to the patio below.  The view of the backyard from this balcony was breathtaking.

Connie, who was eleven at the time we moved, begged to have the sub-basement bedroom.  But we thought she was too young at that time.  We promised it to her when she turned sixteen.  Until then, Paula and I would share it as our office/hobby/crafts area, and where she would homeschool Bucky.  Connie then asked for the first bedroom off the upstairs hallway, and we agreed.  Bucky’s room was just down that short hallway and directly across from their shared bathroom.

Within a month, we’d settled in to our new normalcy.

Connie Wilson, the Sister –

It’s been six years now, since that terrible night that changed our lives forever.  I seems more like sixty.  Gone are the happy days with a happy family.  Gone too is the crazy house in the hills of Birmingham – at least it’s gone from my life – as is Bucky.

That night, Dad was downstairs in the hobby room, working on his electric trains.  Mom fell asleep watching TV in their bedroom.  I thought Bucky was in his room.

Because mine and Bucky’s bathroom was right across the hallway from his bedroom, all he had to do was crawl out of his bed, and walk in a straight line, out his door, across the hallway, and into the bathroom.  From Mom and Dad’s bedroom, if Bucky got up from Dad’s side of the bed and walked straight, he’d walk through the sliding glass door that led out onto the narrow balcony directly over the stone patio below.  This patio had a wooden railing.  Whoever built it, didn’t use pressure treated wood.  The railing was rather rickety, and Dad had not as yet gotten around to replacing it.  Mom left the patio door open that night.  She enjoyed the cool night air of Autumn.  Bucky’s death was a terrible accident!

The investigation dragged on for over two years.  No charges were ever filed.  The authorities were divided over what had actually happened.  The lead investigator was of the opinion it was an accident.  He theorized that Bucky had gotten into bed with Mom, then later, groggy with sleep, walked off the balcony thinking he was going to the bathroom.

The chief of police believed that either Mom, or Dad, had actually staged this accident, and pushed Bucky off the balcony.  But he had difficulty proving it, because he could never uncover a possible motive.  He flatly refused to believe our accounts that Bucky could see into the future.

Bucky’s death, coupled with the trauma of the long drawn out investigation, took their toll on Mom and Dad.  It changed them, hardened them, stole from them their very joy and joy of life.  They drifted farther and father apart.  I now live six months with Mom, and six with Dad. The divorce was finalized in March.

For many months, the investigators attempted to pit me against them, wanting my assistance in extracting the truth from each.  To be completely honest, I have no idea what to believe.  Both Mom and Dad clearly loved Bucky, although they hated his unusual ability.  But I can’t believe that this would bring either one, or both, to kill him.  I hope it was just an accident, an awful accident.

A few months before the divorce, one of the officers even asked if I had done it.  He said that sometimes children love their parents so much, that they can do unbelievable things for them.  I loved, and still love, both my parents, that much I know for sure.  I know I do.  But if I did do it, I can’t remember that.  I don’t think that I could do it.  If I did, then I’ve pushed that memory far, far away.

I loved Bucky too.  I really did.

 

 

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AN ANGEL IN THE CLOSET

Sk. In Closet copy© 2018 Bill Murphy

We often hear of skeletons in the closet, of deep dark sins and secrets hidden away, musty and dusty and, we hope, dormant and forgotten.  But what of angels in the closet?

My family has one of each – and both are from the same closet!

I come from two large families, with a total of 13 uncles and aunts plus all their wives and husbands. This large collection of unique individuals has gifted me with a wealth of stories and life experiences.  One of my favorite story-treasures involves my mother’s older sister, Lillie Fairchild Padget, and her husband Fred Padget.

Uncle Fred and Aunt Lillie (who everyone in the family called Sister) lived in Bogalusa, Louisiana.  Uncle Fred died of a sudden heart attack in 1947, and Sister moved next door to us on Evergreen Street.  Now Uncle Fred had an evil skeleton in his closet, which Sister packed up and brought to Jackson when she moved from Bogalusa.  She kept it not in a closet, but in a large trunk.

Not long after settling into her new home in Mississippi, she joined Griffith Memorial Baptist Church on Silas Brown Street, near our home.  And she began to sew.  She made for herself a beautiful, white Easter dress.

She was oh so proud of that dress.  It was of the finest silk, and rivaled the elegance of any wedding dress!  That top quality garment hardy cost her pennies to make!  The smooth, lily white material she already had.  It was brought from Bogalusa in the trunk.

You see, Uncle Fred had been an officer in the Bogalusa chapter of the KKK.  Sister made that beautiful dress, a dress to wear to church to worship and honor her Lord and Savior on the day set aside to celebrate that marvelous day He arose from the dead!

Sacrilegious? NO!

Read your Bible.  Over and over again we read where God used the weak to defeat the strong, the fearful to instruct us in bravery, and the ugly as a radiant example of beauty. This former skeleton in a closet, a dark symbol of sin and shame, my dear Aunt Lillie transformed into an angelic statement of love and devotion to our Lord and Savior.  I know that He looked down on that silk’s new form, and smiled.

 

 

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BARE BUNS

Hamburger© 2017 Bill Murphy

When I began this blog, I vowed that I would not stoop to ranting and raving – ever! Therefore, consider the following as only an OBSERVATION – over the course of some 70+ years.

As for ‘bare buns,’ I’m not speaking of those you see everywhere on 36 inch waist individuals who insist on wearing 48 inch pants – with no belt.  I hope this fad soon goes the way of the duck tail haircut.  I’m talking about HAMBURGER BUNS.

Hamburgers have an upper and lower bun.  Back in ‘my day’ BOTH of these buns were smeared with condiments.  Yes, they really were – and at EVERY place that made burgers!

But not today.  Today, the bottom half of the bun is as naked as folks in a nudists colony.

Although I don’t agree with this short cut, I can understand the reasoning behind it.  If you’re in the business of selling burgers, sales volume means sales profits.

Lets say that you can make 100 burgers in and hour and can sell those 100 burgers in an hour.  It would not be wise to MAKE only 80 burgers per hour.  (You’d lose 20% of your profits!)  It takes time to paint that bottom bun with condiments – time that merchants today think of as wasted time.  (Who looks at the BOTTOM bun besides Bill Murphy anyway?)

So the bottom is left as naked as a newborn.

And then there is the COST of those ‘wasted’ bottom bun condiments.  The merchant POCKETS the cost of these un-used/unneeded condiments.  (Profits go up!)  The boss can now go to Hawaii this Summer!

Also, by their very nature, when you cook hamburger meat, it becomes GREASY.  Placed on top of a spread of mayo/mustard/ketchup mix, the grease has no where to go but over the side!  Drip, drip, drip. T he nude bottom bun gives the hamburger a built in grease trap.  Tasty!  Otherwise, time would be WASTED by de-greasing each patty.  And as we have seen, wasted time is wasted profits!

There you have it.  It’s all a capitalist ploy to make money, at the expense of old geezers like me who remember the good old days of a COMPLETE hamburger.

That’s not a rant.  It’s “Just the facts, ma’am” – like Sgt. Friday said.

Some ‘old fashioned’ things are good fashioned things!

 

 

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