Bill Murphy,  October 2020

Have you ever been trapped?  I don’t mean trapped for two hours at a piano recital for your neighbor’s six year old wannabe Beethoven.  I’m mean trapped in what could have been a life or death situation, or at least it seemed that way at the time?

I was once trapped in the McCarty-Holman Warehouse elevator with Henry Holman for a few minutes.  But curious as I am, I’d previously done my homework and discovered the release mechanism that allowed us to escape. 

But many years before that great elevator entrapment, my childhood pal, John Gorday and I were trapped in quicksand-like mudd in town creek.

This was in the early to mid 50s.  We were both raised on Evergreen, two blocks north of Battlefield Park.  In the late 40s, the land south of Hwy 80 was mostly undeveloped and wild.  That area might as well have been on another continent!  It became our ‘Amazon Forest’ within walking distance of home.  We’d cut through Battlefield Park between Terry Road and Gallatin… and quickly be in an explorers paradise. Town Creek was our ‘Amazon.’

It had rained previously, and obviously for many days.  The lazy creek had been out of it’s banks, but had now receeded to normal level.  We spied something sticking up from the water, something interesting.

The creek itself was not wide at all in this area, hardly more than four or five feet at most… and shallow.  Wading out to inspect this curious object would be simple, or so we thought!

I can’t remember which brave soul ventured out first, but a few steps beyond dry ground, and still several feet from the water’s edge, we discovered that we were in serious trouble!  The banks were muddy, very muddy, with very deep and sticky mud! The mud was like quicksand with a mega-grip. The photo above does NOT do it justice! We were stuck almost up to our knees!

The one on the bank ventured out as far as they could reach and grabbed a hand of the trapped one and pulled.  Although the one stuck was pulled close enough to the bank to gain enough traction to struggle out of the mud, the ‘rescuer’ was pulled out into the stickly mud!  We’d only switched places!  

This see-saw, back and forth, the rescuer becoming the one needing rescue, went on and on for what seemed like hours!  Back and forth we went until we were exhausted.  But we carried on, inching ever closer and closer to dry ground.

Finally, two very muddy and very tired Amazon explorers lay spent on the backs of the Mighty Muddy Town Creek.  It was time to break camp and head back to Doodleville. 


Obit Photo


©2017 Bill Murphy

Occasionally I’ll see an obit photo of a person in their early 20s and think, What a shame – to die so young! Then I read the obit and find that the person was actually 97. I suppose they wanted to be remembered as being young.

I’ve told my children that the photo at left is the one I want with my obit – when days were care-free – with not a worry in the world!

The truth is: this photo could very well have been my obit photo – within months of when the photo was taken!

My grandparents lived next door to us on Evergreen Ave. in south Jackson. ‘Doodleville’ we called it. Grandpa Fairchild took me with him on long walks, mostly on the railroad tracks. That’s him in the background, in the swing.

My grandmother took me with her downtown, to the movies – and shopping.

Downtown Jackson of the 40s was a far cry from what it is today. The city was not covered with shopping centers. If you wanted to shop, it was downtown – where you could make a once in a lifetime purchase like a wedding diamond, or everyday items like groceries. It was a busy, bustling place!

I was downtown with Mamaw Fairchild. Back then, there were NO one-way streets. We were standing on the corner of Capitol and West streets, on Capitol, facing west toward the Post Office. I suppose I tired of having to wait for the light to change. I yanked my little hand away from Mamaw – and bolted out into the street.

That was the last thing I remember – until I woke up cradled in the arms of a big policeman. Mamaw was rather hysterical!

Witnesses said that a car traveling north on West Street was turning right onto Capitol. I walked – or ran – into the side of the car. The sharply turning car ‘pushed’ me down – and the rear wheels of the car ran over me! Fortunately, the two rear tires didn’t flatten me – I lay BETWEEN THEM as the car passed over by body.

I probably had a bump on my head, but I don’t remember having ANY injuries – none at all. But poor Mamaw was a basket case.

It was many years later before I had the information at hand to put 2 and 2 together, as to why this incident affected my grandmother so terribly.

Just over 30 years before my run-over incident, Mama Fairchild had lost a child of her own – a daughter named Violet. She was weeks shy of 4 years old. She accidentally ingested rat poison. As mothers do, no doubt Mamaw Fairchild felt responsible for Violet’s death – feeling that she somehow failed to protect her.

Deja vu. Now it was her grandson.

No grandma, it wasn’t your fault! I was the one who broke and ran. It was me – me – me. I’m sorry I put you through that. I truly am. Look at the photo. I’m sure that mother told me not to play in the dirt.

Technically, I didn’t. Ashes from burnt leaves aren’t dirt – are they?