© 2018 Bill Murphy
My father, William Hendrix Murphy, was named after his maternal great-grandfather, William Hendrix. It seems that everyone in the Carthage area has nicknames, and my Dad’s grandfather was referred to as ‘Uncle Billy Hendrix.’ I’m not sure where the ‘Uncle’ came from. Dad chose to go by Hendrix, which the family shortened to ‘Hinx.’
Mom and Dad were both from Carthage, Mississippi. After they married, they moved to the big city of Jackson, MS. When I came along in 1941, and was given the name William Hendrix Murphy, Jr., Mom immediately began calling me Billy. But everyone in the Carthage area, especially my many aunts, uncles, and cousins (Dad was one of 11 children) immediately applied the resurrected name of ‘Billy Hendrix’ to me. It was only logical I suppose, as I was Billy, son of Hendrix. One of my treasured keepsakes is an engraved keychain given as a high school graduation gift – from Carthage – engraved not with WHM, but… BHM. I suppose that was my first ‘Carthage Trauma.’ I didn’t like the added ‘Hendrix’ to my name. I thought my name was plain ole Billy. Oh well.
My first genuine trauma came when I was around 4. I dearly LOVED going to Carthage. It was a whole new world. It was not all asphalt and concrete. Carthage had gravel roads, hay, horses, cows, chickens ,pigs, fresh-laid eggs, popcorn still on the stalk, and peanuts in the ground! It was a zoo and a large park all rolled into one. My grandmother, Momma Murphy, still cooked (by choice) on a wood burning stove! They even still had an outhouse, with two holes.
We visited my grandparents OFTEN, at least once a month. One Sunday evening as my parents were getting ready to leave, I begged and pleaded to STAY! I must have put up a strong argument, because they relented. I got to stay! A few hours later, it was dark. And I had a sudden, over whelming attack of extreme home-sickness. There’s no sickness quite as gut-wrenching as home-sickness, especially to a small child. Momma Murphy called Dad, asking him to come back and get me. (That was a long-distance call back then). His answer, “I can’t come until I get off work TOMORROW!” That was one traumatic night!
A sister of my Dad lived a few miles north/east of Carthage, very close to the family’s home church, Goshen Methodist. The photo at top is a watercolor of Goshen Church that I did for Dad for Christmas of 1971. That particular weekend, while I was still in grammar school, we drove out to visit my aunt’s family. The problem was, along the narrow, winding, gravel Goshen Road, a small forest fire was slowly burning out. I suppose Dad had no doubt phoned ahead and learned it was safe to traverse Goshen Road. I suppose.
Anyway, off we went. For what seemed like miles, the smoke was as thick as pea soup fog. But the most frightening thing was – on both sides of the road you could still see FLAMES! It sure brought to mind that time honored saying I’m sure you’ve heard – We’ll all be killed! Thankfully, we weren’t even singed.
Trauma three happened at Goshen Church.
It was during the same general time period as my forest fire near death experience. Goshen was having a festive dinner-on-the-ground after church. Church was much like school in the late 40s’early 50s, in that most folks attended church close to home – often within walking distance. Goshen Church was like that, but being ‘in the country,’ most members didn’t live exactly within walking distance. Bringing hot foods (which would get cold) and cold foods (which would get hot) to the church (which had no kitchen) – presented a problem during muggy Mississippi Summertime. So immediately after church, many hastily returned home to pick up their food.
We young-ones were gaily playing in the church yard, when a returning family drove up with their food – and with an unexpected surprise.
We suddenly heard screaming and shouting. A large commotion gathered behind their vehicle. We dashed over to see for ourselves. My, oh my. What a terrible sight!
It seems that while most of that family was inside their home, one of the younger children took their pet goat (on a leash) out for a walk. You guessed it! The child tied the leash to the back of the car, and forgot about it!
Goshen Road was a rough, dusty, graveled road. Natural sandpaper.
The poor goat behind the car was only half a goat, a dry and dusty half-goat. It had only two legs now, both on the same side. Someone flipped it over. It was dry, dusty, and hollow inside. You could see all the ribs, the back side of the ribs. Yes, it was a traumatic sight to behold, the stuff of nightmares. The family’s children were going bonkers. I thought I’d be sick.
I suppose one could say that there was 1.5 Billy’s at that Goshen Gathering – me and the half-billy.