4/18/18 additional material added
FAMILY AND FRIENDS EVENTS
Dad had an uncle, Dr. Winfield Gabhart M.D., residing in Harrodsburg, KY. When I knew him he was elderly, his wife, Marie, was a registered nurse. He purchases Medical radium in the 1950's for $10,000, it was small pea-like in size with a string hole on it's top. He had it in a four-inch square lead box with a lead lid. He used it to remove warts and such. In the process, he lost his two fingers that held the string. Obviously, he quit using it and as the story goes accidentally threw it in the waste can. He had it heavily insured. A reward was offered and so it was claimed people with Geiger counters were scouring the landfill trying to find it. After he died, Dad, Charlie and I went to his auction. Aunt Marie had deceased years earlier. They had turned their huge three-story house into a hospital for several years then the county decided to build a modern hospital. After he got very old the medical community accused him of making some mistakes so they decided not to renew his privileges at the new hospital. It about did him in although he continued his practice for several years. Anyway, now back to the auction, I was always checking out every possible hidden crevice, he had a three-foot square safe tucked under the staircase on the first floor. It was ornately decorated and had been there for decades on in. It had a smaller safe inside mounted at the top like the old-time refrigerators had a freezer at the top. Around the top safe was a five-inch space on each side. Below that were two shelves. The large thick door was swung open on auction day. The safe was empty but I could see a small space back behind the smaller safe. I reached around the small safe and slide my hand behind. I felt what seemed to be a box, dad was standing behind discussing how old the safe was with my brother Charlie. When I pulled out the lead box and opened the lid with the radium, my dad grabbed it from my hands and told us to say absolutely nothing about it. He took it to the car and put it in the trunk. That was the last time I saw it. What happened to it after that I have no idea. Mom said she thought he buried it. She said Dad invited a family friend who was in Civil Defense to check it out with his Geiger Counter. Dad told her the radiation indicator meter pegged out to a maximum reading at 20 feet away.
My dad's family lived in Mercer County Ky, so we visited there often. On one memorable occasion Dad, Charlie, and I went down in Charlie's red VW. On our way home just south of Louisville on I-65 Charlie's VW blew an engine. Parts of the engine were scattered on the interstate. In those days not many cars were on the road. We picked up all the pieces then shoved the car as far off the road as we could get it. We saw a car coming from the South, dad flagged it down and asks where they were headed. They told him they were going to Indianapolis. Dad asks if he could ride along, so he jumped in the back seat and without saying a word to us took off with them. We stayed the rest of the night in the car. The next morning we arranged to have the car towed, Charlie sold it to the tow truck owner. We hitchhiked home, and there was our dad who didn't say one word or act as if anything had happened.
My Grandfather William Gabhart was a brother to Dr. Winfield Gabhart. Doc came to Grandpa one day and said there was an extremely poor family living on Chaplain river with malnourished children. He asks if Grandpa and Grandma would care for a little five-year-old boy until he gained back his health. They agreed and subsequently took in Granville Simons. Granville Simons never left their house until he was grown. He graduated from Alfordsville High School, traveled to Lexington Ky to find work. Later he bought an excavation company, then from there he started a paving company, Simons Paving Inc., he got rich with big state and city contracts. He never forsook Grandpa and Grandma. Anything they wanted he bought. One time in the 40's he drove them to the Grand Canyon, Grandpa wasn't much for getting too far from home. When they got there Grandpa walked up to the edge of Grand Canyon, looked both ways turned around and said, "I'm ready to go back home". Granville loved to tell that story. Grandville was big-hearted but his wife not very hospitable. She was not friendly with us kids, she was too high society. Grandville always had a big heart, especially for children. One time he came to visit my Grandparents as he did quite frequently. They lived a mile or so North of Alfordsville. When he drove out the drive, Grandma noticed they had left a suitcase. Grandpa started waving and hollering, Granville stuck his arm out the window and waved vigorously all the way out of sight. Later in life, Grandma and Grandpa took in a teenage boy, he slept in a guest room across the breezeway from the house. Mom and Dad took in his sister and Bob and Louis Secrist took in another sister. Things weren't so comfortable in those days but most of us didn't know the difference and we all lived through it. Grandpa & Grandma had a farm that bordered the upper cemetery, they donated the property that is located on the North side of the cemetery, North of the cemetery road.
I remember Garnet Rodarmal coming to our house one day and wanted to know if we would be interested in identifying aircraft flying within our view then calling in the identity to the Civil Defense headquarters. Of course, that sounded exciting, I can still remember that softback book today. It had black covers and each page had a picture and a description of every commercial and military aircraft. When we heard a plane humming over we ran into the yard, flipping the pages to identify it. Some were so high that it was impossible to identify, but what we couldn't identify we had a great imagination to make it up. After about a year the program was discontinued, us kids enjoyed looking over that book for a long time afterward.
We installed a heating system in Ernie Howard's house, just a few blocks East of Alfordsville. I was the mole who went under the house as I being the smallest was always chosen. I would pull the six-inch sheet metal air pipes from the trunk line to the register boots located on the outer perimeter of the house. It was so tight that I could hardly scoot along between the floor joist, 14 1/2" wide and 10" inches of height. Dad asks if I was OK several times. I did feel claustrophobic a few times. I think he knew when I was getting that way by talking to me. He said, "now I'm right above you and I have power saw in my hand and can cut a hole in the floor anytime you want. I pulled myself along a few inches at a time. I came to rest my head on what I thought was an old blanket or something. I let my head rest on it for a few minutes then went to move on. Guess What! It was a dead dog that had been dead for some time, pretty much a big furry thing with some bones inside. Boy, was I every glad to get out of there. If I best remember dad rewarded me with a dollar or so. A dollar went a long way with a 14-year-old kid in 1959.
We installed a furnace for Bill Spaulding, Bill was an artist who lived in our community for a while. His daughter Louise was in my class in High School. She was extremely shy and spoke so softly you could hardly make out what she was saying. Bill moved near West Baden after he left our community. He bought a furnace from dad and Charlie and I helped install it. Charlie was assigned to cut the register holes and I was, as usual, the mole. Charlie mismeasured and cut a hole an inch too wide in the living room hardwood floor. He asked dad what should be done about it. Dad responded "Awl... It's good enough for Bill", he didn't know Bill had come into the house and was standing in the doorway right behind him. Bill spoke up and said, "no it's not good enough for Bill either". Dad went to the hardware store and got one inch larger register. I remember Mom buying a painting from Bill of a farm scene. It hung on our wall for years.
I can think about a lot of names, a lot of families in our little close-knit community. Charlie and Magg Baker lived across the field East of us. Even when I was a little tike I would cut through the countryside by their house on the way to Alfordsville. Charlie would call me from their porch, he would come across the yard to the fence and ask if I could share with them any news. One time he invited me to their house for a drink of water. On the couch was a couple of prosthesis support belts to support a ruptured stomach wall. In the kitchen was a Hoosier cabinet with a white porcelain top with a red edge, nearby a wringer washer filled with dirty clothes. Ode & Hilda Kelso, Ode was school janitor and Hilda worked in the cafeteria. Rex & Pauline Canolty lived a few blocks from school, he was always a character, always had an amusing story to tell. His son, Mike, was considering barber school, he told Rex that barbers made good money, Rex said "son, it's all good but it's about how much".
Across the field, South of us lived Charlie and Olive Osborne. I remember he cut hair for some of the boys in the neighborhood. She taught school before my time. I would fish in their pond next to our fence. On South of them lived Bob and Jewel Raney, they had a sawmill next to the driveway, I always thought they were husband and wife, later mom said they were brother and sister. Their dad who lived with them lost an arm in a sawmill accident. I remember Bob and him clearing a twenty acres track between us. It was solid woods before they started. His dad would take a grubbing hoe with one arm and dig around a tree stump then insert a stick or two of dynamite in the hole. The stump would sometimes shoot up several feet. I drive by that field today with a nice crop of corn and wondered how much sweat was sacrificed for that to be possible.
I can't remember another neighbor's name that had the roof of his mouth removed from a cancer operation. He would put his finger in his mouth and stick it out his eye socket. Scared the crap out of me.
I earned some money gleaning corn in the autumn. It was tough to drag a gunny sack full of corn across the field next to the road especially with fingers freezing. Sometimes I brushed back the snow to find knocked down corn left from the picker. A good day would bring in 3-4 dollars. Life was not dreaded because we didn't even know we had it bad. I thought this was the way most everybody lived. School gave some relief as we spend days in a warm room, otherwise, I thought it went way too slow, boredom was about as bad as gleaning corn from under the snow. Actually, I had a profound dislike for school for several reasons, first the class could drag on and on while the teacher dealt with disadvantaged students, secondly, some teachers didn't give a hoot about your education and sometimes would beat us kids out the door when the last bell rang, thirdly, our books (especially our history books) were edited from a political agenda and a lot of truth was left out. For example, were you taught that a large portion of slave owners and slave traders were Negros themselves. I would never have dreamed that to be true during my history class experience.
Several local farmers depended on me to help put up hay along with other farm work. It normally paid around a dollar an hour if I was lucky. Mostly the Dutchman farmers paid little as they could get by with, one I remember most profoundly only paid Charlie and me $.50/hour to stomp silage all day. The worst job there ever was, breathing air full of corn husk dust in a confined silo area. It was dangerous and hard work. I refused to go back one summer, dad never said a word. This farmer came back several times and even offered 75 cents an hour (wow). I never went back nor would I work for that tight-wade again. Dad always said they were so tight they could squeeze the pee out of the buffalo on a buffalo nickel.
Actually, the best farmer to work for was Wilbert "Wib" Arms south of Glendale. He was easy going and let us rest often especially if it was overly hot outside. His wife Nellie brought out ice water, at lunch her and daughter Susie brought a four-course meal with a tablecloth and all. They spread it out on the tailgate of their pickup or on an empty hay wagon. We ate like kings and when Wib wanted help we were there in a heartbeat. We had others that would cut our hours short, never hardly let us have time to get a drink of water. I cut them off and never went back.
One time Wib had a neighbor that needed help putting up hay. I was working on the wagon with him. I didn't know much about queers in those days as it wasn't discussed in our house much. This old guy makes it look like an accident but would rub my private parts with the back of his hand as he stacked the hay. I got the H--- off that wagon and never went back. He gave me the creeps, it was a terrible feeling to experience as a teenager.
We had some fascinating folks living in our community, most were hard working country people. I remember Deb Harker driving a large semi-truck. When he comes driving it into Alfordsville I believe it was the biggest thing I ever saw on the road. Nowadays it would be small in comparisons to modern Semi-trucks. I can recall him talking on Hershel Arvin's gas station porch about going to Florida to pick up a skating rink for Charley Rodarmal, Roy's brother. He would transport it to Washington for the summer then transport it back to Florida for the winter. I tried my luck at skating at his rink but after several tries, it was obvious I needed another set of skates strapped to my butt. Some of those guys would show off for the girls and skate in every configuration possible. I would have given a lot to do that but they had more time than I did to practice the art of skating. We had lots of farm duties in the summer months and seldom went to Washington for recreation. Deb had a son Steve in the class below me. We played basketball together, he was way over 6ft tall, closer to 7ft. He had this double-jointed hook shot that nobody could block. Steve was a low keyed fellow that you couldn't help but like him. When I was in 4th or 5th grade us boys built a little wooden hideout next to the school ground on Art Harris's back lot, next to it was the Harker house. Steve's older sister Patricia would walk home for lunch, when she walked by we would yell out "Wow, Wow, what a figure, two more legs and she'd look like Trigger". She would turn around and smile great big. We would all laugh real loud. We thought that was really cool. I don't think any of us knew what it meant but we knew it would get a reaction.
About that same time, the school had only outhouses. The big boys would sit on a ledge above the toilet hole bench with their feet on the bench smoking cigarettes. None of us younger boys would ever use the holes with those guy's feet on it. On the opposing wall of the outhouse was a wooden trough sloped down into the toilet hole area for relieving the bladder. I remember one time I was actually too embarrassed to do anything with all those guys watching, but rather than do it behind a tree or in my pants, I made the move. I peered around to see if those big boys were watching. I saw my brother Wyndham looking at me rather seriously. I felt better like he would not allow anyone to bother me.
We went over to visit the Fitch family one time, Claude and Sadie had children in our age group. They had an old barn on the back end of their place. It was fun to explore. Claude worked at the coal mine as a manager and was not only a very talented manager but was strong as an ox. During that visit, just for fun Dad and Claude would wrestle in the middle of the living room floor. Sadie and mom were not at all happy with the bumping and banging going on. Mom and Sadie just kept talking to one another like nothing was going on. My dad could revert to being a big boy once in a while. I was embarrassed, even at 10 years old. Claude brought home a couple of large worn-out mining equipment tires and buried them halfway down besidetheir front walkway. I went by there the other day and there were still in the same place they were 60 years ago.
Emmett Wininger lived in the house next to the Christian Church, can't remember his wife's name. They had a son, Lorenzo living at home who was an epileptic. I am not sure there was any medication for that condition at that time. He was a good guy that would help out in any situation. I remember he would go up in front of the Church service and get behind the baptistery curtains when he had an epileptic fit. Dad was normally the one to go up and lead him outside until he came out of the fit. One time Orville Harker went up and led him outside After church dad ask what was wrong with Orville, someone said: "we don't know, Why"? Well, I saw Lorenzo leading him out of the church. Orville didn't take the joke very well. One time Bob Secrist took a load of us kids in his 1953 Chevy car to a Youth Rally at the Loogootee Christian Church. Lorenzo went along, he was somewhat older than the rest of us. Afterward, Bob stopped at the Dairy Queen in Loogootee and bought us all an ice cream cone. Lorenzo commenced to have another fit and rubbed his ice cream all over the back seat, side door, and headliner. It was a major mess. Bob and his wife Louise got towels from the Dairy Queen and quietly cleaned it up without expressing a single disgruntling word. I always appreciated them for their attitude in that adverse situation. Later in life after his parents died Lorenzo was treated with modern medicine got married and lived a normal life. I saw him one time after his new life and I couldn't believe it to be the same person. I remember him cleaning up the church building before Sunday. I held him in high admiration.
Alfordsville was founded by the Alford family from Virginia. They were relatives of my Mother, my Mother was raised on a 100-acre farm that was bought from the Government as a homestead. My Great-Great-Grandfather, Nick Baker, bought two square miles of land on a Government land grant, after his death, it was divided out to the heirs and since then sold and/or divided out several more times.
I can barely remember the restaurant that was the last building on the North end of the main street. I just remember my parents told us not to go in there, that only toughy's hung out there.
I bought a 1941 Plymouth from Floyd Gould that had huge decal eyes on the front fenders with flames streaming down the side of the car. I bought it for $75 on time, $15/month. I drove it for a few years, I traded it to a neighbor in Cincinnati for a bullet nose 1949 Ford. About a month later the Ford engine blew up. They had meantime moved back to Eastern Kentucky. My first time to be taken, a good lesson. I wish I had them both now. From there I went shopping for a car. Down the street a piece was a used car lot. The salesman tried to sell me a 1956 Thunderbird hardtop convertible for $2,500. It was baby blue with a white top. I decided it was too expensive and subsequently bought a 1955 Studebaker President for $750.
I was hanging out in Alfordsville one Saturday with a friend and while walking up the main street in front of Clyde Canolty's grocery store we met an old resident named Esley Buzan. He had a habit of mumbling to himself as he walked. As he passed us he said, "I am the hated man", he said it repeatedly. Must have been a bad day. Alfordsville had a public well in the center of town where anyone could fetch water. When I was in the first grade we had a one-room school for the first and second grade. We fetched a bucket of cold water from this well, then set it on a small table inside the entrance door of our one-room school. Above the water bucket were our tin cups hung on nails with our names were written behind them. Another event happened before my time, it was my dads turn to organize a crew to clean out the same public well that year. Several men of the town gathered to help out. Esley Buzan volunteered to clean the bottom once most all the water was removed. My dad knew there was a fake human skeleton on the 3rd floor of the IOOF lodge across the street so he commenced dropping the skull in the public well a day prior to cleaning. The next day when the water was down to 6-8 inches deep they put down a ladder for Esley to go down. He was down at the bottom dipping the last remaining water into a bucket to be drawn out when they heard a loud moan, then he hollered "get me out of here". The other men didn't know about the skull so they rushed to get him out. He said there is a dead man down here. Finally, before it got too carried away dad admitted to his prank, but it was not well received by anybody but himself.
One time I was in Lena Brown's store relaxing behind her pot-bellied stove. Behind the stove was a wood "church pew" style bench. An old general store dry goods counter was behind the bench. The top of the counter was glassed-in with sliding doors on the back side. The counter level extended out the front about six inches at the same height as the back of the bench. Us boys would put our feet on the bench and set up on the counter ledge drinking a coke or RC Cola. It was fadish, at least in Alfordsville to stuff a package of peanuts in a coke. It would fizz and we were ready to pop it in our mouth to catch the foam. This day I was the only one there except Lena and her helper, Helen Patrick. I was sipping on my coke when I glancing out the front window and there drove my dad down the street in our black Ford F100. Helen was standing at the window and probably wasn't thinking or didn't care that I was there and said, "there goes the old gray rat". Lena gave me a quick glance and tried to cover it up. Dad got a kick out of it and I really think he rather enjoyed the attention. Once in a while, I would hear him say, "Mom, the old gray rat needs to go to town for a while". They both would snicker.
One time Lena ask Bob Rogers (my first cousin, mom's sister Clare's son) and myself if she could hire us to clean out her cistern south of her general store. We worked a hard two days scrubbing half a foot of silt from the bottom. We washed the sidewalls down and at nearly dusk the second day Bob went in and told Lena we were finished. She asked how much she owed us and Bob said he didn't know, whatever she thought it was worth. Well, she came out with two five dollar bills. After she left we looked at each other and both of us burst out laughing. We were filthy dirty. All the way home Bob all of sudden would burst out laughing again. I'm glad we did it even if we didn't get paid enough. One of those lessons in life, get at least a general understanding up front.
I remember another old fellow who lived in the house next to our school to the South. Ozro Canolty, best I remember he was a tall lanky fellow that had a slight forward stoop when he walked. I hardly remember him saying a word and come to think about it I can't remember him ever smiling. Next to Ozro was Harold and LaRue Williams house. They had two kids Jennifer and Roy, we called him "Roy Boy". Jennifer was a year older than me and Roy was a year or two younger. I would go over to their house once in a while. Roy had nice toys that intrigued me. Especially an erector set. We build all kinds of concoctions. I ordered a Heath Short Wave Radio Kit about that time. I took it upstairs in our house away from any interference. I followed the directions closely and with dads soldiering iron soldiered it up in a few hours. After I got it finished I plugged it in and to my surprise, the first sound I heard was a radio station in Quito Ecuador. I listened to far away Short Wave people talking to each other from about every country on the globe. Roy liked it as well, one day I purposed we trade the Radio for one of his toys, forget which toy. He was OK with it and went to ask LaRue if she was OK with the trade. She thought we should wait two or three more days then if we were sure that was what we wanted to do then she would be OK with it. We made the trade and I know I was happy with it and assume Roy was too as I never heard any complaints. Later in life, I thought of that three day waiting period and adopted my own three-day wait policy. Tonyia and I to this day will not buy anything (including stocks in the Stockmarket) over $1000 without thinking about it for three days and that policy has served us well. We have backed out of buying things several times with this policy. Roy's older sister Jennifer was a sweet girl, I remember her always with a bubbly personality, never saw her that she didn't have a smile and happy disposition. We along with her cousin from Cincinnati would play in the old barn behind their house.
When I was 14, dad had me drive the pickup over to my sister Christina's place about 2 miles East and bring her and her son Fred back to our house. It went fine, dad then later had me to take them back home. After looking both ways I begin to pull out onto the county road we called Pennyville road. No one was in sight but just a few hundred feet to the west was a low dip in the road that led up to a sharp crest. Our neighbor who was in my brother Charlie's class had a 50's model Studebaker that was built with a low profile that was out of sight just below the crest. Just as I begin to move forward I looked over and saw him crest the hill going at a high speed, so fast I could see the muffler under his car. I think his front wheels were still earthbound but not even sure of that. I slammed the brakes but I knew it was impossible for him to pass us without a collision. He was going so fast it would have been impossible for him to stop. He put the car's right side in the ditch and his left side took off our front bumper. His car suffered much more damage than our truck. The next day dad went to see our insurance agent in Loogootee. Our insurance paid for our neighbor boys damage and I never heard a word about it from that day on. Dad never mentioned it.
I have never claimed to be without fault in my teen years, one time a load of six tough fellers intended to rough me up for dating a girl who was going steady with one of their buddies. They followed me out of town a few miles and attempted to stop me. Being outnumbered six to one I commenced reaching for an unloaded equalizer under the front seat. That ended the confrontation. Of course, I would have never used it for real nor could have I used it, just waving it did the trick, I just didn't want to get blood on my new shirt. From that day thence there were no more threats to my well-being. Not sure how it was my fault since she accepted my invitation for a date. I guess the right thing to do was stay out of it but that is not easy for a teenager. Anyway, from there on I tried to keep myself separated from any similar circumstances. After the fact, it was quite evident she staged the encounter to teach her future husband not to take her for granted. She actually encouraged me to take her out.
We had a neighbor down the road a piece to the West that had a farming operation. Frank and Lizzy were hard workers. Dad would trade out plumbing and electrical services for welding and farm services. In the spring planting season, we could hardly keep up our farm with such a small tractor. In lots of situations, Frank would bring his bigger tractor up and help us out. I remember on one occasion we needed help plowing the field along Pennyville Road. It was after a long rainy season. Frank came up in his pickup truck behind Clyde driving a brand new Allis Chalmers C45. I remember the front wheels stuck out the front way past the tractor. Frank got Clyde started and it was no time the field was fully plowed. Dad had a big smile on his face as they left for home. Dad thought the Bauer's were mighty fine people. I remember sometimes Lizzy would drive the school bus, we thought that was something else as mothers in those days didn't do that. I especially remember Clyde backing two tandem wagons into a narrow machine shed. A feat that only one in a million could accomplish if even that.
Chapter 7 STRANGE EVENTS
One summer evening Christina's husband, Robert Roach, along with Charlie my brother, we were putting up hay. It was about dusk when we decided to set on the wagon and have a drink of cold water. We were setting facing South, the sky was crystal clear, the stars were just beginning to come out when I said "look! what is that". There was a huge fireball falling down from the sky. It was impossible to estimate how far or how big it was. The fireball came down rather slowly and then broke off into three smaller fireballs. Well, the next morning the news read: Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 710, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, disintegrated in-flight and crashed near Cannelton, Indiana (10 miles east of Tell City, Indiana) on March 17, 1960. The flight carried 57 passengers and 6 crew members. There were no survivors. I knew it had to be something big but thought it might be a military exercise dropping flares. Little did I know we witnessed 63 souls going into eternity. Later it was said that the Electra had a design flaw when the tip of the propeller broke the sound barrier it sent a shock wave through the plane that broke the plane into pieces. Thank goodness aviation has come a long way with safety features.
The Alfordsville community decided to start a civil defense chapter and needed donations. The Assembly of God preacher Jim Schaffer and I went to several surrounding towns soliciting anything we could get. He was the main spokesman and was pretty good at getting money and goods that we could later sell. He stopped in front of the Coca-Cola plant in Jasper Indiana and looked over at me, a teenager and said, "it's your turn, try your luck here". I was petrified and began stumbling over my words as I had no idea who or how to approach them. I walked up to the receptionist desk and explained to the nice lady my business. She leads me down the hall and introduced me to a casually dressed gentleman. He said, "so Alfordsville is starting a civil defense program, huh, and you need a little help to pay bills, right?". I said, "yes sir we do". He got up and said come with me. He opened an overhead door in the back warehouse and there in front of us was preacher Schaffer parked on the street. He said have your friend back to the door. I motioned for Jim Schaffer to back up to the door. A couple of employees started carrying several cases of cokes and put them in the car trunk. We thanked them dearly. As we were driving off, Preacher Jim Schaffer looked over at me with a sheepish grin and said: "you will never get anything in this life unless you ask for it". I have never forgotten that statement. It served well through life.
One of the most active civil defense organizers was Paris Rayhill, our local TV and radio repairman. One late evening he called me on the CB radio and ask if I could come quickly to his house. When I got there he said a Martin County man went out on his tractor and had not returned home. When we got to Rutherford Twp staging site it was dark, several men were already there with lanterns and flashlights. Paris directed them to go in pairs and instructed them what area they were to cover. He said to not stay over two hours before coming back for more instruction and to build a bonfire if they got lost. Paris and I went together, I remember going up a steep grade in a wooded area on an old logging road. Paris had the searchlight, swinging it from side to side. Just then I saw a man laying on his stomach across a small log under the seat of the upside down tractor. As we approached we knew he was dead, his eyes were glazed and eerily open, staring at the ground in front of him. One hand was full of twigs, leaves, and dirt. He had dug an area out within reach of his arm a couple of inches deep. When we called the others on the CB about a dozen men came running including the Loogootee undertaker, Harry Miller. Harry took over the leadership and before he touched anything he said, "this man is barely pinned down but having been here so long most likely exposure is what killed him". Harry got a fallen tree limb about 5 ft long and about 4 inches in diameter, shoved it between the log and the seat and pried the seat up. He said fellows pull this poor devil out from under there. The man came out without resistance. Rigamortis has already set in, Harry said Rigamortis would leave over time but with both arms spread and both legs spread he would not be able to load him into his hearse. Harry turned him over face down, the fellow's main body was several inches in the air with only his hands and feet touching the ground. Harry got on top of him and pushed him down flat, turned him on his side and pressed his limbs together. Harry was at least a 250-300 lb fat man. The victim was then laid on a stretcher that had been delivered by Harry's assistant. We younger stout guys took turns carrying him a mile or so to the vehicles. It was near midnight when he was loaded and we all left the scene.
A funeral home in Jasper loaned us an old hearse for an ambulance. It was in good shape for a 50's model. We painted it, installed a siren and lights on the four corners of the roof. Added some first aid stuff. At about the same time, we purchased an old open-top fire truck, I remember my first ride in it, Herschel Arvin was driving and I was operating the siren. Of course, we never met a single car on the fire run but maybe the siren scared the cows and horses away. We had a great time talking about the fires after we got back. The women had hot chocolate, coffee, and donuts waiting to make it all worthwhile.
I vividly recount another sad event that took place a quarter mile east of Alfordsville. A nice family lived on the North side next to the county road. Their residence was perched up several feet above the road with a steep gravel driveway. The driveway next to the county road was 4-5 ft below the adjoining front yard, the bank became less steep toward the house. It was level with the East side of the house and that was where the man of the house parked his coal truck overnight. He was employed as a coal truck driver for a coal company mining coal a couple of miles North of Alfordsville. They were pilgrim holiness folks that lived out their beliefs. The wife was a tall woman that had very few words to say or at least in my presence. If I best remember they had three boys, two attended our school and were a few years older than myself. She had a baby boy late in life. The story goes that the little fellow was barely walking. The child always waved goodbye to his father as his father left for work early in the morning. The little fellow was standing behind the screen door waving goodbye. The father waved as he climbed up into the double axle dump truck. The father cranked the truck and as usual for vehicles in those days he let the motor warm up a bit before taking off. In the meantime, the little boy had pushed open the screen door and was crossing the yard toward the truck. The father put the truck in gear and as he begins to move forward he heard a cry. The little fellow had made his way toward the truck and apparently had fallen down a short bank two or three feet high toward the truck. Authorities suspected the cry came as he was falling down the bank. The father slammed the brakes at the sound of the cry, but it was too late, the little guy's head was crushed under the first wheel on the trucks rear axle. The reaction was beyond tragic for that mother and the community alike, I heard my parents discussing it and they wondered if she would ever recover. My parents knew them very well and held them in the highest regard. They were truly good law-abiding and honest God-fearing people. It brought the community together as nothing else could.
Well, this will be the last sad story for now at least. My brother's classmate was going with a girl who lived diagonally across the street and a few houses north of our High School. She had these beautiful moon eyes that radiated from a glamorous round face, all topped with flowing auburn hair. After she graduated she married my brother's classmate a few months later. She got a job at the Loogootee garment company and rode to work with another Alfordsville resident. One morning she picked up her passenger and they traveled Eastbound on the only access county road from Highway 231 to our community. Highway 231 was two miles East of town. The county road was unpaved at the time, the entrance to the highway was at a sharp angle and was uphill. She must have thought the approaching car was either going slower than suspected or when she let out the clutch on her car the back wheels begin to spin on the gravel, either way, the oncoming car slammed into the drivers' side door killing her instantly. Her passenger was severely injured requiring months and months of medical attention leaving her face severely disfigured for life. I remember at the funeral her husband being carried to the car from her grave site. Several months later he would pick me up and drive to Washington. He began to date again but I could tell his heart wasn't in it. We double-dated several times then he eventually remarried.
Chapter 8 SPECIAL DAYS
I had a wonderful girlfriend in HS, she was shy, she nestled under my arm as we drove around the countryside. She always had the sweetest smile, I never saw her without it. She was pretty and had the most pleasing disposition. She lost her mother early and lived with her father. She was a "people pleaser" and would do about anything to help people. I always wanted to be with her as she could cheer me up even in my most downcast moments, in retrospect I did sincerely love her, we macho Alfordsville boys didn't use that word a lot, didn't want to give in to those sissy words too much, nowadays everybody tells everybody they love them. One cool fall night we were parked in her driveway, everything was quiet, she was all snuggled up tight to me. She told me about an unusual experience she had the night before that gave me what I thought was a reason to be apprehensive. I will not reveal it publicly because in hindsight it amounted to little or nothing, really, might just have been a bad dream even if she thought it was for real. I just thought we needed to separate and think it over for a while. I had an older sister that had a similar night experience and was hospitalized for a mental condition, even though it shook me up for a while, I should have explained to her my feelings. Stupid me, the breakup was much too abrupt on my part. Shortly afterward I knew in my heart of hearts I had made a "mountain out of a molehill" especially the way I handled it. It was a terrible mistake on my part, actually, more than terrible. My actions was that of a dumb idiot. The break-up should not have been so permanent. It was hard to give her up, to this very day I think about the wonderful times we shared together and our school days together. A few days later I wanted to put it all back together. I drove past her driveway a half dozen times but couldn't force myself to turn in. I was afraid if I did it would create a confrontation. In my mind, she was an archetype of human perfection, just a wonderful, wonderful good person. This is a short account with so much left out as not to indulge too far into our relationship. I don't think she would object to what I have already written. A friend forwarded me a link to her wedding pictures and also her 50th wedding anniversary, she is as pretty now as she ever was and most likely will always be beautiful both inside and out.
From there I hung around Alfordsville for several months. It was during this time that my sister Christina had friends whose niece Patricia "Patty" Doyle from New York City was coming to see them. They were her aunt and uncle in Washington. They wanted Christina to ask if I would entertain/escort their niece around during her stay. I agreed while having no idea what I was getting in to. I went to pick her up and out her aunt & uncles front door came this beautiful dazzling dizzy blonde. She wasn't exactly dizzy but she was blonde (and dazzling). She was amused at what she was experiencing around Alfordsville. Earlier after our School closed down, the doors were unlocked so I escorted myself in our abandoned school building for a general observation. I found the student files in the Principals office had not been removed so I helped myself to my records and still have them today. After that, I strolled down to the Chemistry room where stuff was in major disarray. After going through the metal cabinets I came across something that looked like a bar of very lightweight Aluminum. It was about half inch or more thick by four or five inches square. It was wrapped in cellophane film and packaged inside a thin cardboard box. I read a warning on the back of the box that said: "A major explosion can result if this product comes in contact with water". Well, I decided to take it out on a trial run at the upper strip mine, maybe this would impress my New York friend. I told Patty I had some dangerous stuff in the trunk that looked like aluminum but softer. I ask if she would like to see it explode. She nodded a reluctant "yes", then she gave me this piercing stare. I laughed it off while peeling off a nice size hunk with my pocket knife, then we went down to the pit's edge and threw it out to the middle of the water. It produced a blast that could be heard for a mile along with a four to five foot high intense flames, then as it blew apart little pieces flung all around with dozens of secondary explosions. I was told later that is was an alkali metal and very dangerous. It scared her to death, she went running toward the car at full speed. She said that kind of activity would never go over very well in New York City. She told me all about New York City and that she was a professional Ballet Dancer. She claimed one leg was a quarter inch shorter as a result of her dancing career. I didn't dispute her word. She was a nice girl and I could have gotten a little more serious but our religions were in direct conflict as she was Catholic and that was a no-no religion in our house. Mom always thought the Mark of the Beast would come out of that religion. We spent several days together entertaining each other with small talk and some hugging and kissing. She left after a weeks stay. She wrote and said she wanted to talk to me more often if I would call her. About my only option was the payphone booth on the North side of Herschel Arvin's gas station as we had a three family party phone line and several nosy souls residing in our house. So we made an agreement that I would call her every week on Sunday evening. It took a lot of nickels and dimes, every so often an operator would say, "please deposit another fifteen cents". She was right beside the phone since she answered after the first ring. We talked about our daily activities, her activities were much more interesting than mine. She asked if I would like to visit New York City sometime. "Of course", I answered. The next week she said if I would fly up she would pay my plane fare and send my tickets by mail. I took a big gulp, then said, I would like that. In just a few days later I got the tickets that were scheduled to fly directly from Evansville to LaGuardia on a DC6 turboprop. It was my first flight, my brother Charles took me to the airport. My return flight was open-ended. I left and could not take my eyes off the landscape. Little towns and the houses looked miniature. The plane never flew very high as I could always spot baseball fields, graveyards and the like. It seems like hours on end that it hummed and vibrated which kept me on edge. At last, I begin to see huge tall buildings like I was going into a scary unknown world of tall miniature buildings from my perspective. It was all very magical in my mind. When we landed we disembarked several hundred feet from the terminal which was tiny compared to today's LaGuardia terminals. I saw Patty looking out the window and waving from the second level. She had a big wide smile before I got to the lower level she was down there waiting to give me a big hug and a welcome to the big city and the bright lights. I had on pants that the cuffs were barely down to my ankles. A farm boy needs to keep mud off his pants. I noticed her glancing down at those JC Penny hand-me-down pants then she said let's go into town as I have a surprise for you. She took me downtown NY in her VW yellow bug, I was astonished at the building heights and all the cars and buses honking continuously. We arrived at a men's clothing store, as we walked in a smooth-talking fellow with an olive complexion, it was darker skin than I was used to in Alfordsville at least, asked how he could help. He was looking me up and down with a polite smile. Patty said, "I promised my friend here from Indiana that I would surprise him with some fancy clothes". He said, "come right this way". He brought out some differently styled pants in various colors and looked at me for a choice, I immediately looked at Patty for a choice, Patty was not bashful. She politely stepped forward and said, "I think these are perfect for him". She commenced to buy a shirt and socks to match and requested that I try them on. The salesman escorted me to the dressing room. My new look made me look like somebody I hardly recognized in the dressing room mirror. Patty told the salesperson to put my other garments in a bag and that I would wear the new ones". He turned me around a few times while taking off all the labels. We then commenced going to her house in Long Island where I was greeted by an older sister and her mother. Both of them smoked in the house but Patty hated cigarettes. Her father had deceased a dozen years prior. I tried to make myself useful by doing odd repair jobs. Patty and I made several trips to the Hardware store for parts and I repaired everything from the garbage disposal to installing a new outside clothesline. Her mother fell in love with me, she lavished me with rousing praise, the best food and comforts I had never experienced on the farm. Her semi-beautiful sister seemed amused that I was there and remained cordially guarded. I think her and Patty sometimes didn't see things eye to eye. I was there for a week and ask Patty if I should think about leaving when her mother intervened encouraging me to stay as long as I could. I guess by that time you could say Patty and I were a little more than just friends. She talked about the perfect husband and somehow I felt like it described me. She wanted someone like her dad who was a pipe-fitter and plumbing service technician. Patty was nice and not the least demanding. She was definitely "Big City" since her interest was in Drama and Theater. Things were going very well, then on one afternoon I get a call, Patty's mother said a call for you Tommy from some gentleman. I answered and it was my dad, he asks if I was coming home sometime soon. He said he needed me to help with a plumbing job. I knew it wasn't true that he needed me back to help but thought I better get back anyway and this was as good excuse as any. Anyway, I needed to go before I wore out my welcome. That was not the sentiment on Long Island, my newfound girlfriend was huggy and melancholy the night before I was scheduled to leave. I knew I couldn't set up residence with them forever and had to go back to Indiana to digest some major issues with our future relationship. After I got back home we continued our weekly phone conversations. I finally ask if we should decide to get married how would she perceive our children's religious affiliation. Her answer broke our relationship wide open when she said they would have to be Catholic without exception. In these days issues like this hardly would make or break a relationship but in the 60's being from a staunch Protestant family and she raised Catholic it was a major issue. Anyway, maybe we were obviously culturally different in our upbringing and that might have brought other adverse issues into the equation later on in life. On that occasion, I suspect both of us dodged the bullet so to speak even though I knew she was good marriage material, but on this occasion, I hoped she would find some good Catholic fellow.
Chapter 9 MOVED OFF THE FARM
After some time I went to Cincinnati to get a job. My sister Amy and her husband Bill Perry lived in the North part of Cincinnati and I stayed with them for a while. Amy had a Hammond organ, she told me I would not have to pay rent if I let her teach me how to play the Hammond organ, so to this day, I can do a half decent job of playing the organ. Actually, we have a Hammond B3 today. From there I got an HVAC job with Madisonville Heating Co. in Fairfax, a suburb just East of Cincy. I started out at $1.60 per hour in 1964 at barely 19 years old. The owner, Jim Hodge, liked me and was impressed that I could do the installations without any help (learned that from my dad). He put me over a crew and raised my pay to $1.80 per hour. I got an apartment about 20 blocks away near Fairfax, I remember the address was 6116 Roe Street, Madisonville, OH. I shared a bathroom with a family of five. The kids would knock on the door wanting to use the bathroom while I was in the bathtub. I hated that place, I had been used to an outside toilet and a shower in the cellar, indoor plumbing seemed to complicate things. I ate TV dinners and frequented Jerry's restaurant occasionally for a pancake breakfast just across the street from my employment. It was a far cry from mother Enid's good squirrel gravy and biscuits. I walked to work in order to save gas. I had a 1955 Blue Studebaker President car that had a Hurst 4 speed with a huge engine. My boss, Jim, was married to a midget, Edith whom everybody called "Edee", she took me in as a son and always made sure that I was treated fairly, she actually ran the company and had a good business head. She might have been a little over four foot tall. She always spoke to me in a respectful manner but I heard her lay the law down on a few occasions to other employees and even her sons in no uncertain terms. She had no girls only four normal size sons, Gary, Mike, Jim, and Joe. who were good boys, one of them was somewhat rebellious, but Edee could quickly put them in line. Edee was religious, I think she was Nazarene. She never allowed any non-sense that was out of line with her religion, with only one exception, she tolerated her husband Jim's alcohol addiction. Almost daily he would call me on the company business radio to come to pick him up in the company truck and drive to the same bar about 15 blocks away. We would go in and belly up to the bar, the bartender would give me a sideways snarling look knowing I was underage and illegal. Jim would order me a coke, then order himself a double-double Kessler whiskey. About 15 minutes later he would order a second double-double Kessler. We went through this routine day in and day out. Walking him back to the truck, I would open the door but didn't dare touch him unless he grabbed my arm in order to steady himself, then I would assist getting him up in the passenger side. He was as friendly as could be until he got tight, that brought the ugly side of him, even though he could get ugly occasionally with those around him he always remained civil with me. He nicknamed me "Singer" because he thought I looked like Elvis, it was not a compliment on my part because I didn't like that rock and roll stuff Elvis put out back then. Edee thought it was funny and would smile when he called me "Singer". Edee had a good sense of humor, we seemed to understand each other without either saying a word. When there was an issue going on she would sometimes confide in me. She knew it was safe to speak about things in our privacy. She had a normal size head but her body resembled an 8-10 year old girl. Being so short she would pat me on my lower back and rub my back a little and asked if I was doing OK in a motherly way. She hated to see me go to another higher paying job, but she said she didn't blame me because I needed to do what was best for me. She had a little going away party after work with all the fellows. She teared up and gave me a tight hug around the waist. That was the last time I ever saw her or any of them for that matter. Jim called me several years later when I had an HVAC business in Washington, just to bring me up on the news. The middle son gave them lots of trouble in the years after I left. I found both their recent obituaries online, including their son Gary who was my age.
During this time I was dating a girl who was relative to a girl from Alfordsville. Her dad offered me a higher paying job at his Cincinnati Glass business, where I started apprenticeship under, Mel Seider, the best glazier in Cincinnati, so I was told. I did pick up the trade fairly quickly, Mel was an obnoxious fellow who only found the negative in everybody around him. He was the most negative person I ever knew. He treated me good as one could expect a negative person to treat a young hayseed off the farm. He really never said a bad word to me but he could run everybody else down especially Ace Glass employees including my girlfriend's dad who owned the place. Another employee, Jim, was blind in one eye as a result of mixing up an explosive compound, Nitroglycerin, in his youth. His mother got him a chemistry set for Christmas and it went from there, he blew the whole wall of his bedroom into the street. He had a motorcycle and wanted to take me on a ride through town over a lunch hour. Away we went, we stopped at a red light and I was hanging on causally with my hands around his waist. He took off with a bang with front wheel went off the ground and I went off the back on my butt in the middle of a busy intersection. I remember looking around at people who were staring at me in horror. Our boss saw it from his office window and when we returned he almost fired Jim on the spot. When our boss got irritated he would stutter, there was lots of stuttering on that occasion.
I told my boss one day that I was considering starting a glass shop in Jasper Indiana providing I could find a good glass man. He looked me square in the eye and said, “when you start a new business you better be the good man”. He thought maybe I would be heading the company someday as his daughter and I had a relationship, so he heaped a lot of good business advice my way with that in mind. I never forgot how that advice assisted me along life's way. Being raised in a non-business environment, I was quite lucky to be mentored by such an astute employer, to say the least. I most likely will always have good memories of my time employed at Ace Glass Company where I gained a vast business knowledge that took me to new heights in life. I will always consider him a friend and his memory will never die as long his advice keeps surfacing to save my butt from time to time. His grave is at Oak Grove Cemetery, a few miles West of our family farm. My relationship with his daughter did not play out too well but the breakup most likely benefited her the most as we were light years apart in our raising. I have to admit she needed to get an educated professional type, I wasn't polished enough to fit the bill, I didn't understand her and she didn't understand me, a hayseed from the sticks ("Don't be unequally yoked").
On one occasion my boss asked if I would replace a
a broken window after hours in a three-story rest home about a block from work. I agreed, the window was on the second-floor staircase. The only way I could take the old broken glass out was from the street side. I didn't bring a ladder so I had to set on the window sill on the outside and lower the window to my legs which were sticking inside. The broken window was broken into three sections. I pulled the right section loose and the commenced to remove the left section leaving the middle section to remove later as my hands were full and pedestrians were walking beneath me. Just then the middle section came loose, it was V-shaped pointing down. It went down and slide under my kneecap cutting a main vein. Blood was shooting out in heart-beat spurts. I looked down and waited for a few seconds until below pedestrians were not under me and dropped the two pieces of glass to the sidewalk, nearby pedestrians went running all directions. Just then a male orderly was coming down the stairs and saw blood flowing down the inside wall five feet to the floor. He yelled for help and I think the whole staff came clamoring down the stairs on one side and up the stairs on the other side. The orderly pulled the glass out of my kneecap and bandaged a tourniquet above my knee then others helped me down. From there an in-house nurse at the same facility doctored up my knee so I could at least walk with a limp. I thought my boss would be furious with me but instead, when I got back to the shop he said things like that happen even in our most cautious moments. My boss supported me through a lot of my "bad" decisions, I am sure he thought I was learning good lessons from my mistakes. For thirty years glass would come out of my knee in small slivers. When I felt a sharp point protruding out of my knee I knew to get the tweezers and pull out a sliver of glass. My boss's daughter, my girlfriend was not allowed to see me during the school week so she asks me to meet her in the evening at a Library near her a few times during the week. It was a long drive to the library for me to just sit there and do nothing, not even a meaningful conversation while she was studying away. During this time I went through some severe loneliness, it was then I decided to attend a Hughes High School's Trigonometry ll night class. There were 71 students in my class. I was fairly good at math and already had one year of Trigonometry under Judge Gallagher at Alfordsville High. I enjoyed the class as an alternative to being extremely lonesome during the week. I was proud to be the only one out of the 71 students who "Aced" the final examination. At that time I was living in the L.B. Harrison Club about six blocks from my new work. It was a young business men's high rise complex that was sponsored by the city. My rent was low and the amenities were great, meals, pool, exercise room, recreation room, activities of all sorts. It provided all the amenities a country boy could ever expect. The only problem was it was stuffed full of fairy boys that would hit on me every time I went down to swim. From Hughes High School night class I rode home with a fellow student from the same facility. One night he had a beautiful Peruvian girl with him who also was a Hughes High night student, she shared an apartment with another Peruvian lady about 10 blocks away. My friend and she were in the same class, he offered to take her home. She was seated in the front seat between us. She and I struck up a conversation pretty quick and I could tell we were enjoying each others company. She spoke almost perfect English. My friend was not happy about my new found friendship with her since he was the one who asks if she wanted a ride home. Her name was Laura Arbulu, she was young looking for her age and must say much younger in spirit. She stood about 5 foot tall. I was 19 and she was 31. She was a Nurse Practitioner. She had a great sense of humor. We hit it off as she was all about boosting my ego. She made me feel like I was on top of the world. We enjoyed each others company immensely, we enjoyed a tremendous relationship. My loneliness totally disappeared. Several months later her parents came to visit from Peru along with Laura's three children from a previous family arranged marriage. When the children came on the scene, Oops! that put the damper on our relationship as she now had to think about supporting and managing a family. I started feeling second fiddle. I knew this was not the ideal situation but she was so good to me it was difficult to think about separation. I had to think about the future as her 2 boys were 8 and 9, a daughter 13, I was 19 and Laura was 31, so I did break it off in a nice way. I learned my lesson from making an abrupt previous break-off. On the last night we dated we were in her Corvair parked in her apartment parking space, she said she loved me more than I could ever imagine. I just held her close, cheek to cheek, as her tears flowed down both our cheeks. It was about more than I could take. I knew it wasn't fair to her and nearly reversed my intentions, but then I was reminded that a lot of good beginnings have bad endings and I was fully aware that our future held all the potential for a bad ending, with that in mind I moved forward with life. Thirty years later I found out she was still single, spending her time entertaining a few dozen grand-kids in Miami Florida.
[ My only advice to young people that is when you're in a relationship remember that people and circumstances can change over time, some can have a negative personality change. Some quirks or traits you might dislike in them in your youth but tend to go along anyway can become magnified over time. In Laura and my relationship, it involved being locked into a relationship that involved a previous marriage and all the baggage that goes along with that. Just stand back and take some deep thoughts about living with this person for the rest of your life. Take a good look at their raising compared to your, their family situation, their religion or lack thereof. Do you enjoy being with each other, do you long to be with them when you're separated, are they your best friend? Do you enjoy each other in conversation, does your interest have the same level of intellect? If your answer is "yes" to most of the above there can be other issues that come up with age differences, etc. Don't make a decision you will regret and could cause harm to not only you and your mate but your children. Think about it and don't take anything for granted. Those little negative issues you take for granted while dating may become big issues in the marriage relationship]
Chapter 10 THE ONE AND ONLY
I was working off and on in Cincinnati and was home for a few weeks. It was a nice Saturday evening when mom asked me if I wanted to go that night to a Gospel Sing at the Alfordsville school gymnasium. I wasn't sure what a gospel sing was but since I had nothing else to do maybe I would give it a try. At least I could say I went to a Gospel sing. The family took both vehicles, our car and pickup as several siblings wanted to attend. When I got there Ronnie Arvin was standing outside the entrance door, so I ask what this was all about. He was as inquisitive as I was and new nothing as this was his first time to attend a gospel sing. Another group of men singers was unloading sound equipment from a trailer. I ask if they needed help carrying the equipment inside. They said “sure” so Ronnie and I carried a couple of pieces and set them inside the door. Ronnie was then leaning up against the back wall so I leaned up next to him and chit-chatted a little bit. The gymnasium had a tarp spread over the gym floor with about 150 metal chairs set up. Most were taken and the bleachers were about half full. We heard someone pecking in the microphone and then there came the 1-2-3, 1-2-3 repeated over and over to get the amplifier tuned in just right. The local Assembly of God preacher, Jim Schaffer announced the first group as The Kline Trio hailing from Petersburg Indiana. Jim was a singer and guitarist who organized Alfordsville's first Gospel Sing. Two lovely girls and their brother started walking toward the stage. I noticed the younger one has the most beautiful long hair and a swing in her walk that could not go unnoticed. When they got on stage her sister was the pianist and promptly set on the piano bench, and with an “up and down” bounce to the beat of some good Ole southern Pentecostal revival song started the group singing. Her brother Dwain was the MC, with sister Tonyia smiling while looked straight ahead at the audience. Those two shared a pedestal microphone. I could hear her little deep voice ringing out of two large speakers facing the audience on each side of the gymnasium, it hit me hard that she might be the "one and only". I said to Ronnie, “see that middle one", Carmen was on her left and Dwain was on her right. He said sure, I said, “I would love to marry her”. He let out a muffled laugh and said: “how do you know she's not married”. I responded that I had this gut feeling she's single. I then told him that I thought I would take her home that night. He then let out another laugh. I said, “you just watch”. After the sing was dismissed the singing groups moved to the back where they had their own table set up selling LP records, group photos, and some other stuff. The next group was a male quartet that added a physical swinging component to their performance, they not only sang but performed a show for the crowd. During their performance, I knew which side of the gym the Kline Trio would be taking on their way back to the stage for a second round. I commenced setting on the bleachers on that side about three rows up so I could get a good look at this talented beauty that had come to our little-known town to sing. Then the Trio was announced again and the preacher asks the crowd to give them another big round of applause. I saw my mom smiling and clapping vigorously while looking back to see the group coming forward. I was setting about halfway up on the bleachers on their way to the stage. I was following Miss Tonyia's eyes intensely, then just as they were within about ten feet of passing me this wingless angel flashed those midnight dark eyes up my direction, with the bright stage lights adding an extra flash component, it was a high noon encounter. I knew the chase was on. I suspected something was churning behind those dark flashing eyes and hopefully it was churning in my direction, this was my first ray of hope that I had a slim, but hopeful chance to develop a relationship. One thing I was most positive about was her glance toward me was not an accident and my watching her was no accident either. After the sing ended a couple dozen folks cued up to her table, folks buying LP records, photos, and other stuff. I got in the back of the line so I would be last if I didn't do this I knew the line would push me on through. This was my only chance to stop and hopefully get acquainted. My problem was that someone would always get in line behind me, so in order to be the last one I had to exit the line several times and then re-enter. At last, I was the last one in line and coming up to her she gave me a wide smile looking at me straight in the eye, she asked, “How are you tonight”. Apprehension was pounding hard at my heartstrings, my tongue was stuck in low gear, I could hardly get a word out. All I could say was, “I'm doing fine, how about you”. She kinda had this grin as she lowers her head to sign a photograph. She then hands it to me with, “this one is for you, it's free we have extras”. All I could say was “Thank you” then I knew I had to say something more or my chances would get slimmer and slimmer. I sort of blurted out in country boy fashion, “Where are you from”, she answered “Petersburg, how about you”, I responded that my family lived near here. I then ask what was her age (unintentionally getting personal on our first encounter), she said 19, I said I'm 19 too, Then I ask her birthday she said “Jan 18”, “can you believe this, mine is Jan 6th” so we discovered we were born 11 days apart. She exclaimed, “what a coincidence”. After a little more small talk that we had same color eyes and hair, I ask her if she would consider letting me take her home. I insisted Petersburg was kinda on the way (Gulp! Gulp!) to my home. Mind you home was less than two miles and Petersburg was 25miles away. She said “I don't know about that”, my heart sank momentarily ...then after a short pause she continued, “but I will ask my brother and sister if they can manage without me”. A three letter word kept ringing in my mind, please say“YES”. I glanced at her talking with her siblings, Her brother was shuffling his feet as he faced the floor, her sister looked my direction several times, once she caught me looking. Her eyes were in an extreme negative configuration. Then I heard Tonyia's little footsteps coming in my direction, as I turned toward her I took one last deep breath because I knew if she said "No" it would be the end of the world. Well, smiling she looked up at me and said, "I think I will let you take me home if the invitation is still open", then she said to let her know when I was ready to go. It was like I was in another world at that point. I knew then I had to do some real negotiating with mom and dad to get the 1960 Buick that was recently inherited from mom's sister Annie Brown's estate. When I told mom what was up, she could hardly believe it, actually, Tonyia was considered equivalent to a Nashville star in our little God-fearing town of 100 residents. Mom then responded, "hold on a minute, let me talk to dad", about 30 feet away they were in deep conversation and I could tell dad was not happy about giving up the car as that meant more than one trip with the pickup truck to get everybody home. Then I knew mom had won the battle when she looked over smiling while shaking her head "yes". I gingerly approached Tonyia with, "I'm ready to leave anytime you are", she picked up her white furry coat, threw her purse over her shoulder and walked out holding onto my arm, prancing along in those high heel shoes as they clicked away across the Gym floor. I glanced back to see the whole auditorium full of meandering bystanders who for the most part were observing us with their faces frozen in shock. Even the big time featured quartet had a perplexing stare on their faces as we walked past their table. Probably one of them had their eye on her as well. What else could a man desire in this world, I had a beautiful woman on my arm that might lead to who knows where? When we got outside, I escorted her toward our big long white LeSabre Buick, I gentlemanly opened the passenger door as the dome light lite up and then, WOW! , to my astonishment, a double "D" bra was lying across the passenger seat. My mom sometimes had to finish dressing on the way after getting all the kids ready to go. For a half-second I was in shock as what to do, I instantly lunged myself between her and the seat and flung the bra into the back seat. She pretended she never saw anything but now she has a big belly laugh every time that story is repeated. She says "I saw everything and was actually jealous that I couldn't fit into those big double D's". We left Alfordsville by way of Washington because the car was low on gas. When I stopped at the gas station the attendant asked how much gas I needed, I pulled out my billfold and it was completely empty. I knew there were eight one hundred dollar bills in my money belt. I told the attendant five dollars worth. When he left I told Tonyia that to my surprise my billfold was empty but I carried money in a money belt and if she would excuse me I needed to remove the belt in order to get some cash. She nodded OK with a half-grin on her face as she tried to look away but her curiosity forced her to take a peek my way now and then. I tried to act all business like it was just an everyday occurrence and that I had no ulterior motive, I just kept my bank account around my waist. We went on to her house in Petersburg and parked near their carport, her parents had a nice house as her father was a contractor. We talked a little bit but I was very uneasy to make any move toward even a farewell kiss as her being a Gospel singer I thought maybe she might think me too forward for the first occasion, well later she said she was anxiously anticipating a good night kiss that was not delivered. I kept the event all business and took down her address and phone numbers at home and at work. She worked as a dental assistant for Dr. Dunigan in Petersburg ever since she was 15 years old. The next Monday after deciding to stick around I applied for contract work at Sears & Roebuck installing AC & heating equipment. They were behind and was excited I came in, then low-and-behold they had an urgent job to get done and guess where it was, Petersburg, and the customer was Tonyia's old school teacher. That was a God-Sent since Tonyia and I spent a lot of getting acquainted time together during her lunch hour and after work. She was always upbeat and full of energy, I was crazy in love with her and knew she was my love for life so I proposed marriage in two weeks after we met. She wanted to get better acquainted so the romance lasted a full year. We were married on November 11, 1966. (Her dad was a good old fellow. His Grandfather immigrated to the US during the Civil War and fought for the Union. He was from Prussia now a part of Germany, His name was August Klein, he was born in August and died in August. Most all Klein's from Prussia were Jewish immigrants. He married a full-blooded Cherokee Indian in North Carolina. His son changed his last name from Klein to Kline). Back to our story, the next time I took her out for a date, her family wanted to meet me, so I went up and knocked on the front door which was seldom used. Her dad came to the door, he cupped his hand on the glass and was looking at me not over one foot away. I was petrified since at times he could display a contorted mean looking face. I stepped back a few steps then the door opened and he invited me in with a big happy face with a pat on my back chuckling the whole time. Her mother was a nervous type who inadvertently always could say and/or do the wrong thing at the wrong time. We got along fine once we settled the fact that Tonyia was married and no longer home under mother's rules. We enjoyed going to their house for Sunday dinner as her mother Thelma was a superb cook. Our mother-in-law/son-in-law relationship mellowed quite comfortably over time. Sometime later, Tonyia and I both thought it best that she drop out of the trio and lead a normal family life. One thing I observed was every gospel group sought popularity and the ultimate goal of traveling in a big greyhound style bus. Tonyia didn't care about that stuff so she pulled out, the two siblings formed a new group. For obvious reasons, I became the villain in that decision, but we both were glad to lead a private life. The "on the road - get famous" business has several serious drawbacks. Tonyia had one deranged stalker that would hide behind his car while parked behind the dental office where she worked. He would jump out and take photos of her as she tried desperately to escape into the back door of the dental office. Later he sent me a threatening letter that if I didn't leave her alone things bad would happen to me. Then he told another person in town, "would she think about being his girlfriend, if he cut her throat". That was the final straw for being in the public's eye. The Sheriff brought him in and we never heard about him again. Even after we were married she had some dangerous stalkers along with after midnight phone calls. They were picked up by the law and forbidden to make any contact with her through a restraining order. Over time she began to feel safe at last. This world is full on Chaos and troubles abound in every facet of life. We must face them and move on.
To continue to PART THREE
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Necessity is the plea for
every infringement of
human freedom. It is the
argument of tyrants; it is
the creed of slaves
"Anyone can rescue his human life who seizes every opportunity of being a man by means of personal action, however unpretending, for the good of fellow men who need the help of a fellow man." Albert Schweitzer
Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon Torah of Economics : There is no such thing as a free lunch, and all the rest is merely explanation Basic fallacy : it is possible to do good with others people's money Thank God for Government's unlimited ability to waste The major monetary metal in history is silver, not gold.” & especially not fiat paper. Columbus did not seek a new route to the Indies in response to a majority directive. Governments never LEARN. Only people LEARN. Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
Paper money always returns to its intrinsic value – zero.
It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities The history of the great events of this world are scarcely more than the history of crime To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize
When words lose their meaning, people lose their liberty.........Confucius
God designed and Amateurs built the Ark,
Engineers designed and professionals built the Titanic,
The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of evil people but because ordinary people do nothing about it - Albert Einstein
When I die, I'll be leaving behind the same amount of money as Bill Gates. All of it - Theodore Mantle
*When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. - Thomas Jefferson
There are a thousand hackling at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root - Henry D. Thoreau
When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent. Isaac Asimov
Ann H. Gabhart, Fiction Writer
* The reality is, if we tell the truth, we only have to tell the truth once. If you lie, you have to keep lying forever - Wayne Dosick