Tuesday, July 02, 2013


Sondheime, La  was my hometown and I went back on a sentimental journey to remember such as this:

    He was an old man with a small pension.  She was much younger but very homely--alone and adrift in the world.  Somehow they connected---lived together--but never married----UNTIL MY MOTHER TOOK ACTION.  Perhaps she empathized with Miss Barker's situation---the indignity of illegitimacy.  I heard her tell Uncle Joe that "things aren't right".  You need to marry that lady.  He said he wanted to do the right thing but didn't know anything about that "legal stuff'".  Mother said she would handle all that---and she did.  I remember the touching moment when Mother and I drove them to the preacher's house and there in his living room they said their vows.  Uncle Joe awkwardly kissed his bride when directed by the preacher.  It may well have been their first kiss.

     They lived on the banks of the Mississippi River---a family of 6 ---in a shack the father built on public land.  I visited once and was made shy by the sheer joy of that household.  They dazzled me with attention as though I were a celebrity.  Then one day the river rose and they moved to Sondheimer----erected an Army mess- tent on company land and settled into it.  All us kids were envious of their cool house.  They brought their aliveness to town---I can see in my mind Wimpy Morgan (yes that's what everyone called him) with a long stick and string attached to a toy boat he had carved---pulling it along in the ditch---it made a beautiful pattern.  I think the family lived in town thereafter---till the kids moved away.

    Said he hated this hick town---would not spend his life picking cotton--was going to go out west and find a better life----And so he left---went to Arizona ----was gone about a month----suddenly---HE WAS BACK----LOOKING SHEEPISH.  When finally he told the story---said the only work he could find was PICKING COTTON.  He worked just long enough to earn bus fare home.

     His father, Tom Winters was killed by lightening--(my brother found the body).  Buddy worked for my father, lumbering---married Betty May--had kids--moved to Dallas Texas---had a career as a garbage collector---retired---somehow lost his wife and kids----came back to Sondheimer to die.

     Everyone called him Peach Liquor because that was his favorite drink.  On Saturday's I tended the Colored side of my Father's bar and would see Peach Liquor get liquored up.  Always, Always--when he drank---his friends would insist that he dance.  Everyone knew that Peach Liquor had been a showman/dancer in the famous Rabbit foot Minstrel Show. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rabbit's_Foot_Company ---Eventually he would go to the middle of the room---everyone would clear a circle---this was a thing to see---AND HE WOULD DANCE----just like bo Jangles in the song---he would dance.  I only saw the full performance once--it was unforgettable. He would indeed "Jump so high--he'd jump so high--then he'd lightly touch down"  He would whirl and slide--stop suddenly--grin at his audience---then begin to tap dance.  His audience went wild---he was a hero---and all the ladies wanted to drink with him at his table.

     I've forgotten his name---he came to Sondheimer to harvest persimmon wood---said they make weaving shuttles out of them. http://www.alamohardwoods.com/persimmon-hardwood-lumber.  He rented a small piece of land--put up a small sawmill and began to pay premium prices for persimmon logs.  Hiring local labor they would cut the logs into small billets perhaps 4 inches square and 2 feet long. ( Junior cut off his thumb doing this work.)  Thousands of these blocks of wood were shipped out by railroad to a finishing mill somewhere.  AND THEN ONE DAY THERE WERE NO MORE PERSIMMON LOGS.  AND TO THIS DAY NO MORE PERSIMMON TREES.  The mill and the man disappeared--- All the sweet fruits nature had supplied were gone.  No more sweet surprises in the woods in  autumn. The town had a few dollars for a few days.  I wonder if I'm the only one who misses the persimmons.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:   here's the larger point I am trying to make with all this Sondheimer stuff:
EVERY TOWN IS AS INTERESTING AS MY TOWN.  THE FULL DRAMA OF LIFE IS BEING PLAYED OUT EVERYWHERE.  It only requires NOTICING to be appreciated.  I have lots more Sondheimer stories and it is doing something good for me to tell them---will continue till I think it's time to quit. I have contacted friends and acquaintances across the nation to confirm my memory---and that has been a joy.  I don't know how much dabbling in the past is useful.

Update:  Yesterday our whole RTR bunch shifted to a new and equally beautiful forest a few miles away.



Joe and Tracey said...

Randy, your wonderful stories of your hometown sound like the stuff from which Southern literature is made. Keep it up!

Jeanie Esquibel said...

Great stories Randy. Thank you reminds me of folks back home.

Anonymous said...

Yes "VERY TOWN IS AS INTERESTING AS MY TOWN. THE FULL DRAMA OF LIFE IS BEING PLAYED OUT EVERYWHERE." How very true, but it does take someone very special to put those stories into words that allow the reader to "see' it. Nice job!

Sondra said...

Got lots of persimmon trees here on my bit of land Randy...the dogs love the ripe ones that fall in Autumn!