Saturday, July 20, 2013


I recently took a sentimental Journey home to Sondheimer, La to renew old memories.
At the end of these stories, I will show you what's happening here in the forest.

 Jackie Ward, Jerry Wayne Greer and I were a daily triad---adventuring in a hundred ways. Jackie's father ran the stave mill---walked with a limp.  In grade school Jackie won the girl I wanted--Jean Williams---I ached for her for years-- was jealous of his success---glad when they moved away in the 10th grade----managed one date with Jean---did not charm her---feel the loss to this day.  Read the book: LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA--About a guy who works 60 years to win his childhood sweetheart----considered finding her and taking another shot---even now. Naaaaw
I'm not that obsessed---just a thought.
At our 25th reunion--I learned that Jackie had died---no details.

     We went off to college together----roomed together in the dorms----both of us got thrown out for a firecracker incident----I went off to another college---Jerry started work on a pipeline---began to carouse with a rough crowd---became the toughest of a tough bunch---feared for his barroom brawls---few would dare cross him---became huffy and temperamental---married---got fiercely upset with his wife and father---in a fit of rage he killed them both with a shotgun then killed himself in 1974.

     There were 10 of them---tenant farming for the Parker plantation----living about a mile from town-- down a muddy road.  I went home with Elvis once and was entertained by the family.  They would put a bottle on a pole and everybody would throw rocks at it----celebrating the one that finally hit it.  The Mother's bedroom was strewn with movie magazines.  I ate with all of  them around an 8 ft wooden table with benches.  We had fried salt meat ---biscuits, syrup and gravy.  One of the little ones fell asleep at the table and fell face first into his plate of syrup and biscuit.  An older brother grasped his hair--- raised his head---someone wiped his face with a dishcloth and sent him to bed.
I walked home by flashlight---somewhat enamored by their tribal ways.
Elvis was an iffy friend---a bit too easily offended.  About age 20 he left home and began drinking---on a binge night in Tallulah he drank enough to stop his heart---is buried in the cemetery there. Two of the family went on to normal lives---Christine and Pascal.

      She lived with her husband Dee in a shack on the banks of the Mississippi River.  I visited once when their house was surrounded by water.  it would squish up the floor cracks when you walked around inside.  I was perhaps 5 years old and had great fun paddling around on a large plank.  Dee earned a living servicing the river lights that guided barge traffic at night--he took me with him once---a very long day upstream putting kerosene in the lights.  Later, he died when his clothing got caught in the drive shaft.  Mary moved to Sondheimer---worked in my Father's drugstore/cafĂ©. She chose as her best friends---US KIDS.  In her Jeep she would take us swimming---on picnics--and one by one taught us to drive her Jeep.  I won't forget her indulging me one night going with me under the iron bridge to try and catch a sleeping bird.

     She was attractive and suitors came calling.  Once she lamented to me that all the men wanted her to be a wife to them before they were married.  I lost track of her for many years---then visited her in a nursing home to reminisce.  She died soon after and I went to her funeral----was saddened that the presiding preacher only talked about sin.  I wished I had stood and spoke of her virtues----thenceforth I did--at my father's funeral and at my mother's.   

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Slowly I'm beginning to see the big picture story I went home to get.  All these stories mean something.  Bear with me for a few more stories and I will share it.


The monsoons have come---with a vengeance--This is the view from my front window.  (Laurie's rig)  We all love the rain.
Almost every morning we walk together--this is our current group.
We walk about a mile to this historic spot.  Could you possibly guess what this was.  It is old route 66.  When I was a boy of 5--my mother drove us down this very road.
My current campsite---that's Laurie's rig to the right.  We are in the Kaibab National Forest---elevation 7,000 ft


Sondra said...

Ordinary Life is extrodinary isnt it? I wrote a book based on my childhood and the people who were a part of it. Doing that really helped me to understand my childhood and the part each person played in it. NOW If I could figure out my adult life I'd be a happy camper!! Great stories Randy some tragic tho...:0(

Joe and Tracey said...

Randy, your wonderful, bittersweet stories of your Louisiana youth bring this great Don Williams song to mind: