At the end of these stories, I will show you what's happening here in the forest.
#33 JACKIE MOVES AWAY
MY BEST FRIENDS: JACKIE WARD, JERRY GREER
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.
#34: JERRY WAYNE'S TERRIBLE ENDING
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.
#35 THE BEASLEY FAMILY ----CLAN IN THE HINTERLANDS
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.
#36 MARY FRANKLIN BUILDS A SECOND LIFE
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/café. 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