Thursday, 18 July 2013


Sondheimer was an unincorporated town with two mills---a stave mill and a lumber mill.  It had no government--no mayor--no police--no fire department---no water department---no sewage treatment plant---no garbage service.  And yet we managed----everybody just managed on their own.  Dogs ran free---got run over frequently.  People made their own wells---some caught rainwater off their roofs---burned their trash in barrels----built makeshift septic tanks or pit toilets.  When a house caught fire---it just burned down---I've seen 5 of them turned to ashes.  What the town lacked in services it gained in freedom.  With no zoning laws people just built whatever---wherever they wished.  I built a tree house that the Swiss Family Robinson's would respect.  40 feet in a pecan tree.  Here's more town characters:

#29 Bob Branch's Quirk
     A one-armed black man who gained some status in the community by gathering around him a group of blacks who worked together as a team chopping cotton. (young cotton plants must be thinned else they won't thrive)  Bob acted as an informal union leader---negotiating wages and work schedule.  Despite his one arm, he would chop cotton with the others.  Locally his team was known as the Bob Branch Bunch.

Bob knew that collectively his group could get a better wage than individually---and that white farmers liked the convenience of dealing with just one person.  Bob understood and accepted white dominance and even developed a very quirky way of making himself "harmless" ---non threating---approachable by the whites.

I can't imagine how it started but I've seen it acted out many times.  My father loved to demonstrate the quirk in front of an audience.  He would grab Bob's stub of an arm and say something ridiculous---like:  "I ain't no good for nothing"----Bob then would repeat the sentence: "I ain't no good for nothing"---as though it were a compulsion he couldn't resist.  Then he would laugh--saying:  "Oh lawdy mr Roy---why you make me say such things."  Then everybody would have a good laugh.  I've seen my father do a series of these jokes with Bob when he had an audience. 

Even now I don't quite understand this strange game.  Perhaps It served as way for aliens to connect without jeopardizing the power structure.

Once, I tried the trick out myself---to experience the power.  Sure enough, he repeated the sentence---then said:  Oh lawdy mister  Poppy---why you do me like yo daddy.
I sensed  there was something wrong about what I had done. That it was a POWER demonstration----I was ashamed ---didn't do it again!

#30 Macho Bruce gets himself killed
     The first dead person I ever saw.  He was handsome and lively---a take-charge--macho--log truck driver.  That fateful day he was unloading his logs when they got stuck on the truck bed.  Normally they tumble off on their own when the straps are released.  This day Bruce had an audience---and when his helper balked because of the danger---Bruce took the peavey (steel tipped sharpened pole with a hook attached for rolling logs) and hooked the blocking log--giving it a hefty roll.  It lurched and rolled down on him before Bruce could dodge.  Bystanders got the log off him quickly but he lay perfectly still--never moving.  We all gathered round--helpless.  The sudden stark tragedy of death stunned us kids to speechlessness.  He lay in the mill yard more than an hour before the doctor/coroner arrived.  We learned later that his instant death was caused by a broken rib puncturing his heart.

#31 Betty Hatfield's short marriage
     ----was a pretty and sexy teenager with many boyfriends.  Billy Dunn--somewhat shy local farm boy was smitten with her----offered marriage---she accepted---moved in with the Dunn family---2 miles out of town.  Soon she got bored with farm life and began sneaking off to see her old boyfriends.  The marriage lasted all of one month.

#32 Mister Hatfield: Scary little man
    .  Perhaps he was related to the infamous Hatfields---because he was a fierce little man.  The first adult fight I ever witnessed was this little man savagely  beating a much larger man with a flashlight.  I was horrified at the brutality and raging anger of mister Hatfield----afraid he would kill the bigger man.  I can still remember the smash to the face as they fought in the rain.  I think the bigger man had insulted Hatfield's daughter Betty.  Bystanders dragged the barely conscious victim from a puddle of water.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I lived 17 years in Sondheimer---returning for the summers for 2 more.  It seems  those years have been far more influential in shaping my character and destiny that subsequent years.  Perhaps this is true of you also.  There is something simmering in me that wants to be said ---and I can't quite get out with it.  So I will continue telling Sondheimer stories till clarity comes.

UPDATE:  Still with my friends in the Forest near Williams, Az.  The Monsoon rains have come---nearly every afternoon---they are cool,delicious and welcome. Yesterday was one of the heaviest downpours I have ever experienced.  Loved it! (lit my heater last night) I'm reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY--upgrading my sexual IQ.

No comments:

Post a Comment