>Small Town Shock And Awe

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I haven’t been on here lately-it’s been a hard week and I’ve been too tired. So anyway, I was reading through the blogs I follow and when I read the post from my favorite one, I was reminded of some things that happened when I was little. Keep in mind that I was little and so I can only relate the most memorable facts….

To say I lived in a small town is kind of generous. Our zip code was from one small town and our phone prefix was from another small town. Technically, we were nowhere….

Everyone knew everyone else’s business, who was sleeping with who, who owed money to where, how many times someone went up and down the road (my grandmother was great at this one, pointing out who was keeping the roads hot), and so on. There were the usual scandals: affairs, divorces, illegitimate children (back in the day, you did not have a child without a marriage certificate), drinking, drugs, etc. Grandmother and several other “ladies” kept the party lines hot with gossip on the latest “news”…

A few times, though, things happened that momentarily stopped the wagging tongues-simply because they were so very shocking…

The first I can remember, and probably the closest to home, was the murder of a man I can barely recall. This was long before my brother was born so I was under 10 years old, and that was a long time ago. I can remember mom and her friends, as well as my uncle, speaking in hushed whispers, with serious, even frightening looks on their faces. The man’s name came up and I asked mom what had happened. I can remember the pause, the significant looks, and then my mom told me. Mr. So and So had been robbed and murdered. I can remember feeling cold inside and a little scared. Living out in the country, all sorts of things happened, all the time…There was more hushed conversation and a few days passed….Mr. So and So’s funeral…..the arrest of the young man who had committed this crime…..a few days after the funeral, my mom and someone else, I honestly can’t remember who went with us, perhaps my uncle, drove out to the man’s house. I, for some reason, was allowed to go along. I learned it had been a two-story home, very old, small, but it had been his. The young man, who we all knew and went to church with, had been drinking and came to look for money. He beat the old man, killed him, took his money, and burned his house down. I couldn’t at that time wrap my mind around the fact that the bathroom facilities-tub, sink, toilet…were all sitting in the same general place as the stove, sink, and refrigerator. The home had been constructed entirely of wood and probably built in the earliest 1900’s, if not earlier. The afore mentioned items were basically all that were left to testify to the man’s having ever lived there…his former home had been that thoroughly destroyed. There was nothing left aside from the previously mentions items-only ash.

A few years later, in my early teens, two other murders happened, one less than a mile from my house in a neighborhood where my friends lived. A man was found behind his house, beaten to death….and in the town that we borrowed our phone prefix from, a lady was found nude and strangled outside a discount grocery store….

My uncle became a pastor later in life (he was the most wonderful man-I miss him). Talking to him one day, many years after the robbery/murder, I learned that he often wrote to the young man in jail. He even visited him occasionally. As a young teen, I was first angry that my uncle would be kind to a murderer; that he would offer forgiveness and talk about salvation. I saw the worry on my uncle’s face when the young man, who had for years welcomed my uncle’s letters and visits, raged and told him to stop coming around or writing. I don’t know if the now much older man is alive or still in prison. But I did learn to understand my uncle’s compassion. I don’t disagree with it….let’s just say my uncle was a much bigger person than I am….and he knew how to put his money where his faith was…

People think life in a small town is so much simpler. Ha. It’s just much more secretive and therefore less is known. Terrible secrets live in small towns, masks are worn by most everyone who lives in them….Kind of qualifies me to be my own small town….how about you?

The above pic is not the house in the story. It was a scheduled burn by the fire dept. Honey just happened to see it and grabbed a camera and snapped a shot. Just thought it would lend atmosphere…

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About CuriousCat

I love to learn new things-anything from how to create a junk journal to the way light moves through space; why cats present their behinds to us to the effects of chemicals on our endocrine system. If it interests me, I can spend hours reading and learning about it.

Posted on May 27, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. >After posting my last post, about my friends Bob and Elizabeth…I decided that would be the last I would write about 'killers I have known'…I remembered another murder that hit very close to home.I lived and graduated high school in a very small midwestern town…population 1000, give or take a few.One of my youngest sister's friends was murdered and found in a field a few miles outside of town. It turned out to be a 'traveling handyman' someone had hired to paint the interior of some rental houses.Since the town was so small and the killer was just 'passing through'…it did polarize the community for quite a few years.Even if you moved and intended to make the community your home…it took a long time for folks to be able to trust that you weren't going to run out and commit some horrible crime.It was rather sad to see..and yet, I did understand the fear and distrust.

  2. >Wow….I hope your sister, as well as your whole family, has found a way to heal from all this…I've learned that any sort of tragedy leaves what I call "side effects"…it seems you've found an outlet in your art…that's why it touches so many people…we all have side effects and your art speaks to us, soothes us, gives our inner child a place to rest…

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