Ma Gill

had two girls and seven boys. Two of her children died in infancy: Eugene and Iola. Dean died at twelve from Leukemia. Left were one girl, Clarice, and five boys, Howard, Horace, Arnold, Jerry, and Marion. All were in the military except for Howard/Bub. He worked on the Wickliffe to Cairo Toll Bridge. Uncle Bub farmed in later years. We lived across from his apple orchard. In the Spring there was no prettier sight than that orchard in bloom!

Bub was a bachelor and lived with Ma Gill who had a severe stroke about 1952. She was left bedfast and unable to care for herself. She was given a toddy every afternoon, and I remember my little sister, Nancy Jane, said she always managed to be there at toddy time. We just lived about 150 yards from Ma Gill’s place.

After WWII my dad went to barber school in Memphis in about 1950. After he did his internship in Paducah he had a barber shop in our yard on Hwy 286. In 1966 he bought property in Future City, KY, and barbered there until he was stricken with Toxic Goiter in 1970. He had Rheumatic Fever about the time, before or after, he went to barber school. It was from a strep infection, and it left him with a bad heart. Dad also became an electronic technician and worked at that for many years as his health would allow.

I don’t know a whole lot about Dad’s siblings but I’ll try to elaborate on what I know. Clarice married Artell Jones, and was a caregiver for her mother for many years. After Ma Gill passed away in 1962 I’m not sure what Clarice did but I know she had other jobs besides being a mother of three children. Artell was an abusive husband and she suffered at his hands for many years. Story was that she had loved another guy, Boyd Wheatley, who was a distant cousin but her mother forbade her to marry him. Said she’d sooner her marry a black person than her cousin. That’s just the way it was in those days regarding people of different races.

Arnold worked at General Tire in Mayfield until he retired. I think he was able to retire before that went out of business. He married a girl, Doris Hollenback, from New Jersey when he was stationed there in the army. Arnold always seemed to be a cheerful guy, and did woodworking.

Jerry worked at farming and had land in the river bottoms somewhere. He married in later years, but never really seemed very happy to me. I think he believed his wife to be much younger than she actually was at the time of their marriage. She was a very peculiar person! He and his wife adopted a son, Bobby.

Marion worked at Union Carbide for many years and he retired from there. He had a longtime affair with his high school sweetheart, and after he divorced his first wife, he married her. It was a bitter divorce, and from what I gathered a bitter second marriage.

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Working for Babb Motors

I lay awake last night trying to think of people’s names that I worked with at Babb Motors from September 1966 until I went to Paducah Sash and Door late 1967. Freddie Babb, Billie Frances Yost, Wayne Spees, Frank Easter, and J.T. Bowland. Freddie was the owner and J.T. was his son-in-law general manager. J.T. was a ladies’ man of sorts; tall, handsome, and sure of himself. J.T. had hired me as receptionist but I was his second choice. The first one didn’t work out for reasons unknown to me. I think she was there about a week.

Mr. Babb always had a cigar in his mouth like Irvin Cobb. He would smile at me like the Cheshire cat who had swallowed the canary. Miss Yost had been in love with him for the many years that she was the Office Manager. She looked like she had just stepped from the forties–auburn hair worn in a pageboy, bright red lipstick, and fitted tailor-made suits complete with high heels. She and Freddie would go into a locked room off the car repair area to “count money.” I don’t know what they did in there, but even in my naivety I could imagine. They would come out smiling.

Wayne Spees, the parts manager, was a genial guy, middle-aged, who knew everything that went on around there. He had his collection of dirty magazines behind the counter.

Frank Easter was the salesman besides J.T. and he was divorced but still loved his wife. I think he had been all over the States. He always wore dark glasses. And I’m sure he had some kind of colored history.

The one that I cannot remember his name was manager of the repair shop. He was an older guy that seemed to be a gentle soul who had been married many years. He was a grandfather type who I thought a lot of. So sad that I cannot remember his name…

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“Ingredient” December, 2000, Kirchoff’s

I think of poison. Am I deranged? Maybe cyanide, arsenic, or what’s that other one? Strychnine. And then there’s poison mushrooms. When I eat mushrooms I always hope that the person who picked them knew what he or she was doing. Maybe I should write a murder mystery about poisoning. I have all those books at home. If my library is ever analyzed, they’ll think I’m a nut. I have books describing guns, poisons, and other questionable subjects. I think only a writer would understand this. I can hear them now, “Yeah, she always was kinda different.” ” Well, Mr. Jones, are you surprised that your neighbor is taken into custody for murder?” “No, not really, she always was kinda strange, and her son played Dungeons and Dragons.”

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Another rambling from Kirchoff’s

A cool wind blew from the north, spreading yellow and red leaves over the graves. The headstones spoke their age from their slants. Celtic crosses, spires, and angelic figures marked the ground where remains lay buried deep beneath the soil. Evan spread the cloth just to the side of the plot. He had packed cold chicken, cheeses, bread, and wine from his cellar. The moment seemed eerie as if we were the only living people in the world. Would spirits rise from these ancient sites? Would they watch us while we dined? And why did he bring me here? I do love old gravestones. The antiquated art is mystic and beautiful. But a picnic in a graveyard? And it’s getting late. The sun is casting eerie shadows as Evan offers me a glass of wine. That shadow moved!

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Kirchoff’s August 29, 2000

Flossie said she didn’t care that Herb had gone away. She wouldn’t miss him. Wouldn’t miss the crumbs, mud, and dirty clothes he threw around. Wouldn’t miss his complaining and yacking all the time. She had plans. That money she had buried near the Peonies would take her a long way, too. $2,000–money she’d cleaned and scrubbed floors for. Scrubbed until her fingers bled. That bastard husband of hers never turned a lick at nothing. Lazy SOB. That Sybil would be sorry for running off with him. Lazy good for nothing.

Never mind all that though. She’d be in California soon and none of it would matter. Flossie took the shovel from the shed and walked to the Peony bed. She’d soon touch that money just waiting to get her to California. Flossie shoved her shoe against the shovel, pushing it into the wet clay. Soon she reached the glass jar that held her fortune. Flossies’s heart skipped a beat as she reached for the muddy container. She removed the lid and reached inside. The jar was empty except for a scrap of paper that read, “Too bad, Flossie, I got here first.”

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Unknown date Kirchoff’s

Phyllis loves cats. Likes to travel. But her real love is sailing. She plans to sail from Miami to the Bahamas. She said if she went through the Bermuda Triangle, that thing that makes ships and planes disappear wouldn’t have her! She’d put a curse on it. She could do that too. Phyllis studied Voodoo a couple of years ago. That’s when her husband disappeared. No one knows what happened. He went off to work one morning and just didn’t come home. Phyllis said she didn’t know what happened. She had given him his usual peanut butter sandwich for lunch, given him a quarter for a bottle of water, and other than that she didn’t know what had happened. She said he had been wanting to go to that new Pro Bass Shop in Nashville. Maybe he was there just lost in the jig aisles.

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“Cathedral” August 15, 2000

Make a cathedral of the moonlight. Walk in the meadow barefooted, feel the cool dew bathe toes and heel. Spread arms and twirl basking in silver light, making one’s skin pale, almost like in death. Walls are giant cedar, spiring to God in the heavens. My cathedral touches me. Makes me aware of the Lord in His Magnificence and Grandeur. The windows are clear and blue stained with twilight and the crisp air. The choir is cricket song and rustling leaves, harmony and then quiet of the night before weeping coyotes, howling wolves, crying in my shoes, beating the wind, walking the stone, breaking the ax, can’t cut the tree means no boat, no sailing the seas, no visiting other islands, staying at home. Why can’t I think of anything? Staying at home, staying at home, wasn’t that a song? Saw biography of Bob Dylan ahead of his time, stoned, mind expanded, stoned, my mind needs expanding, but doesn’t that kill brain cells? I need all I can get. Neurons, brain cells, work, work, work, do your job, help me think. Weeping coyotes? I don’t think so. I guess if I were a coyote I’d weep, too. No one wants them around, like blackbirds, big, ugly, nasty things. Shunned and hunted. Would anyone ever want a coyote for a pet?

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Dysfunctional families, June 9, 2000

Dysfunctional families seem to be the norm. My son holds his thumb and forefinger so very close and says, “We’re this close to being dysfunctional. I’m not dysfunctional (grin) it’s all the crazies around me! I want to get along with everyone. Why, I always got “A” in citizenship, and teacher’s notes read, “Gets along well with others.” I guess so. Theresa Hutcherson told me I stole her candy in first grade, and I gave her mine. That made Momma really upset. That I gave my candy to someone just because she said that I stole hers. I just didn’t like to argue. She’d have a hard time getting my candy now. I still don’t like to argue, but I’m better at getting people off my case. My sister calls me “Julia” and she’s “Suzanne” as in “Sugarbaker.”

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Unknown when where and why

Thanks! Yeah thanks for not squirting that hot sauce all over my meal. It would surely set my mouth on fire, every little bud burning, burning, burning, like a speck of oil on a griddle. I hear the grease sizzling. Smells of hot cholesterol and clogged veins. Hot Dogs, hamburgers, barbeque–I love them all! The trumpet in the background speaks of smoke-filled bars, the scent of Hops, bar stools lined with sleek women and debonair gents.

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“Vertigo” from writings at Kirchoff’s

Earth spinning, coming up to meet me. The body is a miraculous machine, stands upright, keeps its balance due to a little bit of fluid in our ears. All has to do with balance, balance of limbs, balance of fluid, balance of health. I saw Hitchcock’s Vertigo with Stewart and Novak. I used to like her a long time ago, but the last few movies that I’ve seen of hers she didn’t impress me. Seems like she always plays the same part: Sultry and mysterious, a true “Lila”, another one of her movies. On the other hand, Stewart is good in any part that he plays. Loved him in Liberty Valance. Cooper, Wayne , Stewart, all good.

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