In our rural community, we didn’t have phones till the early sixties.Only one or two mothers in the whole community worked. Most families had only one car, so women were most likely home unless they walked to a near neighbor’s home for coffee accompanied by their infants and toddlers. The point of this story is, when we got in trouble at school, the news often beat us home. I don’t know how, but Mother invariably knew what I’d gotten in trouble for. I suspect my older sister may have ratted me out, or the teacher sent a sneaky note home by her, but news always got home. A few times, my mother heard through the grapevine. It was certainly a different day and time. Should my offense be minor, Mother took care of the problem, but if it were a matter heinous enough to warrant a note or invitation to a conference at school, I had to deal with Daddy. That was never nice. It would have been so much happier for me if my parents had held the teacher’s attitude or methods responsible, but alas, the judgment came right back to me.
Jenny so loved the talks she and Lucille shared. When Lucille started a story, she got a faraway look in her eyes, paused to think, then the enchantment began. Today was no different.
Lucille put her crochet down and said. “They was a doctor in with your daddy. Did I ever tell you about that? He said folks didn’t talk much about themselves, but didn’t mind talkin’ about other folks. Some things don’t change.”
“No. What in the world was he in for?” Jenny was all ears.
“He cut his wife’s throat then kilt the rest of the family.”
“A doctor?” Jenny couldn’t take it in that a doctor could commit such a heinous crime. “What in the world would make a doctor do such a thing?”
“Honey, doctors is just folks like the rest of us, some good, some bad. This doctor fell on hard times, just like ever’body else back then. Nobody had no money to pay him, then after a while, nobody had nothin’ to offer in trade. He’d always been known as a hard man for a’beatin’ his wife and such. That was a family matter. He lost his place and started toward California on Route 66 like so many others, thinkin’ things would have to be better out there. Anyhow, he got to sellin’ his wife to other men along the way. People just camped along the side of the road under trees close to water wherever they could, so they saw a lot of the same folks day after day. Early one mornin’ the doctor hitched a ride with a family movin’ out early, sayin’ he had to get to the next town to git a part for his old car. Nobody thought nothin’ ’bout that. Folks was always a’hitchin’ rides. Late that afternoon when folks was a’settin’ up camp in the grove of trees along by the crick, they noticed flies a’buzzin’ around a tent. A feller went to check and found a pregnant woman and two little bitty kids with their throats cut. It turned out, the doctor didn’t want his wife havin’ that baby, not knowin’ if it was his and wanted to git rid of it. She fought him on it, and he ended up a’cuttin’ her throat. He kilt them them kids to cover it up. They called the sheriff and he was picked up down at the rail yard train’ to catch a ride on a train. It’s just hard to believe a feller could be so cold. Most men would fight to the last to save their family. Anyhow, he was still on death row when your daddy got out.” Lucille sighed at the end of her tale. “There must be a special place in Hell for folks like that!”
“That’s horrible. Did y’all ever hear any more about him.” Jenny was all ears.
“No. Never heard no more once your daddy got home. He Disn’t seem like the kind of feller you’d want to keep up with.” They both got a good chuckle out of that.