Hometown, Day One, p.1John Dee
Hometown, Day One
By John Dee
Hometown, Day One
Copyright 2011 by John Dee
This E-Book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
You know the rest of this speech, so do what's right.
Thank You, John Dee
This here 'Novel' is an ongoing project; there will be a day 2, 3 and maybe even a day 4.
Day One is a freebee. This is known as 'The Hook' and according to Jeremiah Thatcher; 'Iffin I hook you real well; then I ken charge ya for the next few.'
Thank ya for your time.
Table of Contents, such as they are.
Chapter 1: The Lazy Boy
Chapter 2: Ruinous Relatives
Chapter 3: The Scarlet Lady
Chapter 4: Ducktails and Dunces
Hometown, Day One
By John Dee
You folks are welcome to come on up ta the porch and set a spell, iffin you have a mind to. I know ma’s been havin a might powerful itch to make some of her special lemonade, and y’all be the perfect excuse for it. She don’t make any, lessen we got company, and to tell the truth; I’ve had a powerful hankerin for some myself, so come on up and take a load off.
Yessem; we do rent out rooms, just like the sign says, but you’ll need to talk to Ma about that. It’s her pet project. She come up with it, right after Jimmy Ray, moved off to college; he was our youngest. Well anyhow, Ma took to wanderin around the house, day and night, complainin about what a terrible lonesome it was to have such a big house, with only the two of us in it. And after a spell it filtered down to, one of two choices. Either we started a rentin out rooms to nice folks like y’all, or we moved to a smaller house.
Well now, thankfully; Ma figured rentin out rooms was a might bit less work than a movin. A figurin, which I whole heartily endorsed; seein as how I knew, with whom the majority of the labor involved in that movin, would lie.
You don’t say!
Yep that would be Junior all right, he’s a might bit peculiar that way. Me, I trust folks, but Junior he’ll take your driver's license in a heartbeat, especially iffin you got out of state plates.
Goin to Branson, were ya? Yep; most folks passin through these here parts are either on their way to Branson, or on their way back.
He got you for speedin I bet. That’s what I thought. I can tell you was on your way to Branson; cause folks on their way back, tend to slow down a mite and take in the scenery, which they missed on the way there, account of goin too fast.
Now it ain’t all Junior’s fault ya know. What with, the license taken thing and such. A powerful passel of the responsibility lies within Branson. You see; they were a complainin about how trashy the roadside was lookin over by Catamount Holler. Right on the county line; twixed here and Branson. Seems there is a phantasmal, atmospheric incongruity in that vicinity, which only affects out of state automobiles. Apparently a strong wind gust comes up and blows them there tickets, which were placed on the dash for safe keepin, right out of the car and on to the side of the road.
For a while; neither Junior, nor the folks in Branson thought anything about it, but when the pile of phantasmatize tickets reached about four foot high. The powers to be, said; 'Enough'! And Junior started collectin licenses. Since then, that mound has diminished considerably, for some unknown reason.
No I’m afraid the Judge won’t be attendin Court till Monday, and iffin Junior thinks you’re scadatilin, then he’ll pull your plates as well. So you might as well sit back and try to enjoy yourselves, you’re goin to be here all weekend
Iffin y’all excuse me; I’ll just go inside and let Ma know we have guest for dinner."
The old man shuffled into the house only to return minutes later with pitcher of lemonade.
"She must have known we’d be havin company this weekend cause the lemonade was already poured and she is just finishin up makin extra dumplins for supper. She’ll be out directly; said she wanted to freshen up a bit and put on a clean smock, before she showed to your rooms. Might as well sit yourselves down and try the lemonade if you want, cause it might take Ma a bit to get ready, and while we’re a waitin I’ll tell you a story."
The Lazy Boy
"Iffin ya look cross the river; you can see the old Thatcher mansion, on top of Thatcher knob. Some folks call it Thatcher hill, but if you ever studied geology; you would know that it don’t quite reach the required height for a hill. But no mind as to whatcha you call it; at one time it belonged lock, stock and barrel to the Thatcher’s. That be the Joplin Thatcher’s, iffin your wonderin.
The four Thatcher brothers and one sister, homesteaded that knob right after the war in eighteen sixty-five. Let see now. That would be Abram, Louis, Jessie, Daniel, and then Rachel, who was married at that time to a Callaway boy, of the Hannibal Callaway’s. But it don’t make no never mind anyhow, cause he died of the fever afore the first year was up.
Now two generations of Thatcher’s attempted to make that patch a ground work, but they just kept gettin broker by the year. That would be, until Jeremiah was born; round about eighteen-ninety. At first, folks round here thought Jeremiah was a little bit soft in the head, cause all he liked to do was watch things; all sorts a things.
He watched the sky, he watched the people, he watched the trees and he watched livestock, but most of all, he liked to watch the 'Current'. That is the name of the river down yonder, which separates this side of town from Thatcher’s Knob.
His kinfolk tried to get him to work the farm from the time he was a little boy, but he flat out refused and contented himself with just a watchin.
They tried all manner of punishment: the strap, hickory switches, even makin him sleep with the hogs. Nothin worked; so after a while they just gave up tryin, and contented themselves with the fact that he wasn’t doin nobody no harm.
Well now I’ll tell ya. What them there Thatcher’s didn’t know, would have filled a barn full of bookshelves plum to the top; which is why they were so poor all the time. They had been figurin all them years that hard work was all you needed to make a success of yourself, while little Jeremiah, unbeknownst to folks round here, reckoned it might just take a tad bit more than wreckin your back, plowin up clods.
It was on his sixteenth birthday; right after his daily whoppin that he deemed it proper to allow himself ta speak for the first time since he had been born, and make it be known to all, that he had been ponderatin the ways to financial fortune for his kinfolk.
The first task he laid afore himself, was to get his relations to give up farmin for a spell and start workin on Thatcher’s Ferry. Cause he had observed the trials and tribulations folks went through, to get from one side of the river, to the other. He had the thing up and payin, within the month. Although, iffin the truth be known; not payin much. So the second venture he applied himself to, was givin the town folk a reason to cross the river a slight bit more often.
So he set out to buildin low cost housin, on his side of the river; usin trees from the acres of woods, his family still owned. That of course entailed building a lumber mill and puttin in a saw. So he built a stockyard first, and then talked the town people into believin that it would be healthier to have the animal pens on his side of the river.
When the Aldermen passed a new city ordinance, forbidding the feedin or raisin of livestock in town, with the e
Afterwards; the outlay to rent a genuine carpenter constructed family abode. Complete with a garden patch, plus the benefits of a picket fence to keep the critters out; was only five dollars per month.
Soon the major majority of the working folks were livin on the Thatcher side of the river. Needless ta say; much to the consternation of the saloon keepers on this side. So they quickly followed Moses, in the guise of Jeremiah, to the land of milk and honey.
The boy wouldn’t allow for anyone to buy property on Thatcher's Knob, but he would rent it to you might reasonable. And after he made sure his kinfolk were comfortable in their new status, of above dirt poor; Jeremiah took off out west to make his fortune.
He made it about as far as Joplin, afore he took up watchin again. After near to a year or so, he come up with near a million things to do, with the calcite, them there lead mines were a throwin away.
So the first thing he did was have the law firm of Taylor, and Pike, make up an iron clad contract to present to the big mining magnates, for haulin away their calcite. For a fee of course; but less than the others were a chargin for the same honor. Then he commenced to hiring himself a couple of sharpshootin fast draws, to insure there were no sudden or unforeseen changes in the contracts. Finally he started sellin the calcite, at about a thousand percent profit, and within a few years he owned over fifty percent of the stocks in the leading led mines.
Thus began the legacy of the Thatcher fortune. All thanks to what most folks called a lazy boy. Just goes to prove that the book ain’t over, till the last page is written."
"That sounds like maw a comin now; she’ll show to your rooms. Then y’all come on back down after you freshen up, ya hear. I’ll tell you some more gossip about them there, Thatcher’s."
The front screen door of the mansion opened up and an elderly woman in her seventies walked onto the porch, carrying another tray of lemonade, along with a big southern smile for everyone. The old man, thanked her for the drink, then after giving her a quick peck on the cheek made the introductions.
“Mother; I’d like to introduce you to Marge and Mike; they was on their way to Branson to get married, when Junior pulled them over. So they’ll be spending the weekend here, instead of; which reminds me. . .”
The old woman cut him off.
“Come along children; I’ll be showing you to your rooms now. Don’t worry about being rude to Paw; cause if you let him, he’ll just talk, till your ears plum fall off. He is the biggest, story tellenest fool you’ll ever meet. Of course that could be why I married him fifty-five years ago."
The old woman and guests entered the house leaving the old man on porch, alone with his lemonade, thoughts, and the deepening shadows on Thatcher’s knob.
About half an hour later, the young man returned to the porch. His wife to be, soon joined him, and the old man began telling them about the dangers of love, grief and other such idiocies.
Well now; young Jeremiah just kept on a making money, and watchin for more ways to make it. Then, one day out of the blue, for no particular reason; he took to the notion of marrying.
So he did what he always did when he come up with a new project; he started a watchin. After about another year, he figured that he had love, marrying and the opposite sex all ciphered out. Boy was he ever wrong.
Jeremiah started out ok, he come back home here around 1910 and brought with him a whole passel of workers, to build his mansion, and then create a fitting wall around the whole estate, plus the park within. I mean to tell ya, that man had more aviaries, solariums, and animal pens than the Saint Louis Zoo; which meant he had to fill them, to make it look right. So he started importing all sorts of animals, plants and flowers. In fact, he had so many strange animals comin through town, that a lot of the folk here abouts, began lookin for Noah.
The next thing Jeremiah did after he had the house all decked out the way he figured a woman would want it; was to go a searchin for that woman. So he hightailed it back to Joplin, and bought one of them there fancy newfangled automobiles, then hired someone to drive it for him, and they took off for the big city.
When he got to St. Louis, Jeremiah, promptly rented the top floor of the newly built Jefferson Hotel for himself and his chauffer. Then he began the job of seriously a lookin for a wife.
It took him about a week to get engaged to one; Lue Bell Timpton, of the Greensborough, Timton’s, and it took her about three months to take him, for a rather large sum of money and run away with the chauffer.
It was never disclosed, but those who claimed, to be in the know at the time; said it was kissin cousin close, to a million dollars.
Well as they say; 'once stung twice cautious'. So our boy slowed down some and played the field in Forrest Park at the world’s fair. That be where he met, Miss Jenney May Potster of the Illinois Potster’s.
What’s that? Oh; well let me explain it to ya. Have you heard the old sayin about the apple not falling too far from the tree? Apparently it is true, and there were a passel of folks in Missouri back in them days, with the same last names. So you indicated where, they be from, to allow for what manor of beings, they were tendin towards.
For instance a Peterson, from Mountain Grove, would tend towards being white trash, while a Peterson, from Springfield, would be a might more upstanding and honest.
Of course a Clanton would be just the opposite and you could bet your whittlin knife on him, if he were from Mountain Grove.
Now where was I? Oh yes; Jenney May. Well needless to say, Jeremiah this time was might bit more cautious; and when she took off with the new chauffer, four months later; she only got away with five hundred thousand. But still; that was about all the poor boy could stand. So he up and learned his-self how to drive before he went a courtin for the third time. And after extensive searchin in the big city, he went about and got himself a mule and wagon. Afterwards he went incognito to Hannibal; where he met up with one Rebecca, Jean, Thatcher, of the Hannibal Thatcher’s. Who are by the way, distant cousins of the Joplin Thatcher’s.
It was love at first sight. Puppy love; true love and all them other loves thrown in together, for the both of them. Becky’s father, the Judge, presided over the marriage and was ecstatic that Becky had picked Jeremiah, over that no account Sawyer boy.
The two of them honeymooned around the world until the war broke out and then returned to Joplin, where Jeremiah promptly joined the Army, then proceeded to get himself killed real dead in France, just two hours before the armistice was signed.
Now let me tell ya, Becky took it particularly hard and shut herself up in the Joplin mansion. For the next ten years she wouldn’t come out for love, nor money, until they both rudely pushed her out.
Actually it was all them nairdowell relative’s, love for her money, which forced her out.
With Becky all tied up in grievin, she didn’t pay much attention to the businesses Jeremiah had started. And her Joplin kin, with their high and fancy liven, sucked all them companies dry just in time for the great depression. Forcing Rebecca to sell the house in Joplin, and retreat to Thatcher Knob, but I’ll tell you what; she did it with style.
For she had finally learned that you can’t shut out the world with either love or grief; apparently only living to the fullest will do that.
Well, supper will be ready might soon, so I’m a goin to wash up. Meet y'all at the dinner table.
I see you made it past Rex okay; that hound is a real ferocious guard dog. Did you notice how he almost moved when you stepped over him? I saw his eyelid a quiverin, like he was gettin ready to open it.
You got hand it to Maw; she cooks up a mighty fine spread iffin I do say so myself. Look at all the chicken and dumplins, corn on the cob fresh pi
Now if you would all bow your heads I’ll give the Lord his due and we can commence to eaten.
Thank you God for this fine company and the bounty of your garden, we are truly blessed; amen.
Mother; you out did yourself again. Now if y’all will excuse me; I shall get a head start on these dishes before my evening ambulation."
An hour later back on the porch.
"Boy howdy, was that ever pleasurable; I do so enjoy my after dinner walk. Gives me a chance to confab with my neighbors and settle down my corn bread. Would y’all just look at that sunset turning the hills all crimson and such; which reminds me, I haven’t told you about the 'Scarlet Lady', yet."
The Scarlet Lady
"As I was a sayin afore supper; Rebecca returned to Thatcher’s Knob, and set up house keepin, in December of twenty-nine. She had to let all the animals go one by one, because she couldn’t afford to feed them no more.
What’s that? No Ma'am, she didn’t let them all just skedaddle; she called up the Zoos and Circuses, then had them come pick up the animals all proper like. And let me tell ya now. Those Zoo people were glad to do it, because Jeremiah Thatcher had only bought the best and he made sure they stayed that way. After he died; the animal keepers kept on a working here as long as the money lasted and a few, even longer.
People say Rebecca cried every time an animal was taken. Apparently she felt as if a piece of Jeremiah was in each animal and she didn’t want to see them go. This could be why she hung on to Maxamillious; the jaguar so long. She just let him roam the grounds until she left and he took to the hills. Some folks claim you can still see spotted Catamounts in these parts over by Thatcher’s knob.
Be that as it may; folks here abouts didn’t cotton to Rebecca movin in. In fact they considered her an interloper and nothing she did, could change that. And if the truth be known; that woman had a heart of gold. She let folks stay in her houses down by the river, even when they couldn’t pay the rent anymore, because of the depression. And it was the fault of her kindness that she kept getting deeper and deeper into debt herself.
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