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Reflections

Shotgun Blast Ends Visit From Chicken Thief

By Charles Cooper

    Christmas greetings to everyone and I hope you’re having a good week.

  This week I’m going to start off with something different, which is in the nature of a public service announcement. Last August I noticed a spot on my ear and decided to go to the dermatologist. The ear was no problem but they discovered a skin cancer on my back and did surgery. I went in for a follow-up this week and got a clean report on it. However, they found another skin cancer on my arm and did surgery and said they had removed it all.

    I guess what I’m trying to say, is don’t hesitate if you have any suspicious places anywhere on your body—check it out. Fortunately none of mine were melanoma but at least I now have the peace of mind of knowing for sure, and I want all of you out there to be with me for a long time. Thank you for letting me make this announcement because I lost my dad to cancer many years ago and an early diagnosis might have made the difference for him.

  Recently, when I read the Herald, three people I knew had died. They were David Jones, Bill Moore and Estelle Rowe.

    I knew David from Camp Ground days and Bill as far back as I can remember. His parents, Volton and Marlene Moore, would often visit Mr. Moore’s sister, Mrs. Amber Love, who lived on a small farm adjoining Papa Badley. Mrs. Love had worked for many years in Chicago and retired to her farm in the thirties. Her sister, Velma Barron, and her husband settled in Water Valley at about the same time.

    Mr. Barron had been on the police force in Chicago and Mrs. Barron had worked as a printer. They operated a small store behind Mr. Clay Berry at the beginning of Possum Hollow. Mrs. Love was an independent individual and she raised chickens and worked a small garden without a mule or any machinery. She heard someone in her chicken house one night and she took her double barreled shotgun and fired into the air. Someone asked her why she didn’t shoot at the chicken thief and she replied with a smile, “I was afraid I would just wound him and I didn’t want him kicking around in the weeds all night.” She never had another midnight thief as long as she lived there. Her brother, Bud Moore, who had lived in Washington, D.C., lived with her a while but the isolation got the best of him and he went back to Washington. I got to know Mrs. Love very well and she seemed to welcome my visits although I was just a small boy. Nannie said that she had lost her only baby and probably enjoyed having a child around.

    Unfortunately the small house caught fire one day and since it was so remote it burned to the ground before help could arrive. She  moved to town but didn’t live  long after that. She was the widow of a railroad engineer and they are buried in Oak Hill near the tool house.

  Bill Moore lived across from the park and was a couple of grades behind me. He was already considered a “brain”.

  Estelle Rowe was born in Memphis but was raised by a local realtor, Jim Rowe, and his wife. I knew Mr. Rowe when he would come by the funeral home when I worked at Newman-Gardner. Estelle was a few years older then me and in those days the older kids didn’t  mingle with the younger ones much so she was only a speaking acquaintance. I remember having a class with J. C. Kelso and he dropped out in the eleventh grade, married Estelle, and they moved to Fort Worth, Tex. Mr. Rowe sold his business to J. B. Massie and moved to Forth Worth after his wife died.

    Elsie Massie was a sister to Jake Ray, who worked for the railroad in Paducah and like many railroad men was a sharp dresser when he was off work. For many years he would come back to Water Valley to get his hair cut. He retired and moved back to Pate Street and in the short time we lived there in the seventies we became good friends. My daughter, Terri, who was nearly three loved to swing on his front porch. Jake was diagnosed with cancer and only lived a few weeks. His son, Jack, asked me to be a pallbearer at his funeral. I remember this was the first time I had met Aubrey Trusty and the pallbearers rode in his car. Terri was too young to understand and she kept asking me where Mr. Ray was as he would always talk to her while she was swinging.

  Mrs. Ray was a daughter of Mr. Harvey, who owned the ice house for  many years, and her brother, Stuart Harvey, was a railroad engineer.

  What has been such a gratifying experience writing this column the last ten years is that when I think I’ve run out of subjects, something always turns up and I hope to continue it for a long time. Your in put has been a strong factor in keeping it going, and is greatly appreciated. My email address is cncooper@hotmail.com or write me at P. O. Box 613189, Memphis, TN 38101.

  Again, have a great Christmas.

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