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Monday, July 27, 2009


the wait

Eight days of feeling terrible, staying in bed most of the time, today Jr was up feeling perky. He was ready to face the world. We'd been talking about a trip to Kermit's this week for shearing. Early after getting up he started talking about going to see Kermit later in the day. Along about 2 he started talking about it like it was time to go. He put aside his walker and took the cane. Way too embarrassing seen pushing a walker. I totally understand and watched his every step ready for anything. He walked good with it, considering it's all he could do to stay on his feet, and the least effort wears him out.

When I opened the door I saw nine men and boys ahead of us. At three heads an hour, that's three hours. I wondered if it might not be better to come back next day. But thought he'll be sitting at the barbershop the same as at the house, and there was one man in there I would have bet knew Jr. I asked Jr if he'd like to come back next day. He said let's go in.
I looked at a magazine about Alaska that was all beautiful photographs of Alaska landscape, etc. Nickelodeon was on the tv with one boy on his knees on the seat nearest the tv, who looked to be 10 or 11, with his face buried in it. Another boy sat nearby watching it. I saw some out of the corner of my eye. It was kids modeling for other kids how to be cool and humorous and delightful. They were fun. They'll be great at cocktail parties when they're older. They can talk a streak and never have to think, I was thinking about how fun it must be for the kids themselves cutting up like they do.

I saw what I've seen for many years, there are too many generation gaps between me and those kids to even think about any more. It's like jumping fromworm consciousness to fish consciousness to bird consciousness. Those are big leaps. Each of the generation gaps is a big leap too, just in very diffferent ways. I see some wonderful qualities in the kids of that age group. One of the more interesting trends I see in the young is their ability to "network" with each other and become acquainted instantly; very social and other-oriented.

The man I believed knew Jr came over and sat beside him and asked if Jr recognized him. He couldn't and the other man told his name, and Jr said, "Oh," like he recognized him. That doesn't always mean he does. As they talked he put clues together and figured out who it was. They went to talking about old age, like they don't recommend it. It turned out the old boy had a big farm and a lot of equipment Jr used to repair. Jr would get a call and they'd tell him what the problem was so he'd know what tools to bring. It seemed good for both of them in their shut-in time of life to see somebody from along the way. They fell into talking.

I told Jr I'd be back, and went next door to the Backwoods Bean coffee shop and bought a big cup of fresh regular coffee. Bob Bamberg came in and we sat and talked for awhile, hearing an LP being played at reasonably lowered volume, Alvin Lee's band Ten Years After. Turns out it was the Woodstock album and I was seeing it in my head from the film all those years ago, somebody putting a watermelon up onto the stage at Alvin Lee's feet for the performance. I told Bob when I saw it in the theater in Charleston, the audience spontaneoulsy applauded them. Saw it again a few nights later and the audience applauded Santana's performance of Soul Sacrifice. I loved hearing Alvin Lee again, and to hear it now is as amazing to my ears as it was then, maybe more, because I've heard so much more and can appreciate it that much more.

Outside the door was Paul Reeves' white Cherokee. He was in the barbershop sitting next to Jr. I was glad, because after the nursing home time when Jr got a close look at who his friends really are, Paul Reeves was there among the few. Paul has been a constant and true friend to Jr. I sat and joined the conversation. The other man talking to Jr was gone, and he was next, which puzzled me, but then everything else does too. As the hours rolled on, the place began to thin out. There was a time all the seats were taken. Paul got into conversation with a guy not long out of high school, seemed to have a good bit on the ball and wore it well, with a kind of experienced humility in his manner.

We got to talking about Halloween pranks after Paul told a good one about a bunch of boys taking a wagon apart and putting it together on top of the Independence courthouse. I told Paul that Jr put a wagon on top of the barn in Whitehead behind the old mill. Then the guy not long out of school told about him and some other's sticking plastic forks in the ground about a foot apart all over the lawn of a particular teacher. I had to tell you that one. It ranks at the top of the list of pranks I've heard about. It's up there with the wagon on the roof. For one thing, it was beautiful. I can see it. He said the teacher mowed them down with the mower instead of pulling them up.

Then it was his turn, and Jr's next. Jr started getting up to go. He said he can't wait any more. He's tired. He really was. Paul and I urged him to stay as he was next. We talked with Paul, which is the same as being at the house, just someplace else. A comfortable someplace else, Kermit's, who has made music with Jr for many a year, who Jr knew when he was 3 feet tall, who used to work for Jr putting up hay, who Jr respects for who he is. Nickelodeon continued. It wasn't objectionable. It was silly and crazy in a kid kind of way. I was curious as this was my first glimpse into pre-teen entertainment of this generation. And I don't know any kids of that generation.

I'd been studying the pictures and posters all over Kermit's walls of musicians both local and Roy Acuff young, Del Reeves young, Bill Monroe when he played in Sparta in 1984, and I missed it. I told Kermit when I'm old and somebody asks me if there's anything I regret, I'll say I missed Bill Monroe when I could have seen him right here in Sparta. Paul got up and went to the back room. I'd brought my camera in with me to get a picture of Jr being shorn and realized Jr would be sitting alone on the row of seats if I get up to take the picture. I went and sat across from him and got him sitting there alone under a wall of posters and pictures, the angular way he was sitting in particular, barely able to sit upright, bull horns and a clock. That was the picture I took the camera in there for. Then it was his turn.

1 comment:

  1. What a great photgraph. My great uncle used to cut my hair in a similar barber shop in Lancaster, SC when I was about the age of the boys you mentioned. He cut it until he retired back in the 70s. My wife has been cutting my hair (of which I've very little) for many years now. If I had need of a barber Kermit's would be my choice. I walked past it on Saturday when we went into town. Also stuck my head in the Backwoods Beans coffee shop but too hot for me to drink coffee in the middle of the afternoon. We did make it by the Mountain Heritage Festival at Crouse Park and enjoyed some of the music. I know you would have enjoyed it as well. I made me think of Jr. and you. I mentioned your name to our neighbors (who now own the red barn) at Bear Bottom and found out you used to write for the Allegheny paper. They spoke highly of your writing and I told them about your blog. You should write for the paper again. With email you would never have to leave the house. Just a thought. I enjoy all your post.