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Tuesday, July 28, 2015


john singer sargent
My old buddy, Harold Hayes, continues in my mind after hearing him mocked for his failure at political correctness. The old boy is of a generation that doesn't even know what it is. His mind has been gone for at least ten years. He still has enough mind to drive his pickup and go to town every once in awhile to get out of the house and see some people. He's very difficult to talk with. Talking to him, he misses almost everything. When he talks, it's the same thing every time I see him. This does not bother me, I've known Harold a long time, since before his mind went away. Several times in the coffee shop, Harold has come in for a cup of coffee and to see if anyone was in there he could talk to. His head wobbles and his eyes are kind of far away, but Harold is there. Mind out of control, about all that is left is the fine human being that he is all the way to the soul. He was always welcome in the time Selma had the shop. It was in Selma's time I would see him in there. He always embarrasses me when I see him, wherever it is, Farmer's Hardware, any of the places he drops by to visit. He feels compelled to tell everyone in the place, calling their attention, to tell them what a great friend I am. He wants to tell that I took care of his closest friend in his life, Jr Maxwell, in his dying. He stumbles around with words and few know what he's talking about but me.
john singer sargent
Harold used to be a bluegrass bass player, and a guitar player. I say "used to" because he sold his bass. No point keeping it when he couldn't play it any more. For much of his adult life he made music every weekend for dances. He played bass with Jr Maxwell's band, The Green Mountain Boys, with fiddlers Art Wooten, Johnny Miller, Ernest Johnson, and some others. He learned the bass from Jr's wife, Lois, who was the band's bass player, and took her place. She taught Harold in order for him to take her place. He and Jr were probably each other's closest friends throughout the rest of their lives. In my time of taking care of Jr, which lasted about six months intensive, and a year of looking in on him twice a day and spending time with him. He was lonesome and simply needed some company. His home with nobody else in it was a void for him. Lois died of cancer, and his wife after Lois was a woman from Away who took him for having money, a farm, and left him when he didn't die soon enough. To take Jr for having money, her sights were not set very high. She ran through everything he had in twelve years and left him when he had nothing left and in debt to a degree he'd never been in his life. Then she left him and tried to take his house and his business, which, fortunately, the judge saw through. Everybody in the county abandoned her and she had to leave the county. Nobody would have to do with her. She'd speak to people she knew before, and they'd look away.
john singer sargent
Jr Maxwell was one of the better respected men in the county. Not that the people who call themselves society had anything to do with him. The people of the county, outside a closed circle of climbers in Sparta, all respected Jr for legitimate reasons, for his character. Outside Sparta, the people of the county have their own culture that interacts not at all with Sparta, but for hardware stores, groceries, gas and bank. In the world of the people of the county, everyone of his generation knew each other. Among the mountain people, they know each other for who they are, not their assets or stylish appearance. Among the mountain people, humility is regarded a virtue. Among the white suburbanites coming into the mountains and taking over, arrogance is a virtue, humility regarded stupid. Mountain people do not take to arrogance in any form or from anybody, and do not tolerate it among their own. I have a bad case of it too. Somebody comes at me from an arrogant place, I absent myself. I've found the best way to get rid of them is to drop some hillbilly grammar. The one I like best is saying them for those. Once is all it takes. They look at me askance and they're gone. I don't even have to go for a walk. Every year, Jr Maxwell would take a day and go around with his tractor to plow the gardens for the widows of Whitehead and the old people past able to do for themselves. Every snow, he took his tractor and blade around to the people of Whitehead who could not do for themselves and scraped their driveways. When Jr became unable, himself, somebody cleared his driveway.
john singer sargent
Harold Hayes was one of Jr's friends who dropped in on him periodically, sat and talked with him awhile about whatever they talked about. It wasn't a matter of what they talked as much as that they talked. Jr was Harold's closest friend. He looked up to Jr actually as if on a pedestal, regarded that well. I knew Harold before the time of Jr's inability to take care of himself. Every time he visited Jr in the time I was staying there, he made it a point to be sure I understood how much he appreciated what I was doing for Jr. A deep love ran between them, the love between friends of many years. All of Jr's friends became my friends in that time. The day his spirit left the body, one said to me, "Now Whitehead knows who you are," and another, "You get into any kind of trouble, all of Whitehead will back you up." Those were the most valuable sentences ever spoken to me in my life. I value those sentences, the people of Whitehead, the ones who said them in the core of my heart. Harold Hayes would embarrass me when he came into the coffee shop with all the praise from his heart that I'd helped his friend. It never ended when it started. His mind was gone, though his heart wide awake. I am Harold's connection with Jr now that he's gone. And likewise, when I see Harold, I see Jr. We have a bond we both value. My face automatically lights up in a big smile when I see Harold. I don't take kindly to my friend being dismissed by the people who value arrogance. It reminds me why I love the mountain people so deeply.
john singer sargent himself

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