Monday, May 16, 2005

Wheezer Jenkins

Don't know if I ever told y'all about Wheezer Jenkins.  She is the only British subject livin' in Beloved, Kentucky.  Wheezer is a short an' very proper lady with platinum hair cut right short an' them glasses folks wear after they have cataracts - you know the ones...look like she is lookin' through auto headlights.  Wheezer's real name is Lydia.  Her Mama named her after that song "Lydia the Tattooed Lady".  Now Wheezer don't have no tattoos, she was just named after that song.

Wheezer married Billy Joe Jenkins, the yodeling champion of the continental United States when he was a visitin' her hometown of Brighton, England years back.  There is this big ol' theater sort of thing there, used to be the king's stables or such an' was turned into a theater.  Billy Joe felt right at home there an' gave the performance or his life.  It was certain there would be plenty of ladies sittin' an' waitin' for him at the stage door when he finished.  Lydia was sitting right there an' caught his eye.  The rest is history as they say in the news.

When Billy Joe returned to the states he brought Lydia with him an' they lived pretty happily for years.  Billy Joe continued to go round the country with his tour bus and his band, "Billy Joe Jenkins and the Yodellin' Mountain Boys".  It was good times an' Lydia travelled with him for many many happy weeks, months an' years.  Billy Joe came out with seventeen 45 rpm records an' two albums.  Several of his singles made it to the top ten on the country and western hit list.  At one point in time Billy Joe had a pair of hand made cowboy boots made for him in San Antonio, Texas out of gila monster hide an' rattlesnake skin spellin' out "Yodelin' Billy Joe" right there on the boots.

Everyone in Beloved, Kentucky knew that true love was in the Jenkins home.  Lydia just was plumb crazy about Billy Joe an' he thought the moon rose an' set on Lydia.  they tried for years to have youngin's but it just never happened.  Lydia even went over to a witchy woman name of Lucinda Nutt.  Lucinda Nutt was the widow of Henry Kay Nutt, famous moonshiner an' ne'er do well who made shine for years up on Rattlesnake Ridge.  Henry Kay thought no one would ever be brave enough to go up on Rattlesnake Ridge lookin' for moonshine stills.  He was wrong an' got kilt for it.

Anyway, Lydia went over to Lucinda Nutt an' even got a potion to get her in the family way.  It didn't never work.  That was the one sadness in the life of Billy Joe Jenkins an' Lydia.

Billy Joe gave Lydia the nickname of Wheezer when he found out she could play the Welsh knee accordion.  It was somethin' like a cross between a squeezebox an' bagpipes.  The instrument was attached to each knee with braided horsehair belts.  Each knee belt had shiny silver buckles that just flashed in the light as the instrument was played.

One day Billy Joe was yodelin' an' practicin' some new tunes.  Lydia got out her Welsh knee accordion an' commenced to playin'.  Billy Joe was just taken by the sweet music comin' from out of that thing an' just shut up an let Lydia play.  When she was done, Billy Joe said, "you're a regular Wheezer with that thing."  The pet name stuck an' everyone in Beloved, Kentucky started callin' Lydia "Wheezer".

Sunday, May 15, 2005


I don't often post personal journal entries, but today is an exception.  It has been 1 year since my Daddy died.

I am not fond of all the phrases folks use..."passed, passed away, left us".  Call it what you want, try to make it sound better, but it is the same.  Pappy died a year ago.  For the past 6 weeks I seemed to relive the days all over.  Remembering on this day I shaved him with his electric razor, on another day he insisted on doing it by himself.

I remember the ache of seeing him weaken, unable to do the simple things.  Having to use a child's "sipper" cup so he could take a drink.  I still have that cup in my dresser.  I think of him and his dignity each time I see it.  I remember holding his hand that last time, placing his hand on his old dog and knowing he moved, knowing he felt that dog one more time.

One morning my Mom called early - before 6:00 am.  Daddy had tried to get out of bed and into his wheelchair by himself.  He didn't want to sleep in the hospital bed.  He fell to the floor beside the bed - a short distance, and could not get up,  she was unable to lift him.  I drove as quickly as I could and found them sitting together...him on the floor and my Mom with her legs behind him so he would not fall over.

It was all I could do to get him up.  That was the worst day of my life till then.  I don't know why it hurt me so bad to see him like that, unable to even get back in bed.  I knew I was going to lose him, but that day made it real.

I didn't get there before he died.  I wanted to get a little treasure box for all of us to put things in and I talked to the nurse.  She said he was resting and didn't expect him to get worse for a while.  Less than half an hour later he was gone.

I don't know that it would have been different if I were there.  I guess I wanted to tell him I loved him one more time.  He wasn't one to tell you that.  Most of the time he said, "Same here".  As he was dying he told us over and over that he loved us.  Never said it first, but always responded, "I love you too".

And he did.

I miss you Jimmie Hollen.  I love and respect you.

Your son

Spring has sprung

Beloved, Kentucky is right wonderful this time of year.  It is spring an' the hills are alive with newness.  Farmers are plantin' now, past the middle of May an' no frost will happen this late.  Fields are bein' plowed an' folks already are out in the woods an' along the creeks gatherin' spring greens.

Along 'bout any streem a feller will find "creasys" or cress - watercress.  Women gather it an' make "kilt" salad with bacon grease, vinegar an' a little sugar cooked hot an' poured over the cress to "kill" it or wilt it.  In the woods they find lambs quarter, ramps an' maybe some Queen Anne's Lace to make lace cookies.

There are young lambs an' pigs in many barnyards.  Chicks an' ducks are makin' noise, announcin' to the world they have arrived.  Birds are a nestin' an' the world just feels good.

'Course, the main way folks know it is spring is passin' the Bel-Aire Mountain Movies, the drive in just outside of Beloved.  Folks know its spring 'cause the owner, Bertie Combs has taken down the sign he keeps up all winter...

It says:  When Spring has sprung an' grass has riz... This is where the movies is!

When that sign comes down, folks round 'bout Beloved know that spring is here to stay.