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 “The goal isn’t to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.”
(That’s what I have been trying to do with my writings
—to preserve them and pass them on to my progeny.)
—Chuck Palahnuik

“What are we but our stories?”
(And here are some of mine and others’.)
—James Patterson, Sam’s Letters to Jennifer 

As indicated by the title and the opening quotes above, what I have been trying to do over the past three years of my blogging is to preserve my writings and pass them on to my progeny and to any others who might feel an attachment to them and to their own lives and past.

Now it seems that due to my failing health and other personal concerns I may have to “take a sabbatical” from my blogging for a while. If so, hopefully I can resume writing new posts to a limited degree this fall.

Meanwhile, since I have now published about 115 posts on this blog I thought it might be helpful if I offered a list of the titles of the past posts along with the dates on which they were originally published.

For ease in locating and accessing these posts I have provided a link to each post. If you see a post that sounds interesting to you, just click on its title. If it does not open, simply go to your search window and type in “myokexilelit + (the title of the post)” and you should be taken to a list of entries among which should be the one you are seeking. If not, type in the nearest post title and when it opens click on the title you are seeking which should appear in the upper margin as the previous post.

At the end of this post is an addenda section of two works reviewed earlier on this blog about the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas. One is a film documentary titled Relocation, Arkansas, and the other is a book titled The Red Kimono. There is also a brief conclusion to the post and the blog.

Good reading and good viewing—until we meet again.

Jimmy Peacock

Titles and Dates of My Past Blog Posts with Links

1. My Story Begins (May 12, 2011)

2. My “Bucket-List” Trip (May 25, 2011)

3. My “Bucket-List Trip” II (May 31, 2011)

4. My Annual Tributes to the Clique (June 8, 2011)

5. A Soldier’s Story (June 15, 2011)

6. The Passing of a Real Man (June 22, 2011)

7. My Cancer Car (July 2, 2011)

8. My Father’s Brand and Seal (July 6, 2011)

9. The Way We Were (July 13, 2011)

10. My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty (July 20, 2011)

11. Yo Recuerdo (I Remember) (July 27, 2011)

12. Thank God I’m a Country Boy (Aug. 3, 2011)

13. My Religious Conversion (Aug. 10, 2011)

14. My First Encounter with Elvis and His Music (Aug. 17, 2011)

15. Life Is Reg’lar/My Mother’s Bible (Aug. 24, 2011)

16. Selma Store Evokes Boyhood Memories (Aug. 31, 2011)

17. Facts About Marion Williams Peacock (Sept. 7, 2011)

18. Reader’s Digest-Type Humorous Anecdotes (Sept. 14, 2011)

19. Who Cares About Texas? (Sept. 21, 2011)

20. Bayou Bartholomew: Two Book Reviews (Sept. 28, 2011)

21. The Peacock Love Story/The Passing of a Friend (Oct. 5, 2011)

22. Dreams (Oct. 12, 2011)

23. A Gathering at the River (Oct. 18, 2011)

24. Three Significant Insignificant Events in My Life (Oct. 26, 2011)

25. A Summary of My Personal Spirituality and Pilgrimage (Nov. 2, 2011)

26. Keep Arkansas in the Accent (Nov. 9, 2011)

27. Memory and Memories (Nov. 16, 2011)

28. Reflections on My Birthday: Then and Now (Nov. 23, 2011)

29. Barbecue in the South (Nov. 30, 2011)

30. My Favorite Childhood Books/The Truth about Santa Claus (Christmas, Dec. 7, 2011)

31. The Missing Baby Jesus (Christmas, Dec. 14, 2011)

32. The Three Unwise Men: An Arkansas Christmas Memory (Christmas, Dec. 21, 2011)

33. Our Honeymoon Was No Honeymoon for Mari (forty-ninth anniversary, Dec. 28, 2011)

34. A Thing of Beauty Lasts Forever (Jan. 4, 2012)

35. Occupation in Exile, Deliverance in Time (Jan. 11, 2012)

36. Some Southern Stuff I: Self-quotes and Robert E. Lee’s Birthday (Jan. 18, 2012)

37. Some Southern Stuff II: Quotes on the South from Others (Jan. 25, 2012)

38. Thoughts for a Winter Day (Feb. 1, 2012)

39. Some Southern Stuff III: Are You Southern? (Feb. 8, 2012)

40. Some Southern Stuff IV: Do You Speak Southern? (Feb. 15, 2012)

41. Miscellaneous Tidbits of Personal Correspondence (Feb. 22, 2012)

42. Quotes on Writing and Writers: Mine (Feb. 29, 2012)

43. Quotes on Writing and Writers: Others’ (March 7, 2012)

44. St. Patrick’s Day Tributes and Trivia (March 14, 2012)

45. Some of My Favorite Irish Quotes (March 21, 2012)

46. Keiron’s Poems I: The Peacock Seed (March 28, 2012)

47. Keiron’s Poems II: Huntin’ Poems (April 4, 2012)

48. Is It Really True?/Requiem (April 11, 2012)

49. Some Southern Stuff V: Sense of Place (April 18, 2012)

50. Some Southern Stuff VI: Love of the Land (April 25, 2012)

51. Quotes on History and the Past (May 2, 2012)

52. Mother’s Day Tributes (May 9, 2012)

53. Quotes about Women (May 16, 2012)

54. Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update (May 23, 2012)

55. Keiron’s Memorial Day Speech (May 30, 2012)

56. Tribute to a Female Friend and Mentor (June 6, 2012)

57. Wish I Was in the Land of Cotton, Part I (June 13, 2012)

58. Wish I Was in the Land of Cotton, Part II (June 20, 2012)

59. Additional Quotes about the Delta (June 27, 2012)

60. Reflections on the Fourth of July (July 4, 2012)

61. Arkansiana I: The Name of Arkansas (July 11, 2012)

62. Arkansiana II: Pronunciation of Arkansas (July 18, 2012)

63. Arkansiana III: Change the Name of Arkansas! (July 24, 2012)

64. Arkansiana IV: Arkansas’ French Connection (Aug. 2, 2012)

65. Some Additional Quotes on Arkansas (Aug. 8, 2012)

66. Strange Encounters at the Pink Palace and Beyond (Aug. 16, 2012)

67. “Days Gone By”: A Delta Passing (Aug. 22, 2012)

68. “Born in the Delta” (Aug. 29, 2012)

69. “During Wind and Rain” (Sept. 5, 2012)

70. Country Come to Town: A Youthful Trip to Dallas (Sept. 12, 2012)

71. Quotes about Home I (Sept. 19, 2012)

72. Quotes about Home II (Sept. 26, 2012)

73. Ben’s Report on Hernando de Soto (Oct. 3, 2012)

74. My Cousin Donald: His Early Years (Oct. 10, 2012)

75. My Two Brothers: A Humorous Pair (Oct. 17, 2012)

76. Ben and Levi Get Their Deer! (Oct. 24, 2012)

77. The Return of the Trumpet: A Ouachita Memory (Oct. 31, 2012)

78. Who’s to Blame?: Humorous Self-Quotes (Nov. 7, 2012)

79. “Return to the Arkansas Delta”: A Review (Nov. 14, 2012)

80. Thanksgiving and My Birthday (Nov. 21, 2012)

81. Humorous Quotes from Others (Nov. 28, 2012)

82. My Thirty-five Years as an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant I (Dec. 5, 2012)

83. My Thirty-five Years as an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant II (Dec. 12, 2012)

84. A Baptist Pastor in an Episcopal Christmas Service (Dec. 19, 2012)

85. Mari: Anniversary Remembrances (Fiftieth Anniversary, Dec. 27, 2012)

86. Three Southern Gentlemen and a Holy God (Jan. 17, 2013)

87. About Copyeditors: God’s “Noble Bereans” (Feb. 1, 2013)

88. Ash Wednesday: Home, Stumbling Blocks, and Psalm 119 (Feb. 13, 2013)

89. My Oklahoma Connections (Feb. 27, 2013)

90. The Danger of Mixing Religion and Politics (March 13, 2013)

91. Opening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum (March 20, 2013)

92. Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta (April 18, 2013)

93. The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps (May 9, 2013)

94. Old Indian Church Burns to the Ground (June 6, 2013)

95. Maps That Show How Americans Speak Differently (June 20, 2013)

96. “Why Cain’t th’ Okies Teech Thur Childrun Howda Tawk Suthun?” (July 4, 2013)

97. Billie Seamans: Arkansas’ War Hero and Master Photographer (July 26, 2013)

98. Spiritual Vision and Renewal, Identity and Mission (Aug. 16, 2013)

99. Faith and Pilgrimage, Life and Growth (Aug. 30, 2013)

100.How the Words in Italics Changed My Whole Life (Sept. 13, 2013)

101.Some “Top-Five Lists” of a Few of My Favorite Things (Sept. 30, 2013)

102.A Few of My Favorite Things I: McGehee, the Mississippi River, the Delta/Cotton (Oct. 15, 2013)

103.A Few of My Favorite Things II: Arkansas, the South, Elvis Presley, Gone With the Wind (Oct. 28, 2013)

104.A Few of My Favorite Things III: Quotes and Excerpts on a Variety of Subjects (Nov. 11, 2013)

105.A Few of My Favorite Things IV: Women’s Issues and Conclusion to Blog (Nov. 25, 2013)

106.Addenda to Blog: Christmas and Our Fifty-First Anniversary (Dec. 18, 2013)

107.My Après-Blog Post: Saving Mr. Peacock (Jan. 9, 2014)

108. Dialect, the Delta and Mississippi River, Nostalgia (Jan. 27, 2014)

109. Black History Month: Reprint of a 1996 Article about Race Relations (Feb. 27, 2014)

110.St. Patrick and Other Irish Saints and Names (March 10, 2014)

111.Memory of a Selma Family Tragedy (April 4, 2014)

112.Memory of a Selma Family Tragedy II (April 21, 2014)

113.Updates: WWII Japanese-American Relocation Museum; Camp Nine; Relocation, Arkansas (May 12, 2014)

114.The Red Kimono and Other Month of May Updates (May 27, 2014)

115.Selma Methodist Church and Other Month of May Updates (June 10, 2014)

 Addenda to List of Blog Posts

 Relocation, Arkansas

“I want [the documentary film] Relocation, Arkansas to be a ‘love letter to the Delta!’”
—Vivienne Schiffer, author of book Camp Nine
and film Relocation, Arkansas

In two previous posts on this blog I have presented updates on Vivienne Schiffer’s book Camp Nine and her documentary film Relocation, Arkansas, both about the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas. (To view these posts, click on their titles: Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta (April 18, 2013) and Updates: WWII Japanese-American Relocation Museum; Camp Nine; Relocation, Arkansas (May 12, 2014)

Vivienne and her family with Bill Clinton

Vivienne Schiffer and her family with former President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is a recent update from Vivienne on her film Relocation, Arkansas:

Thank you [to] everyone who has followed the progress of Relocation, Arkansas. We wrapped filming TODAY! I [will] spend the end of June in New Mexico with my editor, cutting the film, so we are on our way to a finished film. This has been a really great journey thus far, and it has turned out vastly different than what I thought it was going to be. But the story is touching, amazing, funny, and sad, all at the same time. Stay tuned, everyone, for premiers in Arkansas, California, and DC, among screenings in many other places. Can’t wait to get this film on the road, y’all!

Part of Vivienne's crew filming Relocation, Arkansas

Story editor Johanna Demetrakas and cameraman Pablo Bryant from Los Angeles, part of Vivienne’s crew filming Relocation, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo taken on June 11, 2014)

To view a very moving twelve-minute preview video of the film titled Relocation Arkansas, about the Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas, especially the one at Rohwer near McGehee, click here. 

To view a similar but updated video trailer with the same title made in 2014, click here.

The Red Kimono

“I appreciate all of your hard work in keeping the history alive
for this part of Arkansas [i.e., the Delta,
the location of two WWII Japanese-American relocation camps].”
—Jan Morrill, author of The Red Kimono
in recent email to Jimmy Peacock

On my blog I have also presented two updates on Jan Morrill’s book titled The Red Kimono, which is also about the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas. (To view these posts, click on their titles: The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps (May 9, 2013) and The Red Kimono and Other Month of May Updates (May 27, 2014)

Jan Morrill with George Takei

Jan Morrill with Star Trek actor and Rohwer camp internee George Takei at the WWII Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is a recent update on that book from Jan:

My latest update is that on October 11, 2014, I will be making a presentation titled ‘Wearing the Red Kimono,’ in which I will talk about what I learned about my family, my culture, and the history of internment while writing The Red Kimono. Also, I am continuing to work on the sequel to it.

In regard to the presentation “Wearing the Red Kimono,” Jan reports:

The Greater Kansas City Japan Festival will take place on October 11, 2014, at:

Johnson County Community College
12345 College Boulevard
Overland Park, KS 66210

For more information go to this link: http://www.kcjas.org/kcjapanfestival.

In addition to these links and my earlier posts, to learn more about Jan, The Red Kimono, and Jan’s other books, go to the Web sites below the photo of the book.

The Red Kimono

The Red Kimono

BOOK TRAILER FOR The Red Kimonohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Etyg8feWCiw

BLOGS:
www.janmorrill.wordpress.com
www.theredkimono.com
www.haikubyhaiku.wordpress.com

 Conclusion

In a recent issue of the McGehee Times there appeared a photo of three people standing inside the WWII Japanese American Interment Museum in front of a wall display titled “AGAINST THEIR WILL: The Japanese American Experience in WWII Arkansas.” The photo carried this caption:

Clearwater Paper Corporation recently presented a $1,500 Community Giving grant to the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee. Pictured are: (L-R) Clearwater Exec. Asst. Lynn Bliss, Museum Director Jeff Owyoung, and Clearwater Mill Manager Bill Horne.

Due to my failing eyesight (another reason I must take a leave from blogging for a while), I read that last name to be “Bill Home,” obviously a Freudian error! But what better word to summarize and conclude this post and indeed this blog than its theme word “HOME”!

“But since Mari and I were able to visit with so many friends and family; enjoy the delicious catfish and barbecue meal; listen to live gospel music; participate in a fundraiser auction; and take photos of the church, my birthplace, and the Mount Tabor church and cemetery, it was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime, ‘bucket-list’ opportunity to ‘renew old memories.’”
—Jimmy Peacock, “My ‘Bucket-List’ Trip,”
May 25, 2011

As noted in the opening quotation above, the month of May marked the third anniversary of a “Bucket-List” Trip that Mari and I made in May of 2011 to my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas.

The purpose of the trip was to attend the reunion/fundraiser for the restoration and preservation of the historic Selma Methodist Church, right across the “branch” from the farmhouse in which I was born in November of 1938.

Selma Methodist Church, side view

Selma Methodist Church, side view (to magnify, click on the photo provided by Scott Shepard)

To read about that visit and the event that motivated it, click on the title of the blog post (the second on my new post), dated May 25, 2011: “My ‘Bucket-List’ Trip: Part One: The Selma Methodist Church.”

A year after that trip on May 23, 2012, I published an update on the progress of the restoration of the church. To read that update post, click on its title: “Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update.”

Restored interior of Selma Methodist Church

Restored interior of Selma Methodist Church (to magnify, click on the photo)

Recently I received some photos and information about the church restoration from Scott Shepard who noted that “it was Scotty Howard with Elite Homes (theelitear@yahoo.com, 501-690-6095) who returned the church to the beautiful shape we see today.” He also noted that

“The descendants of the John Barrett family (Idelle and Lucile’s children) had the doors replicated and made by John Alexander of Ozone, Arkansas.”

Selma Methodist Church doors

Selma Methodist Church doors (to magnify, click on the photo provided by Scott Shepard)

To learn more about the Selma Methodist Church, contact Dorris Watson at: djwatson2001@yahoo.com.

My Father’s Death

“Any man who’s gotta consult his wife about his bizness
ain’t got no bizness bein’ in bizness.”

“You jus’ gotta take a deep seat in th’ saddle,
lock your spurs, and ride it out!”

—Arthur Peacock quotes on taking care of business,
and getting through difficult situations

On July 6, 2011, almost three years ago, I published a post titled “My Father’s Brand and [Corporate] Seal.” (To read that post with my poem about my father’s branding iron and the corporate seal of his livestock business, click on the title.)

In that post I recalled my father’s sudden death of a heart attack at the McGehee Livestock Auction in which he was a co-partner with auctioneer C.B. Walker. I noted that at the time of his death Daddy was forty-nine years old and I was fifteen and in the back of the barn penning cattle.

Arthur Peacock in the ring of the McGehee Livestock Auction in 1952 before his death in 1954

Arthur Peacock (on right in white hat) in ring of McGehee Livestock Auction in 1952 before his death in 1954 (to magnify, click on the photo)

I now tell Okies: “I started out life as a cowboy in Arkansas and came to Oklahoma as a French translator. Go figure.”

Me as a cowboy in Selma, Arkansas

Me as a “cow-boy” up on Ole Blue in front of our house in Selma in the 1940s (to magnify, click on the photo)

Jimmy as an older "cowboy" on the Peacock family place in Selma in the 1980s

Me as a visiting older Arkansas Razorback “cowboy” at our former family home place in Selma in the 1980s (to magnify, click on the photo)

Since my father died on May 25, 1954, it has been exactly sixty years since his death. This portion of this post, like the previous post in July 2011, serves as a remembrance of and a tribute to him and his life as a livestock dealer and a family man.

Arthur Peacock and his family in Selma, Arkansas, in about 1947

Daddy and the Peacock family (from left: Adrian, Joe, Arthur, Vivian, and me) in front of my birthplace in Selma, Arkansas, in about 1947 when I was nine years old (to magnify, click on the photo)

I hope he would be pleased with it and not tell me, “Son, I think you need to go back an’ lick your calf over agin.”

Our Younger Grandson’s Birthday

“You can take away my church but you can’t take away my God!”
—Ben Peacock’s response to his mother’s threat to punish him
by taking away his church’s youth night activities

As evident by the quote above, our younger grandson Ben has a sharp mind and a quick wit. He is also a sharp and quick learner in school. His report on the life and discoveries of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto is the second most popular post of the 113 that I have published on my blog. (To read “Ben’s Report on Hernando de Soto,” published on October 3, 2012, click on the title.)

Ben with "finally finished" sticker on his face after completing his report on Hernando de Soto

Ben with a “finally finished” sticker on his face after completing his science fair project for which he won first place (to magnify, click on the photo)

Born in Tulsa on May 31, 2002, Ben turned twelve years old this past month. In addition to his sharp mind and quick wit, he is also adept at mastering all the latest electronic gadgets that interest so many youngsters these days. In fact, whenever his grandmother and I have any kind of computer problem, before calling our computer geek in Tulsa we always say, “Let’s ask Ben what to do to fix it!”

Ben also loves board games and puzzles, and shines in arts and crafts, making full use of his nimble fingers and active imagination to create all kinds of interesting and useful objects from yarn, rubber bands, paper, small pieces of metal, and other ordinary household items. He has made us all colorful and attractive items such as bracelets, necklaces, potholders, coasters, artistic robotic mantelpieces, pencil and pen holders, etc.

As further evidence of Ben’s creativity, as a young child he taught himself to make Power Point presentations and composed one for each member of the family on their favorite subjects. For example, his brother Levi’s was on hunting; his father’s was on the military; his grandmother’s was on pink flowers (her signature color); and mine was on (what else?) Elizabeth Taylor! (See my earlier blog post titled “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty.”)

And what was the subject of Ben’s own Power Point? It was about what he used to call when he was a youngster “putty gulls,” with his favorite being Marilyn Monroe. Hmmm. I wonder where he got that boyish fascination with pretty girls?

But his interests and skills are not limited to academics, electronics, games of skill, arts and crafts, and Power Point presentations. He also enjoys biking and skateboarding, as well as hunting and fishing with his father and brother, and recently killed his first deer. In addition, he enjoys the indoor activities of his church’s youth program and the outdoor activities of an annual summer camp for the offspring of military personnel, especially archery, rappelling, and balloon water fights with other campers.

Ben after killing his first deer

Ben after killing his first deer (to magnify, click on the photo)

Ben is also a star player on local basketball and soccer teams. Although small in size and short in height, he is so fast and energetic that he always manages to match the skills of older, bigger, and taller kids his age.

So as seems evident in this post dedicated to Ben’s twelfth birthday, we are proud of the gifts, talents, activities, and creative works of our young Thomas Benjamin Peacock, a name he inherited from his great-grandfather.

Happy Birthday, Ben! And don’t let anyone take away your God who gave you all those marvelous gifts and talents!

Ben at age twelve

Ben Peacock at age twelve (to magnify, click on the photo)

My Family’s Move to Oklahoma in May 1977

“I moved to Babylon (Oklahoma) from the Holy Land (Arkansas) in 1977 (“the year that King Elvis died,” see Isaiah 6:1) to take a much-needed job in religious publication. If ever a man put his hand to the plow looking back, it is me. I only miss home two times—night and day!”
—Jimmy Peacock

In several different previous posts I have written or quoted sayings of mine about what I have called in biblical terms “My Oklahomian Exile Literature by an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant.”

One of the most prominent and descriptive of these exile sayings is the one above about my moving from my beloved Holy Land (Arkansas) to Babylon (Oklahoma) in 1977. (See for example the earlier post titled “Occupation in Exile, Deliverance in Time” on this very subject.)

However, the fact is that since my wife was teaching elementary school and our two sons were attending that same school in our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, when I was offered the job of a French-English translator in Oklahoma, I had to leave my family behind and move to Tulsa all alone in February of that year.

The Jimmy and Marion Peacock family in McGehee, Arkansas, just before Jimmy moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1977

My family in McGehee before my move to Tulsa to start a new job in 1977 (Mari’s mother in back, left rear; me and Mari in right rear; and our sons Keiron (third boy from left in front wearing a yellow shirt; and Sean, second boy from right wearing a reddish shirt; to magnify, click on the photo)

In keeping with the title of this post about “Other Month of May Updates,” I did not move my family up to join me in Tulsa until school was out in McGehee on Memorial Day 1977: thirty-seven years ago this past Memorial Day weekend.

The house the Peacocks bought and moved into on Halloween Day in 1977--an omen of their "Oklahomian Exile"?

The house in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, which we bought and moved into on Halloween Day in 1977–an omen of our thirty-seven-year “Oklahomian Exile”? (to magnify, click on the photo)

That involuntary move—and my more than three decades-long unsuccessful attempt to “go home again”—have been the inspiration and impetus for all of the writings in this blog. As I so often quote myself: “I had been writing for twenty-five years before I realized that the theme of all of my writing is  . . . loss!”

And the crux of that loss has been the loss of home, which I call “the most beautiful word in the English language.”

Thus, each year I commemorate that fateful day in May so long ago when I moved my family from my beloved and sorely missed home state of  Arkansas to join me in my ongoing and seemingly unending “Oklahomian Exile.”

Jimmy and son standing under a "Welcome to Arkansas" sign during their "Oklahomian Exile"

Me and our younger son Keiron standing under a “Welcome to Arkansas” sign on one of our “semi-annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land” over the past thirty-seven years of our “Oklahomian Exile” (to magnify, click on the photo)

 

“The Red Kimono tells it all—the bitterness and pain as well as the joy, pride and patriotism of a people too resilient to be beaten by racism.”
—Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author of
Tallgrass and True Sisters

In my previous post titled “Updates: Japanese-American Relocation Camp Museum; Camp Nine; Relocation, Arkansas” I examined these three subjects a year after I had written about them in posts on my blog.

Since that time there has been one correction. There have now been visitors to the museum from forty-five states and more than one hundred cities in Arkansas.

(To read the original posts from a year ago, click on the following titles: “Opening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum” (March 20, 2013) and “Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta” (April 18, 2013.)

Now in this follow-up post I present an update of The Red Kimono, by Jan Morrill, the other book about the relocation camp at Rohwer, near my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, which I reviewed a year ago. (To read that review titled “The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps” (May 9, 2013), click on the title.)

Jan Morrill at book signing in Tulsa

Jan Morrill at book signing in Tulsa

In order to write this update I requested that Jan send me information and photos about her and her book since that post a year ago. (To learn more about Jan and her writings, visit her Web site at: http://www.janmorrill.com/.)

Jan Morrill holding copy of her book The Red Kimono

Jam Morrill holding a copy of The Red Kimono (to magnify, click on the photo taken from Jan’s Web site)

Following is part of what Jan wrote to me in response to my request for an update:

1) In August, The Red Kimono was selected as an Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society. [A review of the book can be found at]

http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-red-kimono/

2) In May, The Red Kimono was selected as the Best Published Book by the Oklahoma Writers Federation.

3) I recently published a book of haiku titled, Life: Haiku by Haiku. Many of the haiku from The Red Kimono appear in the book, and were read by Susan Gallion [curator of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, see the previous post] at the anniversary celebration of the museum.

4) In August, I will be speaking to the Japan America Society of Chicago.

5) I am currently working on the sequel to The Red Kimono.

Jan Morrill (in red) with George Takei (Star Trek actor who was interned at the camp) at the Rohwer Japanese-American relocation camp in Arkansas

Jam Morrill (in red) with George Takei, a Star Trek actor who was interned in the camp (leaning over with a white box in his hand) on the speakers’ platform at the Rohwer Japanese-American relocation camp near McGehee Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

I am sure that all who are interested in the relocation camps, especially the two near McGehee, would like to congratulate Jan on her writing awards and will look forward to the sequel to The Red Kimono. I will keep readers updated on this subject in this blog.

Meanwhile, to view a brief video interview with Charlotte Schexnayder, the former editor of the McGehee Times, on her experience with the camp at Rohwer, click here.

The Clique Meeting in Tulsa

“The Old South will never die, not as long as there are darling debutantes, doting docents, indomitable dowagers, and other groups of proud Southern women like the Junior League, the Ya Ya Sisterhood, the Sweet Potato Queens, the Steel Magnolias—and the Maggie [McGehee] Clique!”
–Quote by Jimmy Peacock in letter
to Charles Allbright, the Arkansas Traveler columnist,
dated June 10, 2002

As indicated by the self-quote above, my next update is about the Maggie Clique, a group of “girls” from the McGehee, Arkansas, high school class of 1960 who have met together annually since 1991, which must be some kind of record.

This particular update marks an addition to a blog post I published on June 8, 2011, almost three years ago, titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique.” (To read those annual poetic tributes accompanied by photos of the Clique over the years and of the greeting cards I sent to them with each tribute, click on the title of the post.)

The Clique card for 2014

The Clique card for 2014 (to magnify, click on the card)

This year the Clique met in Tulsa on May 1-4 with a special luncheon to which I was invited to attend at Miss Scarlett’s Tea Room in the historic Southern-style residence called the Burnett Mansion in Sapulpa where we live. The Clique had met the two previous years on the beach in Florida. Mari missed those two meetings because of my failing health; she would not leave me alone while she was gone that far away for a whole week. So the Clique graciously voted to meet this year closer to our residence.

The Burnett Mansion in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where the Clique held its formal luncheon on Friday, May 2, 2014

The historic Southern-style Burnett Mansion, home of the fashionable Miss Scarlett’s Tea Room, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where the Clique held its formal luncheon on Friday, May 2 (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is my tribute and thank-you to them accompanied by a bouquet of red and white spring flowers and a greeting card with this poem inside which I composed:

 The Maggie Clique came to Tulsa . . .

. . . for the sake of my dear wife,
to try to save her husband’s life.
I wish that they would never [de]part,
‘cause they take with them my grateful heart!

Blessed art y’all among women!

The Clique on the side steps of the Burnett Mansion at their formal luncheon meeting on Friday, May 2, 2014

The Clique on the side steps of the Burnett Mansion at their formal luncheon on Friday, May 2, 2014 (Mari is the blonde on the left in the first row) (to magnify, click on the photo)

Since I have known these “girls” most of their lives and dated and/or double-dated several of them, as an “honorary member of the Clique” (a title conferred on me in 2000 with the gift of a tee-shirt with that inscription on it), I felt I could take the liberty of sharing with them in my card a bit of “chick reunion” humor from an older Southern Gentleman and Scholar:

 “The Ladies’ Meeting at the Ocean Springs Café”

The Clique in their matching white robes at their bed and breakfast inn during their May 1-4 meeting in Tulsa

The Clique in their white bathrobes at breakfast in their bed and breakfast inn in Tulsa during their May 1-4 meeting (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is a story about a group of Southern ladies who met together like the Maggie Clique, except that they met every ten years.

When they were forty years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because the waiters there are all young, handsome, flirty, and wear tight uniforms.”

When they were fifty years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because the food there is delicious, and it is all low-fat and low-cholesterol!”

When they were sixty years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because the restrooms there are so clean and so big and well-equipped that you never have to stand in line!”

When they were seventy years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because it is handicap accessible with wheelchair ramps and everything!”

When they were eighty years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because  . . .  we’ve never been there!”

 —Jimmy Peacock, quoting Dr. Paul Talmadge
his former dean in Anderson, South Carolina

 My High School Senior Trip and Graduation

“When the ivy walls
Are far behind,
No matter where our paths may wind,
We’ll remember always
Graduation day.
We’ll remember always
Graduation day.”
“Graduation Day”

(To hear this song being sung by the Four Freshmen,
click on the title above.
To view the full lyrics to the song, click here.)

In a post titled “Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update” published on May 23, 2012, I quoted some of the lyrics of another graduation day song titled “Moments to Remember.” That song happened to be our McGehee High School Class of 1956 graduating class song.

McGehee, Arkansas, High School class of 1956

McGehee, Arkansas, High School Class of 1956; I am the fourth student from the left in the second row from the back (to magnify, click on the photo)

Jimmy Peacock in cap and gown at graduation from McGehee, Arkansas, High School in 1956

Me in cap and gown at graduation from McGehee High School in 1956 (to magnify, click on the photo)

To read this post about our senior class trip to Petit Jean State Park, click on the title above.

Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas

Petit Jean (pronounced Petty Gene) State Park near Morrilton, Arkansas

However, although the post was published on May 23, 2012, the actual graduation ceremony took place on May 14, 1956—fifty-eight years ago!

In either case, regardless of the precise day, it is another one of the precious “Month of May Updates” in this nostalgic blog post in an effort to assure that “we’ll remember always: Graduation Day.”

In the next post I will provide a follow-up and progress report on the other subject on this post, the Selma Methodist Church and a few more month of May updates.

 

“Don’t let your memories fade . . .”
—Advertisement for Tulsa Clinical Research,
Tulsa World, May 5, 2014

“The two most engaging powers of an author are
to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”
—Samuel Johnson, quoted in Today’s Cryptoquote,
Tulsa World, May 5, 2014

In this post and the next one, I will offer updates on past subjects and events discussed in my blog that relate to the months of April and May.

As indicated by its title, this first post in that two-part series marks three such events, each one the subject of a previous post on my blog:

First, the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Relocation Camp Museum in my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, an event that originally took place on April 16, 2013.

Second, an update on the book titled Camp Nine, a historical novel based on the relocation camp at Rohwer, Arkansas, near McGehee, which I reviewed a year ago.

Third, a report on the progress of the planned documentary on the relocation camps in Arkansas titled Relocation, Arkansas, with two introductory videos featuring Star Trek actor George Tekai, who was detained in one of those camps as a child.

First Anniversary of Opening of WWII
Japanese-American Relocation Camp Museum

“The anniversary event is not about the museum itself, but about the people and families who were affected by the camps.”
—Susan Gallion, curator of the WWII
Japanese-American Museum

On April 2, 2014, the McGehee Times published a front-page article titled “Museum grows as anniversary nears.”

That article referred to plans to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, which took place on April 16, 2014. It noted that the museum, “also known as the Jerome-Rohwer Interpretative and Visitor Center, officially opened its doors inside the walls of the south building of the downtown railroad depot.”

The Times article went on to note that several hundred people, many of whom were directly affected by the interment, gathered for the opening and dedication. Since that time more than 2,200 others have visited the museum which “serves as the permanent home for the exhibit ‘Against Their Will, The Japanese American Experience in World War II Arkansas.’

Some of the Japanese-Americans who attended the first-year anniversary of the opening of the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps near McGehee, Arkansas

Some of the Japanese-American internees of the relocation camp who attended the first-year anniversary of the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo scanned by permission from the April 25, 2014, issue of the McGehee Times)

“The exhibit tells the story of life inside the internment camps in Rohwer and Jerome where more than 17,000 Japanese-Americans were incarcerated during the war.”

According to the article, “A number of historical items and publications have been donated to the museum since its opening, including a collection of publications from the War Relocation Authority during WWII. An archivist from Drury University donated the publications to the museum, all related to the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast.

“In addition to the new publications, visitors at the April 16th anniversary [had] a chance to view the artwork of renowned artist, Nancy Chikaraishi. The college professor’s father was a Rohwer internee and her works [will be] on display for several weeks after the celebration.”

At the end of the article was a piece of art work by Nancy Chikaraishi. It featured a quote from her father on a banner at the museum, which will be on display soon. It had to do with the rigid racial segregation of the era and area:

“I got on the bus and my first decision I
had to make outside of camp was ‘Where
do I sit? The white people sat in the front
of the bus. The blacks were in the back,

‘And so I got on and I thought, ‘Gee, I
don’t know where should I sit?’ So I said,
‘Gee, we were confined so long and we
were discriminated so much that maybe
I’ll be considered black,’ so I went to and
I sat in the black area. The bus driver
stopped the bus and he says, ‘Hey, you
gotta sit in the front.’ So I got up and
moved, but I didn’t come way to the front
either, I sat right by the dividing line.”

Ben Tsutomu Chikaraishi,
Rohwer inmate

“This museum has been good for me,” states Susan Gallion, the museum curator, who says that she will never stop learning from it. “Not a day goes by that I don’t see something different [in it], learn something new [from it].”

Susan Gallion, curator of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Susan Gallion, curator of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo scanned with permission from the April 2, 2014, issue of the McGehee Times)

Later, on April 23, 2014, another McGehee Times article was published titled “Internees return for museum anniversary.”

In that updated article the personal stories and experiences of several of the Japanese-Americans or their children or relatives interned in the camps at Rohwer and Jerome were presented.

One internee was born in the camp before it closed in 1944. “Having the museum means a lot to us,” she stated. “This place will touch many lives.”

Another internee was too young to remember what life was like for herself and her parents while incarcerated along with nearly 130,000 other Japanese-Americans in ten such camps throughout the Western United States. The two camps near McGehee were the only two in the South. Together they held more than 17,000 Japanese-Americans against their will.

Another family, detained at the camp in Jerome, were among the many “who returned to the area to mark the first anniversary of the museum.”

Another young Japanese-American was born four years after her family was released from the camps. Her uncle was killed in action during the war in France as a member of the U.S. Army 442nd Infantry, one of the units in which the Japanese-Americans from the camps served with distinction.

Nancy Chikaraishi, mentioned above in the first article on the museum anniversary, is a professor at Drury University and grew up listening to the stories of her people detained in them. Her artwork depicting those stories is currently on display in the museum where it will remain until July 16.

According to a third article in the April 21, 2014, McGehee Times titled “Local museum to feature works by Missouri artist”:

“Her solo exposition explores her parents’ experience in the Japanese American internment camps. Her artwork includes charcoal drawings, and canvasses painted in both oil and acrylic. She does sculpture as well, but their size makes shipping prohibitive. The art exhibit will be open during regular museum hours.”

The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

“This museum is fantastic opportunity for generations to come to know this story,” she notes.

Nancy Chikaraishi, a proffesor at Drury University in Missouri, as she speaks at the first-year anniversary of the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Nancy Chikaraishi, a professor at Drury University, in Missouri, as she speaks at the first-year anniversary of the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, where some of her art work will be displayed until July 16 (to magnify, click on the photo scanned by permission from the April 23 issue of the McGehee Times)

“Keeping these stories alive is not the only goal of the museum,” state museum officials.  “Sharing these stories with the world is equally important.”

Those officials estimate that 2,355 people have visited the museum since its opening a year ago. These visitors have come from four foreign countries and forty-five cities in Arkansas.

“Every day these people bring different stories to us,” museum officials report. “And every day we get emails from more families wanting to share theirs.”

In an address to a group of state leaders in Little Rock, McGehee mayor Jack May stated:

“We met yesterday at the Governor’s office so I got the opportunity to talk about our museum. I talked about the injustices these Japanese-Americans endured. In McGehee, we’d long hoped for a museum to explain that to people. . . .We’re proud of this museum and I was so happy to help spread the word [about it].”

And so I am.

To read more about the opening of the museum, visit my earlier post titled “Opening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum,” published on March 20, 2013.

 Camp Nine

“I know that Camp Nine was something that should never have been. It destroyed lives and separated families; it interrupted joys and brought, in their stead, wretched sorrows. But the experience was mine, too. On a deeper level than I had ever understood, Camp Nine [like the Delta itself] had defined my life [and the lives of all who have ever lived there].”
Camp Nine, p. 196

A year ago in my post about the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Relocation Camps I inserted a link to a book of historical fiction titled Camp Nine about the camp nearest McGehee.

As I noted then, that fictional work was written by Vivienne Gould Schiffer, the daughter of former McGehee mayor Rosalie Santine Gould who was instrumental in collecting, preserving, and displaying many of the artifacts from the camps.

Rosalie Gould, Vivienne Schiffer, and the Paul Takemoto family at the Butler Center in Little Rock

Rosalie Gould (center) and her daughter Vivienne Schiffer (right of Rosalie), surrounded by members of the family of Paul Takemoto, the principal subject of Vivienne’s documentary film on the Japanese-American internees in Arkansas, at the Butler Center in Little Rock (to magnify, click on the photo provided by both Vivienne Schiffer and Pat Scavo)

In a following post published on April 18, 2013, I presented a review of that book with quotes, photos, and links about it, especially ones that relate to the Arkansas Delta. (To read that post titled “Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta,” click on the title.)

Since it has been a year since that post about Camp Nine I thought I would offer an update on the book which I requested from the author. Here is her response sent to me in an email dated May 4, 2014:

“In connection with Camp Nine being named the 2013 selection for the If All Arkansas Read the Same Book program, I travelled the state in October of last year, presenting at libraries, and I continue to get requests for readings.

Vivienne Schiffer reading her book Camp Nine in Malvern, Arkansas

Vivienne Schiffer reading her book Camp Nine in Malvern, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

“The Arkansas Studies Institute has a fine program for history teachers which they conduct in June, where they teach about specific moments in Arkansas history, then lead teachers on a tour of sites. They have asked me to keynote open their series with a lecture and preview screening in the new Robinson Theatre in downtown Little Rock. I am so excited to be a part! So far, the film [Relocation, Arkansas, see next section] has kept me from making much progress on a follow-up book, sadly.”

Vivienne Schiffer reading her book Camp Nine in Malvern, Arkansas

Vivienne Schiffer previewing her film to the Northern California JACL Time of Remembrance celebration in Sacramento in February 2014 (to magnify, click on the photo)

On my blog I will continue to offer updates on the book and any subsequent books by the author on the subject of the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas.

Relocation, Arkansas

“In the post-war rural south, a person could only be one of two things: white or black. For the Japanese Americans [from the relocation camps in Arkansas] who stayed behind, it was necessary to fit into one or the other—and how did they choose?
—Vivienne Schiffer, author of book Camp Nine
and producer of documentary film Relocation, Arkansas

As noted above, the third section of this post is an update on the film documentary about the WWII Japanese-American Relocation Camps in Arkansas being developed by Vivienne Schiffer, the daughter of former McGehee mayor Rosalie Santine Gould.

One of Vivienne Schiffer's cameramen standing on top of a bus to film the ttower of one of the Arkansas Japanese Relocation camps

Vivienne Schiffer’s cameraman for Relocation, Arkansas, standing on top of a school bus to film the tower at one of the Japanese-American internment camps in Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

Since it has been a year since my last blog post on this subject, I requested an update on its progress from Vivienne Schiffer. Here below is her response:

“We continue to make great progress on Relocation, Arkansas, now that our major funding is in. We have at least one more filming trip to Arkansas (probably in June) to finish out the fascinating story of the Japanese-Americans who stayed behind in Arkansas after the camp closed.

Vivienne Schiffer's crew filming Paul Takernmoto while he was surfing the Maryland coast in January

Vivienne Schiffer’s crew filming Paul Takemoto, the principal subject of her film Relocation, Arkansas, while he was surfing the Maryland coast in January (to magnify, click on the photo)

“That story is interesting on many fronts, but the one that we will likely focus on is this: in the post-war rural South, a person could only be one of two things: white or black. For the Japanese-Americans who stayed behind, it was necessary to fit into one or the other—and how did they choose? [See the quote of Nancy Chikaraishi’s father on this subject earlier in this post.]

“The community chose for them that they would be white. We intend to explore that decision and how it impacted their lives in the civil rights era that followed. This story will intersect with our other stories—the impact of the incarceration experience on the generation that was born after camp, the sansei; and how their loss of identity leads them to return to the scene of their parents’ and grandparents’ deep pain: Rohwer and Jerome, and the one person they’ve heard they must meet: former McGehee mayor Rosalie Santine Gould. The film will also explore how Mayor Gould became a legend in the Japanese-American community.

Rosalie Gould (left), Skip Rutherford (center), and Pat Scavo (left)

Rosalie Gould (right), with Skip Rutherford (center), and Pat Scavo (left) (to magnify, click on the photo provided by Pat Scavo)

“I had been invited to attend the PBS [Public Broadcasting Service] annual meeting in San Francisco in the middle of May, but it appears now that that trip may be in jeopardy.

“But my co-producing partner, the Center for Asian American Media, will be there to meet with the PBS team to discuss whether or not they want to officially become involved with our film. Even if they don’t contribute funds, we remain hopeful for a PBS broadcast in 2015.”

Vivienne Schiffer (right) and her friend Pat Scavo (left)

Vivienne Schiffer (right) and friend Pat Scavo (left), who provided several of the photos and much of the material about Vivienne and her book and film (to magnify, click on the photo provided by Pat Scavo)

Videos on the Japanese-American Relocation Camps

To view a very moving twelve-minute preview video of the film titled Relocation Arkansas, about the Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas, especially the one at Rohwer near McGehee, click here. This trailer for the full documentary was made two years ago. It features scenes of the flat Arkansas Delta, the cotton fields and cypress sloughs that surrounded the camp, and comments from Japanese-Americans who were confined there, as well as Arkansans Bill Clinton, former U.S. president and governor of Arkansas; officials of the programs and efforts to preserve the camps’ history; and Rosalie Gould, former mayor of McGehee, who was instrumental in preserving the artifacts of the camp and reviving interest in preserving them and the memory of the camps and their internees.

To view a similar but updated video trailer with the same title made in 2014, click here.

To view a seven-minute video interview with Japanese-American actor George Takei about his experience at the Rohwer camp and why he and his family were later sent to an even more restrictive camp in California as “enemy aliens,” click here.

To view a similar interview with George Tekai titled “Allegiance,” click here.

Addendum: Blogger’s Note

Coincidentally, this post marks the third anniversary of this blog titled “My Oklahomian Exile Literature by an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant,” which was officially launched on May 12, 2011, with a post titled “My Story Begins.”

It also marks the first post to be published after the blog had produced more than 60,000 visits during that three-year period, an average of 20,000 visits per year or about 500-plus visits per post.

Sources

Rachel Denton Freeze, “Museum grows as anniversary nears,” McGehee Times, Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Used with permission.

Rachel Denton Freeze, “Internees return for museum anniversary,” McGehee Times, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Used with permission.

Author unknown, “Local museum to feature works by Missouri artist,” McGehee Times, April 23, 2014.

 

“The daily newspaper—a record of prehistory.”
—Jimmy Peacock

“We long to be allied with two things: with all the people who came before us—tradition—and also with our hope, so we can transcend life.”
—Dale Brown, Of Fiction and Faith

In my previous post I offered Part I of the story of the murder of my grandfather Rev. Willis Barrett’s first wife Edna Ella Fox Barrett while she was carrying their first child. That story was taken verbatim from a newspaper article in the Dumas (Arkansas) Clarion of Wednesday, December 31, 1980.

The actual story, which took place in my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, was dictated by my grandfather to my mother who recorded it word for word in a Big Chief tablet. (To read this story, go to my previous post titled “Memory of a Selma Family Tragedy.”)

In this second post about the same subject, I offer Part II of that story, which was written by Mrs. Marion Stroud of our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas.

Mrs. Stroud was the wife of Hilliard Stroud, one of the officers of the McGehee Bank who was a friend of my father Arthur Peacock, especially after my family moved from Selma to McGehee in 1948 when I was ten years old. She was also actively engaged in the Desha County Historical Society for many years.

A year after our move to McGehee, I became better acquainted with Mrs. Stroud when she was my sixth-grade teacher in the McGehee Elementary School, a class that was held in one of the converted barracks from the WWII Japanese-American Relocation Camp at Rohwer, about twelve miles northeast of McGehee. (For more about these buildings and the camp, read my earlier post titledOpening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum” published on March 20, 2013.)

I had known the Strouds for decades before I learned that they had a direct connection to the triple murders described in Part I of these stories. It seems that the older couple, the Stephensons, who were murdered along with Edna Ella Fox Barrett, were relatives of Mr. Stroud. Before that time I had no idea that the Strouds had any connection to my birthplace of Selma, much less that their family was part of the tragedy that took place there in December 1904.

Here now, exactly as it was presented in the Dumas Clarion on Wednesday, January 7, 1981, is the account of the murders from the viewpoint of the Strouds whose relatives also lost their lives in that tragic event.

The opening and closing editor’s notes were part of the original Clarion article, which had no photos or captions. As with the first part of the story, I have made some minor editorial changes and insertions set in brackets, capitalized and lower-cased some words for consistency of style, and divided some longer paragraphs into shorter ones.

Below I have inserted maps of Desha and Drew counties in Southeast Arkansas with some of the places mentioned in the following text.

A map of Desha County, Arkansas, with some of the places mentioned in the story.

Map of Desha County, Arkansas, with portions of Drew County, Arkansas, and Bolivar County, Mississippi. McGehee is near the bottom of the map with Tillar and Winchester a few miles northwest on U.S. Highway 65 along the Desha-Drew county lines. Dumas is north of Tillar and Winchester, while Selma is west of Tillar. Northeast of McGehee is McArthur and beyond it Rohwer, the location of the WWII Japanese American Relocation Camp. The Mississippi River is to the east (right) of McGehee with Bolivar County, MS, across the River. Gaines Landing is a former port on the River below Arkansas City, the seat of Desha County. (To magnify, click on the map.)

A map of Drew County, Arkansas, with Selma, and some of the other places mentioned in the story.

Drew County, Arkansas, with Selma in the upper right; Tillar, Winchester, and McGehee (in Desha County) to the extreme right of Selma; and Monticello, to the southwest of Selma. Fountain Hill (in Ashley County) lies south of Monticello. (To magnify, click on the map.)

Part II

 “Selma tragedy: triple murder”

(Editor’s note: This is a second part of the story of a triple-murder at Selma in 190[4], which was discussed at the Desha County Historical Society meeting in McGehee recently.)

By Marion Stroud

Late in December 190[4], William (Billy) Stephenson, his wife Jennie, and Edna Barrett, who was pregnant, were murdered at the Stephenson home on the old road between Selma and Monticello. The house was burned.

Despite reward offers and investigations and hunches and rumors, the triple murder was never solved although the motive seems clear enough. Just that day Stephenson, who did not trust banks, had been to Tillar [east of Selma and north of McGehee] to sell his cotton and it was believed he had the money home with him.

There had been a dance that night at Selma, which back then was nicknamed Shanghai, and Edna Barrett was staying at the Stephensons’ because Billy Stephenson had asked her husband [my grandfather Willis Barrett] to take his fifteen-year-old daughter, Alberta, and her half-brother Frank Hayes to the party.

[As described in my grandfather’s account of the events of that evening, he returned from the dance to the Stephensons’ house only to find his wife Edna and the Stephensons brutally murdered and the house burned down with their dead bodies inside.]

Even in those days when roads were bad and communication was difficult word of the crime spread quickly and the people of Drew and Desha counties reacted with shock and horror. The murderers, many believed, had to be neighbors, people who knew about the dance at Selma and knew that Billy Stephenson had his cotton money with him.

Even today, old timers have their theories about who murdered the Stephensons and Edna Barrett. Even today they will whisper the names of the persons they suspect of the crime. Still no one knows for sure who the murderers were or how they escaped detection in such a small, isolated community.

Something is known, however, about the victims.

William Stephenson was the son of William and Malinda Stephenson of Bolivar County, Mississippi. His father died of pneumonia either just before or just after William was born. In 1860, he was living in Bolivar County with his mother and his step-father, Joseph B. Stroud, his three sisters, Josephine, Ellen, and Victoria, and half-brothers, Calvin, age 2, and George Washington Stroud, 6 months.

The childhood of the young boys was spent in a [Mississippi] river town constantly being shelled by Union gunboats and raided by the soldiers—education was non-existent, the economy in chaos.

In 1867 [two years after the end of the Civil War], thirty-four-year-old Joseph Stroud died, leaving his wife who was now forty-two. The older girls were married, but Malinda had the three little boys and a little girl Jennie Matilda Stroud to care for, and these were the worst of Reconstruction Days.

The daughter Ellen had married a Mr. O’Banion who was a Civil War soldier. He was wounded and died on his way home. Ellen later married a Confederate veteran J.T. Lilly who owned a ferry at Old Eunice on the [Mississippi] river in Chicot County [Arkansas]. Mr. Lilly brought his mother-in-law up Bayou Macon during flood time and settled the family on what is now the J.H. Stroud farm. The widow evidently bought the place, for back taxes by her son Calvin. Malinda was living here when the 1870 census was taken.

The nearest post office was Gaines Landing. Then Malinda Stroud was head of the household and living with her were Willie, age 13; Calvin, age 11; George W., age 10; Jennie Matilda, 8; and an orphan child, 2.

At that time the farm was in Chicot County, but in 1879 when it was sold, the land was in Desha County. In 1872, Malinda Stephenson died. She is buried in the McArthur (Arkansas) Cemetery at the top of a small mound. Her little boys planted a wild cherry tree at the head of her grave.

By 1880, William Stephenson had married Nancy Duff, and they had a one-year-old daughter Kate. The family lived in Richland Township, Desha County.

In 1887, Mr. Stephenson, then living in Drew County near Selma, married Mrs. Jennie Hayes of Prairie Township, Drew County. She had one son, Frank Hayes.

In 1896, Stephenson had Z.T. Wood, a Monticello lawyer and grandfather of Judge Warren E. Wood of Little Rock, draw up his will. R.W. Harrell of Selma (later of Tillar) was named executor. Witness[es] were J.T. Wood, R.L. Hyatt, and J.L. Prewitt. Wood and Hyatt in 1904 signed a statement saying that the 1896 will was Stephenson’s last will and was witnessed by them. Proof of the will was filed for probate [on] December 31, 1905, by J.W. Kimbro, Drew County Clerk.

The will was unusual in that it provided for the wife Jennie in her widowhood so long as she did not let her son Frank live with her or on the money Stephenson left Jennie. His daughter Kate, who was not living with them at the time, receive[d] $5, but his only other child Alberta would receive “the remaining portion of my estate real, personal and mixed of every sort or character.”

Gertrude Stroud Boyd, daughter of George W. Stroud, remembers the night when a group of men on horseback awoke her father’s household at their farm on Bayou Macon with the terrible news of the tragedy at Selma and of the death of her father’s half-brother, William Stephenson. George Stroud immediately dressed and rode off to Selma. He later hired a private detective to track down the criminals, but nothing was ever proved.

People over the two counties [Desha and Drew] were shocked, and it was the general opinion that the triple crime of murder, robbery and arson was the work of local people whose motive was robbery, that the victims were first killed, then robbed, and the house was burned to cover up the crime. A known group of horse and cattle thieves operated in the area all the time. They rode and stole at night and led respectable lives by day. Again, no proof.

A new family, very poor, lived in a shack away from town, having little to do with Selma people. A son of this family disappeared but came back to his family sick with smallpox. The entire family died of the disease, and the same righteous settlers thought the boy had committed the murder, and the Lord [had] punished the entire family. Someone else said the criminal is buried in Mount Tabor cemetery [near Selma] with a nice stone at the head of the grave. People checked to see if the suspect had been at the dance and [had] slipped away to do the mischief. Even today an old timer whispered the name of a man of good family that he knew was guilty. But as far as anyone knows there was never even an indictment.

The probate of the case was closed in 1907. In 1911 Alberta Stephenson Wood and her husband, Ashley B. Wood of Ashley County, sold 320 acres of land for $1500. It was Alberta’s land, as the deed stated.

What of Kate, the older daughter mentioned in the will and left $5[?] Relatives in Desha County remember her as Cousin Kate, but nothing else is known.

Frank Hayes, the step-son who attended the dance with his half-sister, Alberta, and Willis Barrett, and who was left out of the will—what became of him[?] And nobody seems to know. But relatives in Desha County, who as children visited in the Stephenson home, remembered that they rather liked Frank and thought Uncle Billy was a bit hard on the boy.

This is the story of what happened near Selma in December, 190[4]—murder, robbery and arson, and of the people involved, a happy young expectant mother who looked forward to celebrating her first wedding anniversary, a hard-working farmer who didn’t trust banks, and his fifty-four-year-old wife, Jennie Hayes Stephenson.

Note: Since this paper was read to the Desha County Historical Society, the author has learned that at age sixteen, Alberta married Mr. Wood, a druggist at Fountain Hill [in Ashley County]. They had four children. Alberta developed tuberculosis, and Mr. Wood sold his drug store and other property and the family moved west for his wife’s health. There she soon died. It may be that she sold her property near Selma (1911) just before they moved.

[Blogger’s note: When I was a child and the story of this triple murder was still rather recent news, a rumor went around Selma and the surrounding area that an elderly lady had taken sick and thought she was going to die. So in fear of facing her Maker with a guilty conscience she confessed that it was her three sons who committed the horrendous crime.

[She said that they wore masks and had only intended to rob Mr. Stephenson of his cotton money. However, she claimed that one of the three victims recognized the intruders, called them by name, and pulled down their masks. At this disclosure and reacting out of fear and panic, the three thieves murdered the victims by the use of axes, chopping off Mr. Stephenson’s head and striking Edna Barrett a fatal blow to the chest. They then set the house on fire in an attempt to hide the evidence of their crime and made it impossible to be identified by it.

[However, as the rumor went, the elderly lady in fact did not die as expected, so she quickly changed her story, denying it entirely, claiming that she was out of her head with fever and delirium. The result was that no conviction of her sons was ever made. However, those who knew her and them always believed that she told the truth, even though she recanted when she regained her health.

[The end result was that no one was ever indicted for the crime, which is still unsolved to this day.]

Sources

The map of Desha County, Arkansas, was taken from the following source and may ordered from it:

http://myokexilelit.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/deshacounty.jpg

The map of Drew County, Arkansas, was taken from the following source and may be ordered from it:

http://www.mygenealogyhound.com/maps/arkansas-maps/ar-drew-county-arkansas-1889-map.html

“I had been writing for twenty-five years before I realized that the subject of all my writing is . . . LOSS!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“For all of my great love of the Delta, Mari says my basic problem is that I have never left Selma!”
(See my earlier post titled “The Way We Were.”)
—Jimmy Peacock

In this post I reprint an article published by the Dumas Clarion newspaper on December 31, 1980. It is a personal story recounted by my maternal grandfather, Rev. Willis Barrett, of my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas. It is presented just as he told it to my mother, Vivian Barrett Peacock, who recorded it in pencil on a Big Chief writing tablet still in my possession.

A Big Chief tablet like the one in which my mother recorded her father's life story

A Big Chief tablet like the one in which my mother recorded in pencil the life story of her father, Rev. Willis Barrett of Selma, Arkansas

I submitted the story to Charlotte Schnexnayder, editor of the Clarion, who published it along with three photos from my mother’s private collection of family photos. I have reprinted the article below just as it appeared in the Clarion thirty-four years ago with the photos and original captions in approximately the same positions as in that article.

The only change I made in this post is the date of the tragedy which occurred in 1904 rather than 1902 as reported in this newspaper article and the spelling of the word “Shanghai.”

The event described in the Clarion newspaper article includes the death of my grandfather’s first wife, Edna Ella Fox Barrett, who was carrying their first child at the time of her brutal murder at the hands of unknown assailants.

I am indebted to Estelle Fox, whose husband Meritt Fox is a relative of Edna Ella Fox.  It was E. Fox, as she prefers to be referenced, who provided me two Arkansas newspaper articles from 1904 which described the event in detail when it occurred a hundred and ten years ago

Homemade tombstone of Edna Ella Fox Barrett in the Selma, Arkansas, Cemetery

Homemade tombstone of Edna Ella Fox Barrett in the Selma, Arkansas, Cemetery (to magnify, click on the photo)

Now here is the Dumas Clarion presentation of my grandfather’s story from his childhood to that unthinkable and unforgettable event that changed his life forever. The opening editor’s note is part of that Clarion account. I have made some minor editorial changes and insertions set in brackets, capitalized and lower-cased some words for consistency of style, and divided some longer paragraphs into shorter ones.

“Unsolved Murders at Selma Remain a Memory”

(Editor’s note: Desha County Historical Society members recently heard the story of triple, unsolved murders near Selma in 190[4]. The community then was known as Shanghai. Vivian Barrett Peacock prepared this paper, and permission for it to be used was given by her son, Jimmy Peacock of Sapulpa, Okla. The paper was read to the Historical Society by Mary Gail Tutt.)

If you should happen to meet my dad, you would see a small man of fifty years who really shows his age. He works hard all the week on the farm and rides 12 miles horseback, every Sunday to preach at a country church. He always wears a sad, far-away look. Yet he goes about his work whistling a low tune.

I used to wonder when I was at home why he asked, “Where is your mother?” the minute he hit the door when he came in from work. And he never stopped until he laid eyes on her. As I grew older I learned from other people that there was a story in his life.

I always buy the True Story [a popular magazine of the time] and save it for Dad and Mother to read. One night after supper Dad came over to get it and sat down to talk awhile. He seemed to be in a mood to unload his troubles so he told the following story to [my] husband and myself before he realized it was twelve o’clock and Mother would be wondering why he had not come back.

This is Willis Barrett’s story as told to his daughter Vivian Barrett Peacock.

I was born in the backwood of southeast Arkansas. The youngest of a family of seven children. My father died when I was eight years old [possibly as a result of his imprisonment as a Confederate soldier in a Union POW camp during the Civil War], leaving my frail mother only a small farm, heavily in debt. Yet the memory of their years of love and companionship gave her the will-power to carry on for the sake of their children.

The education I received came from riding a mule three miles to Shanghai school. Sometimes in the winter I was forced to study at home, for I could not cross the creek that ran close to our house after the rains set in.

Our best farming land was in the lowlands or bottoms along the creek. Many times after our crops came up in the spring a big rain would come and the water would rise, washing our crop[s] out of the ground. Then by the time we would get them up again the weather would be so hot they would burn up and we would not make anything.

I often wonder how my little mother (who weighed hardly more than a hundred pounds) had the courage to keep trying. Always saying, “Everything will turn out all right.” Or I suppose it is the Lord’s Will.” Even when the fall payment was due on the place and the winter food and clothing had to be bought and not a dime in sight. She had a way of saying, “Don’t worry children, the Good Lord will provide.”

I know it was her continual praying, hard work, and good management that kept us from actual hunger at times. But the “Good Lord” did provide and by the time all the children were gone from home but Tom (a brother) and myself, the old place was clear and we were living fairly well.

In my boyhood days the people of Shanghai gave me the name of being a tough kid. There is no wonder they thought that of me. For I was the leader of a mischievous gang of boys who wanted to have some fun. But most of them were afraid of the consequences, should their parents find them out. So to clear themselves they laid the blame on me. In time I accepted it as my lot and made no effort to deny anything I was accused of.

I know that the mothers gossiped to each other about what an outlaw I was going to be, since my father had died right when I needed a strong hand to control me. For when one of the boys happened to get mad at me he never forgot to tell me, “Ma said you never would amount to anything.”

I will admit that I couldn’t resist the temptation to knock the windows out of a vacant house with my bean shooter, or sometimes make a kid sick on a chew of homemade tobacco (that I slipped just for that purpose), and all such things that many a boy does. Especially after he learns that all the women are wondering what in the world he is going to do next.

Shanghai consisted of the post-office, a general mercantile store, the one-room school, church, a saloon, a one-room log calaboose [jail], and a grist mill.

Sometimes on Saturday afternoon I would take a sack of corn on my mule and go to the mill. While I was waiting to get the corn ground I would slip off over to the saloon where the men were always drinking, playing cards, cursing, and spitting on the floor. When they saw me they would nod to one another with a look of understanding. I knew from their slow grin and sly wink that they were thinking it wouldn’t be many years until I was in their midst.

As I look back now I don’t doubt that the so-called “Christian Mothers” would want their boys to shun me, although my own mother never seemed to worry about what I was going to “turn out to be.” She did lecture me on the importance of right and wrong and I surely was not sassy or disobedient. If it had not been for her love and the confidence I learned to know my mother had in me, who knows what I might have been just what everyone expected of me.

Young Willis Barrett, husband of Edna Ella Fox Barrett, one of the three victims of the triple murder near Selma in 1904

Willis Barrett, husband of Edna Barrett who was one of the three victims in the triple murder near Selma years ago.

How well do I remember the first kind word or praise that I received from a grown person. The first respect anyone showed me as a kid came from an absolute stranger.

What a sight I must have been to her. Dressed in my homemade jean pants that struck me two inches above my heavy brogan shoes, which were about two sizes too big.  In an outgrown coat and an old corduroy cap with the bill flopped over my left ear. I was riding a tall raw-boned horse with a turtle-shell saddle and using a blind bridle with a rope plow line for the reins. And this is how it happened.

I was on my way home from the post office riding Tom’s horse in a slow gallop. I was wondering about the creek water, for it had rained all night Friday night and the water was nearly out of the banks and rising fast when I went over right after noon. I could hear it roaring before I reached the top of the hill that led down to the flats.

When I came to a halt at the top of the hill I could see nothing but one mad whirling stream of water, foaming and churning, sweeping away logs and chunks. It must have been about 300 yards across the flat and the water was from hill to hill. In this distance the road formed the letter “S” and I could not tell whether the bridge was there or not for it was around the bend from me. I could tell just about where the road lay by the tops of the bushes that grew along the sides and the opening in the trees. I was not afraid for I had crossed it many times and I knew my horse was not excited.

It was getting late so I drove on without a thought of danger for mother was waiting for the mail which we only got on Saturday afternoon.

As I came around the bend a woman began to scream at me from a buggy sitting on the bridge. My heart gave a leap for I saw the harness piled on the dashboard and no horse in sight. She was telling me not to come on for there was a hole in the bridge.

What could a woman be doing sitting there at this time of day alone? Where was her horse? I rode closer to the foot of the bridge and saw that a plank had washed away but a horse could step it. She explained that she and her son had come from Blue Ridge, 16 miles away, to spend the night in Shanghai with a sick relative. When they reached the water it was too late to go back so they had decided to tackle it. But when the horse saw the hole he began to buck and pitch, so the boy rode the horse back to Old Man Will Stacey’s house at the top of the hill, to get some help. The woman was scared half to death and her teeth chattered so she could hardly talk.

I rode my horse up to the hole. He snorted a little and all at once made a quick step and was standing beside the buggy. I jumped down on the bridge in the water that was splashing over the bridge and with the woman crying, talking, and protesting, hitched my horse to her buggy. When the boy returned with a plank and a couple of Negroes on mules, I had piloted the lady with her buggy all high and dry to the other side.

You should have heard the praise I received. It would have been a treat to any boy’s heart and it was more than that to me for I had never known what it was to even hear such words. She raved about what a brave boy I was. What a big heart I had in me to help an old lady like her. And saying that she knew I must have a good mother to raise such a fine boy.

I could not say a word for my heart was nearly bursting and I could hardly hold back the tears. I muttered some quick excuse about having to hurry home not even realizing that I was shaking and numb with cold. I rode back across the waters home.

From there I grew into young manhood never forgetting that I had at least one good deed in my life, although I never told anyone about it—not even my mother.

The mother of Willis Barrett and widow of a Confederate veteran of the Civil War

The mother of Willis Barrett and widow of a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. (Photos, courtesy of a grandson, Jimmy Peacock)

During these years my older brother had died, leaving a wife and several small children. She had a hard time trying to fee[d] and cloth[e] them so it was only natural that Mother was always sending them something and visited them as often as possible, doing everything we could to help them along. I grew very fond of the children so when my sister-in-law married an old man (more for a home than love), I still visited the children. It was there I met the girl of my heart. They lived so far from our home that I would always go on Saturday afternoon, spend the night, and come back home Sunday. The boys, Dick and Ralph, always went with me to put up my horse for the night.

[Here the original newspaper story was broken to be continued on a later page]

Historical Society hears about mystery 

[Continued from the front page]

On this particular day, I related that Dick was eager to be off to the barn. Before we were out of hearing distance of the house, Dick ran up beside me and said, “Uncle Willie, I have found you a girl. She’s one of Mr. Cox’s (their stepfather) girls. Ma knew he had some grown children, but she didn’t know any of them was going to live with us. Her name is Edna [though she came to be called Ella]. She’s been living with an aunt, but quick as they found out her Pa was married, they sent her home. Her and Ma don’t get along very well and I don’t see why. She’s purty and I like her. She works hard.”

I let him rattle on for I had always been too bashful and awkward to pay any attention to girls and I wasn’t much interested. Yet his brief story put me to thinking. I had noticed someone sweeping in the back yard when I drove up but I did not see her face for she wore one of those old time sun bonnets and darted in the kitchen door as soon as I got down from my horse.

At supper, I saw her again for she had to wait on the table. I know the boys had given her a history of me for I could feel her looking at me when she slipped in at the end of the table after everyone else was nearly through eating. Of course she had to wash the dishes so I pretended to get a drink from the wooden bucket on the back porch just to peek in and get a good look at her.

I didn’t like the looks of the old man and I was really surprised at the girl. She was actually beautiful, dark brown eyes, auburn hair and a complexion as soft and fair as a lily. She carried herself in that kitchen as if she were in some beauty parade. I could not resist the temptation to go in [the kitchen]. I soon found that I wasn’t as backward as I had thought. I even put away the dishes for her, something I hadn’t done since I was a small boy helping Mother.

We sat at the kitchen table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other all our lives, until we were reminded that it was bed time. When I went to bed that night, I knew she was the girl for me. I knew life would be different and it was nearly daylight before I could go to sleep, for dreaming of the future. After that I went there nearly every Saturday night and it wasn’t many months until I brought her home with me to live with Mother and myself.

It is strange how the love of a good woman can change a man’s life. I didn’t need a drink of booze to make me feel carefree and light. I noticed the beauty of the world about me. I walked on air. I had always thought that life was cruel and unhappy. I never had anything particular to love for. I [had] merely existed, getting on a spree nearly every Saturday night and feeling bad all the week from the effects of it.

For the first time in my life, I was actually living and enjoying it. I had someone to love and to work for. Someone loved me and showed it in every word and move. Edna was so gentle and kind. I got a job hauling stave bolts that fall after the crops were gathered and sometimes when I was late getting in she would already have the feed and water put out for my team.

I begged her not to overdo herself, for she had already whispered a secret that makes any man’s heart swell with pride. But it made her happy to do things for me. After supper when we sat before the open fireplace, I would smoke my pipe while she sewed the tiny garments that we both loved to touch. Oh! we were so happy it makes my heart ache to think of it. I sometimes wonder if it was because we gave no thought to anything else but ourselves that she was taken from me.

I dreamed of the boy through which I was going to relive my boyhood. Through him I would enjoy the childish pleasures I had missed in my own life. He was going to be treated like other boys—not shunned and scorned. He would not be hurt by the gossip of wagging tongues. I pictured him in school. The head of his class, appreciated and honored by well-to-do people. All day at my work, I thought this out. It was my guiding star and caused me to work even harder and faster as my thoughts ran on. But oh, how soon were my hopes and happiness shattered.

Vivian Barrett Peacock and Arthur on their honeymoon in Fort Worth in about 1927

Vivian Barrett Peacock and her husband Arthur on their honeymoon in Fort Worth. She related the story told to her by her father about the events leading up to the Selma tragedy. (Photo, courtesy of Jimmy Peacock)

We lived about a quarter of a mile from Mr. Sturgeon (Stephenson) and it was his bolts I was hauling.

One Friday in late December, I carried a load over to Shanghai and Mr. [Stephenson] asked me to stop at the store and bring him some money that a certain fellow was going to leave there for him as a payment on some of the timber. I well remember I brought him 30 dollars in paper and three silver dollars.

When I stopped to leave the money on my way back home he [Mr. Stephenson] asked me if we were going to the dance that night. His daughter, Bertie, wanted to go but she was only fifteen years of age so he would not let her go unless some married person was along, I was in a hurry to get home for Edna was alone. Mother was off visiting my sister, but I told him we would go if Edna felt like it.

The moon had already risen when I reached home and Edna was at the lot with the gate swinging open when I drove up. What a picture she was, the soft moonlight shining on her face. She ran into my arms as soon as I stepped from the wagon. I hated to mention about the dance for I had rather stay at home with her and I knew too that she would not want to go in her condition.

When I did tell her I saw a disappointed look come over her happy face. She hesitated a moment then she cried, “Oh, Willie, I had a little party all planned for just the two of us. You know tomorrow is our wedding anniversary and we were going to make a cake and some candy tonight. You know we seldom ever get to be alone, not that Mother is any trouble or in the way, but wouldn’t you just love to have a little party all by ourselves?”

Of course I would enjoy it but after all Mr. [Stephenson] had been good to us. He gave me work and was our nearest neighbor, so in a way I felt like I ought to go. Again he was old and childish and used to being humored.

So we decided that we would hurry on back and she could stay with the old folks while I went with Bertie and her half-brother to the dance. I promised not to stay long. The dance was about two miles over across the creek and we would go horseback instead of in the buggy.

Arm in arm we walked to Mr. [Stephenson’s] in the moonlight, leading my horse. I kissed her at the gate before [she went back] in the house. She clung to my neck with such a grasp that I asked her what was the matter. “Oh, nothing, I guess it’s because I’m not well that makes me feel like this.”

What was the trouble? It wasn’t like Edna to act like this. I wanted to tell her I wouldn’t go. Yet, in some unknown way, I felt obligated to Mr. [Stephenson] so I never said anything. There was something telling me to stay and another feeling that I ought to go. By this time our appearance was known and Bertie and Fred were grabbing their coats and hats, ready to be off.

When they were ready we went out. Mr. [Stephenson] was sitting straddle of a cane chair looking over the back of it into the fire. Mrs. [Stephenson] had brought out her sewing basket, preparing to do some mending, and Edna still had her coat on when I left.

The dance had already started when we got there so Bertie joined in with the fun. But somehow there was a cloud about me. Something I could not shake off. I stood out on the porch and smoked one cigarette after another while the others went on with their fun.

I guess God printed that picture [of the Stephensons and Edna] on my mind for I never saw them alive again.

Everyone undoubtedly thought old man [Stephenson] had a lot of money in the house and came that night to rob him. No one will ever know what happened, for the house was burned to the ground. The charred bodies [of the Stephensons and Edna] were found on the bed springs. The head was completely severed from Mr. [Stephenson’s] body. [On December 18, 1904, an Arkansas Gazette newspaper report of the triple murder noted, “When found Mr. Stevenson’s (sic) head was about four feet from his body, apparently having been severed with some instrument, and his skull was cracked.”] They were identified by their teeth. The sewing thimble was still on the bone of Mrs. [Stephenson’s] hand.

This is another one of those unsolved murders, for there was never any evidence found to start on in trying to find who did this horrible thing. If I only knew who did it and that they were being punished, maybe I would not think of it so much.

This is the story that Willis Barrett told concerning the tragedy that took the life of his beloved first wife.

Since this story was started my father passed away with a sudden heart attack. We all feel that maybe it was brought on because of this thing that had bothered him all these years. We cannot grieve too much for him because maybe he is with the one he once was so happy with–his first love. Now we can truly understand why he always asked us, “Where is your mother?”

[Blogger’s Note: Willis Barrett eventually became a country Southern Baptist preacher, married the daughter of an Irish immigrant, and produced six children: three boys and three girls, one of whom was my mother Vivian Barrett Peacock who recorded this story on that Big Chief tablet so long ago. Together, she and my grandfather and a small group of others established the Selma Baptist Church of which my grandfather was the pastor during my childhood in Selma until his sudden death not long before my family moved to McGehee, Arkansas, in 1948. He is buried in the Selma Cemetery between Edna Ella Fox Barrett and my grandmother Ola Emery Barrett.]

Selma Baptist Church as co-founded by Vivian Barrett Peacock, her father, and several others with Rev. Willis Barrett as pastor

Selma Baptist Church which was co-founded in the 1940s by my mother, her father, and several others with Rev. Willis Barrett as pastor (to magnify, click on the photo)

Rev. Willis Barrett and his second wife, my grandmother, Ola Emery Barrett, in later years

Rev. Willis Barrett and his second wife, my grandmother, Ola Emery Barrett, in later years (to magnify, click on the photo)

Sources

The photo of the Big Chief tablet was taken from the following Web site:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-frYGbaQoNwU/ToiI2A70-wI/AAAAAAAADuY/IuM8FjtXFkk/s1600/BigChiefTabletScreenShotBON003.jpg

The two 1904 newspaper articles about the murder of Edna Ella Fox and the Stephensons were provided by Estelle Fox from the December 17 and 19 issues of the Arkansas Gazette and titled “Triple Tragedy Near Monticello, Arkansas.”

The photos of Edna Ella Fox’s tombstone, Rev. Willis Barrett and his second wife Ola Emery Barrett, the Selma Baptist Church, and Arthur and Vivian Peacock on their honeymoon in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1927, were taken from the original family photo collection.

 “May good Saint Patrick bless you
And keep you in his care,
And may Our Lord be near you
To answer every prayer.”
—Irish Blessings: With Legends Poems & Greetings 

“There’s music in Irish names—
Kilkenny . . . Tipperary . . .
There’s beauty in the countryside,
From Cork to Londonderry,
And whoever makes his earthly home
Close to the Irish sod
Has found a bit of heaven
And walks hand in hand with God.”
—Irish Blessings: With Legends, Poems & Greetings

Two years ago, on March 14 and 21, 2012, I published two blog posts titled “St. Patrick’s Day Tributes and Trivia” and “Some of My Favorite Irish Quotes.”

Here at the time of St. Patrick’s Day 2014 if you are looking for something to read about Irish quotes and blessings, I suggest you visit (or revisit) those sites in which I offer information and quotes from a variety of Irish books in my personal library.

On the subject of Irish saints, names, and quotes there are of course many other sources that can be accessed by simply searching online under those subjects.

One of the most recent sources of interesting Irish saints and names was an article in the Tulsa World that appeared on Sunday, March 2, 2014, titled “Not Just St. Patrick: Ireland home to many saints.”

In that article there is a striking photo of a statue of St. Patrick in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin in which the beloved saint stands in front of lovely stained-glass windows honoring “the fifth-century saint who brought Christianity to Ireland.”

St. Patrick

St. Patrick

At the time of the writing of this blog post that article could be accessed at:

http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/features/not-just-st-patrick ireland-is-home-to-many-saints/article_0767c1c6-adb6-534e-a9b5-b0bc9cd4f341.html 

St. Ciaran (St. Kieran)

“Clonmacnoise [the Irish monastery founded by St. Ciaran or St. Kieran] remains a Celtic Christian site worthy of a visit by anyone interested in ancient things Celtic. To this day tourists and pilgrims still visit Ciaran’s monastery to see some of the finest monastic ruins and high crosses in all of Ireland.”
—“Commemoration of St. Ciaran (St. Kieran)”

Besides the universally known and revered St. Patrick, among the lesser-known Irish saints (and their areas of ministry) discussed in that Tulsa World article were: St. Kevin (Glendalough, County Wicklow); St. Brigit (Kildare, County Kildare); St. Declan (Ardmore, County Waterford); and many others.

The one lesser-known Irish saint (and his area of ministry) featured in that article of most interest to Mari and me was St. Ciaran (pronounced KEER-un) who established a now famous monastery at Clonmacnoise in County Offaly from which Christian missionaries were sent out all over Europe. To learn more about this equally famous saint—famous at least in his native Ireland, if virtually unknown in the United States—read the following excerpt from that Tulsa World article below.

St. Ciaran (Kieran)

St. Ciaran (Kieran)

“Clonmacnoise, County Offaly: St. Ciaran”

In neighboring County Offaly, visitors can explore the magnificent remains of the sixth-century monastic site founded by Ciaran in Clonmacnoise. It includes the ruins of a cathedral, two round towers, three Celtic crosses and the largest collection of early Christian gravestones in Western Europe.

Ciaran’s path to sainthood was launched as a young man, when he supposedly restored a dead horse—just one example of his way with animals. Legend has it that a fox carried his psalter (psalm book) and a stag held his books on its antlers while he studied.

After performing the usual round of miracles, Ciaran decided to build a monastery at Clonmacnoise, smitten, he said, by the beauty of the lush green plains and sweeping river Shannon. First though, he had to settle a boundary dispute with a neighbor who offered him land as far as he could throw his cap. After Ciaran uttered a prayer, a gust of wind swept his hat across the fields. To this day, a sudden squall in the midlands is sometimes called ‘Ciaran’s wind.’ The neighbor was eventually made a saint as well—St. Manchan.

Ruins of Clonmacnoise monastery founded by St. Ciaran (Kieran)

Ruins of Clonmacnoise monastery founded by St. Ciaran (Kieran) (to magnify, click on the photo)

The reason this relatively unknown Irish Catholic saint from the Middle Ages is of such interest to two modern-day “Baptiscopalian Methodist Arkies” who have lived half their lives in predominately protestant-evangelical-charismatic Oklahoma is quite simple: We named our younger son after him!

As our Yankee friends say, “Go figure!”

But Why Ciaran?

“Because of his prominence in the early Irish church, St. Ciaran is known as one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.”
——“Commemoration of St. Ciaran (Kieran)”

Although we wish we could say that we named our second-born son Keiron (our spelling of Ciaran) because we were divinely informed that he was destined to become a great Christian apostle, the truth is much more romantic and adolescent, perhaps indeed a bit mundane.

The simple fact is, the reason we gave our second-born son the Irish name of Keiron is the same reason we gave his older brother, our first-born son, the Irish name of Sean: We learned the name from the movies and liked it!

The story goes like this.

Being a professed lifelong “hopeless romantic” from childhood I have always loved movies. In fact, when growing up in small-town McGehee, Arkansas, which had only one movie theater, I used to go to the “picture show” every time it changed features, which was usually four times a week.

Each week the local theater showed a different film on Sunday-Monday, Tuesday (only), Wednesday-Thursday, and Friday-Saturday. And I never missed a one of them. In those days, parents could allow their youngsters to do that because the admission price was so low and because there was little danger of their little darlings being exposed to anything they shouldn’t see! (See my earlier post titled “The Way We Were.”)

For the first few years after Mari and I were married in December 1962, though our first purchase was a nineteen-inch, black-and-white Zenith television set (see my earlier post titled “A Thing of Beauty Lasts Forever”), we continued to frequent the closest movie theater whenever possible. In our first teaching position in the little East Arkansas cotton town of Holly Grove, that nearest movie theater was in Brinkley (see my recent post titled “Addenda to Blog: Christmas and Our Fifty-First Anniversary”).

About that time in 1963 we saw our first James Bond movie, Dr. No, starring the now famous/infamous Scottish actor Sean Connery.

Dr. No

Dr. No

That Celtic name “Sean” for the English “John” was known to few Americans, especially in the cotton fields of East Arkansas. However, we were already familiar with it, having seen the 1960 film The Sundowners, which was set in turn-of-the-century Australia and starred Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov, and Glynis Johns.

The Sundowners

The Sundowners

In that engaging film Mitchum played a rugged individualist, an itinerant sheepherder of Irish descent named Paddy Carmody. Naturally, his only son, played by Michael Anderson, Jr., was named Sean. Since Mari and I were already planning our first child, correctly assumed to be a boy, since Peacock girls are scarce, and since I wanted to honor my Irish grandmothers, we immediately looked up the “correct” Irish spelling of that name and chose it for our future firstborn, though his birth would not actually occur until 1966.

As might be expected in that era and area, not many residents of SEARK were as familiar with the name “Sean” as were we “down-home intellectuals and rural sophisticates.” Not long after the “blessed event” the rumor went through the neighborhood, “Did y’all hear? Jimmy ‘n’ May’un named their new baby ‘Seen’!”

Of course, through time, especially with the growing popularity of the James Bond moves and the actor who played him in those early films, Sean Connery, the name of Sean because known and even poplar—though often appearing in America with a variety of spellings such as Shawn, Shaun, Shon, etc.

However, a problem arose when we began to search for an Irish name for our second son since none of the usual such names (Patrick, Michael, Timothy, etc.) seemed to fit.

Finally, fate (or something a bit more spiritual) intervened through the same source as the inspiration for the name Sean: the movies.

But Why Keiron?

“Keiron: ke(i)-ron\ as a boy’s name is a variant of Kieran (Irish, Gaelic) and Kyrone, and the meaning of Keiron is ‘black’.”
—“Keiron meaning and name origin”

About that time we saw a Walt Disney film titled Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Besides starring Sean Connery as a “handsome, strapping young Michael from Dublin,” this lilting Irish fantasy also included in its cast an unknown (to us) Irish actor named Kieron Moore (real name Kieron O’Hanrahan).

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Darby O’Gill and the Little People

Mari and I liked the Irish name Kieron right away and began to try to learn more about it.

Meanwhile, two years after the birth of Sean in 1966, we happened to see the 1968 futuristic sci-fi movie titled 2001: A Space Odyssey which starred a young actor named Keir Dullea as one of the leading characters: two American astronauts on a daring voyage to the planet Jupiter.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey (with the face of actor Keir Dullea)

Coincidentally, on the very morning I was writing this part of this post, there was an article in the Tulsa World about the fact that American rocket scientists were “plotting a robotic mission” to one of the two moons of Jupiter. The thinking is that these moons might have more chances for water—and thus life—than either earth’s moon or the planet Mars, both of which have been explored by unmanned probes. For more on this subject, see “NASA plots daring trip to Jupiter moon” published in the Tulsa World on March 5, 2014, accessible at the time of this writing at:

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/usworld/nasa-plots-daring-flight-to-one-of-jupiter-s-moons/article_fcfc475c-6ef7-591d-8601-3f5d57ac312a.html.

Adopting the “K” and “on” spelling from “Kieron (Moore),” and alternating the “i” and “e” as in the first name of “Keir (Dullea),” we came up with the unique spelling of “Keiron.” Of course, as a shorter version for family use, we often called our son “Keir,” as we have continued to do since his birth on March 29, 1970.

But as soon as Keiron/Keir was able to learn to use his name and especially to be identified by it by others outside the family, he hated it!

For many years, he avoided using it to identify himself, choosing rather the family name. Even to this day, he tends to follow that same practice, in keeping with his required name tag on all his military uniforms: Peacock. (To read about Keiron’s military service with many photos of him from childhood to the present, visit my blog post titled “A Soldier’s Story.”)

Keiron in Iraq

Keiron in Iraq (click on the photo to magnify it and see Keiron’s name tag: Peacock)

While he was a child, although we had never particularly celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday or holy day, in an attempt to convince Keiron/Keir that his name was one to be proud of, we began to emphasize our Irish family heritage. It was then that we started celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with cards, gifts, parties, etc., and to magnify the life and ministry of St. Ciaran.

Through these intervening forty-plus years Keiron/Keir has seemed to reluctantly accept his name (if not to embrace it) though he still tends to avoid using it whenever possible, calling and identifying himself simply as Peacock.

It has helped that through these decades the name Ciaran/Kieran/Kieron/Keiron has become more popular and has appeared more often in public use.

For example, several years ago there was an American Country-Western singer named Kieran Kane. 

In the 1990s the movie series titled Home Alone, starring the child actor Macauley Culkin, became enormous popular. It turned out that Macauley had a brother named Kieran, “a former stage actor with a long career on Broadway.”

Then in 1998 popular Hollywood actor James Caan starred in a film titled This Is My Father, in which he played a character named Kieran Johnson, “a lonely, middle-aged, Chicago-based high school history teacher who feels disconnected to his life . . . [and] decides to take a trip to his mother’s small old hometown of Kilronan, County Galway, Ireland.”

This Is My Father

This Is My Father

All such instances of the name Ciaran/Kieran/Keiron/etc. only serve to make the proud and ancient name more widely known, used, and respected. For that blessing, as for the one on whom we endowed it, we are greatly appreciative.

 Conclusion:
St. Patrick’s Day and Irish Blessing 

“If you’re lucky enough to be Irish . . . you’re lucky enough.”
—Irish Blessings

So now you know why we gave our two sons Irish names; why we give St. Patrick’s Day cards and gifts to our two grandsons aged thirteen and eleven; why our house is always decorated for St. Patrick’s Day with Irish music playing in the background; why we send annual St. Patrick’s Day greetings to friends and family; and why I publish blog posts with an Irish theme, often closing with an Irish blessing, such as this one, my favorite:

 “May God give you many years to live,
For sure He must be knowin’
That earth has angels all too few,
While heaven is overflowin’.”
—Irish Blessings: With Legends Poems & Greetings 

PS Keiron has two sons to whom he gave double ancestral Peacock names: Levi Jesse and Thomas Benjamin. But the boys prefer the shorter versions of Levi and Ben.

Sources

The photo of St. Patrick was taken from this Web site:
http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=Images+of+St.+Patrick&v_t=keyword_rollover&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dkeyword_rollover%26q%3DImages%2Bof%2BSt.%2BPatrick%26oreq%3D42138ee5a4b24dbea859f71638d997ca&img=http%3A%2F%2Fmedia.irishcentral.com%2Fimages%2FSaint%2BPatrick%2BShamrock.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.irishcentral.com%2Fopinion%2Fpatrickroberts%2Fst-patrick-was-never-canonized-a-saint-by-the-catholic-church-118153804-238171911.html&width=83&height=85&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft2.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcTUoUbI4zIUkzgcJ5-tdHyV2s6NnJfOSzdyU9QOMHTnLnXDsoZ_GdpPIQ&imgWidth=640&imgHeight=659&imgSize=69830&imgTitle=Images+of+St.+Patrick

The photo of St. Cieran (Kieran) was taken from this Web site:
http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=St+Ciaran&v_t=client97_inbox&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dclient97_inbox%26q%3DSt%2520Ciaran%2520%26oreq%3D6f7d37c342d74c5eb4dfb3e699eaa71b&img=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.allsaintsbrookline.org%2Fceltic_saints%2Fsaint_images%2Fkieran.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.allsaintsbrookline.org%2Fceltic_saints%2Fkieran.html&width=56&height=83&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft1.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcRnUcGp_8ozx-Wdkm4fP5-sS4YnRw0bz-jk8EMy0DHp0PzYIZcYzshaxQ&imgWidth=200&imgHeight=296&imgSize=23406&imgTitle=St+Ciaran

The photo of Clonmacnoise was taken from this Web site:
http://www.historvius.com/images/original/1366-Clonmacnoise 1E.jpg

The photo of The Sundowners was taken from this Web site:
http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjA2NDczMjkwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjE2ODI0MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR23,0,214,317_.jpg

The photo of 2001: A Space Odyssey was taken from this Web site:
http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BNDYyMDgxNDQ5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjc1ODg3OA@@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_.jpg

The photo of Dr. No was taken from this Web site:
http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=Images+of+Dr.+No&v_t=client97_inbox&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dtopsearchbox.search%26v_t%3Dclient97_inbox%26q%3DImages%2Bof%2BDr.%2BNo%26oreq%3Daa1734483ad8482899ce3ee96ed31c87&img=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.francescofrancavilla.com%2Fgallery%2Fimages%2F007_DRNO_connery_low.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.francescofrancavilla.com%2Fgallery%2F007_dr_no.html&width=58&height=85&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft0.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcQ0UvRPEO76zhCvsGmG4nRW2qKHG85ZcJQQA7ErKCpt0jpiPCZ5WcZquQ&imgWidth=522&imgHeight=761&imgSize=100440&imgTitle=Images+of+Dr.+No

The photo of Darby O’Gill and the Little People was taken from this Web site:
http://search.aol.com/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=Darby+O%27Gill+and+the+Little+People&v_t=client97_inbox&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dclient97_inbox%26q%3DDarby%2520O%2527Gill%2520and%2520the%2520Little%2520People%26oreq%3D8a4dc4a4c24947d4bf6dc5d31c615e73&img=http%3A%2F%2Fia.media-imdb.com%2Fimages%2FM%2FMV5BMTQzNjgxMTQ3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODU3NTYyMQ%40%40._V1_SY317_CR3%2C0%2C214%2C317_.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.imdb.com%2Ftitle%2Ftt0052722%2F&width=61&height=90&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ft3.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcRfH8Eiwwae4soyuPEX4x2azXAiHLY-XOJS9XOeX3ckz9_SJ-ew_ri2Lw&imgWidth=214&imgHeight=317&imgSize=25413&imgTitle=Darby+O%27Gill+and+the+Little+People

The photo of This Is My Father was taken from this Web site:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_My_Father

“Southern writers embrace the freedom of going out West, but once they get out there, it’s almost too free—there’s not enough community or settlement—so in the literature the characters swing back South, or they settle down in the West and embrace Southern ideals of community. They discover their Southernness by leaving the South.”
—Robert H. Brinkmeyer,
quoted in The Southern Register, Winter 1999

“After the end of the Civil War, and for several generations afterward, thousands of Black Southerners left the South to move to Oklahoma in an attempt to escape racial discrimination. But too often that attempt proved to be less than successful. That’s why the notorious and destructive Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 is often referred to as ‘Death in a Promised Land.’”
—Jimmy Peacock

I am publishing this post in recognition of Black History Month on the next to last day of that month for two reasons: first, because my age and health have not allowed me to compile and compose it any earlier; and second, because my ancient and outdated computer has caused me as much trouble as my advancing age and failing physical health.

Obviously, this mini-post is shorter than my usual full-length posts for the same reasons. As such, I have made it easier on myself and my computer by simply reprinting, with permission, a July 1996 article I wrote for the Trinity Life monthly newsletter of Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa where Mari and I were active members for almost twenty years.

Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa as it appeared in 1996

Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa as it appeared in 1996 at the time Mari and I were members (photo taken from Behold the Glory: The Iconography of Grace and used by permission)

That permission to reprint came from our longtime friend and the Trinity educational director Ed Roling. Ed, or as we often called him “Christian Ed,” was the editor of Trinity Life. Thus he chose the subjects of each of my monthly “Peacock Profiles” which I wrote for eleven years about various Trinity parishioners and their personal ministries in the church.

This post, published in July 1996, was a tribute to Florence Fairchild, a longtime member of Trinity, and her husband Robert, a survivor of the notorious 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. The Fairchilds contributed greatly to their separate church families and their shared geographical and ethnic communities.

The photocopied article appears just as it was presented in Trinity Life. The captioned colored photos that I have inserted to help illustrate the post were taken from a Trinity church publication.

Interior of Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa in 1996

Interior of Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa in 1996 (photo taken from Behold the Glory: The Iconography of Grace and used by permission)

Florence and Robert Fairchild:
Fleeing Prejudice, Finding Purpose
 

Original July 1996 article in Trinity Life about Florence and Robert Fairchild

The original article about Florence and Robert Fairchild as it appeared in the July 1996 issue of Trinity Life (used by permission of Trinity Episcopal Church Tulsa)

Trinitarian Florence Fairchild and her husband of 64 years, Robert, have witnessed a great deal of change in their lifetime—much of it positive but some negative, as evidenced by the reason for their being in Tulsa in the first place.

Born in Alabama and Arkansas respectively, at an early age they were brought to Oklahoma by their respective parents in an effort to escape discrimination—an attempt which was to prove less than totally successful.

“My father was killed by the riders of the Ku Klux Klan,” remembers Florence, “so my mother brought us to what was then called Indian Territory. I graduated from high school in Muskogee. From there I went to the University of Kansas and later became a teacher.

“I retired from teaching first grade for more than thirty years. I loved teaching those little children, they keep you honest.”

Robert, who has recently been interviewed several times by the local and national media in reference to the 75th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, recalls a similar negative experience in his early childhood. “My father had been sharecropping in El Dorado, Arkansas.

“At the end of the year, he went to the man he was sharecropping with and said, ‘Where do we stand? What’s my share?’

“‘You don’t have any,’ said the man, ‘you’re still in debt.’

“My father then moved to Tulsa, where my uncle, who was a barber, had moved earlier. We got here on December 24, 1913. We were really fleeing from tenant farming.”

Robert attended high school in Tulsa, then went on to study business administration at the University of Nebraska, graduating as one of only six black students in a class of 956.

After years of discriminatory treatment by both whites and blacks, he was to use that degree as his ticket out of the economic malaise so prevalent among many black Tulsans—especially after the destruction of the riot and the depression of the oil boom.

Like Florence, Robert dedicated his talents and education to the service of God and his fellow man, working with young people through various public service organizations primarily for the city of Tulsa.

Although they have remained members of separate churches throughout their long marriage (he has always belonged to Mt. Vernon AME Church), both Florence and Robert attribute the success of their marriage, their careers, and their lives to the faithfulness of God.

“It doesn’t make any difference which church you attend,” says Florence. “There’s only one church, and that’s the one the Lord Jesus is building.”

When asked why she likes Trinity, Florence replies, “I like Trinity because everyone seems to be trying to do what God told them to do. If every church in town helped the street people the way Trinity does, there wouldn’t be any hungry people here.”

Florence and Robert Fairchild know what it’s like to be outsiders. That’s why they have worked so long and hard for unity and harmony among all of God’s children regardless of their differences.

 —Jimmy Peacock

Notes and Sources

To read about or purchase the book titled Death in a Promised Land on the subject of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, visit this Web site: http://www.amazon.com/Death-Promised-Land-Tulsa-Race/dp/0807117676

To learn more about the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Google it online or visit the Wikipedia Web site at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_riot

To learn more about Trinity Episcopal Church, visit its Web site at http://www.trinitytulsa.org/

The black-and-white photo of Florence and Robert Fairchild was part of the original Trinity Life article and appears with permission of Ed Roling, the former editor of Trinity Life. As noted in the text, the color photos were taken from Behold the Glory: The Iconography of Grace and used with permission of Trinity Episcopal Church.

For more about Trinity and this book, visit my blog post titled “A Summary of My Personal Spirituality and Pilgrimage.”

“Ah’m sa glad to git back down home whur they call it a ‘bush hawg’!”
(and not a “brush-hahg”)
—My SEARK country cousin after returning from
agri school in Fayetteville in the Ozarks

Although I keep saying that I must stop blogging due to my increasing age and declining health, I keep being provided fascinating tidbits sent to me by faithful friends, family members, and readers.

I have accumulated some of these tidbits, organized them into categories, and now offer them here in this post for your enjoyment and benefit. I hope you will at least skim through these quotes, links, excerpts, and photos and examine those that appeal to you most.

Dialect

  “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
—Matthew 26:73 NIV

“An [American's] way of speaking absolutely classifies him.
The moment he talks he makes some other
[American] despise him.”
—“Why Can’t the English Teach Their Children How to Speak,”
from the musical My Fair Lady

In a recent issue of the New York Times there appeared an interesting dialect quiz in which Americans’ geographical area of the United States can be deduced by their speech or accent. To read that article titled “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk,” and to take this quiz, click here or go to this Web site.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.html?_r=0

Incidentally, my test results showed that I speak like a native of a triangular area bound by Little Rock, Arkansas, on the top; Shreveport, Louisiana, on the bottom left; and Jackson, Mississippi, on the bottom right. That area is precisely correct since it basically centers on the Delta of Southeast Arkansas where I was born and raised and spent much of my adult life.

Mari’s quiz results showed her speech to be closer to that of residents of a similar area farther south and east bounded by Little Rock, Jackson, Mississippi, and Birmingham, Alabama. That is a bit of a surprise since we both came from the same area in SEARK and have lived in the same cities in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.

I encourage you to take the quiz and to see how accurate you feel your results are. (To read my earlier post titled “Some Southern Stuff IV: Do You Speak Southern?” which includes another similar dialect quiz, click here.)

The Delta

Aerial photo of the Delta flatlands

Aerial photo of the Delta flatlands by Sarah Beaugez (to magnify, click on the photo)

To learn more about Sarah Beaugez and her photographs of the Delta and her writings about it, click here or go to her Web site at http://sarahbeaugez.zenfolio.com/p186231761. Once there, to watch a slideshow of some of Sarah’s Delta photos set to the song “Ode to Billie Joe” sung by Bobbie Gentry, click on “Slideshow” in the upper right hand corner of the home page.

I have always loved the song in this video since I remember so well the first time I heard it. It was back in the summer of about 1967 or 68 when Mari and I were home in McGehee from the University of Arkansas where I had gone back from Holly Grove to get my master’s degree in French.

While there I received a call from one of my former Ouachita Baptist College teachers who invited me to come to Judson College (a Southern Baptist girls’ college) in Marion, Alabama, for an interview for a teaching position in business.

Mari and I were driving on Highway 82 between Greenwood and Columbus, Mississippi, near Starkville when we heard this song by Bobbie Gentry on the radio. Thinking it was a local production I turned to Mari and said, “Boy, that is really good. Somebody ought to take that song and put it out nationally.” Of course, “somebody” did do just that, and it became a monster hit.

Now whenever I hear it I am transported back to the hills and two-lane highways of East Mississippi and to a simpler, happier, and healthier time and place in my past. I wish I could go back now—but as I say in one of my nostalgic poems, “. . . time never runs in reverse.”

So thanks to Sarah Beaugez for taking me back there for a few precious moments.

Incidentally, here is what Sarah has to say about a person with passion. It could have been written about me and my passion for the Delta (italics mine):

“His passion for the land was palpable. He knew each and every curve and line in each field. They were not simply parcels of earth; they were intimately known patches of rich, black, Delta dirt; each with a name; each with their own identity. He was most certainly passionate about each one.

“Passion does not begin with love. Passion begins with the way that one lives life; living as though everything that one encounters is unique in and of itself. The object of passion can be a thing, a concept, or a person. It matters not. If one is passionate about anything then it seems one is passionate about all things. The only thing that one who is passionate seems to care about is that anyone could be dispassionate… about life. About living…”

Page from 1958 Look magazine article titled "The Shrinking South"

Page from 1958 Look magazine article by Hodding Carter of Greenville, MS, titled “The Shrinking South” with photos made in Arkansas City and showing the migration of Southern blacks to the North. The caption reads “Even the river’s moved away.” (To magnify, click on the photo.)

To view a musical video titled “Darkness on the Delta,” sent to me by Pat Scavo, click here.

To view another version of “Darkness on the Delta” by Duff Dorrough of Pocahontas, Arkansas, from Best of Duff album, published on October 8, 2012, click here.

To learn more about the theme song of the Delta, “Darkness on the Delta,” click here.

To hear Jimmie Rodgers, a 1930s folksinger with a distinctive Mississippi accent, singing the classic, must-hear “Mississippi Delta Blues,” click here.

To view a musical video with an original song by Marty Denton of McGehee, Arkansas, titled “Their Shadows” about the Japanese Relocation Camps in the Delta of Southeast Arkansas, click here.

To learn more about the WWII Japanese-American Relocation camps in the Southeast Arkansas Delta, go to: “Opening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum,“Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta,” and “The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps.”

Woman from the past picking cotton in an Arkansas Delta field

Woman from the past in an Arkansas Delta cotton field (to magnify, click on the photo from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture)

To visit a Web site about the historic Mississippi River port city of Helena, Arkansas, and its Delta Cultural Center, click here.

Mississippi River 

The Kate Adams steamboat on the Mississippi River near Arkansas City, Arkansas

The Kate Adams steamboat on the Mississippi River near Arkansas City, Arkansas, historic riverport and our county seat

“Muddy Mississippi River water leaves a stain on the soul that is virtually impossible to get out . . . assuming any fool would try.”
—Jimmy Peacock

Recently my longtime friend Danny Lynchard, a native of the Mississippi River Delta town of Cleveland, Mississippi, and director of the Tulsa Police and Fire Chaplaincy Corps, had this to say about the Mighty Mississippi (italics mine):

“I often thought of the Mississippi River as the spinal cord of America. Everything came through it and filtered into the body of the country around it. It was deep in legend, mythology and livelihood.  Everything was bigger in the Mississippi. The boats, the trotlines, the bait you used and the mighty catfish.

“It was part of many of the family stories of both tragedy and triumph. It belonged to us and we belonged to it. It could give life or take life giving it an almost human quality . . . at least a personality. It could permanently stain your clothes but more importantly and less noticed, it would stain your soul with its presence and power. Like its rushing waters, it forced itself into your heart bringing both hope and fear. No man could tame it yet all men claimed it as their own. In some ways, it even helped me understand the Almighty. You could work with Old Man River and he could bring many a blessing and joy. You could work against him, and one day, pay the price.”

To read an article titled “Mapping the Lower Mississippi Water Trail” sent to me by Pat Scavo on November 16, 2013, click here.

To read an article sent to me by Pat Scavo on December 2, 2013, titled “Rivers’ garbageman named CNN Hero of the Year” for cleaning up the Mississippi and other rivers, click here.

Nostalgia

An antique Arkansas gas pump from our childhood days

An antique Arkansas gas pump from our childhood days

“Nostalgia is just not what it used to be.”
—Anonymous

“. . . nostalgia for certain values tends to set in just as they’re disappearing.
Happily, nostalgia can bring those values back, too. . . .
We can choose how we live.
With cheer and faith or temper and worst behavior.”
Paul Greenberg, “It really is a wonderful life,”
Tulsa World, December 19, 2013
(For more on this subject, see my previous post.)

To view a video by McGehee native Marty Denton singing his song about yesterday with photos from McGehee and the Vietnam War, titled “Never Forgotten, Only a Dream Away,” sent to me by Pat Scavo on October 24, 2013, click here.

To view the Statler Brothers singing “Do You Remember These?” with nostalgic photos sent to me by Andy Herren on December 6, 2013, and titled “Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane,” click here.

To view a musical slideshow sent to me by Pat Scavo from Facebook on January 7, 2014, of a song by Marty Denton and others titled, “Everything that’s blue won’t make you sad,” click here.

And as a Grand Finale to the subject of nostalgia, here is a link to “Railroad Jack’s Photostream from the 1950’s” sent to me on January 24, 2014, by Pat Scavo, who writes: “Be sure and  ‘mouse-over’  each photo and  look at the link at the top to FAVORITES to  see Liz!” Liz, of course, being Elizabeth Taylor, my Screen Idol! (For more on this subject of the Lovely Liz, see my earlier post, “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty.”)

The 275 photos in three sections from the 1950s featured on the site include places (drive-ins, supermarkets, car dealerships, gas stations, etc); musicians (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, etc.); cars (Fords, Chevys, Chryslers, hot rods, dragsters, etc.); movie stars (Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert Mitchum, Natalie Wood, etc.); sexpots (Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Jayne Mansfield, etc.), and many other 1950’s icons.

“If you look like your passport photo, then in all probability you need the journey.”
—Earl Wilson

“The journey from ego to soul takes going from a me-full life to a meaningful life.”
—Rabbi David Aaron, quote provided by Dr. Paul Talmadge

In my previous post, titled “Addenda to Blog: Christmas and Our Fifty-First Anniversary,” I offered some quotes, photos, links and other materials on these subjects that had been sent to me after my final regular blog post.

Since that time I have received several related contributions on nostalgia for the past from interested readers. I have also received some fresh inspiration from a current Walt Disney movie titled Saving Mr. Banks that seems to relate to me in a special personal way. Finally, I have also been inspired by two entries from a daily devotional to describe an incident that occurred during the recent holiday/holy day period that spoke to me about my life in a way that may also speak to the lives of many of my readers.

Perhaps each of us needs to begin this “journey from ego to soul” as we enter this new year in our daily lives.

Nostalgia and the Power of Storytelling

“. . . nostalgia for certain values tends to set in
just as they’re disappearing.
Happily, nostalgia can bring those values back, too. . . .
We can choose how we live.
With cheer and faith or temper and worst behavior.”
—Paul Greenberg, “It really is a wonderful life,”
Tulsa World, December 19, 2013

“Did you think that Mary Poppins came to rescue the children?”
—The author of the Mary Poppins books
to members of the Walt Disney film organization

In a composite of several online reviews of the current Walt Disney movie titled Saving Mr. Banks, Disney is quoted as saying to Mrs. J. L. Travers, the author of the books on which he based his 1964 movie Mary Poppins (italics mine):

“That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order through imagination. We inspire people, we give hope. Again and again.”

Then he concludes his remarks to her by stating: “Forgiveness. It’s what I learned from your books.”

In this same vein, Willa Cather, noted author of days gone by, once wrote: “Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.”

That’s why throughout this entire blog my goal, purpose, and efforts have been to share some of my life experiences with others in hopes that through them not only will I somehow “Save Mr. Peacock,” but that I will also perhaps help to save others—even you!

Saving the Present by Recalling the Past

“I’ve got to the age and stage of my life that
the only things I can remember
are the things I cannot stand to recall!”

—Jimmy Peacock

Writers are exorcists of their own demons.”
(This is my favorite quote—
it’s what I am doing when I write,
and why I share it on my blog.)
—Mario Vargas Llosa

In one of my endless self-quotes I note: “We preserve the past by writing about it.” But not only can we preserve the past by writing about it, we can also redeem it and benefit from it in facing a new and different set of life experiences.

If you saw that classic 1964 Walt Disney movie titled Mary Poppins, you will recall that Mary Poppins came to the George Banks household in London in response to a simple, childish letter requesting a new nanny written by the two Banks children: Jane and Michael.

In that original Disney version, a sort of compilation based on eight books by author P. L. Travers, Mary Poppins was a pivotal character in the struggle to “save” the seemingly secure Banks household from their daily unresolved and even unacknowledged failures and conflicts.

But Mrs. Travers, the author of the series of Mary Poppins books on which that movie was based, did not approve of the proposed Disney musical film version of it. As such, she would not formally sign a legally binding contract for Disney to produce the film version of her works that she imagined him making: a sort of happy-go-lucky, “feel-good” family musical with a typical Disney “happy ending.”

The new 2013 movie titled Saving Mr. Banks, currently playing in “select theaters” across the country and indeed around the world, is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look into the reasons Disney wanted to make that “frothy” movie back in 1964, and the conflicting reasons Mrs. Travers did not want it made that way.

I will not spoil the film for those who have not yet seen it, but I will say, as noted by its title, that the story behind the film involves the early life of Mrs. Travers as portrayed through her flashbacks of her childhood, especially those memories that reveal her special but questionable relationship with her own father.

Finally, after repeated conflicts between the “irascible” Mrs. Travers and the “frustrated” Disney screen writers and music composers, the unresolved issue is appealed to the renowned and revered Walt Disney himself.  In a crucial conversation between Disney (Tom Hanks) and Mrs. Travers (Emma Thompson), the exchange between them reveals much about her way of dealing with her own life, especially her troubled childhood, through her writings.

That crucial confrontation allows Disney the opportunity to draw upon his own difficult childhood in a final attempt to convince Travers why she, as a storyteller, should trust him and his staff to present the message of her precious personal family story in the way they envision it.

Since I am also a storyteller who experiences flashbacks of scenes and incidents from my own idyllic childhood and less than idyllic adulthood, naturally the film was as fascinating to me as it was disturbing and insightful. In a way, and to a certain extent, it was also cathartic, as the final Disney version of her story was to a very reluctant and even skeptical Mrs. Travers.

By some mysterious, “magical” means the final film version of her personal and painful story is brought to the screen in a way that moves her to tears of release and hope for a new life free of those “demons” from her own past. In fact, in a sense, the final resolution of the ongoing conflict between Disney and the author might also be titled “Saving Mrs. Travers.”

That’s why I titled this post “Saving Mr. Peacock.” Because for at least forty-plus years I have been trying to do that very thing—save myself by exorcizing my own demons through my writings and through carefully selected citations of self-quotes and quotations and excerpts from the writings of others.

It is also why I highly recommend viewing this film with that understanding, purpose, and goal in mind. Who knows, it might just save you from your past, whether that past is troubled like Mrs. Travers’, difficult like Mr. Disney’s, or idyllic, nostalgic, and painful to recall like Mr. Peacock’s.

Recalling the Past through Stories 

“The road to the future runs through the past.”
—Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Faith:
Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World 

“What are we but our stories?”
—James Patterson, Sam’s Letters to Jennifer 

In the January 4, 2014, entry in the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day by Day, the writer says of the importance of stories and storytelling (italics mine):

“Stories unite us and keep us connected. . . . [they allow] us to recall and share with others what has meaning in our lives; the people, places, and events, and all that we hold sacred. Stories are the gospel of our lives. They bear witness to where we have been, what we’ve come through, and Who brought us here. . . . They are the modern stones of remembrance we lay to recall, to impart to others, and to remain connected to God.” (Copyright 2014 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission.) (www.forwardmovement.org)

In the January 7 entry of that same devotional it is stated about memory (italics in original):

 “When we remember, we do not simply recall, but we reconnect. Our memories keep us connected to home, family, friends and God. . . . Don’t ever forget who you are, where you have come from, and the God who brought you here.” (Copyright 2014 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission.) (www.forwardmovement.org)

For more on this subject of recalling and redeeming the past through memory and stories, see my earlier post titled “A Summary of My Personal Spirituality and Pilgrimage” based on Frederick Beuchner’s philosophy of “biography as theology.”

In “American Stories: My Family Tree” by David Laskin in the December 29 issue of Parade magazine, Ancestry.com CEO Tim Sullivan states: “We are where we come from.” This statement reflects my own self-quote and philosophy that “where you’re from is who you are.”

In that sense, “where you’re from” includes not only where you were born and raised but also every place you have ever been, everything you have ever done or experienced, and every person you have ever known, even every story you have ever heard or told.

This is what Disney was trying to tell Mrs. Travers about her stories of the imaginary Mary Poppins, whom it turns out was a real person and not a figment of Mrs. Travers’ fertile imagination. He wanted her to realize that as a storyteller himself, he knew and appreciated the value, importance, and power of storytelling not only to preserve and redeem the past (whether good or bad or otherwise) but also to inspire hope for a better future.

In that sense, storytelling is not only entertaining, it is therapeutic—as much for the ones who recount the stories as for those who hear them and benefit from them.

In conclusion, the following anecdote written at the end of 2013 is an example of the power of a simple story to relate a seemingly insignificant incident from the past and to draw from it a very significant lesson for the future.

“Did You See Any Angels This Christmas?” 

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
—Hebrews 13:2 NIV

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
—Matthew 25:40 NIV

After publishing my Christmas/fifty-first wedding anniversary addenda post (see previous post on this blog), I was reminded of another “holiday/holy day” incident that occurred in my life recently. I hope you will draw the same lesson from it that I did.

In light of all the Christmas messages to which we are rightly exposed every year, as a Christian and a religious copyeditor I could not help but do as the Virgin Mary and “keep all these things and ponder them in [my] heart” (see Luke 2:19 KJV).

Here is the incident about which I am still pondering the spiritual significance at this waning time in the year and in the fading years of my earthly life.

Returning to Sapulpa from one of our twice-to-thrice-weekly medical trips to Tulsa, Mari pulled into the local drugstore parking lot (I don’t drive anymore) and got out to go in and leave or pick up another one of my endless prescriptions.

While she did so, I sat in the car on the passenger side since one of my health issues is dizziness and a lack of balance, and I did not want Mari to have to help me in and out of the car and the store.

Looked to my right I saw Mari in the middle of the drugstore parking lot conversing with a very thin young woman who was holding the hand of her son, barely more than a toddler. I could tell from their brief conversation that the young woman, whom I did not know, had asked Mari for some money and that Mari had said that she was sorry but she did not have any small bills to give her.

When Mari turned and entered the drugstore and the young woman turned in my direction, I could tell by the pained expression on her face that she was greatly distressed.  So carefully I opened the car door, eased my way out of the vehicle, and cautiously wobbled toward the young woman who looked up at me with a blank stare.

As I approached her, I asked simply, “Do you have a problem?”

She quickly began to explain that her car had run out of gas in the parking lot of the adjacent farm and ranch supply store. She went on to say that she had to get her son back home to a neighboring small town about forty miles away on the other side of the bustling Tulsa metroplex. She concluded her remarks with the woeful lament, “I only have two dollars, which won’t buy anything, and no one will help me.”

At this last statement, her pent-up tears began to flow freely down her face as she looked down at the innocent, grinning face of her son, and then back up to my own with a pleading look of need and despair.

Reaching into my back pocket, I retrieved my wallet, took out a twenty-dollar bill, and handed it to her, saying, “Here, will this help?”

“Oh, yes,” she exclaimed gratefully. “Thank you so much!”

Then looking back down at her little boy she tugged at his hand and said, “Say ‘thank you’ to the nice gentleman.” (She might have said “nice old gentleman” for I am sure that is what she meant, given her age and mine.)

“T’ank kew,” the little type murmured as he pulled the candy lollipop he was sucking on out of his generously smeared mouth and cherry-stained lips and teeth.

After I had made my way carefully back to the car and sat down in the passenger seat, I looked to my right to see what happened to the young woman and her somewhat bedraggled minion. She was nowhere to be seen. Quickly my eyes ranged all over the drugstore parking lot and the one in front of the agri store next to it. But there was no mother and child anywhere in sight.

Suddenly it hit me. Of course, she would not be going back to her car in the parking lot on the right, but to the gas station to the left.

Sure enough, there she was, taking toddler steps and leading her dawdling darling across the parking lot of the storefront church toward the Quik Trip station and convenience store on the far street corner.

Then it also occurred to me that once she got there she would have to purchase a gas can and fill it up, and then make the arduous trek on foot back across those parking lots to her disabled car with a full two-gallon can of gasoline in one hand and her little tyke’s tiny, grimy hand in the other.

By this time Mari had returned and gotten back in the driver’s seat. So as quickly as possible I told her what had happened as she deftly guided the car out into the four-lane, late-afternoon holiday traffic and stated speeding away so that I quickly lost sight forever of the young woman and her grungy son.

Of course, I had already realized that unlike the biblical scribe (which is what I have been for the past thirty-plus years as a religious copyeditor) in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, I had not “passed by” the helpless young woman and her child “on the other side.” However, at the same time unlike that Good Samaritan I had not stayed with the lady and child and truly met her need and his.

I realized that I should have told her to wait until Mari returned. Then we should have driven her and her youthful charge to the Quik Trip, helped her buy a gas can and fill it up, and then driven her and her son back to her car and made sure that it started after being drained totally dry.

I also realized that although I had given her ten times the amount of money she had on her before my act of kindness, she still had to drive forty miles home through horrible holiday traffic and widespread highway construction with her little tyke . . . and then what? How much would she have left of my “great gift” to buy food for their evening meal? And what kind of Christmas was she and the boy going to have with her two dollars and the few “loaves and fishes” left over from my “largesse”?

So I was immediately stricken with mixed emotions. At least I didn’t go away from that experience like Ebenezer Scrooge, who lashed out at a couple of gentleman who dared to ask him to donate something for the care of the hungry and needy at Christmas, and then as Dickens tells us of the old miser, “went away with a raised estimation of himself.” At the same time, did I truly “show hospitality to strangers” and thus perhaps “entertain angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2 KJV)?

But perhaps the most important question at this holy time of year is: Did I act more like the traditional but nonscriptural “kindly innkeeper” in the Nativity Story and provide only the barest of comfort to a Mother and Child in their time of greatest need?

And will I learn from this incident and resolve that in this New Year I will “do for the least of these” as though I am doing it for the Holy Child of Bethlehem and His Beloved Mother?

Will you? Will all of us? Will any of us?

Jimmy Peacock
December 19, 2013

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