Great Grandpa Amnesia Travels part 7

She had prepared the supper and with the table at one side and the cook stove on the other with her wheelchair between she passed the dishes of food and made hot biscuits during the meal, always cheerful and joining in the conversation. There was another man who was a helper the man being engaged at this season in barking trees for tar. I had a good nights rest and breakfast and was charged but a small amount for my indebtedness. Was given instructions as to the road to Clinchport but it seemed as if I had little sense of direction for after traveling several miles and asking a man I met the distance to Clinchport was informed I was miles of of my way.  Again my nearest way was over the mountain and after being directed started for the top where he informed me I would find a house my knee felt very much better and the climb was not so laborious as I expected; reaching the house far from spent by the climb. There were a couple of women in the house and asking for a drink was given a cup of coffee after some breakfast which this offered me letting them of my having had it at Duffield. By this time it was quite warm and after resting about an hour and receiving directions as to the trail to the road leading to Clinchport started down mountain. My sense of direction must have been very poor for again I lost my way and after a long time moving through shrub and open places emerged on a road which I followed until noon when I came by a cottage on the mountain side was given a meal by a young women. On leaving followed the road until I came to a cross road where a man in a field directed me to the left but traveling this for about a half mile met a man who on my inquiry, stated I was on a road which would take me along way round it was nearer to turn back and follow his directions and eventually arrived at Clinchport. At this time the sky was clouding and I pushed on through Speers Ferry not stopping at the house where I was befriended as there seemed to be no one about and it was noticed to get to Gate City, by night. When about 2 miles from Gate City it began to rain and reaching a small village took refuge on a covered porch over a general store which was closed. It was dark by this time and very uncomfortable on the porch as there was no place to sit and getting very cold. Later on a working train pulled onto the aiding of the railroad which ran by the village and the workman rushed to the dining car, so called. It has ceased raining and I went over to scout for a place to sleep. In each car there were bunks at each end with a square place in the middle where the doors open, a stove in the center, but without a fire. Seeing a workman near by I asked him if I could stayer there for the night but as he replied that I would need to see the boss who was at supper but he was hardboiled and more than likely to give me a swift kick as he had no lover for tramps. Without resenting the reputation and disinterest to meet this “hardboiled” foreman who might interfere with my sleep which were my main dependence I went back to this porch, about an hour later feeling the need of a better position and relief from the cold wind I again went over and finding a car with a empty box car inside probably used for coal after stome strenuous work pulled myself in and moving the box into a corner was ready for anything to happen. The new man having a lot of homeplay with probably  a new hand as I could hear him calling “Hey – stop that ” and out a squeal time after time. About what seemed 10 o’clock they ceased their fun and went to their bunks those passing me paying no attention except one who said, “Sorry we can’t give you a bunk Dad but they are all filled.” “That’s all right Bo I’m in out of the wet and wind will do fine here.” Worse nights had been my fan but sitting on that box all night with the sides of the car for a pillow all but fine and my naps came few and far between. Strange, I had no thought of its being anything but my usual cause in life except that not feeling that I was a tramp, but something different and yet accepting things as they were. Not once did I incline to reasoning these things out and nor an inclination to look for work – Just an impulse to keep moving on, by day light it had cleared and I was and up with the sun and away. Instead of taking the road from Gate City by which I came my course was one toward Bristol, Tennessee. After walking a couple of hours and feeling the need of food the road being hilly and  few habit at oners my wants were supplied by a woman living along the roadside who fed me liberally, asked me to rest awhile and entered into a conversation which lasted for an hour, a welcome interlude having so little of anyone’s society and gave her to understand my gratitude for her consideration of our asking her for “a bite”. The day was cloudy for the most part finding relief from the sun and my knee giving me slight trouble by evening I reached Mendota having had some dinner at a house a few miles back.

The few people I saw in the village rather ask adn at me and seeing an old grist mill near by entered its portal and finding a couple of bags made a pillow of one and threw the other over me but it gave scant warmth as the night was very cold but had a fairly good nights rest. Somehow in the morning those I will seemed devoid of hostility and one man stopped and asked me where I was bound for, directioning me to a house some distance beyond when his wife would give me a meal “for the asking” as he had just finished his breakfast and was on his way to work. I had only to ask and she gave a me a good meal with 2 or 3 cups of coffee saying “that’s just like him – he likes his meals himself he’d would be late at work.” I said, “that’s a man for you, they don’t grow’em in any bush.” and her smile showed her admiration of her consent. On my way, a clear sunny morning, a full stomach and a feeling that the world is alright despite thee passionate kept mine good spirits and with some rolls, butter, and coffee from another good samaritan along the way I reached Bristol about 6 o’clock in the evening. Just outside the tow, noticing a base ball grounds with grandstand it came to me that it would afford a place to sleep without further hunting and possible cleaner than any I might find. There was no trouble getting into the park and finding a place where I could look about without being seen sat there until dark finally retiring on bench.. to be continued

Great Grandpa Amnesia Travels part 6

I had no trouble in finding a lumber shed partly filled and made my bed than for the night, sleeping fairly well but pretty cold through the night. On reaching Cleveland, started out to look for work but found was my case and clerical work out of the question as my work I could do seemingly could be done by girls and old men were not wanted in offices. Around several ados for attendant on an invalid but in each case they were big or stout men with weak limbs, unable to walk with out assistance and as I weighed less than 130 pounds was unable to raise them from a chair without their assistance. One particular appeared to me. A kindly old gentlemen, tall and heavy and willing to lend what power he had but a walk in the hall made in dubious as the whether I could handle him in crisis. When his bath was mentioned there was no doubt in my mind that if I succeeded in getting him I could never get him out without help. So a good paying job in a good home failed me and as the winter drifted on, age and inexperience being the principal obstacle in securing work and general business was none to good many men being off work and weary adn every day having numbers of applications. On one occasion in February I was offered a position as janitor of a small apartment houser. Board and room and $5.00 a week. The regular janitar had a steady job trucking and his wife looked after the apartment during the day but had been asked to return to a job she had previously held in a factory which paid her so well they could afford to hire someone too look after the apartment. Could not decide at once what to do and said I would let her know the next day, Sunday. Later in the evening I decided to take the job until Spring at least and in the morning went to the place only to be informed that I was taken by a man living in the neighborhood which suited them better especially as they could not be certain I would accept the job. The money I had laid back during the summer was dwindling fast and close economy was necessary and outside of room, meals, laundry, daily paper, tobacco for my was and the Saturday Evening Post with an occasional visit to the movies I spent but little. By the end of March I had only a few dollars left as it had been necessary in the early winter to buy a supply of clothing, new suit, hat, underwear, stockings, and it made a big drain on my small capital. As to my laundry I washed my underwear, socks and shirts but although all men in the house wore work shirts with attached collars I could not get away from white collars and having no way of ironing soft ones constantly wore the stiff variety with madras shirts and one broadcloth white shirt for Sundays. I finally at last it would come to going to “The Road” again and as the nights would be cold for another two months and the spring rains would make to until to travel on many days. However, i made ready to start Westward while I had a few dollars left, about ten and would leave my belongings in care of the landlady until able to send for them,. Towards morning I fell into a profound slumber and was awakened by someone growling at me and telling me to “Get out of here if you don’t want the boss to come along and kick you out” and it struck me that if he was any tougher looking than his watchman the kicking would be good and hard and I better not meet him so I left my night quarters almost at a speed. By this time it was quite warm and the chill in my bones soon thawed out and I made tracks for Big Stone Gap. After walking perhaps half a mile a man and wife came along and offered me a lift and were very companionable asking me about my wanderings and saying, you are quite to the good by not trying to over the mountains.” They stopped on the outskirts of the town and when I was on my feet the woman handed me 50 cents and they were off before I could do more than thank her and too surprised to ask their address for it would please me more than a little to get into contact with them again and although it was but a short time we were together they so impressed me with their friendliness, to this day. I can picture them as we rode together that bright morning,

On my way again stopped in a store and bought soda crackers for breakfast, munching them as I walked along. The road was now quite familiar to me having gone over it so recently and the sun having become very hot and my knee paining occasionally I rested at house along the road I asked for some food and was given a bowl of milk with crackers and some cold meat and the wife told me to sit on the porch and rest as long as I pleased while she went about her work. Long in that road the road i had passed the house where they had been so kind to me on my way up and saw the older woman working in the garden but was not seen by her.  A couple miles from Duffield rested at the house of a  young couples for an hour or more who said they would put me up for the night but everything was upside down on account of work being done in and out of the house, the man working on the porch while I was there. By the time I reached Duffield my knee was so painful and as the night would be cold, went to a house where I was informed I could get lodging and as before had to wait for the man of the house to come home from work. On his returns I was accepted and had supper with them and had sights of one of the victims of the flu which came to death so many during the Epidemic of 1917 or 1918 and left others who survived maim for life. The man’s wife had a serious attack and it left her cripple in her legs so she was unable to walk there after.  However, she did not give way to despair or morbidness but with returning strength and willpower  and a wheelchair returned to active duties on the lower floor. Her husband said, “she is a wonder and ____ going from floor to floor attends to everything as before.”

to be continued

Great Grandpa Amnesia Travels part 5

Borrow if you will not accept it but do not look at it as a loan.” He insisted, on my taking it and I did take his name and address adn telling him when I was able to do so would pay it back. Later with the first money I could spare after succeeding in securing work I returned it with some added and used the wrong surname. my letter was received and open by a Sergeant – whose address has been lost – who returned my letter and money.

It was about three months before I located him in North Carolina. The family with whom he was living had been broken up by the death of the elder man and the young man had finally found a place on a farm in that state and it was here my letter reach him. We had several letters between us afterwards,but my last one was returned and I have not heard from him since although he might have written but I might have changed address in the mean time. After leaving him at Jasper the tears came to my eyes and I did not try to restrain them… they were not tears to reject, it was with a rather light heart I resumed my way although the grade was up did not tire but was obligated to stop occasionally to rub my knee well to remove the soreness. Late in the afternoon a man in a car offered me a ride which I gladly accepted as my knee was giving me a lot of trouble and with only an occasional house insight, the sky darkening and foretelling rain itb behoved me to get to Big Stone Gap soon as possible. Fortunately my friend carried me to this place by which time it was quite dark and beginning to rain and knowing it would almost impossible to find a place to sleep was obliged to look up a place to lodge. A man directed me to a measly small hotel so called and the landlady said she could give me a room for the 75 cents, I was tempted to look further but it was raining hard and after quite a lot of dickering in which she made very derogatory remarks about my breed of men, living on others and too lazy to work and finally saying I can let you have a place to sleep for 50 cents. I can’t go out in this storm. She took the money saying sit down and when my son comes in he’ll take you to your room. Son must have been having a good time alright where as he did not turn  up until 10:30 and it was nigh eleven when he came in the room and said, “Come on I shoul you to your room and  out in the storm we went, he in a raincoat and as for myself exposed to the rain. After half a square away he led me upstairs to a room with four beds, two of them occupied by two men a piece. He motioned to an empty bed and left. The room was large enough but bare of furniture rather a poverty stricken place., but having little to lose and pretty wet was glad to get under any roof, retiring at once before falling asleep i heard another lodger come in and as he turned off the light before getting into bed, concluded all the quest were in for the night and soon fell asleep. Awoke about six in the morning and found the others had already departed.

My clothes had dried and the storm was over but the sky still overcast and making my way to the street was soon on the way to Appalachia on a good paved road. Coming by a roadside store I entered to see a man dressed his “Sunday Best” as if in readiness for church.  I judged as he was  reading his bible. Asking him the price of a carton of biscuits he replied, seven cents for biscuits, could you let me have a package for six cents?, it’s all I can pay”, said I referring to the money I found in my  pocket at Gray’s – “No” he said, “You’ll pay 7 cents or nothing” and he placed the package back on the shelf. As I walked out the door saying “A good samaritan mix”, and he gave me an awful stare but said nothing.

Sometime later I came across what appeared to me might have been a rain of toads. They were all over the paved road, dead, as if drowned many mashed by automobiles but thousands of others and they extended for two or three miles. I had not idea where they came from and inquiring of a man by the roadside he replied, “Don’t know there’s more than could have come from anywhere round here – they’ll make good fertilizer at not cost”. It cleared about 10 o’clock became very warm and tiresome on the up grade as I was ascending the range on my way to north to come over into Kentucky and into Ohio.

Managed to get a bite on the way and along about noon a man on his way to Norton stopped and took me in. On his inquiring as to my destination and learning of my crossing the mountain into Kentucky, said ” My good man, don’t think for such a trip, the mountains are infested with moonshiners to whom a deputy sheriff is comparable to a rattlesnake and if one thought you were such in disguise he would not hesitate to “pot” you. And if you escaped they you would get little to eat as the cabins are mostly off the road. Don’t do it. You could not stand the rough road and might get caught in a bad storm and no shelter.” Well “said I , it is my plan to get into Ohio but being bombed over by a moonshiner or kidnapped half starved or sleeping out in the rain without shelter didn’t appeal to me, so I’ll take your advise but Ohio is my objective and I ‘ll get there someway. If you let me out I’ll start back and try some other route, “thanking you for your advice.” I’ll not stop here as further ahead I will put you on a road to Appalachia which is much shorter than the one you are now on” at a “Hot Dog” stand he stopped and treated me to a “Dog” and cup of coffee joining me in the same and shortly after put me on my road back as it was down grade walking was easier and by seven o’clock was again in Appalachia.

to be continued…

Great Grandpa Amnesia Travels part 4

and I was perspiring freely, but not tiring and had gone about eight miles when it seemed as if the road was __ and knowing that I should be climbing surmised that I might be on the wrong road. I sat down for some time and a mail carrier on horse back coming by asked of him if I was on the road to Big Stone Gap? He said, “Why dad, you’re miles off your way and missed the turn at Clinchport, turning left instead of right. “Hardliners” said I  a good long tramp back as there was not road leading right after I missed the right one and the day is getting hot.” There is one thing you can do: you may remember a stream crossing the road about 3 miles back; from t his point there is a trail over the mountain which will bring you out at Duffield on the road to Big Stone Gap and save you several miles. I would advise you doing that this road will lead you further and further away.” There was nothing else to do and I trudged back to this stream which I recognized at once.  The carrier had told me to aim for a meeting home near the crest of the mountain and it was well he did, otherwise I might have wondered about for hours, shortly after starting on the trail which was none to well marked I heard a man shouting and kept a lookout for him and finally saw him wading in the stream flowing from the mountain and driving a cow which evidently from him shouting was not eager to go ahead. It was evident he could not use the trail where it would be necessary to have a halter on the cow to keep her from wandering away and weary him by court and tugging to get away, hence the drive in a stream where the water at points was above his knees and a swift running stream. He may have had considerable distance to go as I noted several loose far above the road. The going was good for sometime and grateful shade but the trail became less visible and about half way up I lost it and had to go along as best I could – keeping a keen look out for the meeting. However the climbing and rough walking was tolling on me and my steps began to lag and I had to rest at times, not being able to steer a direct course, veering from right to left and covering much more ground than a native would have traveled I suddenly came to a cleared ground and above discerned the meeting House. It was easy walking to it as my mind was relieved thte footing being better and in a short time I was having a much deserved rest on the Meeting House steps. a road ran by which no doubt descended the mountain and I looked like a shorter cut to the highway., and Duffield directly below. It was about two o’clock adn I had been without food since morning but aimed to get some after reaching the highway, noting a number of houses along the way. After a fair rest I rounded my way down to the farm, tough tramping as there was not trail in sight. The summit and some distance down the mountain was wooded and at times I would lose site of the farm house and this side of the mountain steeper than the other but eventually came out almost within speaking distance of the house and barns. The view from this point was sufficient alone to make the trip over the mountain worth while regardless of the miles saved in tramping. Close to the highway and for goodly distance on each side was cleared land and descent steep and ___________ while forest made a semi-circle background. The high way was visible threading its way through the valley with here and there a cottage to a parish where it began to climb the mountain and beyond the highway a mountain range rising from the opposite side covered with a forest frm whose trees they were bark at this seaon for taming and at the foot the small village of Duffield. The farm buildings consisted of a house, barn and a couple out buildings and besides the farmer, his wife and 2 or 3 children conprised the family seeming to me ….. there’s smiling and friendly contenance a happy and oriented family. The thought came to me that a Hindu artist might make a painting of this side of the mountain and name if “Rabat Mahal.” They inquired as to my destination and whether I had dinner and learning I had not food since breakfast the man said – it is rather rough traveling down to the highway and as I must go down for smoe supplies an hour later you had better wait for me and in the mean time my wife will get you a bite.” That suited me fine and while the man went on with his work and I talked to the children to whom I was not doubt a rare visitor, tramps always seeking the smoothest traveling. My bate was almost a full dinner and it pleased them all to see it disappear with evident relish. By this time we were ready to start down the mountain over a trail on roads and boulders against which the farmer cautioned me several times but without for when three quarters of the way down my foot slipped on a boulder and wrenched my knee. Fortunately not sufficient to prevent my walking but quite painful. I was with a ____ of relief I reached the highway and bidding my friendly goodbye, not having told him I had wrenched my knee resumed my way. But after two or three miles it became very painful walking and as the road let up the mountain it seemed best to look for a place for the night, as the day moving. Coming by a cabin in the slope of the mountain blew this roads, seeing a woman it the gardener by the side of the house I went down and asked her if I could get shelter for the night advising her of my accident.

After some questioning she said …. “Possibly we might do s, but would need to wait for my husband to come home and ask him as we have very little room.” She appeared to be alone and we sat outside talking until about half hour later a young woman with a child came from below where at the foot of the mountain ran a stream.  In a few minutes the husband came and stating the case to him he finally thought he could find room for me. I wondered later at his kindness for the house was small and when a girl about 12 years and young man, husband of the young woman and a boy of seven appeared. By this time I could easily understand why they needed to consider the question of whether they could take in another overnight and he a stranger and a tramp. There was no loft and I could make only four rooms, one a kitchen. Where were they going to find room for me puzzled me and also gave me a deep admiration for these people who evidently had found it onerous work to earn a living from this small farm. As it grew dark we entered the small front room and waited supper. The young child possibly three years old came from the kitchen with a saucer from which she was eating what in the dim light from an oil lamp looked like apple butter but as she had her saucer filled three times could hardly be that and I puzzled over what she was eating. When finally we were seated at the table I was offered some “greens” of which there was a large dish. I was always aware to all “greens” except lettuce but I would have eaten anything offered me at that table rather than let them know it was distasteful to me and was surprised to find it very palatable and wondered whether it was raised in their garden but forlode ? asking. Later it  was made known to me as a wild green and known to city people as “lambs quarters” and to be found in sections of thickets in vicinity of garages, stables, etc. That iwa was an everyday food was ready ____ to me by the _______ I saw later gathering along the railroad in the mountain. After supper we conversed for a couple hours and I was then shown to my quarters in the farm bedroom and the young man and boy retired at the same time. On one side of this room were two beds and in a corner at the foot of out bed was cot which I occupied. The young man and boy slept in this bed. I fell asleep quickly and only learned at light that six slept in the room, two in the other bed and a made up bed on the floor for the young girl. I fell asleep again and was called about 6 o’clock by which time the others were up and out. Had a good breakfast and could not thank these people sufficiently for their goodness and walking along the railroad which I was told would eliminated the two mile climb over the mountain I could not but marvel at the generosity of people who could so little afford to feed strangers.

A couple of miles further i came to Jasper when I was to take to the highway again and I was haled by a man coming along the railroad from behind me. When he came to me he said, “Dad, I suppose you are in pretty hard circumstances and i want you to take this – it may help you out some what” and produced a $2.00 bill. It was the young man from the house who had walked two miles after me to this wonderful act of kindness. I said, _”This is mighty good of you, but I do not want it – I can get a long you’ll need all the money you can do not have an easy time earning it” said he – “Dad I know sometimes myself when a little money would help wonderfully and know what it means.

to be continued



Great Grandpa Amnesia Travels part 3

In a short time after leaving a glorious and warm sun rose but too late to avert the havoc of the night for there had been a heavy frost and as I walked along at several way side houses saw the debacle of a frost after vegetation and budding had advanced to dream of a fruitful crop. Vegetables had blackened during the night, under apple trees buds as large as peas covered the ground and all the labor of the gardening and the sun’s healthy giving life to vegetations and fruit was blotted out in a few hours of the night. The sights of these people surveying the wreck of their hope the night had been one of bliss compared with the losses of these people and it enable me to carry further troubles with a lighter heart. I tramped along with lighter tread and was given some breakfast at a farm house where they were already preparing to replant.

The day was hot and not having had much sleep for a couple of nights I stopped to rest occasionally and get a little sleep in the shade of the trees. Had some food at a cottage along the road and along in the afternoon came to Speers Ferry. Two railroads crossed here., one at grade and the other over and as there were some empty cars about called it a day and passed the balance of the day under a tree a good part of the time talking to a couple of boys who came along and sat beside me. They sensed me for a tramp and one of the boys leaving said, “Come to my house for supper – Mom will give you some” and pointed out his mom’s house. I told him I would come and thanked him. Along about 6 o’clock as near as I could judge I went over and the boys were awaiting me saying, “I’ll bet she’ll give you a good ounce for she told me “I was good boy to ask you, but not to set up with every tramp who comes along.” about that time his mother, a real good looking mother, came to the door saying… Take a seat on the bench.. we had an early supper and thought you would not come, but have saved some for you and she not only saved some but a plenty and it was all to the good. I stayed with them until dusk listening eagerly to my words. On leaving the mother said, “You don’t look like the common tramp and i would take you in for the night but we have not room for you.” I said, “Madam thank you very much for your kindness and good will. As to the night I can sleep in one of the box cars and be comfortable as the night is warm”, ” I will be glad to give you breakfast if you will stop on your way by in the morning” said she. Thank you but I will be off early so no doubt I will want to be moving by daylight to get the night kinks out of my legs” and bidding them goodnight went to my box car and slept much more than the previous night but the base floor was just as hard. At day light I was away and was soon crossing the river on  nice suspension bridge only wide enough for two persons to pass each other and that at my close quarters. i required care to cross as there missing pieces of flooring here and there and the bridge swayed considerable. Had expected to follow the railroad by there was a long trestle crossing a valley and no place to walk except the tires, hence my taking to the road. The sun had come up warm and there was prospects of a hot day. There was a ferry under the bridge and a few trains were awaiting to cross, our load being… over as I came over on the bridge. I was about three miles to Clinchport on the railroad and arriving at the point asked for directions to Big Stone Gap. From where I received the information I needed to make a 2-3 turns to come out on the Gap road and finally was following a well traveled and dirty road. . It was very warm by this time… to be continued….

Great Grandpa’s Amnesia Travels part 2

In a short time he had a fire in a fireplace in the adjoining room. I sat as near the fire as I could stand the heat and my clothes steamed so that I had to move back occasionally, the heat being too fiery. They had me to supper with them and after that I sat before the fire until nine o’clock when he said would retire as he wanted to be up early in the morning to do some  ploughing. He gave me bed in adjourning room it was awfully cold, having become colder after the storm. My underclothes were still damp and the night seemed about to freeze me. Was afraid I would have pneumonia before morning but fortunately my coat saved my undershirt some and my chest was protected from dampness. I could not remember when I fell asleep but at 6 o’clock in the morning he awakened me. It was no wonder that I was cold during the night as he informed me there had been a heavy frost and the early corn and vegetables ruined. Asked me if I was cold during the night saying they had divided the covers and all of them were cold. They gave me breakfast and had me sit by the fire until 8 o’clock when I said I would be moving on thanking him greatly for their hospitality.

The sky was grey and threatening and the air quite cold. After going some distance I came to a tunnel it gave me shock to think what might have happened had I not found shelter at that cabin.There was a curve in the tunnel and I could not see daylight ahead so had to take a chance to get though before a train came be which would necessitate my lying in the depression at the side of the tracks, possibly in water, as I could not get back before a train would overtake me. Fortunately I made the grade, saw day light ahead and a clear track. Not long after a engine and car passed by which appeared to be a pary on an inspection trip. About this time it began to snow and for about an hour, melting on touching the ground.

I plodded along through an uninteresting landscape until at noon came to a town which looked as if it might be an entrance to an inferno. A grey sky and over the tow a ball of yellow smoke over it, and smoke stacks belching forth fire and smoke and gases which permeated every where. A cement town – Kingsport, Tennessee. May I be saved from ever entering another on such a day – an atmosphere too heavy to allow any foul exhortations to rise. Save the aviator who may get tangled such a pocket. I was still cloudy and cold on leaving Kingsport, but in about an hour it cleared and was warm enough to entirely dry my clothes and I felt as if had come clear of wearing damp clothing,.

In frosty weather for well nigh 24 hours. Along in the afternoon I crossed the boundary line between Tennessee and toward evening reached Gate City, Va. I had gone since breakfast without food and it came to the point where I must beg for food as there seemed no chance of getting any work in this territory except possibly the hardest kind of labor which I did not feel myself capable, noting the husky man engaged in such work. Besides it did not seem as if I had any knowledge of work, my hands and muscles being too soft for labor and yet not adapted for anything in particular. I had no hesitancy in asking for “a little something to eat” except waiting for a hunch as to when best to attain it. My first attempt was a success, quite a good dish of food handed me on the back steps of a cottage, the woman appearing to take pleasure in the giving me food and talking to me about my day tramp. From then on I did not do any indiscriminating begging but followed my “hunch” and it seldom failed a few of which will follow later. After leaving this house came the question of sleeping quarters for the night but I could not bring myself to asking anyone to give me lodging for the night and just before dusk coming by an unoccupied hut and no one in sight I tried the door, but found it locked and going to the rear brought the same result. There was a ruined cellar door which had no catch and opening the door saw no steps but a slanting earth entrance to the cellar slipper and moist and working my way down with some difficulty reached the floor to find the ceiling so low it was necessary to stoop slightly. There was still light sufficient to find the stairways leading upstairs. Returning and closing the cellar door, lightning a match I went to the cellar steps and cautiously worked my way fearing they might go down under my weight but beyond some creaking and loose boards they were safe and the door to the upper room very likely the kitchen and light streamed through the cracks in the shutters sufficient to see by. There were a couple other small rooms entirely empty but as the wind was from the front and the kitchen floor dray that was my resting place. It had been getting colder. Lightning my pipe I sat against the wall for probably a couple hours shivering with the cold but as my clothes were entirely dry did not fear any effect from the weather. Feeling rather sleepy, I laid myself on the floor with my arm for a pillow and slept but not for long. The cold cramped my arm and legs and it was turn and turn throughout the night with occassionally snatches of sleep. Naturally, i was a awake at the day break, glad to see the light and at once returned to the outside by the way I entered as it seemed to me it would not be right to open the door of the house and leave it unlocked.

to be continued..

Great Grandpa Amnesia Travels


I haven’t written lately. Stopped doing jewelry making to enjoy other aspects of my life. I have been doing family research or genealogical research for others. Haven’t really unearth anything spectacular.

But I do have great grandpa that traveled quite extensively before he got married. After he was married and when he was in his early 60’s was coming home from work one day in Philadelphia and it is believed that someone hit him over the head, took his valuables  such as his wedding band and whatever money he was carrying with him and put him on a freight train. It seems  he had amnesia for two and half years. Could you imagine not knowing where you came from, not remembering your family, wife, nothing about your previous life not even your name?

I’d like to share what I know about this man here in my blog.  This man was amazing, I guess in real life he kept a journal and he even wrote down in his wedding book their trip they took and what they did. One can tell from his writing that he was very detailed person. His penmanship was excellent. From what I recall from memory he used an pen and ink to record their wedding journey, he even noted something about the fire alarm in the hotel.

I was also informed that John ended up in a lumber yard in eastern Tennessee the first day after his arrival off the freight train. He didn’t know where he was nor did he know his name. He thought the men were a little rough around the edges and wasn’t sure about them so he tried to stay reserve so not to upset them or get on the wrong side of these men.

The information following this sentence was taken from his account of his trip and not having memory from the 5 May 1923 til September 1925.

“On a beautiful warm day in early Spring about 5 o’clock in the afternoon I had fallen asleep in an open train shed along a railroad in Eastern Tennessee. The shed open in the front and around the three sides benches for passengers awaiting a train. Several gun reports close by startled and awakened me and getting up from the bench too suddenly made me dizzy and I fell to the floor.  Five mountaineers came in and raised me onto the bench.  The dizziness clasped quickly and not being hurt by the fall, I sat up and asked what the gun shooting meant and once said ” Mr were only having a little horse play back of the shed, having just quit work and on our way home.” “Where as I “_______ Gray’s.” Guess nobody and distance from here. Its in Tenn. By this time they were sitting and each man had a knife a couple were whittling sticks and the others cutting niches in the bench, said one, “Where did you come from?” I don’t seem to know – can’t remember being here before or in Tennessee either.”

Well Hobo, you must be a tramp or getaway as you don’t want to tell anything. What’s your name?” That remark nettled me as I was dressed better than any of them very little this name for dist as I could see so I answered at once John Farham. Do I look like a tramp, I don’t feel as if I had ever been one. But with several days growth of whiskers, an old black slouch hat I was not very presentable especially with a good coating of dust. Well Dad, if you get upper income you have a very poor alibi. In the meantime the wind had begun to rise and the limbs of the tree which I could see from where I was sitting were swaying and a man remarked “It’s going to rain.” “Me for home” and they all echoed his statement.

I said, “Is there any place round here where I could get a place to sleep” Very few houses her about and they are filled with children and babies but there is a place about a mile beyond where you could find a place to sleep.” They all left at once for their mountain cabins and I stepped out of the shed to find forest all around a and a saw mill and stone nearby in a clearing. Walking over to this porch and found it to be a portable saw mill probably carried from place to place in clearing the timber and close by a general store. Several small houses appeared to comprise Gray’s and I took to the Road which turned out to be my home for some time.

Strange to say I seemed to have no forebading this, more like it was natural and there was no looking forward as to what might happen how I was to make a living. Neither did it appear astounding that I  could not tell anything about myself or as to why I found myself in my condition. I had on a dark blue suit soiled somewhat by dust and I presume sleeping in some places other than a bed, an old black slouch hat, much the worse for wear. My sole possession were six cents, a couple of keys on a ring, pipe tobacco and matches, no papers or letter or anything that would raise an impression me that matters should be otherwise than in my condition at the time. I just drifted and took things as they came and they came swiftly. Gray’s did not look good to me so I started along the road to the find the place of which the man spoke but never found it. It had probably rained the day previous and the ground wet and when I came to the edge of the forest it was muddy and walking laborous and darted up the grade of the mountain. Presently the sky darkened and for probably 15 minutes it rained hard blowing into my face, wetting me to the skin and making walking difficult on the ties.

The sky cleared but it was getting dark and no shelter insight. Just before dark I came across a young girl carrying a pail of water and asked her for a drink. She replied, “I have nothing you can drink from.” I saw a large house in the trees to the left of the railroad and  asked if I could get shelter there for the night but she declined to say and said there a cabin in the woods and to try there. It was dark by then and a storm beginning so I entered the forest and after a time discovered a light ahead. Having lost the beaten path it was quite a struggle to get there. The light came from the kitchen with an outside porch. Knocking on a pillar a man came out and I said, “Can you give me shelter for the night, am soaking wet and no place to go.” At that moment the winds a length of tin from the porch roof had he not caught my hand and pulled me on the porch it would have struck me as it fell where I had been standing. I saw it in the morning and it was big as a door. “That was a narrow escape wait a minute- I’ll see the old women ? he said” He went inside and in a couple minutes called to me to come in. the “old woman” his mother and a young woman, no doubt his wife appeared to be the only occupants. “Sit down and I’ll make a fire to dry your clothes. It’s been so warm the past two weeks we let the fire go out.”  “It’s very kind of you. I need a lot of drying out.”

To be continued….