Thursday, September 03, 2009

Just a Chance Encounter

I stand in the corner away from the lights of the displays, my nose in a regional cook book trying to memorize the ingredients to a Peach's & Cream recipe when I look up and lock eyes with him.

He begins to amble towards me, holding out a slip of paper with a single word scrawled on it "Sha kon o hey". He begins speaking to me as if we had just resumed a conversation - "...means blue smoke in the mountains Sha-kon-o-hey, it's Indian. It's how they saw the Smoky mountains. It's a Dolly Parton album and I have been looking and can not seem to find it."

I pulled our special and exclusive Dolly album from the carousel and began to run down the list of songs, "Nope not on this one, you may have to jump on the Internet to find it."

He was at least 75 years old and I was tempted to suggest one of his children or grand kids find it on Amazon. Something about his wispy raspy voice made me lean closer in to him to understand his soft words.

"Where are you from?"

"I'm from central Kentucky. Where are you from?"

"I'm from West Virginia, I have an Uncle who practiced medicine in Lexington, a GYN guy, his son too".

For some reason - I do have this effect on men - he took out his wallet and began to show me photographs. "This was me in 1950", a very good looking young man with an "I know it all" smirk on his face, dressed in a military uniform. "Korea?" I asked, "Yes, both Korea and Viet Nam."

More pictures of a striking young man leaning against a spiffy old car! All in chrome. "I bet you wish you had that car now!" I exclaimed. "It was my Aunt's. Know how much she paid for it? 1800 dollars. People thought she was crazy. But it was loaded with chrome.

"Ever see a tin type?" He pulled out a small two inches by two inches and handed it to me. It had some wear and tear to it, I flipped it over and there was the date, some time around 1850.

"Your Grandparents?" I asked trying to do the math quickly in my head - "Yes, Grad Dad fought in the Civil War. He was in the Calvary. Fought in Gettysburg. Old Jeb Stuart(!!!!!) finally arrived and he brought my Grand father with him. Grandpa was captured and spent the rest of the war in a prison. Treated him real bad, those Yankees didn't feed them much. He got scurry. Got out two days after the war was over. He didn't care too much for Lincoln."

The door to the front area flew open and his wife came in and collected him. I followed him to the door.

"Be on the look out for that album" he said he was lead away.

Wow! You never know what stories reside within people.


Meadowlark said...

This brought a lump to my throat.

I worry about the stories we miss because we're so "afraid" of everybody.

Shelly said...

Wow, that's awesome. Things like that don't happen to me. I mostly get library patrons detailing their ailments to me. ;)

Lulu LaBonne said...

I love that sort of encounter, I do find other people's stories interesting _ although probably not the library visitor's ailments

Nelle said...

Often on the phone calls I take at work I get some interesting stories. Some seem fabricated while others really touch me. Yesterday an 85 yr old man called. He had not understood what he was buying and without too much of those details he was calling to cancel after his daughter raked him over the coals. Poor guy had two strokes and was paralyzed on one side (like my Dad except his mental faculties seemed really sharp to me). He asked me if I had children and if they treated me like I was stupid. Well, sir I prefer the term unenlightened but sorta. He told me how he had sacrificed for his kids and treated them respectfully only now to be treated himself like he was stupid. Oh man. I felt so bad for the guy. I told him that many younger people make the same mistake and no worries I would take care of everything for him and cancel out his order...which I did..while encouraging him to get some stuff off his chest. I have a real empathy for these people. I wish their families realized what they had before it's too late.

Chris said...

Interesting encounter. There are so many stories out there that unfortunately, no one is listening to.

gigi said...

I think it's lovely that people open up to you like that. I regret the stories I missed when I was too young and foolish to pay attention. Now that I'm ready & willing to listen, no one seems to tell.

Keep listening for those voices... :)