Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Friday, December 7, 2007

Palestine, Arkansas and Nashville

In Nashville at the Nashville Country RV Park comfortably settled in with cheese, crackers and salami and a great bottle of cabernet. Actually, cheap wine here is 10 bucks a bottle, but it’s Australian so of course it’s good. Love that blackberry overtone with hints of vanilla and chocolate in the Yellow Tail. Sigh. Nice evening. It’s been raining and more is coming, but for now it’s quiet.

Today I went to Palestine, Arkansas, where my mother was born. I stopped in at the Post Office to mail our Christmas cards and talked with the postmaster there about the Hurt family, the person listed on my mother’s birth certificate is Emmet Hurt, a barber. After much slow drawling kind southern conversation, interrupted by locals coming in for mailings and conversation, I got the phone number and address of a 90 year old lady who knows all the history of Palestine. And I was told very sweetly that Palestine is in the Middle East and Palestyne in right here in Arkansas.

Just standing in that post office was a southern experience, with Mary the postmaster so kind and conversational, and I just waited and waited while she thought about people to call. Finally talked with a woman who married into the Hurt family who said, “Well, Emmet must have divorced that lady you are speaking of because later he married my aunt and they had no children.” Emmet is dead now, as are his two brothers. I am thinking that maybe the 90 year old lady Vada will remember the gossip of the time, but who knows what the reality is in this story.

My grandmother told me bits and pieces and refused to tell me the whole story, only alluding the intrigue and fear and secrets. I will never know for sure if this man Emmet Hurt is really my grandfather or if he was some kind of cover up to an even more secret story of my grandmother giving birth to a baby girl in Palestine Arkansas at the tender age of 15.

Another small piece of a story had something to do with my grandmother’s mother taking her to the train when in the midnight dark in the rain in an old wagon, getting stuck in the creek, and going fast because the situation was fearful, and my grandmother had to get out of town for her safety. She left my mother behind and went to Tulsa, where she worked as a photographer’s model while her mother took care of the baby back home in Palestine.

Stories. Part of all those stories that flew past my inner vision as I lay on the massage table at the Hot Springs. Do the stories really matter?

It was gray and cloudy as we crossed Arkansas today, with brown fields and brown trees with no leaves, and water that was gunmetal gray full of geese flying somewhere farther south.