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My Loquacious PossessionsPosted Wednesday, August 22, 2012, at 9:07 AM
How interesting and easy it would be to capture the essence of the past, if we could persuade inanimate objects to reveal the actions preformed in their presence. If this could become a reality, my first conversation would be with the old eight-day clock hanging on my living room wall.
This old clock stands 36 inches tall, is 16 inches wide with Roman numerals on a round face, 12 inches in diameter. On this face there is a date of 1853, so this old clock was measuring time with the rhythmical motion of its swinging pendulum and melancholy tic-tock, when my great grandfather, at age twenty six, said a sorrowful goodbye to his wife, (my great grandmother) and his three children (one of which was my grandfather), as he left his home to join the Union forces during the Civil War. This old clock could tell me of the loneliness experienced by this young mother and their three children, the oldest of which was six years of age.
The swinging pendulum of this clock was probably stopped and time stood still, when the report came that my great grandfather had been killed in action near Jackson, Mississippi. This clock could describe the grief, the anguish, and the sorrow of the bereaved family, as the father and husband was not brought back home, but was buried in grave #5901 in the National Cemetery, at Vicksburg Mississippi.
Finally, realizing that time must go on, the pendulum of this old clock was put back in motion, only to witness the hardships endured by the family as they struggled to cope with the problems of surviving without a husband and father.
The next item I would engage in conversation would be my grandfather's old muzzle-loading rifle, which I have considered a prized possession for 80 years. This rifle has not been fired for over a hundred years, but I am sure it could tell me some interesting hunting stories.
When I was about six years old, Grandpa told me some of these stories. He told of one incident where he was sitting on a log over Castor River, waiting for daylight so he could see to shoot some turkeys, which were roosting on a limb over the river. As he was lining up his sights on the turkeys, he heard a noise, and there on the bank, was a big buck deer standing under the tree. He was having some difficulty deciding whether to shoot the deer or the turkeys, so he took out his pocket-knife and stuck it through the ram-rod of this old muzzle loading rifle, in such way that the blade extended out over the barrel. He took bead on the turkeys and pulled the trigger. The knife blade split the bullet, half of it hitting the deer, killing it instantly. The other half of the bullet split the limb on which the turkeys were sitting, thereby catching the toes of three of them, and holding them fast. The velocity of the rifle kicked him off the log, into the water, and when he crawled out on the bank, his boots were full of fish. Now that I am older, I just wonder if this old rifle would vouch for the authenticity of this incident.
The old spinning wheel standing in my living room would probably have some interesting stories to tell; however, the story of how it found its way to my living room may be just as interesting.
For many years my wife had said she would like to have a spinning wheel, and one day there was one advertised in an auction sale. I tried to buy this spinning wheel, but someone bid more than I thought I could afford. So we went a few more years without a spinning wheel.
Then one day, a middle-aged man came in our Ben Franklin Store and said he had a spinning wheel he wanted to sell and that he would take $3.00 for it. I had known this man for several years; he had been coming in our store quite often, but he never seemed to have any money. He would occasionally ask me to lend him a dollar, which I did. Sometimes he would pay me back, but so long as it was not more than a dollar, I didn't worry too much about it.
Most everyone knew that this fellow was not always playing with a full deck, so I told him that I would like very much to have a spinning wheel, but there was no way that he could sell me a spinning wheel for $3.00. Anyway, I went out to his old beat up car to look at this spinning wheel and discovered that the only thing he had was the wheel--no chassis, no spindle, nothing but the wheel. I gave him $3.00 and told him he could have the wheel back when he paid me the $3.00. He never came back with the $3.00, so I just stored the wheel up in the attic.
Ten more years went by, and one day I stopped at a flea market and there in a pile of junk was the chassis and spindle of a spinning wheel. I bought this piece of junk for $2.00, took it home and it was a perfect match for the wheel I had bought ten years earlier. Thus, the wife had her spinning wheel and it only cost $5.00. If this inanimate object could talk, I sincerely believe that it would bear witness to the fact that these two parts were the complete original unit.
Yes, I think it would be interesting if I could carry on a conversation with some of the inanimate objects I have. However I have one item of which I would request an oath of muted silence, and that object is "My Trouble Box." I built this box many years ago. I designed each part with care, and as I travel down life's highway, I put all my troubles there. It holds my bitter cups of failures, and it locks all my heartaches within its walls. I have told no one of its contents, and none of its secrets have I shared, as I drop in my load of sorrows, and keep them buried there. The world will never know my burdens, as I travel these last few miles, as I sit on top of "My Trouble Box" and greet you with my smile..
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Paul Corbin is a 100-year-old historian, humorist, and amateur archaeologist from Advance, Mo. He grew up in the Greenbrier area west of Advance, where he attended Stepp School on the banks of Cato Slough and the Castor River, important waterways throughout his life. In an age when many area residents did not go to high school, the young Corbin made the decision to walk the five miles to Zalma, graduating in 1933. Throughout his life, he was an enterprising businessman, selling Watkins products from house to house throughout a large area - and later opening a variety store in Advance. He and his wife Geneva traveled throughout the United States, even following the route that the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled. His knowledge of Native American culture is extensive, and he has donated a sizeable collection of his artifacts to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill. Throughout the years, he has submitted articles to TBY, the North Stoddard Countian, the Ozark Mountaineer, and several other Missouri publications. He has also written two books - "Reflections in Missouri Mud," and "Fragments of my Feeble Mind." The first one is out of print.
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