I started out writing another story but was pleasantly sidetracked by discoveries I made about little pieces of family history today.
Over the years, as I’ve laboriously uncovered pieces of evidence, a fuller picture of some of my life has emerged. After a childhood filled with constant shushing and shouts of “Don’t talk about that!” I’m relieved to know that the historical record left breadcrumbs in the world. Some of them aren’t the smoking guns I would have hoped, but as circumstantial evidence, they provide an undeniable trajectory for some of my stories.
Not too long ago, by accidental fortune, I discovered newspaper articles regarding my Dad’s imprisonment in Indiana when I was younger. Before that, I finally found a mention of the accident in which my drunk Dad killed a maternal cousin of mine. Not only did they fill in the blanks for several unanswered questions I had growing up, but they told me part of the story in an impartial voice. So much of what I was told was a lie or misdirected.
On Father’s Day last year, I found out that I have a half-black sister. Her color is only mentioned because of the irony of her existence, given the racism of many of my family. I’ll take a DNA revelation over a document or historical piece of evidence any day. I’ll take my corroboration anywhere I can get it, though.
This accident happened after Mom and Dad had a huge fight at my Uncle Buck’s house. Mom left in the car. She was drinking heavily, of course. We were very close to turning left onto our road from Highway 68 (412). What fascinates me about this article I found today is that if you were a historian or researcher, you would mistakenly think Mom wasn’t at fault in the accident, especially because Mom was hit from the rear. There are a lot of assumptions at play here. You’d have to know that it’s possible Mom could have forgotten to turn on her lights – or that she thought the car behind was following too closely and slammed on her brakes – or that she was so drunk she was about to miss her turn off the highway – and so on. I don’t know what was in the report of the accident. I do remember clearly that everyone at the scene knew that Mom was drunk and that she was shouting in anger at everyone, especially the police. She took the time to use her specialty curse words, too. I don’t remember whose name Mom invoked, but whoever it was resulted in no ticket for her or questions about the open Budweiser can in her lap at the time of the accident. Mom had several accidents at this intersection, two or three of which involved other vehicles. Because part of Dad’s job at the time involved a car and body repair, he fixed the vehicles at no charge. He knew how to game the system to extract a bit of extra cash from the process, too. Northwest Arkansas had places one could go for stolen parts.
In case you didn’t read it in my other posts, my Mom and Dad paid off several DWIs illegally. It was a common practice, as most residents in Springdale should remember. Money could make problems go away. My family was strikingly poor at times yet when necessity demanded it, money miraculously appeared to be used as kickbacks, bribes, or payoffs.
For the picture above, I remember the fire only because it happened around Xmas. I’m not convinced it was started by heating tape. Mom and Dad both smoked. Dad often did things shoddily. I’ve written before about the number of houses and trailers that burned during Mom’s lifetime. I do remember that my Mom and Dad fought like hornets after this fire. Anytime people with authority intersected with our lives, mayhem ensued.
This is the first residence we lived in on the same long corner of 48th Street and Highway 68, now 412. The house was very small and green and sat the south end of the property just a few feet away from the pasture behind it. The next two residences were trailers placed in the same general place perpendicular to the narrow road. I know too much about this fire. My family was the last one to live in it. My died burned it down on purpose. He used the water heater to ignite the rest of the house.
I found these tidbits accidentally today while looking for a picture of the frontage along highway 68 in the early 70s.
I’ve been trying to write or finish several interconnected stories regarding the time my family lived in the area where Denny’s, La Quinta, and the Springdale Convention Center now sit.
The common thread to these is the increasing and overwhelming certainty that the story I’ve tried to tell in increments is true. It’s a story that no one else would have ever told.
Click below, if you’re interested…
Discoveries About My Dad in Indiana
If you have Facebook, this is the version of the above link that drew an incredible amount of messages and commentary… A Story About My Dad, social media version
2 thoughts on “We Hold These Truths”
While I’m not glad these things happened, obviously, I’m glad that you have found validation for things that you know happened. It’s the rare, “Aha! I’m NOT crazy!” moment. At least, not crazy about that particular item of interest. 😀
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I see what you did there. 🙂
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