Letters to the editor week of 2/1/07


The first of four installments

By Josiah Leatherbury

It was around 1955, Thomas Mayfield was 10 years old and no more. He and his family lived in the narrow wooden frame house on Market Street in Vevay, Indiana, just east of Judge Raymond who was not a judge and never was. Yet, he was given that “title” due to his natural solemnity and distinctive appearance. Thomas Mayfield was the next to the youngest of seven children. Three just older than him were girls, the two eldest were boys and youngest a boy. His father was a man of short stature, not weighing over 150 pounds and 5’6″. He made a poor living buying worn out vehicles, repairing the ones he could and junking out the rest. All this in the parking space directly in front of the house, and of course, the back and side yard. His mother never left the house.

There was never enough money and once or twice a year distant relatives, somewhat better off, would drop off a large box of discarded clothes which the mother and children would rummage through, always at first in great excitement. Then, as they realized hardly anything was wearable they each would turn away with what small prizes each had gleaned.

The older two boys never bothered in this endeavor for they were favored by the mother and father and at least half of the family’s small and erratic income went to provide for their needs, while the rest, the three girls and two boys, were mostly ignored. Except for the fact that the girls from as early an age as possible were put to doing all the house work while Thomas and his younger brother, who were referred to by their father as his “two mules” were worked constantly in the junk business.

Thomas was quite odd looking, one might even say ugly, through when first seeing him you would be more startled than stopped. He was round shouldered, narrow in the chest, had spindly arms and legs, a too large round head, a tiny nose that dripped constantly from eating too much sugar, carbohydrates and hardly any protein. His eyes were a pale blue, such as one would see after dropping a little water into milk. His skin was not so much pink, but rather a whitish beige, such as one sees on cheap children’s dolls. Large blue veins mottled his face and arms and legs to the extent that on looking directly at him on an overcast day he gave one the appearance of looking at the moon. So everyone just called him “Moon” and laughed.

But Moon was happy on this cold day in February, 1955, for his father and older brothers were gone for the day, hauling a load of short steel on their old ’47 two ton Ford truck, to the junk yard in Columbus, Indiana. Moon could do as he wanted and all he wanted was to go to the old Carnegie Library in Vevay, three blocks away, and be left alone and read. He had no friends except those he found in books.

To be continued . . .