I was looking at an issue of the Independent Herald dated 1939 when I came across a short article on the front page that brought a few recollections to mind.
The news item stated that a man named Mitchael Evans had died. He was 85 at the time of his death. The writer described Mr. Evans as an eccentric. That's what I remembered about Mitch Evans - eccentric.
The cause of death was listed in much simpler terms than we use today. It said merely that he died of "old age and complications."
To describe Mitch as eccentric, while accurate, was also probably kind. I have not one shred of proof nor do I recall anyone telling of any specific act which would justify their fears, but parents would tell their children to stay in the yard or even in the house until Mitch went past.
As I said, he never appeared to be a threat to anyone, but that fear still existed. I was proud that my parents, while not discounting the fears, were never unkind, or even discourteous to Mitch.
More than one parent told their kids that if they were bad, Mitch Evans would get them. It was a disciplinary tool much like the threat of the "boogeyman."
Mitch Evans might have been an eccentric, but he was not "the" eccentric. He had an associate named Marshall Poe (we thought at the time that his name was Marshall Pole, since we never saw it in print).
As far as i know, there was no fear of Marshall Poe. He was more like entertainment.
On the low side courthouse wall, at the corner where the road turned up the hill, the kids, the retired and the unemployed used to sort of congregate. The wall there was low enough for the older fellows to get a seat on with a little boost. And the Chinese elm in the yard afforded some relief from the hot summer sun.
Well, some of the guys who were not nearly as smart as they thought they were, would attempt to bait Marshall into saying things which they thought were funny. For instance, one wise guy asked Marshall if he would give them some words of wisdom from his vast storehouse of knowledge.
Well, Marshall just kept on whittling as he often did and said that he would if the fellow would take up a little collection and give it to him in exchange for the advice.
Sure enough, the guy collected a few coins from the fellows sitting around hoping to be amused. Marshall never looked up from his whittling and said, "Take this advice. If you always whittle away from you in place of toward you, you'll never get cut." He then picked up his money and left the guy scratching his head.
Marshall Poe was a highly educated man who had some mental problems, which later caused him to be committed to the state hospital. With today's treatment and medications, he could probably function normally in society.
Even though some folks did not fit the mold that society declares to be normal, they still are a splash of color woven into the tapestry of life. And especially in the life of a little kid growing up in a small town with more than its share of "characters."