Preface notes, a mish-mash

February 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Preface

You’re walking in my shoes.

Eternally beginning with no end in sight, beginning again, and where to start, what time, what space, what universe.  From now?  From now on?  Or back to yesterday, last week, events that brought me here.  Or the many roads not taken, with regret.

And how?  Through whose eyes?  In what detail? What order?  What I recall, or ask for others’ views?  So many ways to tell a story.

And why?  For Hallie, because she asked.

Who reads these words? People write for others to read, but who?  don’t write unless they want people to read.

Maybe some do.  Politicians.  Spies.  Notes to themselves,  they do.

someone to readIt is a question with many facets.  I wouldn’t write unless I wanted someone else to read, would I? Would I? Maybe it’s just a habit.  Maybe I once dreamed myself young Thomas Wolfe, 10,000 words a day, transforming my own generation.  Then I crunched the numbers. It asks, specifically, “Who are you?”  Who’s the person whose eyes see my sentences and paragraphs, transfer them through binocular lenses and the optic nerve to whose inquiring mind, hiding deep behind whose face, whose name?  I’d like to know.  What kind of person takes the time to read (to read at all these days—but this) the story of another person’s life?  And not just any person’s life, but mine, with all other ways to pass ones time, who reads me?  Biographies of famous people, maybe.  Arthur Miller’s Timebends. Because nobody writes unless heshe wants someone to read (he-she), who would it be?

I’m over gender politics, and I won’t pluralize.  Why not just make us all he-him-his (or she-her-hers)?  Or just for fun, heesh (or heshe, shehe)-herm-hiser (hisers)

“Is anybody out there?”  My story begins October 9, 1943 (John Lennon’s third birthday, may he rest in his imagination) in “The Original” Washington, a tiny Down East Tar Heel Town on the northern bank of the Tar River near the mouth of the Pamlico Sound, where my mother’s family spent the Second World War. Bozo (her father, William Morris Shaffer), unemployed, had found work there, ironically, just when the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor and all the able men went off to fight; otherwise, I’d have been born in Greensboro, from whence he came, to whence he returned as soon as the war was over, and where he remained until, near his end of days, he retreated to a Burlington old folks home. Actually, he came from Mint Hill, twelve miles from Charlotte—where I settled, home to roost, much against my better judgment, back in 1983—son of a farmer turned contractor and land developer who moved his family to Greensboro when Bozo was a child, acquired several downtown properties, and opened a billiard parlor. His mother, incidentally (Susan Morris, after whom he was named), relates me to my dear friend Lane, and his father’s great-great-grandfather married Rachel Hood, daughter of Tunis Hood, whose great-great-great-great-great-grandson was Elvis Presley.)

Shaffers & Carrs

Briefly, Bozo was the oldest boy. Aunt Babe (married Malcolm Murray, Malcolm Groome’s is their grandchild) was older, as was Aunt Marg (Bill Sellars, swans, no kids), were older; Uncle Sam was born when he was five, Uncle Charles, fifteen. Their children—Mama’s first cousins—were of my generation (Jean, now dead, was just my age), but we never formed relationships. They both went to Chapel Hill. Sam came home a dentist; Charles remained and rose to be Director of Development, a Tar Hell VIP. His son Charlie was a college tennis all-star and a member of Dean Smith’s first UNC team, then became a prominent Atlanta attorney. Bozo never finished high school. His obsession was the horseless carriage, and I can see him at his desk, not listening, drawing in his notebook, automotive diagrams, designs, his innate understanding of machinery dismissed, discouraged by his teachers. At fifteen, Granddaddy shipped him off to military school, where he ruptured his appendix, almost died, came home to recuperate. The World War was raging in Europe—he was too young, still convalescing; his father was dying of cancer and the world was changing, everything was new. He hung around the pool hall, worked on cars… Meanwhile, in the Sand Hills, Mamah (Annie Lou Carr) was blossoming into a belle of the old south. Descended from Dabny, Thomas Jefferson’s brother-in-law (beside whom he is buried), ergo related to his cousin, NC Governor Elias, and tobacco magnate Julian Shakespeare; also descended, through her mother, Katy Darden, from Captain John, who married Martha Washington’s sister, Mamah was

What follows is a concise timeline of the seven decades of my life, with embedded links to other pages (and pages) of pertinent prose detailing my recollections from those times.  From each page you may continue to the next or return to other pages (and pages) of pertinent prose.  From each of these you may continue to the next, return

Roots

The story of  story of my birth and babyhood begins with my birth and babyhood during the war, then backtracks, first through generations of Gastonia Grays and Torrences, then the Charlotte-Clinton-to-Greensboro Shaffers and CarrsA link to my family blog, with genealogical bloodlines from Revolutionary times to Dad and Mom connecting me to everyone from Martha Washington to Elvis Pressley

What you are hereby invited to read is by no means a statement of truth.  My memories, like those of every human being, are filtered through so many layers of subjective misconception that I know beyond all shadow of a doubt that the ball I snapped to Jerry Derr on fourth and six did not sail over but bounced by him into the end zone.

What I saw and heard felt—physically and emotionally—and smelled, tasted, recorded in my mind as true was not what really happened, no sirree! For too many reasons to explore (although I’m tempted), each person’s truth is his (or hers) alone. I’d like to think you’ll read, correct my facts, fill in the gaps, and add your story to the collection—who you are, where, why, how you got there, who shares your life (married? children?), what you do for money, duty, fun—and what you hope and dream. My story is presented in sequential pages based on genealogy and geography in a whimsical variety of formats interspersed with rambling recollections.

Reflections from the Final Threshold

When I was four I had a birthday party at the Country Club to which every little pre-kindergarten Gray and all the cousins were invited, all the kids of Daddy’s childhood chums, Mama’s former colleagues, members of the church, the club—over a hundred. Or so I’m told;  I don’t remember it at all.

What I remember from that age as sitting in the bathtub every night, sucking water from the washrag, spewing it at Bill.

The prefatory chapters, dealing with my roots, birth, and pre-cognition, are published under By George in a family blog called Grays & Shaffers, which also includes our Family Tree. A summary of that material appears in the Introduction to this narrative, but for a true understanding of the genealogical and cultural forces that propelled me into the world and shaped my formative years, a trip back in time is essential. The matter of this tome is of memory.Navigation is a little tricky.  Pages are linked in sequence, but there are a lot of tangents.  Many chapters will appear as posts in my Rants and Raves, subcategoried under Memoirs.  All provide a link back to this page and the following Table of Contents. Introduction

Preface

Please understand this is not in the least objective.  No truth is.  It’s true as I remember, through my years, snapping the ball low—not over his head—knowing the instant I let it go, making my block and turning to watch it bounce—not sail—past Jerry Derr into the end zone, where the Garinger mob recovered, scoring the goal that forced us into a playoff the Thursday before the Saturday we lost to Greensboro in the 1960 State Semi-Finals.  Still my bad, but he could have recovered the ball.

You’re walking in my shoes.

Eternally beginning with no end in sight, beginning again, and where to start, what time, what space, what universe.  From now?  From now on?  Or back to yesterday, last week, events that brought me here.  Or the many roads not taken, with regret.

And how?  Through whose eyes?  In what detail? What order?  What I recall, or ask for others’ views?  So many ways to tell a story.

And why?  For Hallie, because she asked.

Who reads these words? People write for others to read, but who?  don’t write unless they want people to read.

Maybe some do.  Politicians.  Spies.  Notes to themselves,  they do.

someone to readIt is a question with many facets.  I wouldn’t write unless I wanted someone else to read, would I? Would I? Maybe it’s just a habit.  Maybe I once dreamed myself young Thomas Wolfe, 10,000 words a day, transforming my own generation.  Then I crunched the numbers. It asks, specifically, “Who are you?”  Who’s the person whose eyes see my sentences and paragraphs, transfer them through binocular lenses and the optic nerve to whose inquiring mind, hiding deep behind whose face, whose name?  I’d like to know.  What kind of person takes the time to read (to read at all these days—but this) the story of another person’s life?  And not just any person’s life, but mine, with all other ways to pass ones time, who reads me?  Biographies of famous people, maybe.  Arthur Miller’s Timebends. Because nobody writes unless heshe wants someone to read (he-she), who would it be?

I’m over gender politics, and I won’t pluralize.  Why not just make us all he-him-his (or she-her-hers)?  Or just for fun, heesh (or heshe, shehe)-herm-hiser (hisers)

“Is anybody out there?”  My story begins October 9, 1943 (John Lennon’s third birthday, may he rest in his imagination) in “The Original” Washington, a tiny Down East Tar Heel Town on the northern bank of the Tar River near the mouth of the Pamlico Sound, where my mother’s family spent the Second World War. Bozo (her father, William Morris Shaffer), unemployed, had found work there, ironically, just when the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor and all the able men went off to fight; otherwise, I’d have been born in Greensboro, from whence he came, to whence he returned as soon as the war was over, and where he remained until, near his end of days, he retreated to a Burlington old folks home. Actually, he came from Mint Hill, twelve miles from Charlotte—where I settled, home to roost, much against my better judgment, back in 1983—son of a farmer turned contractor and land developer who moved his family to Greensboro when Bozo was a child, acquired several downtown properties, and opened a billiard parlor. His mother, incidentally (Susan Morris, after whom he was named), relates me to my dear friend L[ane, and his father’s great-great-grandfather married Rachel Hood, daughter of Tunis Hood, whose great-great-great-great-great-grandson was Elvis Presley.)

Shaffers & Carrs

Briefly, Bozo was the oldest boy. Aunt Babe (married Malcolm Murray, Malcolm Groome’s is their grandchild) was older, as was Aunt Marg (Bill Sellars, swans, no kids), were older; Uncle Sam was born when he was five, Uncle Charles, fifteen. Their children—Mama’s first cousins—were of my generation (Jean, now dead, was just my age), but we never formed relationships. They both went to Chapel Hill. Sam came home a dentist; Charles remained and rose to be Director of Development, a Tar Hell VIP. His son Charlie was a college tennis all-star and a member of Dean Smith’s first UNC team, then became a prominent Atlanta attorney. Bozo never finished high school. His obsession was the horseless carriage, and I can see him at his desk, not listening, drawing in his notebook, automotive diagrams, designs, his innate understanding of machinery dismissed, discouraged by his teachers. At fifteen, Granddaddy shipped him off to military school, where he ruptured his appendix, almost died, came home to recuperate. The World War was raging in Europe—he was too young, still convalescing; his father was dying of cancer and the world was changing, everything was new. He hung around the pool hall, worked on cars… Meanwhile, in the Sand Hills, Mamah (Annie Lou Carr) was blossoming into a belle of the old south. Descended from Dabny, Thomas Jefferson’s brother-in-law (beside whom he is buried), ergo related to his cousin, NC Governor Elias, and tobacco magnate Julian Shakespeare; also descended, through her mother, Katy Darden, from Captain John, who married Martha Washington’s sister, Mamah was

Me in Third Grade…

Sixty Years Later

 

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