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red clay ponderings

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Cartersville

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night….oh, wait.

When I was a kid, I looked forward to spending a week or two every summer with my aunt and uncle. My family lived in what I considered the “Boonies” of Cherokee County; but my aunt and uncle had moved from Cherokee to the big city of Cartersville. They lived on Douglas Street. My visit to Cartersville had all the makings of a great summer. Everything I needed was within the traveling distance of my bare feet.  Their house was a stone’s throw from Main Street; three blocks from the outdoor Olympic sized pool at Cartersville High School, and just a skip and a jump from the Iced-Slurpees of a convenience store on Tennessee Street. An old, wood-framed store was located a street or two behind their house.

 One afternoon, early into the visit of the summer of my twelfth year, my aunt sent me to the old store to pick up something she needed…most likely a Coca Cola.

Entering the ancient structure, my nostrils were greeted with the musty odor of old things. Once the screened-doors of the old store creaked to a close behind me, and my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I found it was a place I liked. The older man who owned the store kept a good selection of penny candy on hand and my Aunt Mae had told me I could buy some.

I enjoyed the independence and responsibility my aunt entrusted to me. I relished the idea of doing such a grown-up thing as walking to the store alone. But, the getting there that gave me trouble.

To get to the store, I had to walk run past a time worn, ivy covered house. The two-story home loomed eerily over the corner of Douglas and Carter Streets. At the corner, I had to pass immediately in front of the house and then turn left onto Carter Street. This journey that took me toward the rear of the shaded property.

Even on the brightest, sunniest, 100° days, there was something dark about that place. Bone chilling quakes rippled through me as I neared the house. No matter how many times I walked to the store, I could never shake the freezing fear I felt when I was near the house. Instinctively, I found myself avoiding the sidewalk in front of the house. Crossing to the other side of Douglas Street, turning left on the far side of Carter Street and then zig-zagging back when I was a safe distance from the “spooky’ house, made me feel somewhat protected. Holding my breath the whole time. 

Even now, more than four decades later, I can drive past the place and remember the coldness I felt there, on hot summer days. 

 This past Valentine’s Day, someone on Facebook posted this question: “Anyone know where the house is in Cartersville that is on the Travel Channel tonight?”

I scrolled down and saw that someone had posted an article with a photo of the house. My spooky house.

Turns out, in the 1930’s,  the area of the sidewalk in front of the house had been the scene of a murder. Which led to a kidnapping and a hanging. The murdered man was the Chief of Police of Cartersville….he had been seeing to the arrest of young black man. aged twenty-two years. While the young man was frequently incarcerated, the Chief would send for the prisoner’s beautiful, nineteen-year old wife. And so it went.

One night, the young man escaped and he and his brother drove to the home of the Chief, presumably to bring his wife home. She had confided in him, the details of the Chief’s despicable behavior.

When the brothers arrived at The Chief’s residence, he came outside. He was not willing to peacefully let the girl go. An argument ensued, and somehow the Chief’s gun wound up in the hands of the escaped prisoner.

The gun was fired. The Chief died on Douglas Street, in front of the house… (in the very spot where I had #fullbodychills on hot summer days).

The young man was arrested and jailed. A couple of nights later, local citizens kidnapped him from the city jail and lynched him in downtown Cartersville.

The young bride, fearing retaliation from the friends and family of the Chief, was afraid she would be killed as well. (she believed they would murder her before knew they would let anyone know what their Chief had been doing with the nineteen year old, black wife of his prisoner), She fled town and was never heard from again.

(This is the condensed version of the story, if you prefer to read more about the incident, I’ll post a link to an article written by local attorney Tony Smith. He quotes local historian Ed Bostick, author of “Lynchings in Bartow County” for the Etowah Valley Historical Society. He quotes and names many other local residents. You can read the full account of the murder of Cartersville Police Chief Joe Ben Jenkins, by scrolling down to “1930” at this link: http://www.tony5m17h.net/CartersvilleLynchings.html ) Thank you Phil Bridges for the link.

No matter how you feel about ghosts, haints, haunts, ghouls and lingering spirits….I know I felt something cold and creepy on that street, four decades after the tragic events which unfolded there.           

 Thank you for reading,    Danita

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Sweet Daisy Girl

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Daisy became a member of our family in late December 1998. Lindsey wanted a puppy and decided to use her birthday and Christmas money to purchase one….”the perfect one”. For three weeks in December, we pursued puppy perfection and came up short. As Christmas week approached, I suggested we put a hold on our search until the holiday was over. Lindsey reluctantly agreed, and true to her nature, waited patiently through the holiday hoopla. A couple of days after Christmas, Lindsey, Garrett (he was in search of a ferret) and I made the rounds of pet stores and animal shelters in Cartersville, Kennesaw and Marrietta. The Perfect Puppy proved to be more difficult to find than the Perfect Ferret (Garrett had had his eye on Harley, a special silver and black ferrett in the Cartersville Pet Store for several days and without hesitation, proudly adopted Harley with Christmas Dollars).

Lindsey could feel what the Perfect Puppy would be like, but she couldn’t really explain the feeling. “I’ll know when I see it”, she would say. After two full days of our post-Christmas puppy quest, we were still without a cuddly critter. Our third day would include a visit to an animal shelter in Atlanta, but first we would try the Cartersville Shelter one more time.

The shelter clerk greeted us when we entered, “You’re back! I was just thinking of you because someone just brought in a whole litter of puppies. He found them on the side of the road in Rome. We haven’t even bathed them yet. They look to be about four or five weeks old. Go on in and see them, you know the way.”

We entered the holding area, and in a large middle-row-kennel…placed at eye level to Lindsey and Garrett, were seven tired and hungry, wet and muddy, black and white puppies. They shivered pitifully; piled one against the other for warmth and comfort. One of the pups left the pack and walked to the kennel gate, where she was face to face with Lindsey. The little puppy cocked her head to the side, raised one ear and locked blue puppy eyes on my little girl. “This is the one, Mommy. She’s perfect.” And she was.

Our Perfect Puppy grew to be a fierce paintball competitor (she became a living legend in the game)…she was a protective beast where the kids and I were concerned….and a gentle mother to the many stray cats and dogs discarded on Shotgun Road. She was the most beautiful doggie in the world, and I told her so each and every day. And she was brave.

Daisy’s glory days began fading a few years ago, after she was hit by a careless man in our driveway. Paitball games ended, hikes with Garrett in the woods ceased. The cool waters of Two Run Creek no longer lured her. Kicking a soccer ball with Lindsey became a distant memory. Daisy was content to snooze in front of the fire while Lindsey rubbed her ears and scratched her back. We were content to have her there…her soft snoring a sound of comfort.

Today, Lindsey, Garrett and I reluctantly said Farewell to our Brave Girl, the Most Beautiful Doggie in the World. With broken hearts, we kissed our Perfect Puppy one last time and then we allowed her to sleep.

Rest well my Sweet Daisy Girl.

Letters From A Whoremonger’s Wife – the book

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Letters From A Whoremonger’s Wife, a story of abuse and an addiction to adultery, is now available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers as well as www.danitaclark.com.

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