This weekend I dropped by to see Mr. Davis (not his real name), the ninety-four-year-old man who lives around the corner. He can't see much, or hear much, or get around much. But he still has a bright smile. And his mind is sharp.
I was interested in hearing from him firsthand what it was like growing up in the Oklahoma and Missouri Ozark Mountains during in the 1910s and 20s. And we talked about that for a little over an hour.
When I got up to leave he started to tell me one more story – something from more recent times. As he spoke, he was sitting across from me in a room filled with things he'd made or repaired himself, useful things, most of them made out of steel. His fifty-five-year-old son rested in a nearby corner chair, listening with an "I know how how this story goes" smile while Mr. Davis described a lady he'd met a few years back, some time after Mrs. Davis had passed away.
"Well this woman, she got to coming up by here a foot. She's older woman, kinda slim. And she stop a little bit, finally got to stoppin' out there and go in and set with me in the garden.
"She said she lived in the back part of The Getaway."
(The Getaway is about five blocks from where Mr. Davis and I live. It used to be a bar, but somewhere along the line it was turned into a house. The old sign's still out front but now there are curtains in the windows.)
"That's the only thing she told me and I couldn't find her name or nothin' in the phone book. No -- no phone number. But I think she -- she had a phone or something some way.
"I haven't seen her in quite a while. Maybe she died, I don't know. I can't get down there to find out, if she's still living. Or died. Or what.
"I went down there once. Went down there. With my other boy, Larry. Drove in the side way. I didn't see no way you could go to the back of The Getaway from in there. Seemed like she said you went in this side of The Getaway. That street and in the back. In the back of The Getaway she said.
"So I went looking for a way into the back part of The Getaway building. I don't know if that's what she meant or not.
"I still don't know if that's where she lived."
Mr. Davis laughed for a moment, with his bright smile and then he went a little quiet. Not sad, really. Just reflective. It was a mystery, what had happened. And he was sorting through the facts.
"She may have died by now, she was in the hospital a time or two, something wrong with her. She was about...eighty years old.
"I don't know."
"Can't live forever, I'll tell you."