Hollern’ From The Hollar ©
By R. Eugene Wallace
I was a-talkin’ to this lady from near Oak Forrest one day and she said she didn’t reckon I was from around there. I told her I was from that McGhee clan that came from Vinton, not too far from McArther town, near Welston. She wasn’t haven’t no part of it and wanted to know more about my family, so I asked her if she ever known my uncle, Dan Evans? She said, “You mean that big sausage guy from Rio Grande”? I said, “Well yes and no, we weren’t related to that Evans family but my uncle Dan’s mom was married to one of them and he wound up with the same name”. She did say she had gone to school with a girl named Ellen Evans and I told her that was my cousin. I could tell she was starting to believe me now and said she never knew about Ellen’s father, Dan. I tried to fill her in about my uncle Dan.
Dan was a good ole boy and had a great eye for huntin’. He was hard of hearing and spoke real loud. I guess from trying to hear his own voice but when he was out hunting, he could hear a deer walking a hundred yards away. We always had meat on the table and sometimes he would take game to families that had no way to purchase any food and everybody liked him, really well. Then the war broke out and Dan went and joined up. He came home in his uniform and looked real good, said they were going to send him to some place in Germany to fight “Huns”. I guess him and some guy named York captured a couple hundred prisoners and since they didn’t have enough ammo to shoot them, made them march all the way back to headquarters. A few months after that, they sent him home and he went around dressed up and helped people buy “war bonds”. They gave him a bunch of medals and a lifetime pension, so he would never have to work again. I was about six then and would play with my cousin Ellen whenever we visited. Uncle Dan was a little strange after he came home, he still was hard of hearing and talked loud but had grown real tall and would sometimes just set and stare off into the distance. He was a good looking and handsome man and with his pension, had no problem finding women who wanted his company. He met my Aunt Donna at a club where she had been singing and waiting tables. Donna had a wonderful voice and sang at weddings, clubs and even in church. But something happened to Uncle Dan and he grew distant and quiet, then decided to go to school. He hadn’t had much of an education before going to the Army but with his war record he made it into the university up in Cowtown. He disappeared for a few years and my aunt Donna started dating a Navy guy from Indiana. My Uncle Dan never got over how my Aunt Donna left him and later became what we call an Extension Agent for the State of Ohio. I never saw Ellen for several years but sometimes we met at family reunions and we would catch up on things.
My Uncle Dan would tend to our relatives and insure that they were all buried properly on a big hill in Vinton, called McGhee Hill. It’s all but forgotten now, since room ran out for dead newcomers and most of the modern family are all buried at Memorial Cemetery in Vinton. Uncle Dan lived a quiet life, he never married after Aunt Donna ran away and lived to the ripe age of ninety three. Ellen sent me the clipping where he had passed from a self-inflected gun shot to the head. He had cancer and was frail and weak and died in uniform. I always liked Uncle Dan, he served his country, worked hard, became educated and helped people. I think he deserved a lot more than he ever took from life!