Courage Beyond Belief

I was 7 or 8 years old, when I saw a truly courageous act that impacted my life.  My totally blind Dad was so proud of his flock of chickens up in the hen house, on Wickwire Creek, near Graton, W.Va. On a cool fall day, (in 1950 or 1951) when he was home alone, 2 or 3 Gypsies, roaming northward from  Alabama, came to  our little farm house to buy 10 chickens. They always moved in groups of 50 to 80, set up camp near small towns, and schemmed ways to bilk people out of money. Pap didn’t know they were Gypsies, at the time. Wanting to buy ten chickens, they noticed that my dad was blind, and told him they only had a hundred dollar bill. My Pap always knew where he kept each of his 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, and 20 dollar bills, and always knew how many of each he had in his wallet. He trustinglycounted out $90.00 in change, and they asked how he knew  what each bill was. He joked (as he always did) that he could tell the bills apart by the smell of each denomination. The Gypsies left with 10 chickens (worth $1.00 each) Mom came home in the old, green pick-up truck, and Pap was proudly telling her how he had sold 10 chickens. When he showed her what he thought was a $100 dollar bill, she said, “Russell, thats not a hundred, it’s a one dollar bill.” He was at first silent, then furious! She was sickened by the deception and afraid of what losing $90 meant to our family. and tried to calm Pap’s anger. $90.00  was just about all of the money they possesed at this time. He said, “Evelyn, let’s go start the pick-up truck, we’re gonna’ go talk to some Gypsies.” I remember, mom was afraid and said, “Russell, let it go, and  let the sheriff handle it. For some reason, I got to tag along, and what a scene it was. We arrived at the campsite on Route #119, and mom parked the truck. Fires were burning, dogs were barking, and guitars strummed, while singing voices filled the air, round a campfire. Mom lead Pap into the camp saying, “Russell, please be careful, while I held onto her other hand.” I watched as the group started to get quiet, due to our un-announced arrival. When silence fellover the group, Pap said in a very strong voice, “I wanna’ talk to the men who stole my chicken’s and cheated me, today.”  Murmering ensued, and they gathered in small groups, whispering about their next move. An older leader in the group asked Pap what had happened. When he shared the sad story, the man went to the ones who had deceived my dad, and ordered them to give him back his money. He chastised them saying, “How could you do this to a blind man?” They counted out and handed my Pap approxmately $85.00, saying they had spent the rest. On the way down the dirt road to home in the green pick-up,  that night, I felt so protected and proud, sitting between two courageous people. Back in the humble little 2 bedroom shack that housed 4 sons and 2 parents, the burnside stove was filled (banked) with coal for the night, and a sense of pride filled the air.  I snuggled under the blanket’s and said my nightly prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, and If I die before I wake, I pray dear lord, my soul you’ll take.”  For years as a little boy, I always added, “Dear God please don’t let Mommy or Daddy die, and please don’t let the house burn down.” I had just witnessed a rare courage and strength, which I forever admired and loved, in that awesome man named, William Russell Turner, my beloved Father.  Pap left his body 28 years ago, and this incident therefore, happened 58 years ago. However, the impact of this mans courage, still rings in me today. Thank you, Pap, you are a magnificent Spirit Being, for I know you are alive and free, sharing the spirit (soul) of your true love, my mom, Evelyn Madelyn Turner. I believe that you can now have vision, (that you can see) my beautiful Father!.   I believe you  see me, and my brothers, now, as do you see my precious Mom.  I give my Love, Honor, and enormous Gratitude to you both.  NHT