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McDonald Tales - MT11 - August 1881 Jane talks with Caroline
They talked in the summer
Jane (Truesdale) McDonald talks with Caroline (McDonald) Truesdale before school opening
For a couple of years, Jane and Caroline had served on the School Board together, so they saw each other regularly there, in addition to any family gatherings there might have been. We’ve not really delved into this relationship directly, until now. These will be excerpts from some of their conversations and related material.
Jane: We were so sorry to hear about the trouble that Jimmy (will be a sophomore) got into. How are you all taking it?
Caroline: It has been very hard on each of us, actually. Lewis is fit to be tied, of course, but does know that he must be very careful not to totally turn Jimmy against him, if he is too harsh in his response. Lewis sees it as a black mark on his honor, as much as on Jimmy. He knows that is unfair, perhaps, but it is how he feels. He has that Patton, Truesdale honor thing, as you well know. Myrtle (she will be in eighth grade) is perhaps taking it the hardest, actually. She has wanted to look up to her older brother, but she knew he had a dark side, and feared something like this would happen. Now it has. She wants to be supportive, but really doesn’t want to be involved, deep down.
Jane: And how about you, Caroline? You are his mother.
Caroline: I’ve tried to protect Myrtle from further hurt. Jimmy is really very remorseful, I believe. He isn’t to see Clarence any more away from school. Cavorting with an older student was a mistake, for sure. He now knows that. I hope he has learned his lesson. We’ve tried to not be too hard on him. What good would that do? He could easily turn on us in other ways. We don’t want that.
Jane: Have you placed other restriction?
Caroline: Oh, yes. He has to let us know where he is and what he is doing, who with, on a very regular basis. He seems to understand, and has taken to it… but I still see the resentment in his eyes.
There was farm work to be done
A couple of weeks later
Caroline: I had a good talk with Karl King, again, and he is inviting Jimmy to come out and spend more time with Kent and their neighbor, Junior Yokum, both in Jimmy’s class. Karl assures me he has some work activities, as well as some fun activities, for them to do.
Jane: That sounds like progress. How did Jimmy feel about doing that?
Caroline: He likes to be with Kent. We always kind of thought that Junior Yokum was kind of a hillbilly, but Karl assured me he is a good boy, and a hard worker. And Jimmy needs to be around that kind of people more, I think.
Jane: It certainly can’t hurt. How is my brother, Lewis, doing by now? I haven’t even seen him recently.
Caroline: He seems to be finding any excuse he can to spend time with his legislative buddies up in Jefferson City. I used to encourage it, but I’m afraid now that he might be running away from his responsibilities here. If they get to drinking too much, after working hours, with no wives around, he may end up like his father did. I certainly hope not, but what can I do. Men will be men.
Jane: I’m very sorry to hear that. Perhaps I’ll try harder to find a chance to talk to him. May not help, but I’d feel awful if I didn’t.
Caroline: Thank you, Jane. That would be a great idea. I’d like to see him more directly involved with his businesses, as well. He has good managers, but they still need supervision. Maybe you can encourage that, as well.
Jane: Good idea. I’ll give it a try, first chance I gat.
He depended on his managers
Jane and Lewis, sometime later
Jane: Well, brother, it has been a while since we talked. You seem to keeping very busy, what have you been up to?
Lewis: I let myself get on too many committees up in the legislature, it seems. The work there is just so interesting. But it takes up a lot of time, even when we are not in session.
Jane: Not letting your businesses slip, I hope?
Lewis: No, I’ve got good managers in place. I talk to each of them regularly, but stay out of their way. They each continue to make good money, so no problems there.
Jane: How about your family? Are you spending enough time with them?
Lewis: Probably not. I rely mostly on Caroline to take care of that, you know. She’ll take good care of Myrtle… I don’t know about Jimmy. You know he got into some trouble. I can’t seem to even talk to the boy. Caroline’s been trying to get him into better company, but, … I hope that works.
Jane: Maybe you should try a little harder to be more involved.
Lewis: Probably. But I really don’t know what more I can do. My life at that age was so different, leading up to the war, and all. I really don’t know how to handle it. I know now that a military approach won’t work. I tried that. He just pulled away, and we lost trust in each other.
Jane: Perhaps you just need to show interest in him, whatever he is doing now. Ask him about it; don’t tell him what to do. Just spend some time with him. Go riding, or take him hunting.
Lewis: He doesn’t like to do those things.
Jane: Have you tried, recently? Have you asked him?
Lewis: No, I suppose I haven’t. I don’t want to hear him say “no” again. I want him to be happy.
Jane: Find a day or two, if you can, before he gets back to school here pretty soon. Tell him your day is all his. You want to do something together. Whatever he wants to do. Can you do that?
Lewis: Thanks, big sister. I’d like to try to do that.
Note from Author
With MT11 we look in on some conversations between Jane and Carolyn, her sister-in-law, as well as Lewis. Some details of this McDonald Tale (MT11) have been told in other short story collection such as, “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” but here we are seeing the activity through the eyes of Jane, Daniel, and William McDonald, along with new material and insights. The “Kings of Oak Springs” and Life in Oak Springs and more” series have made reference to some of the material here from a different point of view. Here we learn new behind-the-scene insights about this family. These Tales are a part of “The Homeplace Saga” series of stories.
The earlier episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into two eBooks, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs,” Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (20 episodes each). See the link, below, to get yours.
“The Homeplace Saga” family saga, historical fiction stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”