My Little Town 20110803: Tim Shrum

(10 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I never write about living people except with their express permission, but since he is long gone, he is fair game.  He was not really an uncle, but I shall explain that later.  I knew him pretty well, and also his son, Tim, who as far as I know still is living.  But if he is, he must be in really bad shape, so he is fair game tonight.

First, an update.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Eunice Kingsbury, and since then have spoken with my aunt about her.  Remember that I indicated the Ms. Kingsbury must have been well educated, and as it turns out she was.  Her is what Aunt Joanne told me:

Ms. Kingsbury was the personal secretary to Senator Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway, the first woman to be elected to the post (she was appointed to fill her deceased husband’s office, then won a special election to keep the seat, then two more regular elections.  She served in the Senate from December 9, 1931 – January 3, 1945.  William Fulbright finally primaried her in 1944).

Aunt Joanne also told me why Ms. Kingsbury chose to wear black clothing and stay dirty.  Ms. Kingsbury said that those were religions symbols that represented the souls of most of the people in My Little Town, Hackett, Arkansas:  black and dirty.  I thought that you would want to know the rest of the story.

I wrote about Uncle Dan here, some time ago.  Tim was one of his two sons, the other one being Dan Junior.  Tim was a wild man, and not a very nice person, unlike Uncle Dan who, although a raging alcoholic, was a nice man.

My earlier memories of Tim include when I was about 11 or so, when I would take the rectangular, steel gasoline can to Wayne Lennier’s gasoline station and get a gallon and a nickel back from my quarter.  I was old enough to mow the lawn by that time, so that was one of my chores.  Tim worked there, off and on, when he was not in gaol or prison.

Tim was not a really big guy, but at the time he was pretty in shape.  I would estimate that he was about 30, give or take a few years, at the time.  I estimate that he was about 5’6″, with very thick dark hair but a rather smooth chest.  This will become important for obvious reasons in a minute.  Time was extremely aggressive.  He was always shouting at everyone, and to get his attention, they had to shout at him.  It is not that he had a hearing impairment, he had an attention impairment.

Here is the smooth chest thing.  One hot summer day, I took the gasoline can to the station to get fuel for the mower, and Tim had on no shirt.  His nipples were obvious, but I had seen my dad’s and lots of other men’s nipples.  What were different about his was that under the right one was a tattoo labelled, in the old, green, yucky tattoo color “GIN” and under the left one was the same, labelled “BEER”.  (I MIGHT have the sides reversed, but that does not change the point).  If he had had a hairy chest, I probably would not have seen the labels.

Personally, I have never been interested to have a tattoo of any kind, but I understand the desire of those who might want them.  But to label one’s nipples as spigots for gin and beer?  Once or twice I wondered if he had read Kipling, but no, he was barely literate.  Ten points for the name of the poem and the original book in which it was published to anyone who gets it.

As I said, Tim was pretty much one to be extreme in moods.  Since it was not legal to fill one’s own car or gasoline can at the time, Tim had to fill my can.  I was eating a Popcicle at the time, and a couple of drops fell on his arm whilst he was filling the can.  He exploded:  “Don’t put that shit on me!”  It was an innocent thing on my part, because I could not control it melting, but he scared me.  He did give me my nickel in change because Wayne (a piece on him is in the works) was watching.  Wayne Lennier liked me, and I liked him.  He was my father’s age and was good friends with my father and mother.

Tim showed up in town from time to time, and most of the time when he was not there he was either in gaol or in the penitentiary.  This is around 1968 or so, and most people do not realize that amphetamine was a real problem in rural areas at the time.  We now realize that it is a scourge, but even as far back as then it was pervasive in some quarters.  I am talking about mostly about “white crosses”, bootleg amphetamine or dextroamphetamine tablets, but they are not really not that much better than methamphetamine.  Looking back, I believe that his association with alcohol and amphetamine sort of doomed him.  Also, while I do not know this for a fact, I suspect that he likely suffered form fetal alcohol syndrome and that would explain his flighty attention disorder.

Tim liked to build and race fast cars, and he was actually pretty good at it.  He never had the money to buy a factory pony car like several others in town did, so he scrounged parts from tyrs to seats to engines to frames wherever he could.  As I recall, and remember, I was pretty young, stealing was what got him into the gaol, and then into the penitentiary, first.  He was graduated from Tucker Tech (that is a joke, what we Arkansawyers call the Tucker Unit of the prison system) a couple of years later and started a family.  Yes, there exist females who, as my friend Rex so aptly said decades ago when we were kids, “just are attracted to the scum of the earth.”

They had a very pretty little boy (I mean that in the sense of an attractive child) by a very attractive, and younger than he by many years, wife.  I think that the little boy also suffered from FAS, because he was never still.  They lived in a rented house just south of Ma’s house for a little while, and Tim, on a drunken and whoever knows what else binge, started beating his wife.  This was in the afternoon, when I usually stayed with Ma until my mum got home from work.  Ma was pretty much live and let live, but the screams of his wife were too much for her and she called the sheriff’s department.  It took time for them to get there, and by the time that they did, Tim was gone.  His wife recovered, but this was chilling.

He returned to Hackett, beat Ma’s door down, and when she came to see who was there, screamed, “CALL THE LAW, WILL YE!”  Then he took off, and did not come back again.  Ma was frightened of him, and took me to my house until my mum came back home for the night.  The authorities finally caught up with him, but his wife refused to press charges, so they were back together again, but in a different house.

Thus was the personality of Tim.  Now for his driving skills.

I remember some cut up hot rod that he “built” that had a BIG engine, with lots of carburetor, that he loved to drag with others down town (this was just before the Hackett Hoodlums, he was their godfather).  I do not remember what make it was, and knowing Tim, it was most likely a gemisch of a Ford, GM, and Chrysler.  He was actually very gifted at grafting things together to make a working car, but steering was not his forte.

He would race that car with others, and won lots of times.  By those days, the racing was not for ownership, just for bragging rights.  I do remember that he painted the name “Hijacker” on both rear fenders of the car.  Obviously, he had help with the spelling.

A couple of folks here are familiar enough with Hackett to know about the bridge just west of town on Route 10.  The bridge was a WPA project, and has only recently been replaced.  It turns out that that is a perfect route for the quarter mile, IF you stop before the hill and IF you stay on the narrow bridge.  One afternoon Ma and I heard Tim’s car fire up for a race.

We could tell from the sound that he was going west on 10, and he kicked up the engine to beat the other driver.  Then we heard a racing engine, obviously no tyrs on the road.  Then came the sound of the crash!

Tim had left the road a few meters from the bulkhead of the bridge, and Hijacker, unlike Wilie Coyote, could not walk in air.  Tim drove it into the back of the creek, and it rolled half a turn.  Does anyone see a trend?  Look onto the piece about Uncle Dan, and you will see that he did exactly the same thing, but not racing, on a different bridge in Hackett.

Tim was hurting, but not seriously injured.  At the time, there was no 911, so it took the ambulance a long time to get there.  He had already climbed out of his car, which was a total wreck (it was just about a total wreck even before he drove it).  That was the end of Hijacker, but not the end of Tim.

Once again, he was cutting up other cars, and building “new” ones out of them.  He finally got busted for dealing meth, and spent many years in the penitentiary.  I am not sure that he might have preferred it there, since he was aggressive enough to fight off other inmates who might have wanted their way with him, and was likely grateful for three meals a day and no decisions to make.

These things happened MANY years ago, and my father told me that Tim had been released and started working for a crew who built race cars for the roundy-rounds, as Blind Cousin Charlie ( I shall also have a piece about him) always called them in disgust, since drag racing was his passion.  Once again, Tim got into trouble with stimulants, this time full blown methamphetamine, using and dealing.  As I said at the outset, I am not sure if he still is living, but if he is there is a better than even chance that he is still incarcerated.

Remember, this is not just a random person.  He was, or might still, be kin.  But it is a morality tale of what NOT to do.  Keep away from alcohol abuse, and especially any involvement with methamphetamine.  I have NEVER seen anyone involved with methamphetamine who was not completely devastated.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Daily Kos, and

firefly-dreaming

3 comments

  1. remembering distant memories?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    • RUKind on August 7, 2011 at 4:19 am

    It bypasses the meso-limbic dopamine pathway, as does cocaine, and goes straight to massive dopamine release. It’s epidemic in Appalachia – and elsewhere. It’s also huge in Korea which may explain some of the marathon gamers there.

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