The Grahams


He was athletic without being muscular. I think he had played a lot of sports when he was younger. Baseball was what they mostly played around here, back then. By the time I moved to town it was music that occupied his attention. But he still moved gracefully. I remember him doing a back handspring at the fairgrounds at the harvest moon picnic.

He played guitar. He had a 12-string Gibson that he had bought off somebody, an archtop with a sunburst finish. That guitar sounded so sweet, when he took the trouble to tune it right. He could play just "Blue Moon" and I would float away. Just something simple like that.

He liked to make his own instruments, too. Said they came out nastier, and nasty was what he wanted. He made diddlebows out of coffee cans and broomsticks, strung with an old bass string. He'd fret it with a beer bottle and play a little slide. He brought them to parties and would play out back with a few of the boys until the string got slack. Then he would just give it away. There must be some of his old diddlebows around this town, still.

I don't know what happened to him. What happened to any of us? I hadn't seen him in a couple of years, after I went off to college. They say he got into some different stuff, I don't really know. It wasn't easy for him after the flood. I don't think that had anything to do with it, really.

He drove too fast, of course. We all did. There was hardly anyone else around back then, and just lots of empty roads. Dirt roads and gravel roads. The 51 to Covington wasn't even paved half a mile out of town in those days. He used to drive me home from school in that blue pickup. Down that same road. "Don't Be Denied" blasting on the eight-track. Sounded good enough to us.

Think about how many times he took the curve in his life. Do you think he'd make a mistake? On that curve?

But no one knows, of course. And that's just it. I guess we'll never know.

close window to return