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Taken from Twenty-Five Selected Stories of O. O. McIntyre, 1930,
Cosmopolitan Magazine and transcribed by Neil Elvick

Folks Back Home
by Oscar Odd McIntyre

Cass Cooper

     Cass Cooper was the son of Professor Irving Cooper of the High School. He never mingled with other boys. He used to build shacks out of tin cans down by the ice piers. He chewed tobacco. On Sunday evenings he would go to church with Mrs. Cooper and always fall asleep.
     In the late summer evenings folks out riding used to see him on the Coopers’ roan mare, driving the cows in from Shaw’s pasture. That was about the only work he ever did, except a little hoeing in the garden now and then.
     Professor Cooper was called to a better position at Bowling Green, and Cass Cooper loafed around town, living mostly with Baz Cunderliff down on the coal float.
People would see him rowing across the river and they said he had a cave over in Alum Rock where he would stay for three or four days at a time. Mrs. Cooper came back to see him once or twice, and they went to the opera house together, and Cass would have a new suit after she left.
     Cass was never in any trouble. He never took a drink, and his only bad habit was chewing tobacco. There were only about a half-dozen people in town to whom he would talk. Nobody ever saw him with a girl. Professor Cooper went up into Alaska with his wife, during the Klondike excitement. Some of the people back home heard he struck it rich. But Cass never said anything about it.
     Cass died of a lingering disease and was buried by the county.

Editor Sim Giles

    Editor Simeon Giles settled back home the year Henry Clay was seeking the Whig nomination for President. He bought The Leader for $300 and moved it from over the feed store to the northeast side of the public square.
     Sim Giles was a stern man. He wore a wide-brimmed hat and a long drooping mustache and bo8iled shirts and white cuffs. He had an anchor stickpin that fastened in his shirt and was attached to a gold chain around his neck. Rain or shine he had old black Alexander come to his room up over the Leader office and polish his shoes every day in the week.
     On Sunday mornings Sim Giles, General George House, Henry Cruezet, Captain Jack Sheppard and Banker Henshawk used to occupy the bench near the pump in the public square. One Sunday they were debating the question “Is British Tyranny more tolerable than American slavery?” There were hot words, and someone saw Henry Cruezet rush over Court Street after Dr. Cromlish.
     Sim Giles was stretched out on a bench with a long gash across his cheek and looking very white. People were going home from church. They carried him over into General House’s Old Reliable Insurance Agency office across the street. The affair was hushed up, but Sim Giles never would print advertisements from Banker Henshawk or allow his name to be published in the Leader. He carried a deep scar to his grave.
     Sim Giles made the great trip from Louisville to Pittsburgh on the fast steamboat, Belle of the West, and the article he wrote about it was reprinted by The New York Weekly Tribune. Sim Giles ran for county treasurer and was defeated. He sold The Leader to Colonel Sam Harper and left town, and no one back home heard of him after that.

Undertaker Enoch Boggs

    Undertaker Enoch Boggs was a very silent man. He had a wry neck and chewed fine-cut. At funerals he used to sit up on the hearse seat with black Charlie Robison, the driver, and nod all the way to Cemetery Hill.
     Mrs. Boggs was a great hand to call on the sick. She was a Lewis and came from Purdy. They had one son, Archie Boggs, who was the town dude. He came back from Marietta College the first year with a spotted bulldog.
     He had his hair parted in the middle, and wore a tiny little cap, with a long visor, far back on his head, and had peg top trousers. Dunk Devac told around town that, when Archie passed the hitching rack in front of Wye’s harness shop, two horses broke away.
     Undertaker Boggs had the finest horses in town. He had seven beautiful white mares and every year he got the first prize at the equine exhibit at the county fair. He also belonged to all the lodges and was a great man to march in parades.
     He was a delegate to the Pythian convention in Denver, and made the round trip with Mrs. Boggs. He also went to Chicago during the World’s Fair. He had an uncle who had been to Europe.
     Every time Undertaker Boggs went away to lodge conventions there used to be stories circulated around town. Folks said he went on sprees and that Mrs. Boggs went along to take care of him. Miss Tish Young was in Cincinnati once and said she saw Undertaker Boggs staggering along the street. Nobody every saw him take a drink back home, and he signed the pledge under Evangelist Sam Jones back in ’81.

Ormsby McTavish

    Ormsby McTavish came from Scotland. He ran the Sample Store on Court Street back home. He had light sandy side-whiskers, but his mustache was stained a dark brown from nicotine.
     His son, Treat McTavish, waited on the trade, while old Mr. McTavish spent all his time keeping books under a coal-oil lamp in the back of the store. Sometimes the lamp would be burning as late as ten o’clock.
     Mr. McTavish sent out all his bills weekly and to those who came to his store and paid up, e gave a five-cent poke of gum drops. After closing the store, he would step into the Blue Goose with Conrad Schreck, the butcher. They would sit for hours over a glass of beer and a scotch whisky, not saying a word—only smoking.
     Mrs. McTavish was an Englishwoman, and people used to laugh behind her back at her strange accent. The day Heptonstall’s lumberyard caught fire, Ab Atkins and a crowd of men were running past the McTavish home. Mrs. McTavish came to the gate and asked what the trouble was.
    “Big fire,” someone shouted.
    “Fiah! Fiah! Wheah?” cried Mrs. McTavish. And those three words became by-words around town. Mr. and Mrs. McTavish always went to the brick Presbyterian Church and he always walked behind her. Nobody knew why. Mr. McTavish was a very learned man. He predicted the coming of Halley’s comet, and he knew all about old coins.
     During the Cleveland administration McTavish failed in business, and became watchman at the flour mill. Every night Conrad Schreck would go down and sit with him, out in front, near the big scales.

“Peeney” Brown

     “Peeney” Brown used to run the barber shop on Court Street. In front he had a jewelry shop. He won a Shetland pony for being the champion horseshoe thrower at Gallia County Fair. “Peeney” could play tunes on peach leaves and knew a lot of tricks with strings. He was the first man to introduce celluloid collars back home, and never discarded them.
     He went in for novelties. Back in the room where old-timers played checkers he had the walls decorated with cigarette pictures—more that 1500. No one ever saw “Penney’s” wife except in the early morning, when she came out to scrub the front steps. She was a Hibbard and came from back in Beulaville.
     “Peeney” had one stock story. It was about the time he cut Senator Foraker’s hair when the senator was running for governor, and he got a dollar for it, which was in a frame over the mirror, facing the chair.
     It was “Peeney” who took the knife away from “Jud” Harkner the first night of the centennial celebration at the Court House Square. “Jue” was out to kill Orley Henshawk, ne’er-do-well son of Banker Henshawk.
     “Peeney” was the King of Boyville. He died the other day from nursing a strange traveling man at the Merchant’s Hotel who had the plague. The story of the interurban president’s housewarming crowded the news of his death off the first page. “Peeney” got only three lines inside.

“Chut” Bashaw

    “Chut” Bashaw spent the most of his life around saloons. He was the son of Madam Sarah Bashaw, who lived in the green-shuttered house across the railroad tracks. Madam Bashaw never came to town except in a closed cab.
    “Chut” was a professional gambler and wore a white vest and a white hat. He was mild-mannered except when he took to drink, which was once a year. Then everybody avoided him. When in his cups, the only person who could do anything with him was the Rev, Alva Gee, the Baptist preacher.
     One night “Chut” got in a row over a seven-up game in Andy Archman’s with a crowd of miners from Pomeroy Bend, who came down on a Saturday night spree. He wielded a poker over the heads of two and was standing the rest at bay. They sent Doc Parker’s black boy, Dan Hogan, after the parson, and he came with his nightshirt tucked into his trousers.
     The crowd fell back and the parson stuck his head through the swinging doors and called, “Chut!”
     “Chut” looked up and walked meekly out and up to the post-office corner with the preacher, and neither said a word. When Evangelist Moody visited back home “Chut” was the first man in town to sign the pledge, and then he hired out on Squire Mauck’s farm, up near Addison. When the Carlton mine caved in, “Chut” ran all the way from Gallipolis, five miles, after rescuers.
     Back home they are waiting for “Chut” to break the pledge. “It can’t last,” they say.

“Sug” Walters

     The Bijou Pool Room was upstairs over Link Neal’s drug store back home. The cushions were dead and the cues warped. The charge was two and a half cents a cue.
     Besides the two pool tables, there was a little glass case for chewing tobacco and cigarets, a big oil lamp, two long benches, and a chair for Grandpa LeCler1, who always loafed there. On one wall was a poster of Al Field’s minstrel troupe, and on another the escape of the hero in “Human Hearts.”
     The Roush brothers—Joe and Ed—owned the place. Joe Roush was the first man in town to whittle a steamboat and put it inside a glass bottle. Ed was more of a business man, but had spells.
     “Sug” Walters was the champion pool shot of the town. He clerked at the Merchants’ Hotel in the winter and was second mate on the packet, Neva, in the summer. He had a story about himself in The Cincinnati Enquirer during the ’88 flood, when he dived under the coal float and brought up Colonel Bud Miller’s body.
     “Sug” was well liked by the older men from Lawyer’s Row, who came over in the afternoon to watch him and Editor Sibley play bottle pool. Some of the politicians got him a job as superintendent of the Children’s Home. It paid $480 a year and his board and privilege of farming. It looked for a while as if “Sug” was going to amount to something. But he kept coming to town and playing pool all day and he got put out of office.
     He still hangs around the pool room. When strange drummers come up “Sug” always starts every conversation with “When I was superintendent of the Children’s Home.” It is his only cherished memory.

André LeClerq

    André LeClerq came from France the year of the yellow fever epidemic. He settled back home in the Rance property overlooking the levee on Front Street. He was a great student and had the finest library in town. He always wore a shawl and a plug hat and had spells of gout. He never spoke to his son, Ollie LeClerq, after Ollie married the Marsh’s hired girl.
     André LeClerq’s wife died before he came to America. For forty-five years he called regularly on Tuesday and Saturday on Miss Liza Rance. Miss Liza was a blue-blood, a branch of the Kentucky Rances. She lived in a fine old Colonial house on Court Street.
     She wore a big cameo breastpin that had been in the Washington family, it was said, and a net over her hair. Miss Liza had a carriage, and in the summer evenings her black man, Hannibal, would drive her around the public square while the band played.
     The only time André LeClerq and Liza Rance were ever seen together in public was at the dedication of Gallia Academy, when Governor Bushnell spoke. A good many people wondered why they were never married. Some thought it was on account of Ollie LeClerq’s marriage. Others said it was because Miss Liza was a year older.
     During the blizzard of ’86 when the Ohio froze over, André LeClerq was on his way to the Rance home on Christmas Day with a copy of Longfellow’s “Poems.” He fell in front of the tannery and broke his hip. He was carried into Miss Liza’s home, where he died ten days later. Miss Liza never went to the funeral, nor was she ever seen except by old Hannibal and Dr. Cromlish, the family doctor, after that.
     “It was a strange love affair,” they say back home.

Pedro Joe

     Pedro Joe was sometimes called Whitewash Joe. He did all the odd calcimining jobs around town and put in the glass windows. Some said he was a Spaniard, and others said he came from Austria. He talked with an accent and was a steady drinker. He lived in the stable in the alley back of Schreck’s meat shop and loafed about Kerr’s drug store.
     He used to be up every morning at 4:30 o’clock, and was the first customer at the Blue Goose. There had been stories that he killed a man once, but he seemed harmless and very fond of children. He used to cut baskets out of buckeyes for them, and he could make a noise like a sheep and imitate a saw-mill buzz-saw.
     In the spring Pedro Joe used to go back of Reservoir Hill, on the lower river road, and gather herbs, and he hung them to dry outside his shack. There was talk that Dr. Cromlish got his famous recipe for Cromlish’s great blood restorer from Pedro Joe. Pedro Joe always had a cough and people would see him on the street gasping for breath and sometimes spitting blood. They never thought he would last through the winter. But he lived to be eighty-eight and died with the smallpox at the county poorhouse.
     Dr. Cromlish paid all his funeral expenses. Not a soul went to his funeral except the undertaker and the Rev. Alva Gee.

Dunk Devac

    Sam Duncan Devac was the town drunkard. Every night, winter and summer, Aunt Mary Huntsinpiller sat at her parlor window and knitted. She would pat her foot as she knitted. She knew more about people than Eliza Whitleby, who worked at the post office.
Aunty Mary used to say that she could never remember a night that Dunk Devac did not go past her window, on this way home for supper, drunk. He lived in Strawberry Row, south of the spoke factory.
     Dunk Devac was small and wiry and smiled, drunk or sober.
He could name all the Presidents in their order and quote Scripture. He had two fingers off his right hand. He lost them the year he went to work in the Mullineaux planning mill. He never worked after that.
     His wife, Sallie Devac, clerked in Mose Straus’s Bon Ton store. She was a dignified woman, one of the Yates sisters from Rio Grande, neat in dress and active in church work.
     Nobody could understand why she kept on living with Dunk Devac.
Everybody felt so sorry for her the day she was walking home with the wife of the new Methodist preacher.
     It was the week of the trotting meet and on the opposite side of the street some young men from the fair grounds were carrying Dunk Devac home on a shutter.
Another time Dunk Devac fell off the wharf boat while the crowd was waiting for the new Iron Queen from Louisville.
     They had to roll him on a barrel on the levee before he came to. General George House, who ran the Old Reliable Insurance Agency, once offered Dunk Devac a pair of double-seated, corduroy trousers if he would stay sober on election day. Dunk wouldn’t promise.
     But he took his wife to see the Swiss Bell Ringers at Odd Fellows Hall and wore his cut-away coat.
     Afterward they went to Mr. Jenny’s ice-cream parlor and straight home.
    “A good soul when he’s himself,” is what they say back home.