------ "Crick" ------
A cricket's a bit of a fidget
He's never quite quiet and he's quick
If a fellow's a flippity-gibbit
It figures if folks call him a "Crick"
There's little pleasure to be had from a story which can't become a legend, which lacks the plot and characters to compel re-telling.
Family stories gain currency if they're fun to tell again and still rewarding when re-heard.
Such stories may involve kinpersons whose capers and adventures are well remembered, and indeed, may have been personally shared.
Some tales relate predicaments -- at times tragic and at times amusing, may involve notable personae, or may embrace all these elements.
They're delightful as oral tradition, but challenging to commit to writing.
This is a story from my early years about a cherished kinsman, one recalled as a memorable character and whose story, to me, has in it the stuff of legend.
Crick was the youngest of my mother's three siblings.
Though gone these sixty years he still is frequently recalled and fondly remembered.
He was born near the turn of the twentieth century, at a time now almost a century past.
He died before his time in his early thirties, under distressing circumstances which left a painful scar on family memory.
He was christened Walter Linden Whichard, his given names presumably coming from back in his father's time.
As was a frequent custom in the South, our grandmother always called him by both names.
She eschewed the nick-name he acquired in his early years and which otherwise was used almost ubiquitously by kith in kin.
As well, she often called me "Walter Linden" apparently because "Crick" and I, though a generation apart, had looked much alike as tykes.
There once were snapshots around attesting to this though now long unseen.
This circumstance has likely reinforced the affinity I still feel for this uncle.
This is primarily written for Hannie Ruth Gripp and Mary Andrews "Skeet: Vars, daughters of the late "Crick" and Ruth Andrews Whichard.
I shared an extended family upbringing with these ladies in eastern North Carolina, in the second score years of the century, an era now all but gone.
Our home town was Greenville, a small agrarian county seat on the Tar River in the central Coastal Plain where the local economy was then based on the raising and sale of bright leaf tobacco.
For the bulk of our formative years we were part of a matriarchy, benevolently but firmly guided by a widowed grandmother, and comprised of a gaggle of aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws.
For most of those years we shared a neighborhood in what was essentially a family compound occupying the entire side of a block.
It had spread from the home of David Jordan and Henrietta Sutton Whichard on the corner of Evans and North Streets which housed what could be called a centripetal group of relatives -- all manner of kinsmen drawn to a common hearth.
There our grandparents helped to raise what amounted to the progeny from several households.
It was the first home I remember.
To tell the story of Crick is to know the story of home and its many characters.
All this may seem a circuitous way of telling "Crick's"story but this involves my first memories of him; in fact my first memories of anything.
We all lived at Grandmother's -- "Little Hennie," David, "Crick," and the Bridgers, them being my parents and me.
This sound crowded, but times there are warmly if vaguely remembered.
I was then the only grand-child and was closely nurtured by all.
Thus, were woven the first strands of the strong bond I have always felt for my grand-mother and these uncles and aunts, and I hope and believe, theirs for me.
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