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Monday, May 2, 2016

No. 135 "I just wanna go home!"

No. 135 "I just wanna go home!"

From The Education of an Island Boy Chapter 1 "Ole Pa's Crowd"
Billy Hancock on Diamond City
... Ole Pa (my grandfather, Charlie Hancock) later would bring Billy with him when he moved his family off the Banks after the 1899 storm. His youngest son, my father, was born in 1909 and was too young for having any real memories of his grandfather who died in 1914. But his older brother, my uncle Louie, who was seventeen years older than my father, would tell another story about Billy that was not nearly so happy or gleeful as the ones about his whaling and running.

Rather, Louie would describe, sometimes with a choked voice, of how Billy would stand on the south shore of Harkers Island and look longingly across to the Banks to where he had lived all but the last few years of his life. "Ah Lord," he would exclaim over and over as he waved his hands towards what had been the community of Diamond City and the setting for all of his happy memories. 

One time, Louie would tell, after his grandfather had gotten really old and "feeble-minded," Billy started to walk out into the water and towards the Banks. As Charlie and Louie grabbed hold to restrain him, Billy would plaintively explain to his son and grandson that he just wanted to go home one more time!

"He would cuss us," Louie would recall, "and then beg of us as to why we wouldn't let him just go home. That was all he wanted. He would ask us what he had ever done to us so we wouldn't let him go home just one more time?"

By then Diamond City was just a memory, having been all but washed away by the great August storm of 1899. There quite literally was no home for Billy to go to. Though it was less than five miles away across the Sound, and the yellow hue of its sand hills still could be seen on the horizon, Diamond City was, for Billy, as far away as "Old England" had been to his fore bearers three centuries earlier when they landed in Virginia ...

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