Chapter 4: “Be like the old lady who fell out of the wagon.”
Although this is a short chapter, it’s important in that it introduces Bessie’s brother Thee’s namesake and shows a bit of Bessie’s spirit. It involves the fight between Papa’s deputy, Theodore Norton, and a Yankee visiting Hot Springs over Mr. Norton flirting with the Yankee’s wife.
Fact: Theodore Norton was an actual person and Papa’s deputy as well as good friend. Bessie’s brother Thee was named for Mr. Norton. As children, Cyndi and I came to know Thee as Pap Daniels.
Fact: One of the characters, Mr. Gentry, is the actual name of the man who owned Gentry Hardware. Today, his descendent Keith Gentry owns and runs the same store. When we visited, Keith pointed out his hardwood floor is the actual floor from the Dorland Institute Bessie attended over 100 years earlier. If you ever visit Hot Springs, be sure to drop by. It’s a charming place to browse and filled with charming crafts.
Fact: Mr. Norton liked the ladies and was a flirt, which eventually led to his death.
Fiction: The fight. We’re sure Mr. Norton dealt with his share of jealous husbands although we don’t know if it ever came to fisticuffs.
Fiction(?): Bessie liked to watch fights. We’re not sure if she did or not but Bessie was a spirited girl so it wouldn’t be a surprise if she did.
Fact: Bessie loved it when Papa would say, “Damn, Bess,” his way of addressing her behavior at times.
Fact: Bessie was close to her Papa and loved him deeply.
Fiction(?): Bessie keeps Papa on a pedestal for most of the book and we’re not sure if this is true or not but something we’ve gleaned from the stories Daddy tells us about Bessie and Papa.