The "Redskin" Jenkins Place
It took me over fifteen years to get into the Jenkins’ place**. I tried for over fifteen years. First I met with Redskin’s mother. But she died. I couldn’t move her at all. Nothing.
After she passed on I’d push Redskin every chance I got. First I went to knocking on the door but I fell back on only stopping when I’d catch him out in yard. Then I’d pull in and get out and try to move him. Never worked. So I got to just staying in the truck and hollering to him. After a while he started coming over to the truck when I’d stop. I didn’t have to holler at him anymore and he come over and we’d speak for a while. That was it. Probably went that way for ten years. I’d always try to move him; get into anyone of his buildings. Just could not get into that place. But... in our own way... Redskin and I become friends. Of a sort anyway. He didn’t see many people up there so when I’d come along we’d make a little hash.
Now today they say Redskin shouldn’t be called redskin. But he always was called Redskin and that name had nothing to do with Indians. Nope.
He got that name when he was probably fourteen or fifteen. They were moving Eldridge’s barn. A whole crew of ‘em. Well one corner shifted on it’s blocking. So the foreman, Ted Williams, yells down for them boys to do this and that. He’s watching them down there come across and yells at ‘em to ‘get that redskin fella in with yah too’. Well. That was Redskin. See he was wearing his red plaid jacket. Hunting jacket. Always wore it. So right there after that everyone called him Redskin. That was that.
His mother was fat and ugly. She could be nasty at the back door and at the front door too. Everyone give her distance. That was that.
Well. Redskin married the Julep girl. Missy’s daughter. She moved in with Redskin and his mother. Everyone said that wouldn’t work but they did work. Seemed to figure. So that went along.
Well. That girl would visit her family for the summer. Leave Redskin and go down to her family’s place in Massachusetts. Danvers, Massachusetts it was. She’d leave the end of June and comeback after Labor Day. Make a summer of it. Of course it was an awful long ways away for Redskin and he never went ever. He never went anywhere ever except to go into town.
Well. One summer. Must be fifty, sixty years now. Maybe even longer. They sent word up from Danvers that she’d died. Died dead suddenly.
Well. Redskin took that. Of course his mother did just fine with that too. So Redskin said to send her body up on the train.
Well. They said they was keeping her body down there.
Well. Redskin said ok to that.
And that was that.
Well. Except for that there’s always been this story that she didn’t really die. What they say is that she and her sisters died her so she could run off with another fella from down there. That’s what they said. It’s always been the story.
Well. If a story like that sticks around for as long as that story has I’d say probably there’s some truth to it. Redskin’s mother died next. She’s buried here. Might as well have buried her right down in the center of the village I say. Awful nasty woman.
From then on Redskin lived alone up at their place. I started to try to move him. Then we come along to hash. Then I’d say we become friends. As much as friends as Redskin had.
Not that he was lacking for friends. Everyone knew Redskin and were all fair friends. Hunting season the whole town would go up back of his place. And drive. Redskin was a skillful hunter. Before anyone could go up back of his place he’d have one hung in his yard. Only one or two years maybe, ‘it’s been slow’, as he said. But I can’t remember even those years. No. No one didn’t get along with Redskin. The whole town would tip their hats when he walked down. Never drove into town a day of his life. Jesus. Just his mother’s Ford. They’d die for that today. Never left outside a night of its life. Still in the damn barn right as I speak.
He still had all of his hunting jackets. Even that first one I figure. He kept that one in the shed. Hung up. “Old one” he’d say of it. He had three he’d run in when we’d hash in the yard. Three jackets. One was lighter. Wore that one all summer. That old one I spoke of; he was pretty proud of it. Some anglers had come up and he went up with ‘em on the lake to be their camp boy. Campy Nelson was cooking for ‘em. Redskin carried the wood and paddles and fed their all their dogs and all that. So they give him that jacket; the old one, when they were leaving. That started it. I believe it was that one. Redskin wore his redskin from then on. Like I said. He still had that old one hung up in the shed.
When I finely moved him we come on it; that old one.
Well. So I say take it down and say put it on for me. He did and of course it still fit him button closed. He grinned and that jacket I tell you has held up a lot better than his teeth. Yep but he smiled. I looked that one all over. He showed me his sewing it. On the cuffs. Collar. Round the button holes. Told me himself he had to buy some black thread. Went into the Variety and stood line with the women buying their thread he said.
By that time we’d hashed his other jackets. His redskins. Oh he’d show me this and that he found wrong with ‘em. Number of peeves he had about each one. He bought those ‘over the years’ he’d say. So I said ‘what’s the years’? Well. He figured eight for each. So I said twenty-four years. Nope he says it would be longer. More like thirty two. Years.
Well. I said don’t you get hot. He looks and says well don’t I get cold.
Well. I said I guess I do.
So we were always gabby on his jackets. I took to wearing mine over there. In season. He looked it all over. Mine’s Johnson. So I say that I’d like that Filson. Oh he says Johnson holds up better always has now that Filson talks Chinese he says. “Whole country’s going to HELL” he said. Always said that. At the end of just about everything he said.
Well. I guess I do miss him. Old coot. I still got a lot of the stuff I got out there. Its not that its any good stuff. You know. Its just was his stuff. I mean his old stuff. You know: That stuff. Course my wife run off with some of it from the first day I got in. Keeps it. Ok I say old Redskin would probably want it that way anyway. I had that old jacket for awhile. Then I sold it. I did. Probably shouldn’t have I guess. Oh Hell what was I gonna do with it and some kids probably wearing around in New York City right now telling everyone he’s a hunter from Maine. Should have buried Redskin in that jacket. They buried him in one of his newer ones. That was right, that was and he didn’t have any other clothes anyway.
** : ‘Get in’ as an antiques picker; a person who goes into old houses to purchase ‘old things’ (antiques) to resell.