My Little Town 20110427: Perilee and Sarge Wilson

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Those of you that read this irregular regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I never write about living people except with their express permission, but since these folks are long gone, they are fair game.  They were actually very nice folks, but had some huge quirks, as most folks in my little town did.

Perilee and Sarge were just a little older than my parents.  Sarge (to this day, I never knew his real first name) had been in the Army during World War II. thus the name.  As far as I know they were both native of the area.

Sarge was a big old guy, whilst Perilee was very petite.  She was very quiet and very nice, whilst he was boisterous but also very nice.  I remember that they had a blue Volkswagen Beetle, this being around 1967, give or take a year or two.  Sarge had had cataract surgery, which at the time meant wearing glasses with extremely thick lenses, since lens implants in the modern sense did not exist.

I remember one afternoon my mum and I had walked to the store (only a few hundred feet from our house) and ran into Sarge.  He had just gotten his surgery and was getting used to his new glasses.  He went on and on about how he just could barely see (he was trying to get disability for that at the time, I strongly suspect).  After serenading my mum and me about how he was just about blind, he got into his car and started to drive away.  He hesitated, realizing the position into which he had just put himself.  Then he told us that he did not know why, but as soon as he got behind the steering wheel that the windshield made it so that he could see just fine for driving!  I know that German engineering is world class, but had not ever heard of corrective windshield lenses before.

That was typical Sarge.  He was, as I said, a really nice guy, but he was a tall tale artist.  I think that he actually believed his own tales, as is often the case with tall tale artists.  He was never the type to tell bad things about people, just to inflate (or make from whole cloth) his adventures and situations.

Perilee liked to dress up nicely.  I mean literally wearing evening gowns to come to the little country store to get groceries.  They just lived up the street from the store, so often she would pull a red children’s wagon to tote her groceries back, in evening wear and a parasol to keep the sun off of her.  She was quite a site.  She sort of resembled Aunt Clara (the original one) in Bewitched, but was more petite.

They never had children, which is probably a good thing, but they always had a dog.  The one that I remembered (they live across the street from my friend’s grandparents) was a larger chihuahua, and not an unpleasant one.  They treated it like a child, to the point of serving it dinner at the table with them.  I forget the dog’s name, but remember that bacon sandwiches were his favorite dinner.  He did not much care for the lettuce and tomato, though

Once my friend and I were at his grandparents house and Sarge got to talking about the constellations.  It was getting on towards fall, so he started telling us about “Arthur”.  He went on and on and on, and I had never heard of a constellation named Arthur.  He finally described it well enough that I knew about what he was speaking, especially when he told us that Arthur was also called “The Hunter”.  How in the world he got Orion confused with “Arthur” is still beyond me, but as I said, he was a tall take artist.

Another time he began telling us about praying mantises.  He correctly told us about how they ate other insects, and then really went off the deep end.  He started raving about how they would emit “blue smoke” to subdue other insects by blinding them.  He also told us that if that smoke got in our eyes, it would blind us, too.  We both wanted to laugh, but had been brought up to show respect to our elders so we did what we had been taught, just to smile and nod.

I did not have as much contact with them as I had with some of the others about whom I write from time to time, so this is a rather short piece.  I will leave you with a memory that I have of him that was so funny that I did have to laugh, but only when my friend and I got out of earshot.

Sarge was painting his house, in a traditional white.  My friend and I were playing at his grandparent’s house again and as kids are wont to do, began watching him paint.  He was on the ladder, so his back was towards us for quite a while.  He know that we were there, so it was not like we were sneaking up on him or anything.  He was doing a competent job painting, so I guess that he had gotten used to his glasses.

He got tired of being on the ladder and climbed down to change position for a while.  Now, I know that if I paint with a brush I often get paint on my hands, and I suspect most people do as well.  Sarge had also gotten paint on his fingers.  That is not a big deal.  He was wearing old painting clothes and old painting shoes, so nothing was really a problem.

It was when he turned around that my friend and I just about lost it.  Sarge, and I have said, was a veteran, and at the time veterans tended to keep with the military haircut and to be clean shaven.  Sarge did not have a lot of hair, but he did keep what he had trimmed in the military style and was clean shaven.  He also did not a single spot of paint on his face.  However, he did have two streaks, from his upper lip, each going into a nostril!  The interiors of each nostril were also bright white as far as we could see.

My friend and I politely told him that we had to go and we wished each other a good afternoon and the two of us went to his grandparent’s house and got behind it so he could not see or hear us collapsing onto the ground with convulsions of laughter.  It was one of the strangest sights that I had ever seen.

If you have any stories about your early memories, please feel free to add them in the comments.  I would ask that you confine your comments to childhood memories, as I would rather not have this series be a de facto Facebook.

Warmest regards,


1 comment

  1. recollecting old memories?

    Warmest regards,


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