Today is Halloween and you will no doubt see lots of cute kids (and some adults) dressed up in great costumes. My girls’ school had a book character costume show and as I was watching the kids walk across the stage in great creative outfits, I thought about my favorite characters. Of course there were some that came to mind from my favorite books; Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Laura Ingles Wilder in “Little House on the Prairie.” Then I realized my very favorite characters are the ones who are in “character” every day.
I immediately thought about Ebbie Do. If anyone from my hometown reads this, they already know who I’m talking about. I have no idea if this is how to spell his name or what his name actually was. People called him Do for short. Ebbie Do wasn’t homeless but he was pretty close to it. He didn’t have many earthly possessions but some saints in our town made sure he was always fed and warm. He was just always around. Sometimes he hitchhiked and my dad would give him a ride. I was never afraid of him. Sometimes he came to our church. Those were my favorite times. Ebbie Do liked to “testeefy.” He could really get going and whoever the worship leader was that day had the uncomfortable task of getting Ebbie Do to sit back down. There are days at my own church that I just want to stand up and “testeefy” but it wouldn’t be the same. Do was also a very popular write in candidate for all of our local elections. I still wish he had actually won something. Ebbie Do died several years ago but I know people are still telling his stories.
Another favorite character in my life was the late author James Still. I didn’t realize until my teens that he was actually quite famous. To me he was like a grandfather/friend/eccentric. He lived next door to my parents for several years and would famously “drop” in with zero warning to see me. I was just a baby and my poor mom said she just learned to always be dressed because he didn’t take hints that he should call first. Mr. Still (I never once thought of calling him James and he never once suggested it) never married or had children so he became part of our family. He had Thanksgiving with us and my dad and mom helped take care of him. They had both been with him right before he passed away at the age of 94. Mr. Still loved to give me a hard time but I gave it right back. One day at the Hindman Settlement School (where he lived for many years) a large group of writers were having dinner and everyone was just in awe of Mr. Still and wanted to sit with him. He was in his 80’s at this point and my dad asked me get his plate and make sure he was comfortable. I did as I was told and when I put his plate down, Mr. Still immediately said in a very stern voice, “I didn’t want white meat turkey, I wanted dark!” I replied as sweet as pie, “Then you can go get it yourself.” Well Lord have mercy, the people at that table about died of shock. How could this young girl talk to a legend like that??? He did the whole thing on purpose and we had a great inside joke going on. I loved that about Mr. Still. I have letters and cards he sent me but my very favorite is the English/Spanish dictionary he gave me the night before I flew to Spain for a summer abroad. I told him the only souvenir I was bringing home was a bullfighter. The inscription reads, “To Cassie…and her bullfighter.”
There are so many more special characters that have been and are in my life. I know you have some too. Think about them today but tell their stories whenever you want.