A story

June 4th, 2012 by Jan

Henry Chambers
by Jan Parker

Henry was the fourth born of the 12 children Ella and Hubert Chambers had. It was 1942 the depression was ending and the war was just getting starting. He was just 14 years old when he set out on his own. Life at home just didn’t make sense with all those other mouths to feed. Henry knew he could help out by just being gone. He left the only home he knew in Lynchburg, Virginia and made his way to South Carolina, he found a job in a print shop and worked for Oscar Thomas.

Henry was an honest and loyal worker for Mr. Thomas. Day in and day out he kept the shop clean and neat. Henry took pride in sweeping the floor and wiping down the press. He secretly wished he could be a pressman as he watched the bold posters being printed in red, white and blue. Instead he did his part by taking a big stack of them to the streets and posting them on walls and telephone poles — the flyers with Uncle Sam pointing his finger and looking at you right in the eye exclaiming, “Uncle Sam Wants You.” Henry wondered what it really would be like to be wanted by the friendly man in the tall hat, but he would never know. Henry wasn’t wanted by Uncle Sam, Henry was deaf and had trouble speaking.

Henry worked for Mr. Thomas until 1968 when Mr. Thomas died and the print shop closed. Now 40 years old, Henry moved to Cloverdale, Alabama and lived with his sister Irene. He took care of her after her surgery and after 2 years of odd jobs he took a job at the newspaper as a janitor. Henry worked the night shift, and in the quiet of his world, he would gently tap his foot at the rhythm and vibration of the press as the daily news came out. In the morning hours Henry went to the Dennys for dinner and then to the Corner Pocket for a beer or two. This was Henrys routine for 22 years.

In 1992 the owner of the Corner Pocket, Miss Lucy McTavish died and to everyone’s surprise and shock, Henry became the new owner of the bar the day they read her will.

It didn’t take long for Henry to run the bar into the ground, he knew nothing of business and some took advantage of his good nature. Depressed, Henry drank more and more each day. One morning he awoke to the surprise of nothing. This was the most eventful thing that had ever happen to Henry up to this point in his life. At age 67, Henry had an awaking. He was tired of nothing, of just going along with life and taking whatever came his way.

Henry Chambers was ready to start over. With a courage he didn’t even know he had, he packed his one suitcase on a Tuesday morning and caught a bus south. He got in touch with his younger brother William, in Louisiana, who was the pastor at the First Baptist Church in Shreveport. Henry was offered work at the school for the deaf and was able to take free classes in exchange for odd jobs around the school. Henry was happy. He learned to use the computer at the library and on the internet he met Mary.

Life was picking up for Henry when Hurricane Katrina hit. No one has seen Henry Chambers since.

1 thought on “A story

  1. Laur

    Have you read “Zantouin” (sp), David Eggars’ book about a family post Katrina. The story you reported was also amazing and sad. “What ever happened to…?” s one of the saddest question we have to ask?


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