March 4th, 2017 by Jan

I wrote this story in 2012

I dug it out of the files, after a particular conversation with Sandie.

Henry Chambers

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. Henry was just 14 years old when he set out on his own. Life at home didn’t make sense with all the other mouths to feed, and 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 started working 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 big, bold posters being printed, in full American colours.

Instead, Henry did his part by taking big stacks of posters to the streets. He plastered them on walls and 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 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. He never would be, Henry was deaf and didn’t speak.

Henry worked for Mr. Thomas until 1968, and when Mr. Thomas died the print shop closed.

Now 40 years old, Henry moved to Cloverdale, Alabama to lived with his sister Irene. He took care of her after her surgery.

After 2 years of odd jobs, he found a job at the Morning Sun newspaper, as a janitor. Henry worked the night shift, and in the quiet of his world, he would gently tap his foot with the rhythm, and vibration of the press, as the daily news rolled out.

After work in the morning hours, Henry went to the Dennys for dinner, then stop in the Corner Pocket for a beer; sometimes  two.

This was Henry’s routine for 22 years.

In 1992 the owner of the Corner Pocket, Miss Lucy McTavish, died. 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 started to drink more and more. He lost his job at the paper.

One Tuesday morning Henry awoke to the surprise of nothing.

This was the most eventful thing that had ever happen to Henry. At age 67, Henry had an awaking. He was tired of nothing, he was sick of going along with life. Henry thought there could be more for him. He was no longer willing to sit back and watch his life pass by.

Henry Chambers wanted to start over.

With a courage he didn’t know he had, Henry packed his one suitcase on a Friday 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, in Shreveport, 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.

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