Over Dansville is filled
With stars tonight.
Before I was born;
My great grandfather.
I never knew him
Only about him.
I only saw him once,
When I was 7.
Seven is just a guess.
I was a youngster laying on Aunt Nellie's couch.
Perhaps I was asleep, but if so, I was awake in my Dream.
I saw a man get out of a car. It was an old car, maybe Uncle Ed's.
I can still see it in my mind's eye; black 4 door, like a 1920's style 4 door.
Whatever, It didn't seem out of place.
The man was wearing a calf length dark gray overcoat and a felt hat; one of those hats that I always see Humphrey Bogart wear in some of his movies.
Strange, he didn't come up the front steps but walked down the 12 inch wide walk at the side of the house to the small porch leading to the door opening into the dining room. Strange because no one ever used that door as long as I remember.
Aunt Nellie met him there and as they talked, I couldn't make out what the were saying, I knew it was her father, John Noel.
I don't remember him leaving, but when Aunt Nellie came into the living room where I was on the couch, I asked her "who was that?"
"Who are you talking about?"
"That man who came in through the side door."
She stared at me with a puzzled look on her face, and said nothing except to ask, would you like something to eat.
A dream? Perhaps, but still it's a memory that stayed with me all these 60 plus years.
I've replayed that incident innumerable times and have decided it must have some significance, even if I can't say what that might be.
John Noel was a Civil war Veteran, I think he knew I'd be going to Viet Nam in 10 years and maybe he came to his last home just to let me know he was real and not just a story told when people asked about the Civil war discharge enlargement framed and hanging over Uncle Ed's chair in the Living room.
He enlisted, volunteered, in the army for the civil war, against his parents wishes when he was 17, just like I would enlist and volunteer to go to Viet Nam.
History repeats itself. An old adage that as proven itself time and again. I don't know John Noels story, but I like to think I do know it through my own experience.