“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 23, NO. 25 & 26 – ALICE CALDWELL
By my friend, Ben
Ma’n pa both believed in the right an’ privilege of votin’. They did. I reckon that’s why ma got called for grand jury duty, cause she were a registered voter. She were.
Now that meant pa’d have to take her over to West Union to the county seat, which he were none too happy about. But ma Said it were her civic duty. She did. She also said the grand jury usually only took one day. An’ she were right. She were.
When me’n pa went to pick her up in the afternoon, she were real quiet-like. She were. When we got home an’ she’d finished supper, she went out on the porch with a cup of coffee an’ sat down. I knowed somethin’ were troublin’ her. I did. So while pa were takin’ care of some chores before the light faded, I sat down next to her an’ told her I were wonderin’ what were wrong. I did.
She said, “Benny, you remember Alice Caldwell, an’ how she shot an’ killed her husband, Arvil?” I told her I did. I also knowed that Arvil Caldwell were known to wail on Alice an’ the kids when he were drunk, which were about every payday. Most folks wondered why she stayed with him, but ma’d said she had nowheres to go, bein’ they had four kids an’ all.
“Well Benny, the grand jury today had to decide iffen Alice should be bound over to trial for shootin’ Arvil. Benny, we were told that lots of grand juries would rather not try the case, but just pass it on for trial. Our job was to see iffen we believed Alice should go to trial an’ not just let someone else do our job.
“So we listened to testimony from the state police and the District Attorney. They talked about how Doc Janson had, tried to fix Alice’s teeth several times after Arvil’d beat her. They talked about Doc Wilson fixin’ her burses an’ broken arm after a beatin’. But she were afraid to press charges.
“Then Jack Bradford, the state policeman what handled the case told us how Arvil were killed. It seems he come in after a night of drinkin’ an said he were gonna kill Alice cause his supper were cold. All the kids told the same story cause they could hear the screamin’ from their bedroom. Alice went an’ got the 22 pistol Arvil owned so he couldn’t use it on her’n the kids. She did. Then she told the kids to go to barn an’ hide in the loft. She knowed Arvil were too drunk to climb the ladder. She could hear Arvil cussin’ that he couldn’t find the gun, so she ran to the barn an’ hid with the kids. She did. Officer Bradford said when he told the kids what’d happened to their pa, not a one of ‘em cried, an’ the oldest boy said she shoulda killed him a long time ago. He did.
“Alice said she an’ the kids stayed in the barn until she heard Arvil drive off in his truck. She did. She told the kids to stay home while she walked into town to give the gun to the judge and see iffen she could file for divorce. While she were walkin’ to town she saw Arvil’s truck sittin’ in front of Charlie Barns place. Charlie’s house sat up a hill from the road, an’ she didn’t see hide nor hair of Arvil. Then she remembered some clothes she’d bought for the baby what were in the truck. So she opened the door quiet-like to get them out. Just about that time Arvil an’ Charlie come out on the porch an’ Arvil spotted her. He did.
“Accordin’ to Charlie, Arvil started down the hill hollerin’ at Alice that he were gonna beat her to death. Well, Alice pulled out that 22 an’ told him to leave her alone. Charlie said Arvil told her she weren’t woman enough to shoot him an’ he grabbed a broken fence post an’ went toward her. He did. It seems like Alice weren’t able to shoot Arvil, cause she kept backin’ up. She did. But then she stepped in a ditch an’ as she fell she pulled the trigger. Well, Benny, one single 22 short hit Arvil right in the heart an’ killed him on the spot. It did.
“None of us folks on the grand jury believed Alice did it on purpose, an’ we could tell the policeman and the District Attorney didn’t neither. But Arvil Caldwell were dead. Some folks said they felt funny settin’ anyone free without a trial what had killed someone. They did. Frank Hamlin reminded us that our job was to decide iffen she were guilty enough to send to trial. So when we all voted, there were some who hesitated, but we let Alice go. We did.”
I told ma I thought they’d done the right thing. I did. I asked her why she were so troubled. I did.
She said, “Benny, whenever a life is lost, even iffen it’s a life as bad as Arvil Caldwell’s, it’s a troublin’ thing. An’ when a good woman, even iffen we let her go free, has to be known as someone who killed her husband, that’s troublin’ too. An’ when you’re one of the persons what has to make the decision about someone bein’ killed an’ someone goin’ free, that’s also a troublin’ thing. It ain’t that I think I did wrong; it’s just somethin’ what troubles a body when a life is lost.
“You see Benny, the Bible says that God takes no delight in the death of the wicked, or anyone. An’ I reckon folks what want to live like God wants ‘em to, have to work real hard not to rejoice in the death of anyone, no matter how bad they was. Arvil were a bad man. He were. But he once were a little baby bein’ held in his ma’s arms, I reckon. Maybe not. Maybe he were beat by his pa. Maybe his ma didn’t want him. I don’t know. All I know is all that he could’ve been, he weren’t. An’ all he might have become, he won’t, cause he’s dead. An’ Benny, as sick as I feel when I think of what he done, he were still loved by God. The Bible says God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
“So Benny, I’m a tad troubled because I had to make a decision today that I know were right, but the sadness and the seriousness of it hurts my soul. Do you understand?”
I told her I did, but I’ll have to leave lovin’ Arvil Caldwell to God, at least for awhile. I would.
Ed. note: The story of the Caldwell’s is true, I’ve forgotten the real names, but I sat on that grand jury.
CONCERNS: Erma Williams’ dad is still in the hospital recovering from a staff infection, possibly as the result of knee surgery. Eleanor Crush is about the same, but was able to take a little ride last week. Alan Beach is at the Mayo Clinic in Minn. for his check-up. Roger Fisher’s sister is about the same. She lives in West Virginia. It’s good to see the prayer list getting shorter. Remember Helen Nicklas, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Alma Martin, Mike Breeding and his wife, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Tim Elder and all those around the world who are doing the will of God on the earth.
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 19-24
Monday: Genesis 12:1-20
Tuesday: I Samuel 3:1-18
Wednesday: Phil. 4: 8-23
Thursday: I John 4:7-21
Friday: Romans 78:13-8:11
Saturday: Ephesians 3:7-21
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 26- 11/1
Monday: Jeremiah 31:23-34
Tuesday: I Cor. 11:17-34
Wednesday: Acts 6:1-7
Thursday: Matthew 5:21-48
Friday: Psalm 119:129-152
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-7
THE PARKING LOT
As you can see, the parking lot has been sealed, treated and lined all the way down. It makes the property look much better and well maintained.
This is only the beginning of several improvement projects we are considering.
Connie and Richard Crites are grandparents again. Kelly and Jeff had a baby boy, Daniel Richard. That makes the total grandchildren, boys 4, girls 0. Mom dad and baby are doing fine. Also, Jeff is to be installed as the associate pastor of the church they attend.
Our next worker going to the Ezell Clinic in Guatemala is Judy McWhorter. She will be leaving on October 1. We also enjoyed the reports given by Susan Jordan, Mike and AC Branch, concerning their trip to the Clinic last month.
The table downstairs is starting to show good sings that you are thinking about the things we want to send to our troops in Afghanistan to make their lives a little easier. The needs are individual packets of water flavoring, such as Crystal Lite, etc., slim jims wet wipes, cracker snacks, home made cookies and small toys for the children. Let’s hope and pray that this will be a short effort and these young people will soon be home.
Today (Sept. 18) is Super Sunday. If you are a visitor that means we will be having a fellowship meal in the annex behind the building after the worship service. Please stay and eat with us if possible.
PEAKS OF OTTER HIKE AND PICNIC
It’s time to start signing up for the Peaks of Otter hike and picnic, which as always is on Super Sunday in October. That’s a month away. Erma Williams, who has set this up and secured a picnic spot etc., will not be with us this year. But she has still taken care of it. Thanks Erma.
The steering committee will have a meeting in the library after today’s meal. See a member if you have a need.