There are certain positions whose job descriptions call for the dealing with the aftermath of traumatic situations such as accidents, wrecks, violent physical acts and sometimes even murder.  These jobs are not for the faint hearted, but there are certain people who seem, at least outwardly, to have somewhat mastered dealing with the personal aftermaths of such acts.  Two main jobs that deal with such occurrences are hospital emergency room workers and police officers.  But there are times when an ordinary citizen is unintentionally caught up in headline grabbing events; too often these prove to be experiences that have long lasting unwanted effects and understandably so.
There is, to me, the abnormal urge some people have to go out of their way to witness auto accidents, for example.  The strange attraction to gawk at the scene of a wreck scene is not part of my inquisitive makeup.  I personally would take a detour to avoid witnessing these incidents, and I think I have a clue as to why I am ‘programed’ this way.  It happened to me about 75 years ago and even today I can recall the occasion quite clearly.
My father operated a store, LEE&LEE, along with his brother and it had one of the modern conveniences of the day: a telephone, instant communication.  It was a party line meaning several subscribers used it; you had to pick up the receiver to listen to see if someone else were talking on the line.  It was a community rarity in other words.
It was a Sunday morning; we were getting ready to go to church when someone knocked on the back screen door of our home wanting to speak to my father.  The visitor was somewhat excited and for good reason.  He had come to ask my father if he would telephone the “law” to come to investigate a killing that had happened in the Hayes Swamp area of the Hamer Mill community (now Red Road). After all these years, I still recall the victim’s name, but I’ll call him here the fictitious John Doe.
Of course it was unusual for such an event back then to take place and my father being curious, decided to drive over to the scene and investigate.  Unfortunately he had company who wanted to go along.  There were six boys in the family.  Not knowing any better, I innocently went right along with the others.
We arrived and parked the car in the front yard of the house located near the crime scene.  It was not clear at the time exactly where the event had taken place, but someone said that the victim’s body was in the nearby woods lying near a ditch that ultimately emptied the water in the swamp to the Little Pee Dee River.  Since the scene was only a few yards from the back of the house, we all followed our guide until we came to the place that has never left my mind.
Sensitive readers will be spared the details except to say that the weapon used was an axe, and its impact on the body was not pretty.  The details were gruesome and unfortunately long remembered. I dreamed about the happening for a long time and still recall being afraid of walking away from the home alone when it became dark although back then it was as safe as any place.  But I could not forget it.
I could blame my father for exposing me to such a violent scene but perhaps to him, it was a part of growing up, a part of life and of course death.  It might have been that is some impossible twist, he thought it was a learning experience which it was but a negative one.
From that time on, such scenes of violence have been off limits to me; it’s bad enough to read about and to see on television such since there are already enough unwanted images downloaded in my brain to last the rest of my life.
I am thankful for those who minister to and investigate such events.  Teaching, however stressful, still did not involve the kinds of images I have spent a lifetime trying to forget and certainly hoping not to witness such again.
“Teach me not the art of remembering, but the art of forgetting, for I remember things I do not wish to remember, but I cannot forget things I wish to forget.” – Themistocles
Bill Lee
P.O. Box 128
Hamer, SC 29547

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