Adam

The main thing I remember about Adam is that he was old.

Very old. He was probably the oldest person that I had ever seen, or at least so he seemed to me.

I was four or five, I guess, living in the Great Stone House on my grandfather’s farm. In addition to the farm hands who were mainstays, like my grandfather’s brother Miles, there were also folks who would come and go. They’d be there for a few days or weeks at a time and then they’d disappear until the next time, whenever that was. At that age I didn’t have a firm grasp of time scales.

Wendell was one of those occasional visitors, but I think he would come mainly to try to sell stuff, like candy. I can still picture Wendell, very vaguely, even though it’s been well over 65 years since I last saw him. The only other thing I remember about Wendell is that one time my uncle Curtis bit into a piece of candy he had gotten from Wendell only to find a worm inside. Wendell’s wares were not necessarily the freshest. (An alternate version of that anecdote is that Curtis pulled the candy bar apart before biting into it and that’s how he found the worm; I like my version better.)

Anyway, Adam was an occasional visitor to the farm. I don’t know why he was there. Did he offer to do a few days’ labor in return for payment? In my recollection he seems too old to have been able to offer to work. I mean he looked really old to my eyes. Always dressed in black (well, mostly black), he had short, white hair and a bit of stoop to his walk.

It’s possible that Adam was a relative of some sort, but if he was I don’t recall being told that, and I can’t find an Adam in my family tree.

In my mind I identified him with the Adam of the Bible, whom I was learning about in Sunday school. As I said, I had little concept of time in those days.

And then one day I found out that I’d never be seeing him again. He had been killed by a hit and run driver.

And there was going to be a trial and my grandmother would have to testify. My grandmother was Edna Moyer Troutman, and I always called her Mum. “Mum” (not to be confused with “Mom”, the vowels are quite different) was what I called both of my grandmothers, just as “Pop” was what I called my grandfathers. I don’t know what she was to testify about as I’m sure she didn’t witness the incident.

Anyway Mum had to show up in court, and since she didn’t drive, my mother took her there; I went along for the ride.

The courtroom was in Reading, PA, and I vividly recall it as pale green. Just about everything except the seats was a pale green; the walls and the presumably marble judge’s bench, it was all green. And it was huge, at least to a five year old. We sat in the back row waiting for the trial to start. We waited a long time.

And then we were told that Mum wouldn’t have to testify; there was to be no trial. I’m not sure if I understood why at the time, but I assume it’s because the perp copped a plea.

Never did find out exactly what happened, and of course, now there is no one around to ask. But I’m still here.

Reading PA Courthouse

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