There is no dateline here because my sister Martha, brother Joe, and I are back in Lebanon to put some periods at the end of an era.
This is business, closing up. We are cleaning out our parents’ home. It has been tough at times. After all, the brass sign outside the garage entrance declares, “The Jewell House, Established in 1938.” And we are in the business of disestablishment.
Since last Friday we have been about sifting through the house, determining what to divide up, what should go to charity, what to throw out, and what to clean up. Business actions to help Martha, our sister, get through this executrix stuff also are high on the agenda. There are some good parts to this. The three of us have shared a lot of memories. That establishment has witnessed lots of laughs.
Some trinket will trigger a story about a family event, and we will laugh. A photograph from the 1800s puzzled us until we thought through the possibilities to conclude the photo is of Aamon Ferrell, the brother of our great grandmother who went out west somewhere to drive the chuck wagon and cook for cowboys. He came back to live on the Prichard farm on Hunter’s Point Pike, Rural Free Delivery Route 3.
We found another photograph of our grandfather, Joe Blythe Prichard in the early 1920s with his beloved bloodhounds. He has a pistol strapped to his waist and stands with Sheriff McMenaway, two other men, and two prisoners, tracked down by George, Kate, Queen, and Woodrow, the bloodhounds. They all are standing in front of the Wilson County Council and Agriculture Building. We could not tell where it was but guessed it was off the square.
Through the laughter and the smiles, there remains a finality lurking here.
We are all taking home various pieces of furniture our parents designated for one of us or our children. We will have memories each time we use our share.
Yet I can’t help but think of a chain of history, since almost the beginning of Lebanon will be broken with the final disestablishment. Our parents were the last of our direct family living in Wilson County. There remain a number of Jewell descendants from the branch begun with the wedding of Hiram Culley Jewell and Carrie Myrtle Orrand in Statesville in 1898, at least too many members to list here without unintentionally omitting someone. The Jewell family in Wilson County dates back to the early 1800s. The Prichard roots in Wilson County began shortly after the Revolutionary War.
But when my siblings and I finish our tasks here and move out in about a week. The Jewell House, established 1938, nor any part of it, will reside in Wilson County.
Martha will drive back to Signal Mountain. Joe will drive his pickup north to Vermont. And finally early next Monday, I will lock the doors, drive the rental car to Briley Field (oops, Nashville International Airport), and fly home to the Southwest corner.
Since leaving here in 1968, I have lived in a dozen or so places and on ten ships. Maureen and I have resided in our Bonita home, south of San Diego proper for longer than I lived in Lebanon.
Through it all, 127 Castle Heights Avenue was my home until it moved down the street to Deer Park in 2002. It was still home, still the Jewell House.
The permanent residents Jimmy and Estelle Jewell, have moved on to a better place. Our visits here will most likely decrease in frequency in spite of our serious intentions to return often. When I do return, I will no longer be coming home. I will be a visitor, a previous resident, staying in a hotel or perhaps with friends. My home will be in the Southwest corner.
My vagabond life began to unravel when I married Maureen. We spent one year together in Jacksonville, Fla., my last Navy operational tour. We went back to the Southwest corner in 1985 and have been there ever since. Now I am the oldest of our family. There may be another move or two left for me. One or both may be closer to Lebanon, but it is not likely I will ever reside in what is now the place I grew up, not “home” anymore…except in my heart.
Jim Jewell, a retired Navy commander lives in San Diego but was raised in Lebanon. His book, A Pocket of Resistance: Selected Poems, is now available through Author House, Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Jim’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.