The months, the days, and the years as they come along, are important to this story.
Grady had a long term friend, Ed, who passed away. He is taking care of the estate until a niece of Ed's, named Katherine, shows up to claim her inheritance. The two don't hit it off that well. Different personalities build resentment between them, but they do agree to exchange Christmas cards.
June, 17, 2002, Grady Potter, Tatum Road. Brattleboro, VT, 05301
I was driving home from town and could see a person trudging up the hill ahead of me. The person was woman. She was young and attractive. There were only two properties on the road; mine, and the Ed Tatum place. Ed's place was at the end of the road.
Further along past Ed's place was a thrown up road that had reverted to Ed many years ago. You could define it now, but in another few years it would disappear altogether. Ed told me about it, and where it went to. It was over – over the hill to a cluster of farms from when the area was settled a century and a-half-ago. Much like the road, evidence of the buildings would soon be long gone. He took me over there one time to see the cellar holes.
I went past the woman and stopped ahead of her, waiting for her to reach me. I leaned out and asked, "Would you like a ride?"
"I don't know you."
"No, I don't expect you do. I think I know who you are though. If I'm not mistaken, you would be Ed Tatum's niece, Katherine. He talked of you some. I've been expecting someone to come and take over his place."
"I could use a lift. How far is it from here? I thought sure there would be cars on the road. There is a road sign stating this is, Tatum Road."
"Nobody but me and Ed have lived on this road for years. Ed is dead, so there isn't much travel. I will be glad to have a neighbor again. I was getting lonely up here all by myself." I glanced at her and could see how attractive she was.
"Well, you may still be. I don't plan on being too friendly and I don't know if I'm staying. I would like, though, to avail myself of the ride you offered." I didn't say anything, just leaning across the seat to open the door when she went around to the passenger's side. She pulled the suitcase onto her lap as she sat down and proceeded to look straight ahead. She didn't ask my name and I didn't volunteer it. Why should I? I felt pushed away even when I was trying to be friendly and helpful.
I went right by my house and a quarter mile further, I wheeled into the Tatum yard. "We're here. I've been doing chores until somebody came to take over. You're here and that ends what I've agreed to. Your goats will need feeding in another hour. Feed and close them in for the night. Directions are posted near the feed box.
"The biggest goat with teats needs milking, and you had better gather the eggs. The hens run loose and lay eggs everywhere. Hunt for them around the yard. It's best to gather them or the snakes will get them. A snake trying to swallow an egg is a sight. I've heard one egg will be food a whole week for most snakes. Oh, the key to the side door is under the third rock." I drove off, leaving her staring after me. I knew I would see her later.
I was right. It was almost dark when she knocked on my door. I backed away from the stove and went to the door. "Yes?"
"You're a mean bastard, did you know that?"
"Yep, I sure am. Miss Kitty, come on in and have some supper. Actually I have hope for you. I thought you would be here an hour before this. Let me introduce myself. I'm Gary Potter. Most people just call me Potter."
"I'm pleased to know you even if you are an unpleasant individual. I'm Katherine Tatum. Ed Tatum was my father's uncle. I was here one time before I went to grade school. That's the only time I ever met him. Uncle Ed left his property to me. Why, I have no idea."
"I know why. You were his only living relative. He was always hoping you would come to see him."
"You evidently were his friend. Being that, I can see why you could resent me after meeting me and knowing I didn't visit when I should have."
"Some, I guess, but that wasn't the only reason. I mean I offered you a ride and you accepted and then said you didn't intend to be friendly. Also I'm still waiting for a thank you for giving you a lift. But then I have been an asshole too, so maybe we had better wait a little before we trade any more unpleasant barbs."
"I agree we had better get to know each other more than we do now. I realize, not becoming acquainted with my uncle was a missed opportunity. I take it you probably aren't going to call me Katherine. Call me Kitty, although I'm not that awful fond of it."
"Okay, I do know we aren't going to shed any blood over our differences. Sit up to the table. I have meat, vegetables and mashed potatoes. I can even dig up some wine if you would like. How about some apple cider? I keep some in a cask in the cellar. I brought some up earlier."
"I haven't eaten since breakfast. The food smells wonderful, and I will try the cider."
Kitty was hungry. I had the cider in a pitcher and she was pouring herself another glass as she emptied the one by her plate. "Hey, this is pretty good stuff. Did you make it yourself?"
"I did, and it was Ed who showed me how. It's pressed from his apples too. You have an orchard of trees back of your house. The cider might have more kick to it than you realize, so be careful."
"I can handle this easily. I'll bet if we become friends, someday I'll be drinking you under the table."
"We'll have to become friends first."
"I'll agree to that. Say, what is this meat, it's really tasty? It has more bones than chicken."
"It's not chicken, it's rabbit. I raise both types of rabbits – meat type, and the kind for fur."
"Oh, my God, you mean I'm eating one of those cute little bunnies?"
"That's right. Don't be shocked because you will be raising meat to eat too, if you stay here and keep farming."
"What am I raising for meat?"
"What do you think all those goats you fed this afternoon are for?"
"Oh, I didn't milk that goat. I don't know how. Potter, tell me it isn't so?"
"It is so. Oh, I should have cautioned you about the big goat that was in the separate pen. You should be careful around him."
"Why?" Kitty was beginning to slur her speech.
"Because he's dangerous. He could knock you down and trample all over you. He's dangerous to everyone and not just to women either."
"You haven't answered why or how?"
"Have you heard the expression, 'something as a Billy goat"? Kitty looked bewildered. Maybe it was the cider she had been drinking. It took her a few minutes, and then her face flamed. I continued while smiling, "I'm just saying the animal has horns and he can hurt you, so be careful."
"You're awful. I'm not going to play with you anymore. Potter, I need to borrow a flashlight to get home with. There is no electricity and I guess there may be a pump for the water 'cause there isn't any coming from the faucets." Kitty tried to stand and was having a problem. I caught her when she began to tip over.
She mumbled something, I deciphered it as something about me having my way with her, but she didn't care. This was when she snuggled into the arms that were holding her.
I carried Kitty into the spare bedroom and laid her down on the bed. I took her shoes off and threw a comforter over her. I went out and drove up to Ed's place. She had fed the goats, but with only me knowing where the chickens nested I could see she hadn't picked up many eggs. I didn't look too hard for them in the dark after I stepped on one I hadn't seen.
I went into the house and down into the cellar. This was a rambling old farm house and the cellar had never been cemented. It was a bit dank although tight enough to keep water from coming in. There were old cupboards beyond the wood burning furnace filled with empty fruit jars. Also there were broken chairs and tools here and there stacked out of the walk way.
Spider webs and dust hung from the ceiling and had taken over the corners. You couldn't go through a door without it getting onto your face and in your hair.
The electric entrance was at the far end of the cellar and it would take a brave person with only a flash light to search for it if you didn't know where it was located. I pushed the switch on and heard the water pump start.
I opened the cellar windows and then went up stairs and opened all the windows that had screens on. I did the same with the second story. I looked around and guessed the place would be okay until Kitty got home in the morning.
I wondered what Kitty would be using for a vehicle. It was six miles to the center of town. It must be that Ed's lawyer had contacted Kitty and she would need to see him. I was looking forward to see how she was going to handle all these problems that were facing her.
I looked in on her sleeping. She was on her back snoring with her mouth wide open. I positioned her on her side to be more comfortable. The bathroom was across from the bedroom so I left that door open with the night-light on. I closed my door and went to sleep.
I was up at my usual 5 o'clock time to feed my rabbits. I checked to see if I had any new bunnies which I didn't. I would have to move a couple of the does today, but would do that later. It took me over an hour to complete my chores.
I went in and started coffee. I heard the toilet flush soon after it was done. I poured a cup of coffee and put it on the table. I started doing last night's dishes. I heard the chair behind me scrape, but didn't turn around immediately.
When I did, Kitty was sitting with her head in her hands, elbows on the table. Her eyes came up and looked at me. Suddenly tears began rolling down her face and she started sobbing. "I want to die. I feel like crap and I don't have any family. I hardly know where I am. I know I'm way out of my element here where there isn't any civilization. I was going to come to Vermont and live by myself, but I'll never make it.
"I don't even have a way to get to town. I thought Uncle Ed would have a car I could drive, but all there is, is an old tractor backed under on of the sheds. Wouldn't I look good driving that down Main Street, even if I could figure out how to get it started?"
"Maybe it would be the tractor they were looking at. That tractor is antique."
"Oh, you make me so mad!"
"Ed gave up driving when he reached ninety. You're not too bad looking, and driving a tractor and you're pretty enough to catch some of the attention."
"You bastard, now you're hitting on me."
"Whoa, there Kitty, that was a complement, and I meant every bit of it. We haven't figured each other out yet, but we need to. We've certainly got off on the wrong foot. For now, I'll get you a couple of Tylenol to make you feel better.
"I'll make you some breakfast and that'll settle your stomach. If you want to see something beautiful while I'm at the range, look out the living room window. There is a deer with two little fawns chasing each other while she feeds." In a few minutes I heard her giggle as she watched the deer.
She soon came back and sat down. I continued, "I've been up for awhile, and have my own chores done. After breakfast I'll take you up to Ed's place and help get you organized. I was a bit of a prick yesterday. The chores I said you had to do were actually mine to do. I'm being paid to do them until the estate is settled.
"I went up last night after you went to sleep and made sure things were okay. You did pen up the goats, and that was the only thing that had to be done."
"Now, what would you like for breakfast? I can make you waffles, pancakes, French toast, eggs and bacon, or if you prefer, I can make you some milk toast. I don't have chipped beef, but hamburger works just as well, and is quite tasty. There is also oatmeal or cold cereal. Just tell me what you would like."
Kitty looked like she was trying to decide and I guess I had given her too many choices. Finally, she declared, "I will definitely not have a glass of that cider you served me last night, and that's for certain. I loved it, but you had better caution me about it again. For now, I'll have two eggs, one bacon strip, and one slice of toast."
I turned around and could see her eyes twinkling. "You're of age. I'll caution you once about a danger, but you should listen because I won't tell you again."
"Fair enough. Potter, I'd like to thank you for giving me a ride up the hill yesterday. I was so tired I almost turned around before you reached me. I was wrong and there is no excuse for saying I wouldn't be friendly. I want to thank you for the wonderful dinner last night, and I certainly know I should have listened to your warning about how potent the cider was–is.
"I do have one question. Would you have warned me the second time about the horny Billy goat, if I got too close and was in danger?"
"Yes, Certainly would. Think of an animal weighing 120 pounds running at you at forty miles an hour? He, intending to hurt, and with malice in his heart to hit you if he could. It would be a crime if I didn't give you the second warning. Now about the cider, you should be intelligent enough to know after a warning what unfamiliar liquor would do to you."
"I was being a smartass. I did love the taste of it, though. I will try some again after I fully recover from last night. I believe I will enjoy it if I take it in smaller amounts."
I smiled, remembering my first bout with hard cider. Kitty, at least, was where just the two of us knew about it, whereas I had been in a crowd of my friends.
"So, eggs and bacon?"
"Yes, but eggs scrambled, not fried."
We finished breakfast and Kitty insisted she do the dishes. I was a little concerned for I was a few minutes late in feeding the goats and letting them out to browse. There was the one goat that needed milking. She was at the end of her lactation period, so if I was late it wouldn't harm her in any way. When I told Kitty she stopped dawdling and hurriedly finished up in the kitchen.
I sat and watched her work, which was a treat for me. I hadn't had much to do with women for a couple of years. The last one left me suddenly and it hurt. I shied away from finding a new companion. Kitty was interesting, but she didn't make me feel desperate. I would wait and see what developed. I did know I would enjoy having her as a neighbor up the road.
When we came out to get into my car, I asked, "We have time to walk through the barn to see the rabbits. I have to check them fairly often right at present. I have one doe that is about to have little ones. I have to get her ready when she is near term. She'll tell me within a few days."
"Rabbits can't talk."
"No, but they start pulling their own fur out to make a nest. I've found that when they first start, I have a couple of days, and that's the time to move them." We walked inside. Parked on the barn floor was a bright-blue '50 Chevy pickup.
"That's yours. Ed had it all fixed up for you when he found out he wasn't going to make it. He told me if you didn't show up within a year, it was mine. If you hadn't come soon, I was going to write you if I could get your address from his attorney. So you must know I was very glad to see you yesterday hiking up the road ahead of me."
"You didn't let on you were glad about seeing me."
"I was as sociable as you were."
"True. You must be okay because you haven't done me any harm. You cautioned me about the cider, but I wish you had been a little more emphatic with your warning."
"Lesson learned. Okay, let's go up to your place and I'll show you the routine I've been using in caring for the animals. We'll take a walk in the woods before it gets too warm. You probably should go through the house and see what is in it. Ed never threw anything away. There could be some valuable items hidden under what you see at first. This will give you an idea what you have inherited."
"Okay, Potter, we have a couple of hours. I'm going to call the attorney who is settling Uncle Ed's affairs. Tell me, if need be, can I hire you to sort it out?"
"I could. Aren't you going to be here?"
"I don't know. I'm thinking about returning to the city after talking to the attorney. Can I stay here with you until I do?"
"Of course you can. Not necessarily for you, but because Ed was such a good friend and mentor to me."
"You're making me feel bad."
"Don't, Kitty, it's too late now."
We did go for a walk, but Kitty wasn't comfortable, it being so quiet.
I saw to the animals while Kitty went inside the house "Quite a mess isn't it? I wouldn't know how to begin."
"It is a life-time of accumulation, but Ed knew where everything was. He'd talk about something and then dig out what he was talking about. It wouldn't take him long either.
We retuned to my place just before eleven. "Potter, I'm going to call the attorney. If I can get an appointment, will you drive me?"
When I came out, Kitty said she was to see the lawyer at two that afternoon. She showered and changed. Her dress was rumpled, so I provided a flat iron. When I went into the kitchen to get water for the iron, she had taken off what she was wearing. She didn't tell me to leave, even though I was being boorish and stayed to watch her iron the dress. She was in her underwear.
I didn't comment on how she looked. Her shape was about as near perfect as could be. Too bad she wouldn't hang around for a few days. Maybe she would, but I didn't hold out much hope.
"Potter, did you enjoy watching me? I wanted to find out if you were boorish or not. It was pretty bold to iron my dress where you could watch me. I think I needed to find out if you are still a bastard and maybe get back a little at you. You might have changed some from yesterday, but can't see it entirely."
"Sorry about that. Kitty, you are beautiful, you know. I had a girlfriend that used to do the same thing to twist me up, so it wasn't unusual to watch. She didn't object and neither did you. You could have told me to leave. I'd say we are about even. Tell me, was I pushing the boundaries too far?"
"Some, but we don't have much time to get ready. I'm buying you lunch in town. Get changed. Don't you need your shirt ironed?"
I shook my head, no. I put on a short-sleeved shirt and my jeans were good. I saw her looking at me when I went by the mirror, though. I guess that was fair.
I drove Kitty up Putney Road to the Marina restaurant for lunch. We arrived back at Park Place, just at two, where her attorney was located. Kitty asked me to read a magazine while I waited for her.
After an hour the attorney came out and asked a question, "Gary, Miss Tatum, wants me to ask you if you would be willing to sort through everything that her uncle owned. It would pay five dollars above minimum wage and you would have a year to get it done. She is going to put the property on the market as soon as you finish. Also, could you do any small needed repairs and she would pay you the same hourly rate. She noticed a few windows needed attention."
"I guess I can do that. It's going to take awhile. There are a lot of piles of clutter to look into."
"Good, you can contact me about what's to be disposed of after she goes back to the city."
"You can tell her I'll probably get it all done this summer, so it won't be hanging and she can get it on the market. I'd say I'll have it all done by September first."
"I'll plan on that. I'm supposed to be the one to line up a realtor. You might be available, if you would, when it is time to list the property to show the realtor around."
"Ed, would like that. I'm doing this more for him than I am for Miss Tatum."
"Miss Tatum mentioned you felt that way. I'll write this up as a contract so it is clear. If you come up with any serious changes, I'll take them to her. Come in tomorrow morning. I'll have papers for you both to sign. I think she is planning on catching the eleven o'clock train back to Newton. I'll finish up and then she'll be out. She said she was staying with you tonight."
"That's right. Take your time. I want to finish this article I started to read, anyway."
It was an hour later when Kitty came out. "I like my lawyer. He's good and didn't object to some stipulations I wanted included. This concerns the disposal of the clutter and junk you said you would take care of.
"That's fine. I've known him for years. He's my age, married and has one child."
"He didn't say. I'm not one to pry into the people I come into contact with."
"Good plan. I object to sharing my personal life with anyone, too."
"Potter, can I go to bed early? I'm tired. It seems as if I've been on the jump all day."
"Okay, by me. I guess the animals at your place are still my responsibility aren't they."
"Yes. They are some of the reason I didn't want to deal with Ed's worldly goods. I like my life-style in the city. No goats for me."
"Not even horny ones?"
"Don't kid your self, there are plenty of those in the city." We had a good laugh over this.
I checked my rabbits. It was very hot in the barn and the rabbits were panting from the heat. I closed the windows and started the air conditioner. Soon they were comfortable again. I then went up to Ed's place and gathered the eggs. I had over three dozen of them. I fed the goats and sat on the porch. I was thinking about Ed. I sat at ease with the feeling I had treated his niece the same way as he would have handled her. I locked the goats into their pens and headed home.
"You were gone a long time."
"Yeah, I didn't want to pen the goats up too early. I've got a whole basket of eggs. I'll sort them and take them into the market when we go tomorrow or the next day. I swap them for bacon, butter, and cereal. When I have a lot of milk from the goats I make cheese. Now I save what little I have, and take it to a young couple who are trying to raise a pig. They're going to feel awful when they butcher it. It's become a pet."
"That's another reason I don't want to get involved. If I saw the animal that was going onto my table, I'd become a vegetarian. Of, course stepping in that chicken crap wasn't much fun either."
"What do you want for supper?"
"How about waffles and sweet sausage? The sausage is in the freezer. It's some I broiled in the oven. I do a whole bunch at a time. I coat them with brown sugar and they really are quite good."
"I'll try a waffle and a sausage. Do you serve cider with the meal?"
"Not usually, but I can."
"No, God, no, not unless you serve it in a thimble!" I laughed.
Kitty ate a good breakfast and went with me to Ed's when I did chores up at her place. When we got back, she walked into the barn with me. I had to move two pregnant doe rabbits into new cages. She watched me, standing back as far from the animals as possible.
When everything was finished, she handed me an envelope. "Potter – Gary, Uncle Ed intended you to have the blue pickup. I have no use for it. This is the title. You can register it in your name and it's yours.
"Thank you so much, I did covet it, but not enough to ask for it."
"That's all settled then. You have been kind to drive me and I have learned a few things in the last couple of days. I suspect Uncle Ed probably would have treated me much like you have."
"I was thinking the same thing last night. I resolved to behave myself today. I finally remembered you have lost your relative."
Kitty ignored this. "I suppose we should get going. I have to sign papers at the law office. I think you have to sign your name for the contract he wrote up about things to get the property ready to sell. I'm very, very, grateful. You must realize I couldn't survive here."
"Maybe, but you didn't give it much of a chance. One thing before we get in the car; would you give me your address? I might want to send you a Christmas card."
"Good idea, I'll need your address here too, incase I want to send you one."
My contract wasn't ready when we reached the law office. Kitty's papers were, so she signed and I took her down to the train station. "I feel I should hug you, but that is too forward of me."
"No it isn't, come here, Potter. You know, I think I'm going to miss you. I learned some things about you and about my uncle while here. I can say it was an education. A bit twisted, but an education, never-the-less." It was some hug.
I could see her through the train window when she reached a seat. We both waved as the train began to move.
August, 30, 2002, To, Grady Potter, PO box 1227, Brattleboro, VT, 05301.
The attorney wrote that you did a great job in getting the farm ready to list for sale. The price he suggested I ask, and should get, is much higher than I expected. If it does sell, then that will clean up Uncle Ed's estate. Thank you, again.
Regards, Katherine Tatum.
September, 5, 2002, To, Katherine Tatum, PO Box 762, Newton, Ma, 02458.
Kitty, I'm upset with you a little. Somehow I signed the contract for work to be performed before I read what I agreed to. Your lawyer said there wasn't any way I could break the agreement without bringing suit so I desisted in following my inclinations. You must know I found several valuable treasures while cleaning up the clutter your uncle left with the estate.
Not only were there several pieces of period furniture, but some coins and a couple of paintings that had value. There were three guns, one a Winchester '73 rifle that is much sought after, and prized by most gun collectors
The question remains: Why did you give me title to the '50 Chevy pickup and to everything else, except the real property? You put a woeful burden on me to decide what to do. Ed would say for me to forget it, so I have.
My invoice to your lawyer for wages has been paid and I thank you for tending to this item.
Your faithful servant, Potter
December, 20, 2002, To, Grady Potter, PO Box, 227, Brattleboro, VT, 05301.
Potter, I'm sure your invoice for one hour's work, performed was too low, but you made out the invoice and signed your name so I had the lawyer remit you, $12.50. As far as the clutter I gave you, Ed would have said to forget it. I have and I know some of it had meaning for you so I'm pleased with our association in this matter.
The realtor has received two offers for the farm and both are viable. One offer is from three young people who are talking about going "Back to the Land." I guess I will accept their offer. I hope they will be good neighbors for you.
I'm afraid our short association is coming to an end. On a more personal note, I must tell you, I have met a man I'm very interested in. In Uncle Ed's day, I suppose you could say we are "Walking out Together." Of course in our time it is "Going to Bed Together." Same difference.
Happy Holidays, Kitty
January, 02, 2003, To, Katherine Tatum, PO Box, 762, Newton, Ma, 02458.
Happy Holidays to you.
Kitty, I too am sorry our association is coming to an end. I wonder what Ed would say? I still miss him, and if you had known him, you would too. I'm pleased you received your asking price for the property. Land in Brattleboro has increased in value considerably in the last few years. You sold at the right time, and are lucky you don't have to pay the taxes.
I too, have found someone I'm considering for a mate. She is a lovely woman. She teaches High School Math, coaches the girl's team in two sports, and is well-rounded in all respects." We'll see what develops?
December, 20, 2003, To Grady Potter, PO Box 227, Brattleboro, VT, 05301.
Potter, –Merry Christmas, again!
Hi, Grady, I'm now a deliriously happy married woman. I'm also a very eight-and-a-half-month pregnant Mommy to-be. I sent my Xmas cards out before the main event happens. I'm waiting on the arrival of Edward Tatum Johnson. He is going to be a big boy. Are there any children for you on the horizon, or is that a too-personal question? I just wanted you to know there is another Ed Tatum coming along. Great Holidays to you.
January, 4, 2004, To Mrs. Katherine Johnson and Family, PO Box 762, Newton, Ma. 02458.
Mrs. Johnson: Happy holidays.
Katherine, My name is Helen Potter and I'm married to Grady. Grady is sitting in a rocking chair rocking our babe, Katherine Tatum Potter. Grady talked about Ed Tatum so much I suggested he use the 'Tatum' name as her middle name. Someday I hope to meet you. We hope to have one more baby, but will wait at least two years. I hope you had Baby Johnson without problems. Please let us know when the event happens. Your friend,
Helen Potter and Baby Katherine
January, 10, 2004, To Grady and Helen Potter, PO Box 227, Brattleboro, VT, 05301.
Helen and Family:
Potter, Ed Tatum arrived right on time. He is such a beautiful baby. I feel my life is complete and we are so happy. Thank you for being my friend. Baby Ed sends his love.
The Johnson family.
December, 20, 2006. To The Johnson Family, PO, Box, 762, Newton, Ma, 02458,
Katherine, Happy Holidays. Little Ed must be almost three-years-old now. Baby Kate is as they say, "Tearing up the joint." Quite precocious, but such a joy. Grady spends every free minute he has with her. I don't know if she entertains him or he entertains her. They are a pair. Love to you and yours,
January, 1, 2007, To Helen Potter, and Family, PO Box 227, Brattleboro, VT, 05301.
Helen, Kate and Potter, I was a little sad during the holidays. My husband had to be on the West Coast with his work. He travels a lot and I don't see as much of him as I could wish. Your card came and it made me feel so good to know someone remembered me and little Ed. Not your problem. I talk to Little Ed and tell him he is the man of the family. I certainly see more of him than I do of Johnson. Love to all,
January, 7, 2007, To Katherine Johnson, and Ed, Po, Box, 762, Newton, Ma, 02458
Your husband will soon wake up to the fact he has a treasure in you, but I do feel your pain. I, myself, am having some problems and do have to go for treatments. Grady and I have put off having another baby until these are completed. Your problems and mine are just part of living this life – That's according to Grady.
Grady just shook his head. "No, it's according to Ed." Somehow, I knew he would say that. I hear it enough.
May, 1, 2007, To Katherine Johnson, PO Box, 762 Newton, Ma, 02458.
This is to inform you that the farm buildings on the former Ed Tatum property are no more. The young people who bought the property, created a lab for making chemical compounds. One person died in the explosion and the other two have serious burns. I was never close to them because they weren't that friendly.
Helen has finished her treatment. Her prognosis is good, but she is weak. Kate was good through it all.
Catch you at Christmas, Potter
December, 5, 2007, To Katherine Johnson PO Box 762 Newton, Ma, 02458.
Helen passed away two days ago on the 3rd. She was fine through the summer until the first week of September. She took to bed and hospice made sure she was comfortable. I'm bearing up as well as I can. Kate knows she won't see her mother again. That is what hurts me the most. Nothing like this has happened in my family before. With tears in my eyes, Potter
December, 10, 2007, To Grady Potter, PO Box, 227, Brattleboro, VT, 05301.
I'm so sorry for your loss. From reading Helen's cards and notes, I knew how much she loved you. I know how devastated you must feel. I wish I could hug little Kate. Condolences, without saying, go to both of you.
I have news of my own for you and will inform you later sometime in the early New Year.
Potter, love to both you and to Kate, Kitty
December, 21, 2007, To Katherine Johnson and Family, PO Box 762, Newton, Ma, 02458.
I received many cards from well wishers, but yours meant the most to me. Helen often said how she wanted to meet you. She declared she felt you were her most solid friend even though you hadn't met.
I hope the news you hinted at is something wonderful. That is just from the fact you are my friend and I want you to be happy. This note will serve as a Christmas card. I'm sending a note to the people closest to me, and you certainly are one.
I hope your husband doesn't take umbrage at our correspondence. It can't be helped in this instance.
January, 27, 2008, To Grady Potter, Po Box 227, Brattleboro, VT, 05301.
I'm hoping by this time you have your feet back on solid ground again. That's what Uncle Ed Tatum would tell you to do. Use the pain of your loss to make you stronger.
You know sometimes over the years, I have addressed you as Potter, which you said you prefer, and at other times as, Grady. I prefer Potter.
I have to say, you have shared only few facts of your life, except about Helen. I don't know what you do for work. I've given you some thought. I can't believe you make a living raising rabbits. You must supplement your income in some other way.
I guess this is the time for me to tell you about my sorry life as well. I went to college and became a paralegal. Johnson, my ex-husband, was a client of our firm's attorneys. My marriage became a sham shortly after Ed, my son was born. I discovered that Johnson couldn't keep his Johnson to home.
I received the final divorce decree a few days before you informed me that Helen had passed away. I was going to write and tell Helen of my new status when your letter came. I needed a friend at the time and still do, so that is why I'm sharing this with you. So, Potter, shall we continue sharing a few facts occasionally? If we do, it is your turn.
Ed goes to daycare now while I work. He hates it. How is Kate taken care of, or is she just with you on the farm? Love,
Kitty and Ed Tatum
February, 3, 2008, To Katherine Tatum Johnson and Ed, PO Box 762, Newton, Ma, 02458.
I take it your hint of news was the fact that you were going through a divorce. I also gather that it was inevitable. I'm sad when a marriage comes to a point that divorce is the only option. I guess my loss of Helen and the divorce of your husband, gives us both something to move on from.
Kitty, when you arrived that time in June many years ago, I could see that you didn't intend to stay. I was put out that you felt you couldn't deal with living in rural Vermont. If the interest wasn't there, then why go further and share facts of my life with you.
The real facts of my life are that I am a college professor and have a position here in town. I own a home in the West Village of Brattleboro. The farm on Tatum Road is where my parents have always lived and I did grow up there. They were off to Hawaii on vacation at the time you were here in 2002. I was doing chores for them and for the Ed Tatum estate.
Ed Tatum really was my mentor. He taught me how to hunt and I did use the same Chevy pickup to pass the test for my driving license. Ed, himself, was a professor in his early years and urged me to follow the same path. We would talk for hours when we had the chance.
About daycare for Kate; she has been staying with my sister, Beth, who lives on the same street as I do. Of course Kate will be going to kindergarten next year and Sis will continue to fill in. Very convenient for me, and wonderful for Kate. Keep in touch. Love from both of us,
Potter and Kate
March, 3, 2008, Note to Potter.
I think I'm beginning to understand you a little – especially your former relationship with my uncle. Someday we should meet and explore it more fully. Are there anymore pertinent facts, you have neglected to share with me?
I must say, Kate is so fortunate to have family to stay with while not in school. Daycares are great, but it is better to have a relative fulfill that need. On a different note, I have been explaining to Ed that someplace in the State of Vermont, he has a road with his name on the street sign. He hasn't been able to get the concept correct yet, but tells everybody he is famous. Go figure.
Oh, I petitioned the court to have the name, "Johnson," removed from mine. That was in the final decree. I can't do much about Ed's name and wouldn't want to anyway. Johnson paid enough to settle the divorce and he should have something for his money. Don't think I asked for what I received, because I just took what was offered. Why am I talking about this anyway?
Love, Kitty Tatum
April, 7, 2008, Note to Kitty.
The facts brought out and accepted in the Fire Marshal's and Police reports concerning the explosion at the former Ed Tatum property have been released. They state that the direct cause of the incident came while inhabitants were compounding certain chemicals to make Meth. Ed Tatum butted in, creating havoc and generating a gas which almost immediately exploded, causing the death of one 23-year-old female. Severe injuries to two other individuals resulted in burns to both their torsos.
So now you know. Just facts you might be interested in. Love, Potter
April, 15, 2008, Note to Potter.
Damn you, you don't change a bit. I'd strangle you right this minute if I could get my hands on you. You're so upsetting.
I've read your last note over and over and it doesn't make any sense. Oh, I'm sure you quoted the report as written, but you have left out something, coming either before or after the report. In other words you took it out of context." Kitty.
Oh, Ed, sends his love
May, 3, 2008, Note to Kitty.