Thursday, September 25, 2014


A note from Uncle Jeptha's auditor.

Jeptha Miller was born in Hawkins County, Tennessee in 1876.  Right proud he was that he was an American when the nation celebrated its centennial, though of course he did not remember that celebration.  He always hoped and often said that he would “be around fer the 200th anniversary, too.”  That was not to be, though, as Uncle Jep passed away in 1968 just two days after his 92nd birthday.

Jeptha moved with his family across Clinch Mountain to Scott County, Virginia when he was but a slip of a lad, nine or ten years old, I think.  In 1894 he and Aunt Grace were married and established their home in Hawkins County.  Grace was my grandmother’s sister, and hence my great aunt.  To me, she was always  "Aunt Grace."  Jeptha and Grace left Tennessee in 1902 and moved West where they settled on the High Plains of Eastern Colorado.  They lived out the rest of their lives a few rods and a skimmer handle from Holly and came to love the dry land and its people.

These tales spun by Uncle Jep are no doubt true, for never truer man lived.  And whether the characters and events existed in the hills or on the plains, or only in the mind of the Old Uncle, they all contain within them the truth of life and living.  Uncle Jep was kindly and generous to a fault.  Should you need it, he would give you the last scrap of food in his house, or literally the coat off his own back.  But he would kick your butt, too, if you slacked off on the job or carried less than your fair share of the load.  He was a flawed man, though.  He did not take kindly to being interrupted when he was spinning a yarn, and he could not abide a person who would kick a dog.  This latter was because, he opined, “A dog will not turn on his friends, which is more than can be said of some people.” 

While some of these tales are represented as having been told me during breaks as we worked together, or around the supper table of an evening, many of them I heard from Uncle Jep in his last four or five years during visits to the home place some years after I had moved away from the Plains and had a family of my own.  Some of them I heard many times, for Uncle Jep did not believe that a tale was diminished by repetition.

The family believed Aunt Grace died of grief and a broken heart. She passed a day and a half after Uncle Jep died.  They were buried side by side on the same day in a little cemetery on a prominence on the High Plains they so dearly loved.

Uncle Jep’s patois, or lingo does not represent itself to be a dialect, so one should not look for that.  Imagine you hear the Old Uncle’s delivery in a deliberate way, not quite a drawl, but slow nevertheless.  We recall that Mr. Miller grew up in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, so it is natural that some of the expressions he used may well originate there.  But remember also that he lived sixty-six years of his adult life in a very specific Western locale.

© 2014 David W. Lacy

A note from vanilla

I hope you have enjoyed this little experiment in fiction we cooked up over the past year.

Uncle Jep's stories are displayed in two collections, the tabs at the top of the page labelled "Short Stories" and "More Stories" will open them.


Vee said...

Posting the tales as collection for readers is a great idea. Good old Uncle Jep's weekly visits will be missed.

Grace said...

If you have a mind to some private publishing, I used Blurb for my 'Today's Conversation' - it's easy and there are lots of options for formats...I've enjoyed some of the stories more than others but it certainly has been an accomplishment.

Secondary Roads said...

It has been a pleasant experience to visit Uncle Jep on Thursdays.

Sharkbytes said...

Have loved the tales, and that graphic is surely a keeper. Not many get their own logo on a carton.

vanilla said...

Vee, I hope someone will enjoy browsing through the tales via the Stories tabs.

Grace, thank you so much for the tip. I do appreciate it. Probably, though, I am thinking I need to be ten years younger to undertake such an endeavor.

Chuck, The Nephew and I appreciate your faithful following of the stories!

Sharkey, thank you. I just found that graphic on the side of a cream soda can last evening!

Grace said...

No, no, no - Blurb is easy to use - you choose your format, which you can change later, and then you can import the blog posts...It IS easy and what a nice thing to be able to hand down...just try it, it's free to use. If you don't want a hold-in-the-hands book you can turn it into an e-book. Come on, give it a whirl.

vanilla said...

Grace, truly you are an encourager. I'll give it a bit more thought.