I had made another friend while plying my trade as “Railroad Detective” in Scranton. His name was Jim McFee. Don’t ever call him Jimmy-John or Jim-Bob; you may have a fight on your hands. I learned the hard way.
Jim was a good old boy from Tennessee. When I say “good old boy” I don’t mean it in a pejorative manner. I mean he was just a good guy.
Except for his accent. When we first met I could not understand a word he said. I thought Bogdan Yelcovich had a bad accent - - - you should have heard Jim’s. At first I could not figure out if he was from a foreign country or if he had a speech impediment.
It was neither - - - he was from Tennessee.
But once I got to understand him I found out that he was quite an interesting fellow.
He had a lot of country sayings and phrases that would make me laugh. For instance he, in jest - - - well I hope it was jest - - -, refered to me as “that wally-eyed guy.” One day it was so cold I was shaking. Jim asked me why I was shaking “like a dog trying to pass a peach seed.” Another time he told me he lives “30 stones” from Knoxville proper. I asked him how far that is. He said “well, you just throw a stone and then walk up to where it landed. Then you pick it up and throw it again - - - and so on and so forth for 30 times.
One day he had arranged a free caboose ride from Scranton to Knoxville and asked me to join him. He said I would enjoy seeing such a place.
He was right on that account.
We arrived at one of the nicest railway stations that I had ever seen. Then he told me I just had to visit Gay Street. Hell, I agreed, this was just a nice tour for me. So off we went to Gay Street.
It had recently been bricked and had trolley tracks running every-which-way. Of course the “road apples” from the horses were everywhere.
There was a lot of construction going on in Knoxville also.
Apparently a lot of authors liked to write about Gay Street; authors such as George Washington Harris. I walked around Gay Street and asked questions. I seem to do that a lot - - - ask questions. The people told me about their favorite author and what he wrote about.
This Sut Lovingood character was a trouble-maker - - - but a lovable one. For instance he wanted to know what went on within the secret sessions of the Free-Masons. So he hid in the attic and listened.
I think I know why Jim speaks the way he does. Possibly he read to many stories about “Sut Lovingood.”