Now that you’ve met several characters from my novel That Summer (see older posts), book 1 in the Caney Creek Series, I’d like you to meet the characters in Beyond the Past, book 2 in the series. Many of them you will remember from book 1. For the next few Mondays I’ll interview one of the characters and you can leave comments if you want. I think this might help you when you read Beyond the Past to know how these characters feel as they move through the story. If you leave a comment on this blog that is totally related to this interview I'll give you an extra entry in the next Thursday book drawing when you leave a comment there.
Today’s character interview is the first from Beyond the Past, book 2 in the Caney Creek Series, which recently released.
Today I’m talking with Jim Callaway, the oldest of the Callaway family of five grown children. Jim owns and runs the hosiery mill in Newton, Tennessee.
JO: Hello, Mr. Callaway, thank you for meeting with me during your office hours.
JIM: You’re welcome. Please call me Jim.
JO: Happy New Year. Jim, a lot has happened to you since your left the Callaway farm when you were 17.
JIM: Yes, ma’am, it sure has. Some good, some bad.
JO: Please tell me about them.
JIM: I did leave the farm. Poppa treated all us kids unfair and being the oldest, I decided I wouldn’t take it any longer. I hated to leave my brothers and sisters there with my poppa being so mean. And I really hated to leave Momma, but she wouldn’t leave with me. I told myself that the other kids would leave when they got old enough, like I was doing.
JO: Then what happened?
JIM: I did what I set out to do. I got myself to a nearby town, Newton. I got a job at the hosiery mill, had a room all to myself in a widow lady’s house, money in my pocket, and girlfriends. One girlfriend was even the mill owner’s daughter.
JO: Sounds like things really were good for you.
JIM: Yes, ma’am, I thought so but I let everything go to my head. I got arrogant, hard to get along with, didn’t manage my money right. And, mainly, I thought I could do everything on my own, without help from anybody. That’s when I started straying away from God. I was really messed up.
JO: You seem to be a good guy now. How did you get out of your mess?
JIM: My family, my friends, and especially my landlady tried to tell me what all I was doing wrong and how to turn it around. But I wouldn’t listen to them. Till the day one of my girlfriends, Louisa, said I had to pick one of them, that she wasn’t going to share me with Caroline, the mill owner’s daughter. Along about then the Lord started working on me. My conscience wouldn’t let me rest. So I prayed my way back to God and He accepted me. He’d never stopped loving me. It was me that had walked away from Him.
JO: I’m sure glad you got all the bad stuff straightened out.
JIM: That’s not all the bad stuff. At Christmas, Caroline just vanished out of town. She was in college near Atlanta. All my letters to her came back. I didn’t know where she was or why she left. That was about the time Louisa said I had to choose between Caroline and her. Caroline being gone without an explanation and not letting me know where she was, helped me to make up my mind. Louisa and I married.
JO: Were you and Louisa happy together?
JIM: Oh, yes. Yes, we were happy! We had a baby girl. We named her Lynn. That was Louisa’s middle name. Then when Momma and Poppa died with pneumonia that came down from the Carolinas, my baby sister, Emmajean, wouldn’t let anybody else hold her except me. Louisa and I brought her home with us. My other sister, Shirley Ann, married Henry Frank Stevens and they took my two brothers to live with them on Henry Frank’s folks’ farm.
JO: Jim, I’m sorry you lost your parents. After that though it seems things were looking up.
JIM: Maybe it looks that way. But when Lynn was two years old Louisa died of pneumonia . . . . I’m telling you, that was the worst time of my whole life. I wanted God to take me on with Louisa but I knew I had to raise Lynn. I couldn’t have done that without the help of Louisa’s sister, Callie, my sister, and my landlady, Mrs. Hall. My little sister, my baby, and I lived on at Mrs. Hall’s. She put us up in two rooms, side by side.
JO: As you said, that was the worst of your times. Can you please tell me about the good times you’ve had?
JIM: Okay. When the mill owner and his wife were killed in a car accident, their wills left me the mill and their home. You see, for some reason, when Caroline left, her parents disowned her. She never returned. They left everything to me. I own the mill now.
JO: Is that about it for the good things that have happened to you?
JIM: One more thing—I found Caroline and my son.
JO: Are you looking forward to 1951?
JIM: I really was because I wanted to work things out with Caroline and our children, James and Lynn. But on January 1, Emmajean, my baby sister, telephoned me from Atlanta, in some legal trouble.
JO: Why did she telephone you? Did she think you could help her way down in Atlanta?
JIM: Well, to answer your first question, she and I were very close growing up. She came to live with my wife and me when she was just a young teenager. As for your second question, she left Newton as soon as she graduated from high school. We haven’t seen much of her for the last 12 years. I’m thinking she must not have any friends down there and when she got into trouble, she naturally telephoned me to help her.
JO: What kind of trouble is she in?
JIM: Well, it’s some kind of trouble with drugs and a friend of hers. I had a lawyer in Atlanta get to her as soon as he could and then I left for Atlanta myself. I’m going back down there tomorrow for her arraignment and I’ll probably know more.
JO: So, as soon as you get Emmajean’s problem taken care of, you can devote your time to Caroline and your children?
JIM: Well, no, not really. My best friend, Arthur, has a son who’s a senior in high school who’s giving him a lot of trouble. Arthur needs my help too even if it is just moral support. So I’m staying close for him and going back and forth to Atlanta to see Emmajean.
JO: That doesn’t leave you much time for your personal plans, does it?
JIM: No, it certainly doesn’t. I’m torn among here and Atlanta and Knoxville, where Caroline lives and the children go to school.
JO: How long do you think it will be before Emmajean and Arthur won’t need your help?
JIM: I really don’t know.
JO: Can’t you put your own personal wishes first for a while?
JIM: I won’t turn my back on my baby sister and my best friend!
JO: Please excuse me, I didn’t mean to offend you.
JIM: I apologize for speaking harsh to you. It’s just that I’m going in so many directions. When I’m in Atlanta, I need to be here for Arthur. Then when I’m here for Arthur and running my mill, I need to be in Knoxville for my children and Caroline. I want to be with Caroline and my children.
JO: I hope Caroline understands the quandary you’re in.
JIM: I think sometimes she does but the situation I’m in also tries her patience.
JO: Is Caroline a patient person?
JIM: I’ll probably be finding out how patient she is before too long.