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Childhood memory published

When Rodney Black was a child in Cherryville, his father’s hobo friend, Caleb Farmer, came to visit.
It was in the midst of World War II, and his father had not seen Farmer for 10 years. Their only contact was through penny postcards that Farmer sent from all over the United States.
That year, however, Farmer sent one asking to come visit his childhood home for Christmas.
It was Black who went to pick Farmer up from the train station and bring him back to the cozy little house.
After a joyful reunion, dinner and more than a few sips of white liquor, something unexpected happened — Farmer fell out of his chair and soon died.
“This has been something that was talked about in our family, and you marveled that something like this could happen and why it happened,” Black said.
Since Farmer was a hobo with no relatives to speak of, Black’s family raised money for a proper burial.
As Black writes in his story “Mr. Farmer’s Homecoming,” which was published in “Our State” this month, “Some said that he died from Pop’s hot room, some from Mom’s rich food and some from the white liquor. But I think that Caleb Farmer just came home to die.”
The story was Black’s first attempt at writing. The memory came to the 69-year-old when he was suffering from life-threatening bronchitis.
“Over a three-night period the story came to me word for word just like someone was typing it in my head as it happened,” Black said.
He shared it with friends and family who told him “You need to do something with this.”
And so he sent it off to “Our State,” not thinking much of it.
“I thought that it would end up in a wastebasket,” he said.
Instead, it became a published story, which was raved about by both friends and strangers. Black even received a call from a woman in Washington praising the story.
“Some people send things off forever and don’t ever get published,” Black said. “I’m pretty proud of it.”
Black says he’s now using up his 15 minutes of fame. Whether or not he’ll write again remains to be seen.
Now a Crouse resident, Black’s busy enough with his upholstery business. Besides, before this story, he’d never written anything in his life “except a letter to the editor.”
Still the success of writing down this memory has made him wonder if he has others worth telling.
“This was just out of the blue, and I don’t know if I have another story or not,” Black said.
by Sarah Grano

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