Friday, May 14, 2010

Heart and Soul

I don't remember what day it was. I was either coming from or going to one of my many doctor appointments the week of April 5, when I passed by his house. As always, I glanced toward the porch, hoping to find him there, even though in my heart, I knew he wouldn't be. Instead, I found the porch and small front yard filled with men in suits, women in dresses. Apprehension filled my soul and, resigned to the inevitability, I uttered an audible, "oh, no."

Opening The Ashland City Times the following week, I turned immediately with an almost certain dread to the obituaries. There it was, in black and white. Jack Moore had died.

His name was Herman Richard Moore, but somewhere along life's path, he had been dubbed Jack. He was born on April 6, 1926 and died one day before his birthday eighty three years later. He had buried his parents, four brothers, and a grandson before him, but left behind one brother, four sisters, four daughters, and a host of grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. There were many more friends and family, including his wife, Edith Simpson Moore. They had been married sixty four years.

I had worried last spring, when I hadn't seen him on the porch even when the weather had been warm for weeks. Van, at the hardware store, relayed that Jack's health had deteriorated over the winter, and he had been placed in a nursing home. I held hope high that he would return home, to his humble white cottage on Pleasant View Road.

But he didn't. I never saw him again.

Who was this Jack Moore, that his death has touched me so? It's hard for me to answer that, since I had never even met the man. He wasn't a relative; he held no public office, owned no business, and certainly was no celebrity. Perhaps his only claim to fame was that his photo, the one above, hung front and center in the Pleasant View Diner. Fred had met him on several occasions, and our son knew him quite well; he was a frequent visitor at Van's Hardware Store when Prince Charming had worked there.

Frequent visitor? No, he was part of the store, almost a fixture. He usually arrived when the store opened at 7:30 in the morning, went home around lunch time, and often returned later in the day. He talked of his working days at Werthan Bag Company in Nashville, where he began employment in $1.00 per hour; of how he knew it was time to get out of bed every morning when his wife slid a pan of homemade biscuits into the oven. She awoke at 3:45 to make those biscuits and get her family ready for the day. You could just about bet that if Jack Moore wasn't down at the hardware store, retelling his stories, swapping jokes and innocent gossip with Van and community folk, he was at home, sitting on the front porch.

For that's what Jack did: he sat on the front porch. He counted cars. And he waved. He waved at every passing vehicle, be it friend, family, or stranger. And we waved back.

When he bought his little house, for $4000, Pleasant View was a tiny community, and his residence was virtually the last house in town before the creek bridge that led to farms and wide open spaces. But as the farmers sold their acres, and subdivisions began to dot the countryside, Pleasant View Road became a busy thoroughfare, and hurried travelers often ignored the posted thirty mile an hour speed limit. "I better go see what's goin' on out on that freeway," Jack was heard to say of the street.

But the increase in traffic didn't impede his self imposed role as Pleasant View's one man hospitality committee. His arm was often held high multiple times a minute, for he never let a car go by that didn't receive one of his friendly waves.

In a public acknowledgement in the newspaper the week following his funeral, the family issued thanks for the many prayers, visits, foods, flowers, and cards that had come their way. They closed with, "For all those that traveled Pleasant View Road daily and took the time to wave at Jack - a special thank you."

No, he was not a person of great importance in the world; he was a simple man, living a quiet small town life; but he was the heart and soul of Pleasant View.

Our little town won't be the same without him. For with his passing, we lost one of the last vestiges of the simple life. Our town now has a sprinkling of fast food restaurants, a video store, even a small hospital. We have a traffic light and a new city park under construction. The population has more than doubled in the fourteen years since we moved here. And it will continue to grow, as more people flee the cities and seek a simpler life, cleaner air, and better schools.

But the new people will never know that the heart of Pleasant View once lay in the soul of one man. One man who left a legacy of kindness and friendship upon a small Southern town. One man...named Jack Moore.

Thank you, Jack, and sleep well.


  1. What a lovely post!! Makes me feel nostalgic for the small town I grew up in. I now live in a city but hoping to be back out in the sticks in a couple of months. Can't wait for the clean air, smell of the trees and the greetings from strangers.

    Milt's Mum xx

  2. A beautiful tribute to a great man.

    I love that he recognized something in all the people that passed by. it makes me feel like he could see something divine in them, maybe that they didn't even know they had.

    really beautiful.

  3. What a beautiful tribute.

    And yes... I think he was a very important person...

  4. What a beautiful tribute, Ethel Mae...And what a lovely story...This is a excellent snapshot of a community icon...and you have described him in such a way as to make me feel I know him. You are such an extraordinary writer! Hope your weekend is wonderful! Love, Janine XO

  5. Gee that gives you a lump in the throat. Its people like Jack that remind you of human warmth, kindness and happiness.

    Thanks for a great post,
    xoxo DJ

  6. Oh,that is the nicest tribute! Thanks for telling us about him...I think those like him all across the country are disappearing, sad to say. Everyone pulls into their garages after work, never to be seen again until they leave the next morning. And I think many people look the other direction when someone waves, thinking 'oh crap, if I look their way they're gonna hold me up with their talking'.

  7. That was beautiful! I hope you share it with his family.

  8. What a wonderful tribute to Jack. He sounds like he was quite a guy.

  9. "But the new people will never know that the heart of Pleasant View once lay in the soul of one man."

    Perhaps not, but the old ones will. And that is what makes the difference between a good place to live, and not. Lovely post.

  10. They certainly don't make them like Jack, anymore. But even though I've never seen him and you never met him, I feel like I know him!

    There is a little of Jack in one of my old housemates' fathers, who sat on his porch in Western New York waving to every car that passed. And there's a little of him in my father's friends from grammar school, who used to pass time in my parents' pharmacy after their own work days.

    Thanks for the memories, Ethel.

  11. Thank you for this. You've written it so well, I feel like its part of my own memories. Those old guys sure did love to congregate at the Hardware Store. I remember going there with my dad on occasion and it would be filled with older farmers all laughing and visiting. Dad would join in and soon he'd be filled in on all the latest gossip...which he'd tell my mom later on. (and men think WOMEN are the ones who gossip! LOL). This brought back some nice memories for me and God Bless you sure will be missed in your little town!

  12. awwwwww. you made me feel like i knew Jack. this was a great post, and a great tribute . you should send this in to your local newspaper. seriously. it's too good, and too honest, and really a tribute , not only to Jack but to the town of Pleasant Grove as well. go ahead and send it in. ok. i know the towns people would love to read it, it would be an honor for his friends and family to see this.

    anyhow-- very touching. it made me think of the man that we bought our house from. he was a lot like you described Jack. he had a sudden , unexpected death as well, right around the holidays (09). the entire area knew him. he built this house, and many more around us. it was sad to hear of the loss for the family. it's people like that though, that you know they touched the lives of so many people, and their legacy will live on -- and on.

    thank you for reminding me -- just how far a wave or smile can go.

    hope you are doing well - have a happy day!


  13. What a wonderful post and tribute. We all could learn something here and everyone would benefit from a more pleasant and happy community.
    Have a great weekend.....:-) Hugs

  14. Such a sweet tribute to the connectedness we all feel with one another. I am sure Jack would be so proud to read this.

  15. What a beautiful tribute to a hometown treasure. I can just picture what life must look like in your little town, and I can see ol' Jack waving from his porch.:) You are a wonderful writer! Thanks for posting this.

  16. This is a great post.

    The picture of the dear old man reminded me of my own farmer dad, who lived to the ripe old age of 91, who often wore his bib overalls to work in.

    I remember an older man who used to sit in his red pickup at the end of his driveway and wave to every one who passed by. He lived in the country and his home was on the highway that I traveled to a town where I shopped occasionally. I don't know who he was, but every time I would drive by he would be there. One year, I didn't see him any more. I often wondered what became of him...I missed his wave.

  17. What a beautiful tribute to Jack. What a wonderful man he was. And I loved that he had quietly touched so many lives.

  18. (Typing through tears)I have known several Jack Moore's in my life tho I was not blessed enough to know this one personally. It makes me so sad that the whole world can not be like Jack Moore. Let our prayer's tonight and every night include "Dear Lord,please give me the wisdom to be a simple person". Jack,this wavy's for you.

  19. i had to come back-- cuz i had a nagging feeling i said the wrong name for your town-- and i did. i apologize. you know how my mind is though by now. don't ya? sorry.
    seriously though-- do think about the newspaper thing.

    i hope you're day is good to you-

  20. This is just a beautiful tribute to the Jack and all the Jacks in this world. Our town as many are full of old fellas like Jack. The world will miss him.

    God bless you sweetie and have a wonderful day!!!

  21. What a beautiful tribute to your neighbour, Jack. Every town should have a greeter and a fixture such as he. Thank you for sharing this special man with us. Perhaps you might want to consider printing out this blog post and sharing it with his family. I'm sure they would be very touched. Hugs to you, EthelMae.

  22. I loved this post. What a sweet ode to Jack, and to a time when life was simpler.

    My grandmother had a porch like that. Perfect for sitting, relaxing and watching the cars go by.

    I miss her.

  23. First of all, I love your new blog theme. Stormy and beautiful, where did you get it. Blogger's themes are ugly!

    You have a way of bringing the anonymous to life for all of us. There is a Jack in every town and you have brought them all a little closer to our heart.

  24. What a touching post. Such a great tribute to a seemingly wonderful and simple man. Thanks for sharing!

  25. What a beautiful and touching tribute.

    Thank You for writing to me about my baby belly photo. You had me in tears. You have a way with words and always touch my heart. Thank You for being you and being my friend. Love you lots,

  26. That was a wonderful, touching post, Ethel. I'm so glad I read it, and I thank you for sharing it.

    He was important, though. Someone who made it his mission to make others feel acknowledge, welcomed? As if they had found a friendly sanctuary? I am being sincere when I say that I can't think of a more wonderful thing to decide to do in a life.

    An everyday diplomat, offering greetings to one and all.

    If the world was full of people with exactly that sort of approach to the rest of human race, we would live in peaceful, friendly times, indeed.

    May he have had a large welcome party on the other side. It would be in keeping to a man who was a friend to all.

  27. Thank you for telling me about Jack in this post.

  28. What a delightful post - so tender and moving. I think I would have liked Jack a lot had I ever had the honour of meeting him.

  29. congrats on the POTW,

    this is an incredible tribute to a wonderful man.
    a little bit of his soul will stay in mine now, a wave through your words.

    and I 've bookmarked you, lost you , but found you through Hilary :)

  30. A lovely post. These local characters are an important part of the fabric of life, city or country. Thanks for remembering and sharing one of yours.

    Congratulations on the potw.

  31. Oh! What a nice thing it was to see this post mentioned over at Hilary's in the posts of the week, Ethel.

    Jack is still greeting people, even now. Congratulations.

  32. a beautifully written tribute

    congrats on POTW

  33. Nicely done. Such a pleasure to come upon a good soul, and to have his bit of friendliness recalled by one touched by it.

  34. This touches me.

    "...he was not a person of great importance in the world..."
    Wouldn't it be nice if being friendly and waving to strangers were more important than whatever it is that all the Important People do?

  35. A very touching story - thanks for sharing this, and congrats on POTW.

  36. What a great impact this one man had on the people around him (and the collective consciousness in general). I will miss his friendly wave even though I never experienced it until today. Thanks for honoring his memory and sharing with us, EthelMae. Hugs

  37. what a beautiful tribute...congrats on the POTW as well...and just came from your roast. you are all over the place this week. smiles.

  38. That was a lovely post and I see you were awarded POTW! Deservedly so.
    Jack did something that was memorable to everyone waving at them when they were going by. When he died...... he was sure to be missed.

    I have just come over from Eddie's Sunday Roast which I enjoyed very much!

    Nuts in May

  39. Hip, hip hooray!!!!!!!!!!! This was such an amazing post!!!!!!! So deserving of POTW!!!!! Doing some cartwheels here!!! AND CONGRATULATIONS on your ROAST!!!! YOU are SUCH a celebrity!!!! It was wonderful!!! I went back for reheated seconds, but I think I overcooked them...LOL...

    Seriously, though, I am more than amazed and honored by your kindness to me...your beautiful words, commendation and recommendation of my blog and posts leaves me speechless. I'm simply floored.

    And now, I feel I must warn you that you ought not have done that...You've really gone and done it NOW... you will be STUCK with me FOREVER...and I may even have to come HAUNT you in Tennessee! :-) Thank you with ALL of my heart!!! I love you. You are a kindred spirit...and I wish we were neighbors. Sigh. I suppose that for now I must settle for the designation of blogging friend...but one of these out! Love you, Janine XO

  40. A very poignant post, Ethel...
    He reminds me so much of the older gentleman in my area (south Georgia.)
    This is a lovely and touching post...

  41. What a beautiful memorial. You're a good person!

  42. i'm so happy that you did what you did--- and even more so, that i was the little birdie in your ear ! :))

    any chance you might have an extra copy layin around?

    i'm so proud of you! -- big risk huh? good for you tho-- big hugs to you- and a big ole pat on the back too !

    thanks for lettin me know btw.

    keep in touch ok?
    are you on FB? email me your 'name'?

    g'night -
    keep writin!


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