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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Living with the Samwells



Honestly, I don’t know how we survived growing up in that neighborhood, on that street. Looking back at it now, I can’t believe that we accepted it as normal, as inevitable, as right. George Samwell and his family were a danger, a menace.

George Samwell and his wife, Martha, and their many children lived down the street from us, in one of the larger houses in the neighborhood. Grandmother said that she remembered playing with the children of another family that lived there before the Samwells. I asked Grandmother what happened to them, where they moved, but Grandmother didn’t say. She just got very quiet and told me to leave her alone for a while. I think she was crying.

The Samwell kids used to run around the yard, and up and down the street, shooting at each other with their guns – actual guns. They shot out windows and mailboxes, even shot each other occasionally. Sam just stood there, arms akimbo, chuckling. “What can you do?” he said. “It’s not like you can take away their guns.”

We were never able to prove it, and even if we could have, would we have said anything? We could never prove it, but I’m sure it was one of the Samwell kids who climbed over our fence one night, and killed our dog. They shot him.

George Samwell came into our house once, while we were sitting down to dinner. “Whataya’ eatin’?” he asked. “What is that? Lettuce?”


“Kale” my mother answered.

“I don’t like Kale. Don’t buy that no more. I like beef.” He opened our refrigerator and poked around its contents. “You should buy beef,” he said as he closed the fridge. “Be sure that you do.”

The worst thing though, the thing that really should have tipped the scales - the man had a howitzer in his back yard. A goddamn howitzer cannon in his back yard. He stood out there on summer afternoons, wearing flip-flops and swim trunks, polishing and waxing his big gun. “It’s for self-defense,” he chortled as he drank a beer and patted his cannon. 

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