My first memory of Philadelphia goes back to childhood when I was a little boy and I went there by train with my grandparents to visit relatives--Uncle John "Jakie" Jr.., grandfather's firstborn son. At the time everything seemed bigger to me in Philadelphia than they were back home at my grandparents place in South Carolina where there was just a house, a barn, a smokehouse, farm animals, my dog Brownie, a horse I used to ride named Kate, lots of land with an irrigation pond surrounded by man-made hills and woods everywhere, and the closet neighbor a mile away. Yet, Philadelphia with its tall houses and buildings in every block seemed bigger in my eyes than all of South Carolina...and there was a snail pace movement. Nothing seemed to move very fast or at all back in Florence county, SC.
I heard the voices of friends, vanished and gone,
The first morning I awoke alone in a foreign bedroom in Philadelphia I looked up and saw the silhouette of head that shone through the crack of a light at the door that had been left ajar. A head with eyes that seem to look right at me. I didn’t move, didn’t even breathe and couldn’t swallow. I was afraid to scream or call out for help. But did say, hello…hello…but the head didn’t answer, didn’t move. So I just laid there for the longest time and every time I looked up that head with those listless eyes was pointed right at me. Finally I decided I had to get out, had to escape. So I closed my eyes as tight as I could…jumped out of bed and ran past the head and out of the room ending right in my grandmother’s arms who was always listening to whatever ails me. In hysterics and probably in the most dramatic way humanly possible since even then I was a melodramatic child I told her all about the person in my bedroom who kept watching me and wouldn’t leave and I made up other terrible things about him to get the reaction I desired, and grandmother laughed, took me by the hand and we went back to the bedroom and she turned on the lights and I saw the head on top of the dresser facing the bed was nothing more than a wig head that looked like person’s head in the dark.
I was relieved and no longer afraid but that’s what I remember every time I see Philadelphia, that sinister wig head, of voices vanished and gone...