Thompson M Collum-Odessa's Screams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story was written on Sept 26, 2014. Facts, dates, names, places, events, and activities are true. Story was written around the facts.

Submitted: June 20, 2017

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Submitted: June 20, 2017

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Thompson Miller Collum –Odessa’s Screams

by faye collum fairley

 

They each had inadequacies and weaknesses.  Thompson Collum was  twenty four years old, and had never driven a car.  Odessa Patterson could not even turn on a computer.  She was desperately in love witth Thompson, and intended to marry him despite his inabilities.  Thomson had no problem with her shortcomings, he knew they would face all the obstacles together.

 No, they had no kind of mental illness.  They were perfectly normal, intelligent people.  it was 1909, and they had limited knowledge of technology, simply because the world was just waking up to new things.

Thompson Miller Collum was born September 6, 1885 in Newton County GA.He and Odessa Patterson were joined in matrimony in 1909.  It was a beautiful time in America to begin a new life.William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States. Technology was really growing in leaps and bounds.  The famous White House had been enjoying electricity since 1891.

 

Thompson held a position of authority in a twine mill.  He was a “spinning overseer”.  This indicates that they did not live out in the rural area of Newton Georgia.  Because of their location, they received modern luxuries before most people of that era.  Living in a more populated area had its quirks, but as they would discover later, this more populated area could also be a deadly enemy.

 

Most homes had inside water.  Some homes even had what was called a “water closet”.  It consisted of a toilet and wash basin. Odessa was fortunate enough to enjoy the convenience of water inside the home.  She also had the promise of electric lights very soon.  Thompson was determined to give his wife and family all the conveniences available.  Her kitchen was equipped with a new range for cooking.  She also had a pitcher pump in her kitchen.  She only had to pump all the water she needed.Her range still required wood for fuel, but considering all the work involved in cooking when she was a child, this was very modern. 

 

Their first child was born in 1910.  They named him William Alford, but the name “Billie” stuck with him from the beginning.  With his crooked smile and big brown eyes, he could melt the heart of anyone.  Before his second birthday, Odessa and Thompson had the wonderful luxury of electric lights.  Life was wonderful in this Collum home.  A two year old little boy full of wonder and mischief kept them entertained day after day.

 

 In 1913, Mary was born.  She was such a beautiful little girl.Billie was the perfect big brother; he was always ready to help with his little sister.  In 1915, another girl joined the family.  Little Catherine was a beautiful and precious addition.  No family had ever enjoyed more happiness.  Blessings seem to overflow for them.  With modern conveniences, this family had time to enjoy picnics, swimming in the creek, picking flowers, and swinging in the big shade tree.  This family was incredibly happy.  Modern luxuries gave Odessa more time to enjoy her children.  Little Billie was so helpful with his little sisters.  He seemed to be very proud to be the big brother to the girls.

 

In June, 1917, little Sarah joined this beautiful family.  Thompson and Odessa were so proud of their family. By this time, they were enjoying all the modern conveniences of technology.  Life was good.

 

When Sarah was only a few months old, a sickness came over their son.To date, no one knew much about “influenza”, and less how to treat it.  Soon Catherine was also stricken with the symptoms.  With a baby, a five year old, and two sick children to care for, Odessa felt desperate.  The news had travelled around to let people know what they were facing.  This was called Spanish Influenza, and people were told it was global. The name they used was actually “pandemic”.  More populated areas would be experiencing more cases of the virus.  Quarantine was recommended whenever possible.  For this reason, Thompson’s sister-in-law came to live with them.  With three small children of her own, it is safe to assume she left those children with their father.  It is also a safe assumption to believe that Odessa’s other two girls were also in his care.

 

 This silent, invisible, killing monster was preying on the entire globe.  It moved slowly, and claimed an estimated 675,000 lives.

 

On October 12, 1918, Billie passed away.  I can only imagine the desperation felt by Odessa.  She had cared for, cried for, and prayed for her two sick children.  Now Billie is gone.  Her frail, tired body is full of grief, anger, resentment, confusion, hatred, and desolation.Out of familiarity and adrenaline, Odessa tried to care for little Catherine.  Her sister-in-law Belle was there to help also.  Odessa seemed to be in a “trance” of sorts, trying to function as always.  Only five days later, little Catherine also died.  Odessa was so broken from her loss, she seemed catatonic.

 

It would be impossible to speculate how this lady felt without having experienced a loss of this magnitude.  With my own imagination, I can see Odessa being so driven to overcome that she would use the last part of her faith to bring her back to the family members who need her.  Whatever force might lead her to this destination would be anyone’s guess.

 

In my mind’s eye, I see her walking outside into the openness of the dark night.  As her legs are too weak to allow her to stand, she falls to her knees.

With her arms held up to the starry sky, she screams in a most reverberating and loathsome sound.  The screams seem to be so heavy laden with pain and suffering, that they linger on and on, echoing into the night with torment.  It is as if Odessa is releasing some of the destruction holding her in bondage like a prisoner.  Scream after scream, each one is filled with dark and painful desolation.  Immeasurable octaves of destructive darkness released into the night until she regains a modicum of peace. 

 

It has been almost one hundred years now.If you drive through Newton Georgia on a cool dark October night, don’t be surprised if you hear the loathsome sound of Odessa’s screams.

The End

 

 Thompson Miller Collum9/6/1885 son of Robert Collum and Elizabeth Garrett.

Odessa Patterson  11/21/1889daughter of  Taylor Patterson and Sarah F.


© Copyright 2017 faye collum fairley. All rights reserved.

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