Visit Provides A Peek Into A Father's Painful Past

Jul 14, 2011

It was 1912 when Robert Walker fell off a cart that was used to pull heavy logs out of the forest, and the cart ran over him. Walker was 5 years old.

"He was just severely injured," Julian Walker — Robert's son — tells his daughter Julia Walker Jewell at StoryCorps in North Carolina. "And as an old man, he still had scars on his head where his scalp was rolled back. He was just scalped."

The one doctor in Pender County, N.C., did what he could to patch Robert up and then sent him to the hospital in Wilmington, N.C.

"He had to live there and have special care and a family befriended him and took him in," Julian says.

When Robert was an old man, he would sit in his chair on the front lawn under the oak trees.

One day he was sitting there and an elderly couple, the Marshalls, came to the house. Mrs. Marshall went inside and all the menfolk sat outside. When Robert asked John Marshall was from, he found out he was from Wilmington, N.C.

"And my dad said, 'You know when I was a kid I was injured, and a family took me in. I do not know their names or anything about them. I just remember they had other children.' Mr. Marshall said, 'Do you remember a teenage boy that used to carry you on his shoulders? That was me.' I noticed my father look to the northeast, Mr. Marshall looked to the southeast, and I saw a tear run down their faces."

"I felt like I was invading somebody's privacy, so I quickly left, and I let them have their moment. It was hard for me to see for a little while, either," Julian says. "But I could look back and see the depth of memories between these two old men. My daddy wasn't a real emotional man, and he didn't dwell on those things, so I never knew of this family until I heard the conversation. And you know, to hear that made me know there were a lot of things about my father that I didn't know."

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