It was nearing dusk the next day when Calliope woke up from a jet lagged stupor. She barely remembered driving the two hour drive to Pace Springs from Memphis International Airport or even getting into her room.
She did remember that the front desk was manned by a rather spry older man who doubled as a groundsman at the Rosen Bed and Breakfast. In the brief research she had done on Pace Springs, she recalled photographs of the once small, bustling city in the middle of the Mississippi Delta used to be before the Great Depression. But as Calliope had driven through the town, she thought of it more as a ghost town that need a little shake, and the little bed and breakfast being quaint and in need of a coat of paint.
The Ritz-Carlton it was not, but what it lacked in grandness it made up for with friendly smiles and immediate assistance. Her room was plain but comfortable overlooking the neatly kept back garden. Calliope was glad the room opened on to a small balcony that overlooked the small garden with a small table and chair.
Calliope let down her long, thick blonde hair, brushed it, put on some lip gloss and headed for the Pace Springs Historical Museum. Stepping in through the front door was like a blast from the past, she thought grinning.
The ground floor of the museum spoke of Pace Springs from its founding to World War II. Luckily, it was quiet with very few patrons. She felt no qualms of being the only Yank in the room. She wandered the floor looking at the large framed photographs and paintings on the walls and the artifacts behind glass. A full regalia Army uniform in a corner caught her attention as she remembered the picture of Wade that was in her shoulder bag. Calliope had a longing to be a part of the era that most likely serviced her family as she placed her hand on the glass. How she wished the plane had whisked her back to the time before the wars when she could enjoy the splendor and glamour of the roaring ‘20s.
Even though she had seen nothing of the places of her mother’s youth, Calliope felt a tugging of emotion simply by being in her mother’s birthplace and hoped she was not going to be disappointed by finding the past had been eradicated and that her private quest would not reach a dead end.
A gray-haired, nuggetty little man in a button down shirt and khaki slacks walked up beside her as she looked at the uniform and addressed her. “You likin’ what you see?”
Calliope smiled confused at the old man not understanding him. “Excuse me?”
“My apologies,” he said speaking in a long Southern drawl. His face fractured into a hundred wrinkles as he smiled at her.
“I am sorry. Have you been here long?” Calliope walked past the uniform looking at the World War II-era photographs beside it.
“I did not want to disturb you looking around. Are you here for a holiday?”
“Yes and no. I’m doing a big of research, looking back at old families and the old days.”
“Why?” he said with genuine surprise. “What for?”
Calliope walked as she thought of an answer. “I might write something or uncover a new branch to my family tree.”
“Be careful, young lady. I know you ain’t from around here, so you’re more likely to scare up a skeleton or two in these parts,” the old man winked. “Where are you going to start?”
“I’m not sure. I thought about trying here.”
“This is a good place. Lots of history, and if ya need help, I’m here most days.”
Calliope laughed. “You would be able to help me?”
“It can never hurt to try. I’ve lived a long time and know a lot,” he said and looking expectantly at Calliope.
She took the hint and put out her hand. “I’m Calliope Greene.”
They shook hands.
“Frank McGrath, people around these parts call me Wolf.”
“Can you tell me if there are any older families here?”
“There are a few, but most are getting on in years and keep to themselves. They are a mixed group. It depends on what you are looking for.”
Calliope fished in her shoulder bag for the old photograph and showed it to Wolf. “He’s part of my past, but I don’t know how.”
Wolf studied the picture.
“He’s not a popular figure,” he said. “It was during my time, but I don’t know who it could be.” He eyed the name and year on the photograph.
The conversation rambled on as Wolf regaled Calliope of highly improbable stories of the past which she enjoyed immensely. Hunger and small twinges of jetlag forced her to bid him a good day.
“You have been great company, and I’m sure we’ll have a chance to talk again.”
“That would be great. You can always find me here as I said,” said Wolf warmly.