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One Monticello Life: Mr. Carpenter

October 1st, 2006 by

Mr. James Carpenter was born in 1938 and raised in Hamburg by a farmer and housewife. He is the 8th child of nine children. He has four brothers and four sisters. He went to school in Hamburg and managed to march in his high school’s graduation ceremonies, but he lacked a little to get an actual diploma.

After high school, he worked on his father’s farm in Hamburg. He then went to work at P.E. Barnes pallet mill for nine years. He worked for Georgia Pacific for one year and for a while at the Lake Village industries.

“I met my wife in the first part of April 1973,” Mr. Carpenter said. “We married October 1973. We will be married 33 years this October 13. I was 35. I was old enough.”

His wife was 30 years old and had six children from her first husband. On the day of their wedding, her oldest child was 10, and her youngest was four. Today they have 12 grand children and 3 great grand children. When talking about his grandchildren, Mr. Carpenter said, “Actually ten are ‘step,’ but I don’t call them that. I’m the only Pappaw they know. I treat them just like my own.”

Most might remember Mr. Carpenter from his six years at Wal-Mart. It was in 1995 that things changed for him. On his way home from work, he was attacked and beaten by some men. “They thought they was going to get a lot of money,” he said. “They thought they killed me. But I’m still here.”

He spent nine weeks in intensive care at Drew Memorial Hospital and at the University Hospital in Little Rock. He said his brain was damaged, and he had two seizures during that time. After being prescribed seizure medication that he still takes, he related that he has not had a seizure since that time.

After his recovery, he returned to Wal-Mart, but three years later, he was run over in the Wal-Mart parking lot. “He just didn’t see me,” said Mr. Carpenter about the incident. He never returned to work after that.

When asked several questions about his life, this is what he said:

  • What is one thing you like about living in Monticello? The people here. Good people.
  • How long have you been without a car? Pretty good while. 4-5 years, but I got my driver’s license.
  • Does your wife drive? She can drive. She don’t got no car. She doesn’t even have a driver’s license. All she and I got is a marriage license.
  • What you find up and down the streets of Monticello? Little bit of money. I have a shopping cart and bag to pick up cans.
  • How many bags of cans a week? 5-6 bags.
  • Where do you go to take a break? Exxon on Highway 278, Wal-Mart, Huddle House, and the lawn mower shop.
  • If you could tell today’s young people one piece of advice, what would it be? Be careful and stay out of trouble.

Mr. Carpenter was on his way to the car wash so he could look for change. He said, “If I had not got beat up or ran over, I would worked at Wal-Mart 14 years today and could have retired 3 years ago.”

Mr. Carpenter wanders his way through the streets of Monticello just about every day. He accepts rides when he’s without his shopping cart, and many people have bought quilts from him that his wife makes. If you’ve not seen him or stopped to chat, then you are missing one Monticello life.

46 Responses to “One Monticello Life: Mr. Carpenter”

  1. Rick Hales says:

    Wonderful story. I’d like to be the first respond by saying Mr. Carpenter has one of the kindest and gentle hearts in Monticello. He and I have ridden together on occasion. During these rides, he has never asked for anything. He is always polite and appreciative.

    I respect him for his diligence and think we can all learn from his kindness. I’m proud to call him a fellow Monticellonian.

    Thank you Jeff and Carolyn for doing Monticello Live or in Mr. Carpenter’s words “Much Obliged”.

  2. Diana says:

    This is a great story. Again I have learned something that I didn’t know. Mr. Carpenter probably walks more in one day that I have in my whole life time. You never know where you are going to see him. Thanks for this article.

  3. Kay Espinoza says:

    Thanks for that article on Mr.Carpenter, My husband and I own Sonic Drive In here on Monticello. We always
    make sure he has a lemonade to drink while checking our lot for lose change. He is always welcome at our
    resturant anytime! I’ve seen many times our carhops
    give him there tips out of there pockets. If nothing more than Thanks Mr.Carpenter for keeping us humble.
    You are truly a joy and Blessing for our town!!!!

  4. TJ says:

    It’s good to hear his story… Sad, but I, like many others who drive past him everyday – sometimes several times a day – had no idea what Mr Carpenter’s story was.

  5. Jeremy Woodall says:

    I am so glad that someone finally has written a story about Mr. Carpenter. With all the wrong and bad people out there it is such a blessing to have someone like Mr. Carpenter that God allows us to see walk through our town that gives us a sense of thankfullness for what we have and also challanges us to love people more and help people in need.

  6. K.T. says:

    What a great idea-showcasing those that are sometimes overlooked and those that deserve our respect.I love this story-Great Job,Carolyn!!!!!!!

  7. Karen says:

    Nice story on Mr. Carpenter. On occasion my husband and I have picked him up and given him a ride. When we have time this is the least that we can do. Sometimes angels walk among us and we don’t know it…

  8. b.h. says:

    nicely put Karen. Thanks Rick H. for info to this site

  9. Kristy says:

    Love this idea for the weekly special about a Monticellonian. It was great to see more about Mr. Carpenter. Can’t wait to see who is next!

  10. Brandon Hogg says:

    Great write-up on Mr. Carpenter. It’s always a pleasure to give him a ride and help him out when I can.

  11. Turah says:

    This story was very warming to my heart! My daughter is 12 years old and is a very loving and sweet young lady. We have given him several rides. She always wants to pick him up! Last winter she wanted to buy a coat for him because she could not stand the idea of him walking around in the cold… so we did. She could not understand why we could not just buy an “old car” for him to have so he did not have to walk! Gosh, the innocence of youth!!

  12. becca says:

    I am a member of the monticello east lab and Mrs. West recommended that we look at this site today. I was touched by Mr. Carpenter’s story. I am looking forward to reading the next weeks special.

  13. Martha says:

    Thank you so much for writing the story featuring Mr. James Carpenter.
    Now everyone will know how special and kind he is.
    He is a good friend.
    We used to work together many years ago at the local Wal-Mart store.
    I believe that he would give anything he had to be able to work again. (especially for Wal-Mart)

    Great Job!

  14. Janine E. Mangrum says:

    So nice to see someone enjoying the simple things in life, like walking and his easygoing nature. It makes you think about your life and want to slow down a bit. What a nice story!

  15. Marylee Noble says:

    Carolyn,
    What a wonderfully touching story! We can never know what others have experienced unless we “walk a mile in their moccasins.” Thank you for taking the time ahd having the sensitivity to do this. It sounds to me like Mr. Carpenter is always a blessing to the people who reach out to him. Jeff is certainly not the only writer in the family. Thanks for sharing your heart and your writing with us, Carolyn.
    I’m looking forward to the next “One Monticello Life.”

  16. Shannon Cortez says:

    Thank you Angela Wegley for referring me to this site. Interesting to learn about your town wanderer. I always wondered about him on my many visits to Monticello.

  17. Carrie Austin says:

    Carolyn, thanks for protraying James Carpenter as he really is. We were neighbors with his family when we were growing up at Promise Land.
    I saw James the other day and he said “Carrie Mae, Celeste is the only sister you have living, isn’t she? And I believe she’s about 91 years old.” Of course he was right. Carrie

  18. Kristy says:

    What a story – great way to start One Monticello Life off! Thanks so much for writing this so that others can see what a blessing Mr. Carpenter is to our town. We all can learn from him in one way or another.

  19. Letty Burton says:

    Jeff,
    I love this site! Diana referred me to it.
    This is great for our town. “Monticello-is-A-Live” !you are proving it with the many timely stories. Thank you for featuring Mr. Carpenter. His courage and zest for life is a lesson we can all gain from.
    Keep up the good work. Letty

  20. Norma McCoy says:

    What a story! What a man! Our thanks to you for sharing his life with us. I visit Monticello on occasions and you can be sure I will look for Mr. Carpenter from now on. What a blessing!!

  21. Andy Briant says:

    What a great story!!! We see Mr. Carpenter often, but I never really knew anything about him. We can all learn from this wonderful, humble man who has suffered so much yet still has a kind and sweet spirit!!! God Bless Mr. Carpenter and God Bless you for sharing this story! What a site!!!

  22. Norma McCoy says:

    After reading the story about Mr. Carpenter I had to share it with my husband and other friends. I also want to say thanks to Diana H. for sending me the link. Each of you are blessings for which I am most thankful.

  23. Steve says:

    Sometimes in life we just see people walking past us and never take the time to realize who they are, what they are about or what there life has been like. We also never stop to remember that Everyone has a story. If nothing else your life column will teach us to reach out more and take the time to find out aobut someone!
    Thanks for doing this story and contiuning this every week!

  24. Stories like this make me miss Monticello! Keep up the good work!

  25. Jeff Dickens says:

    I always wondered about that guy.

  26. Toney says:

    It’s about time people realize what a wonderful man my grandad is, it got so hard for me to listen to all the rumors about him that i couldn’t bare, thank you so much doing this..now people know, he is a kind and great man that will be remembered way after he is gone, thanks so much.

  27. Kay Espinoza says:

    Toney, he is really a blessing to our town!!

  28. Karen says:

    I recently read the article about Mr. Carpenter on this website and it really touched me. Me and my husband have seen him several times walking his way around Monticello. Our daughter has also seen Mr. Carpenter while attending U.A.M. I remember when he used to work at WalMart. I was saddened to hear of the things that have happened to him. He hasn’t let these things ruin his life. From what I’ve read Mr. Carpenter is a very humble and genuine person who I’m he enjoys visiting people around town as he makes his way around Monticello. I recently saw him in WalMart. I figured he was probably visiting some of his friends who work there. I hope Mr. Carpenter will continue to make friends as he is a blessing to those he meets.

  29. kimmisam2 says:

    I love the idea of spotlighting someone who otherwise would get very recognition. This man has had some hard times, but he doesn’t seem to let it get him down.

  30. Beth says:

    Very nice story on Mr. Carpenter.

  31. Christina Emery says:

    Mr Carpenter is such a sweet man. I’ve picked him up on occasion. My sisters and I picked him up twice in one day, my husband has also helped him out. He is probably the only man that I’ve ever felt safe enough to give a ride to. We all love Mr Carpenter.

  32. cam says:

    Isn’t it great that a young man can read a wonderful story about his grandfather on this site and be so touched. Toney, telling others about how he played with you and rode you on his shoulders when you were little make us all realize that life can change at any moment, but it does not have to change the person that we are inside. I bet he will be looking up whenever he sees an airforce jet go over and think of how proud he is of you after you leave in December. God Bless you and the rest of your family.

  33. Lou Arnold says:

    Great story on Mr. Carpenter. I never knew his story. I love these stories of ordinary people around Monticello.

  34. Laci Harris says:

    Great Story!!!! I think Mr.Carpenter is such a sweet man!!! I believe with ALL of my heart that Mr.Carpenter is an angel sent here from god…!!! Looking at a man that has had to go through so much and is still living to tell his story is such a wonderful thing. I thank god for giving Mr. Carpenter to this town. It just wouldn’t be the same without him. This website is such a great idea! Thanks Mr. Jeff for all of the great things you and Mrs.Carolyn do for this town! You mean so much to me and many many more people in this town!!!!

  35. Shelia Etheridge says:

    Mr. James is one of our regular visitors. He is like part of the community. When he doesn’t show up we get worried that maybe he has gotten sick. We save our cinnimon rolls from the breakfast bar and he gets a coffee fill up before he starts back on his regular walk. He always smiles and talks to everyone. Always polite always with a smile on his face.

    We all know and appreciate him here at the Holiday Inn Express. Mr. James is one of a kind.

  36. none says:

    great site

  37. AL says:

    Great story about a very good man..I think someone should have somekind of cookout benefit or something to raise money for The Carpenter Family since he can’t draw his retirement. Maybe it would raise enough money for a car or some sort. Also, does anyone no what ever happened to the ppl that attacked him?

  38. Dawn R says:

    Great tribute!

  39. BoB says:

    he is a very nice man and every time i see him and we are going the same way i pick him up never ask me for a dime.

  40. Lin Harvey says:

    I think that Mr. Carpenter is such a sweet man. I remember one time my sister and I were getting gas and he was just out walking and i wanted to do something for him so bad. I never have money so Laci gave me like 3 dollars or so to give him. I got back in the car and called my mom cryin so hard b/c of the joy i had from just givin a few dollars to a man who would never ask for anything. I will never forget that night. I wish i could do more. thanks for the wedsite!

  41. Cindy Bolen says:

    Great story! Very heart-warming. Mr. Carpenter sure is a angel sent from above!

  42. This is a heart warming story about Mr.Carpenter. For a long time I have heard of him and have seen him. I really didn’t know anything about him. Now I will feel more comfortable about offering him a ride and buying him a meal.

    The Bible teaches us to becareful how we entertain strangers unware!

    I also remember that we must do unto others as we would have them do unto you. During Christmas 2007 I want forget Mr. Carpenter.

    Thanks Jeff for this wonderfull site. I dont enter chat rooms simply because I dont feel safe or comfortable. With this site I can express my feeling and feel safe at the same time and perhaps I can lend a helping hand to one such as Mr, Carpenter!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Kasey Earl says:

    Wow! An amazing life! I usually get Mr. Carpenter to share a moment from his life with me when I give him a ride, but he has never mentioned that before. Thank you for this article. For those of you who have never taken the opportunity to give Mr. Carpenter a lift, do it. He’ll surely lift you.

  44. Tess says:

    Great article on an even greater man who my daughters and I think a lot of! The last day of school before Christmas of 2005, it was cold and raining out as the girls and I headed towards the north end of town. I had just picked up my older two girls from school and we were all excitted about being officially out for the Christmas break. It was nasty outside, so cold and rainy. As we sat in traffic, I said to my oldest who was sitting in the front seat beside me….”get in the next seat, I want to give Pop Carpenter a ride and get him out of the cold”. So we did just that… he wanted to go to none other than Wal Mart! We have given him a ride on a couple of other occasions and each time I enjoy doing so. There is nothing like the feeling inside when you do something nice for someone and this someone wants nor expects anything in return. I hope Pop Carpenter is walking the streets of Monticello for many more years to come. Keep up the great articles.

  45. angela says:

    Mr. Carpenter is truly a blessing, it is unfortunate that people would do such mean things to him. Mr. Carpenter could be the kind of person who sits around and feels sorry for himself, but he is not. I also have given Mr. Carpenter a ride, and I hope when my 4 boys are driving they will also help Mr. Carpenter. I often wonder if people such as Mr. Carpenter are sent here to test us, to see if we will offer a caring hand to our fellow friend. The Lord has sent Mr. Carpenter here and we must respect and love him because that is what Jesus would do…. also my son Blake has big plans to give Mr. Carpenter a ride, when he begins driving and I am so proud my child is so caring…..{it does a mothers heart good}…

  46. Gina Lawrence says:

    I just so happened to stumble upon this site while I was browsing for something and I am glad that I did. I havent heard anything about it at all but I will be bookmarking the site that way I can visit it more regularly. I love what you all have written about Mr. Carpenter. He is such a wonderful man. I know that I have picked him up several times either when I was by myself or with my mother. Also, before my husband and I got married, he didnt know anything about Mr. Carpenter becuase he is not from Monticello, but now he knows who he is and doesnt mind giving him a ride either. Mr. Carpenter should be an example to us about not taking things for granted. I know that I used to get so down and depressed when my car wasnt running and had to be in the shop a day or 2. I hated having to catch a ride with someone. This man has no vehicle and doesnt even think twice about walking out into town to take care of his business. We should think about the everyday things in life that we take for granted. Great Story!

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