One Monticello Life: Mr. CarpenterOctober 1st, 2006 by Carolyn
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.
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