Part 4 of The Bannisters
Joey Langston tried to forget his wife. When his daughter, Adelaide, moved from Missouri to Bamberg; the memories returned. She looked just like her: fawn eyes and dark brown hair. Little ringlets brushed Adelaide’s neck. Mrs. Langston liked ringlets.
An occupying Union soldier stopped Mrs. Langston on the way home one afternoon in September 1875. He took her in an unoccupied wood building. The man raped and slit her throat.
In his grief, Joey Langston could say little. If he complained too much, the Union officers would view him as a Southern sympathizer. He would be judged unfaithful to the country for which his only son fought and died.
“People are going west looking for a new life,” Joey said to his restaurant cook, Oliver Bannister. “They’ll only find more war with the Indians.”
“War is the worst thing to have happened to us,” Oliver, now 20, replied. “I’m glad I never had to go.”
“That blasted war took everything: unity, your father and my only boy. Well, we’ll build a new world here now that those soldiers are leaving.”
Joey stood over Oliver as he sawed a piece of wood for a house skeleton.
“Stop,” Joey said. “You’re doing it all wrong, son.”
Taking the saw, Joey showed Oliver the correct way to work the wood like he had as a boy on the frontier when he helped his father build his childhood home. Oliver had no father to teach him how to work with tools.
Joey looked at the man who he remembered running around his fat mother in his kitchen many years ago. Oliver had learned how to fish, grow a garden and cook. No one taught him the things a man should know. The boy would not have survived a Missouri winter, Joey thought.
Oliver was all Joey had in the way of a son. He would soon marry Adelaide in the summer.
Oliver took to hammering a nail into two pieces of wood. Joey looked at him. The boy and his daughter would hopefully produce strong grandchildren to whom he could leave his restaurant. Oliver could grow into more of a man with Joey’s guidance. The Union soldiers would leave Bamberg, and Joey would know happiness again.
By R.T. Dickinson
The Bannister Histories follows the family story of JD Bannister—a central character in Sons of the Edisto—and his father, Andrew. Oliver Bannister is the unlikely patriarch of what will later become a family fighting for power within itself.
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