A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Harry Powers’ Saga

        A couple of years before my father died in 1990, he put down the story of his life in what he titled "The Autobiography of a Nobody".  I did not know about this until after his death.  He had loaded it onto a floppy disc, but none of us could figure out how to access the information.  Fortunately he had printed a few copies, one of which I have.
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my father's  Autobiography of a Nobody:
English: Mug shot of murderer Harry Powers tak...Image via Wikipedia
Harry Powers 1920

         Harry Powers and his two sisters owned the confectionery store one block from our house. Oh. the many times if we got a penny or two or more, how we would run to the store to buy candy from the store. Adjacent to the store was their living quarters. Harry had a coupe, one of the few that had an automobile in the neighborhood. On several occasions he would let me ride with him, and then deliver a grocery order to one of his customers. 
THEN THE NEWS HIT THE NEWSPAPERS! 
        Every few hours during the day an extra hit the streets. Since my father worked for the newspaper he saw to it that I got a big bundle of fresh extras to sell so I could have spending money. EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! HARRY POWERS MURDERS THREE WOMEN! 
       This was a devastating event that hit and shook Clarksburg (WV). It had a remarkable influence upon our neighborhood. It was being told that many of the neighborhood girls were on his list to be next. This had a temporary affect upon these girls whose names were on his hit list. 
       It bothered my mother. One night my mother had a terrible nightmare. She climbed out of her second floor bedroom onto the porch roof screaming that Harry Powers had her. The harder my father gripped on my mother’s arm the more she would scream thinking that Harry had her, She was very close to jumping off the roof. Finally my father was able to awaken her. Harry had a tremendous effect on other people in the immediate neighborhood. 
       What had happened was that Harry Powers, a heavy-set man, placed an ad in a lonely hearts section of a newspaper that attracted three different women at three different times, He owned a farm in Quiet Dell, West Virginia. They would come there!  I was too young to know exactly what Harry did to them, but I do know that he murdered them, and threw their bodies down the well. 
       A sort of a neighborhood scandal occurred in this case also. One of the more affluent neighbors decided to put a fence around a portion of the Quiet Dell Farm. He then pursued to charge admission to the curiosity seekers. The law didn’t like this, and quickly put a stop to it. 
      Harry Powers owned the house across the street from us. Authorities of the law dug up the entire back yard on the suspicion that he had buried people there. No bodies were found. 
      My older brother Tommy recalls the time he was rolling a tire from the top of our street. The tire got away from him, rolled down hill two blocks, jumped the ditch and hit a pillar that supported the front porch roof. The pillar was devastated. Harry came up and surveyed the damage. My father settled the matter amicable with Harry and all was satisfied. I don’t believe my brother was punished in any way for this matter. but I suppose he did learn his lesson. 
      Harry Powers was found guilty of first degree murder on all accounts. He was sent to West Virginia. State Penitentiary in MoundsvilleW.Va. where he was hastily executed by electric chair. 
     Today murders are everyday occurrences all over the world. In my boyhood days they didn’t occur that often. This was national news with a national following. Even then there were some sensational tabloids that came out stating Harry Powers is still alive. You know the story! Elvis is still alive. However I can assure you, Harry Powers was executed by electric chair.
      Just a note:  According to Wikipedia, Harry Powers was actually executed by hanging in 1932.  I feel very fortunate that my father had the foresight to create his autobiography for his descendants to read.  I can see some of my father's influence in my own writing.  I guess I should thank him for that as well.
        



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8 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. that's an extraordinary story - I'm glad your father left some copies. That must have been a huge influence on his life, and thus yours I guess.

Do you still have the floppy disc - to see if you've got all the stories?

I'm looking forward to reading more of this .. cheers Hilary

welcome to my world of poetry said...

What a find from your late father, how it must have had an impact on him to have put it on a floppy disc.
This was very interesting to read.

Yvonne.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Lee,
This is a very interesting post. You found a treasure on your father's memoirs. The incident caused a lot of trauma in the community, for sure. It's odd but I'm writing something about my own feelings from an incident involving a girl's murder years ago, and how this sad memory triggered as I was reading a mystery novel. The sad part if that I was related to the girl that got murdered.

I will be posting it soon.

Thank you, Lee for another great read.

Doris

Kelly Robinson said...

Wow, what a wonderful legacy to leave --and a historic document, too.

I wonder if he meant the title to be a nod to the classic 'Diary of a Nobody?' --one of my favorites.

Dee Ready said...

Dear Lee,
This story was fascinating. How lucky you are to have that autobiography by your dad. My mom died in 1968 and my dad in 1975. At that time, I still hadn't reached the age of really wanting to know all about their lives. Now I do and I've missed it all. So I'm glad for you that your father is reaching out to you with his life story.

Sorry to have been away from your blog for several weeks. I've been under the weather, but I'm feeling better now. And thank you for posting the cover of Dulcy's book. I'll get the posting to you on thursday if not before.

Peace.

GRACE PETERSON said...

What a treasure. How lucky you are.

Jenn June said...

I found the story you shared to be extremely fascinating. It's wonderful that you found your father's autobiography. That truly is a treasure.

susan said...

What an interesting tale. You should go in and correct that Wikipedia entry too, though I am not sure how you go about that exactly.