Jim Dumas: “My Roommate is a Native of Paris”

Jim Dumas was a writer of news and features in the Paris Post-Intelligencer. He was recovering from a heart attack at a health care facility in East Tennessee when he met my father, his roommate, who was recovering from a broken hip. 

Is or isn’t this a small world?

After a serious heart attack Jan. 6, after which stint surgery was successful, I was moved to NHC Farragut for skilled care. My roommate, who stands 6-foot-6, was recovering from a broken hip. 

One of his sons, Bob, who lives in New York, is down looking after him. It wasn’t until an inquiry from my daughter that I learned the patient, Roy Rawls, was born and raised in Paris, as was I. 

Roy started naming off a list of his kinfolks a mile high, including the late Hip Rawls, who for many years operated a service station on North Market and Rison streets, as well as Curtis Rawls. 

He recalled other friends and relatives who worked with the railroads and Paris Manufacturing. His son recalls Mule Day and the World’s Biggest Fish Fry. 

“Paris was a friendly town and a good place to live,” Bob Rawls recalled. 

The Rawls moved to Lenoir City after World War II started and Roy found jobs with TVA and Oak Ridge’s atomic plant. 

Then he interviewed a sleep -talker. 

Seldom have I heard of a writer putting together a story based on what a sleep-talked said. Move over, Ripley. I’ve been there, done that. 

In the last column, I wrote of a spry retired coon-hunter named Roy Rawls, a Paris native. I never knew Roy when we grew up in Henry County, for he moved his family to Lenoir City and a job with TVA. He still has some relatives in Henry County, including Joy and Lowell Brisendine. 

From the talk of his relatives, he must have been a great hunter. From his sleep talk, Roy had to have been a crafty man at the art of treeing the coon. 

In his sleep, Roy described his coon hunts as real life, not excluding the usual jargon beloved by hunters. 

“Good thing we brought Old Tom, ’cause I don’t think this new pup is going to do the job,” I heard him say. 

Roy was upset because a man who had promised to deliver two good dogs at the railroad depot hadn’t kept his part of the bargain. “Hard to count on this new breed of hunter,” he mourned. 

“They’ve got that coon on the run, and I hear Old Tom at the front… can always count on Tom.”

I heard him say: “Paul, don’t let Old Mag get too far asunder from the pack; we could lose the coon.”

“The weather’s somewhat colder than last, and that bids for a good haul if the snow holds.”

The hunters – probably numbering four – talked about their next hunt and who would provide the truck. About midnight, they headed home with four coons treed. 

“We’ll add these to the supper we’re having next month. Hope some more hunters show up next, or they might get left out of a good feed.”

Rawls also talked about some of the years he worked with TVA, continuing to make reference to snakes. That’s where we’ll cut off. 

Anyway, try to interview someone’s sleep sometimes. 

Mr. Dumas passed away in 2005, and as a coincidence, it was in Lenoir City, where my father lived most of his life.  Thank you, Mr. Dumas, for sharing these stories of my father. 

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3 Responses to “Jim Dumas: “My Roommate is a Native of Paris””

  1. Luanne @ TFK Says:

    These are wonderful treasures, Ruth!

    Liked by 1 person

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