|By Bob Weaver 2003|
Eddie Austin Kirby was more than mildly eccentric.
He was beyond doubt, one of
Calhoun's most notable characters, a strange mix of studious evaluation and
Eddie was an original citizen of Joker and the Big Bend area of Sunny Cal, but
worked for the U. S. Postal Service in the greater DC area for many years making
numerous trips back to the county, eventually retiring here.
A follower of elixirs and potions to bring long life, he died at the age of 94.
He was always going to strike it rich in the oil and gas business.
He might also be remembered for drilling a water well on the courthouse lawn
because he didn't trust public water, fluoride and all.
His published work "Many Be Called, But Few Chosen - A Message to Humanity," is
among the strangest manuscripts I have ever read.
I first met Eddie in 1951 on the Joker Ridge near my house, as he was climbing
from his ancient Hudson car from his bed rack, a plywood board placed across the
I was about twelve. Eddie was shaking himself awake, his hair sticking
straight in the air, putting on a clean white sleeveless undershirt (a forerunner to
He called for me to stop, his car parked slightly off the main road. I dropped my bike
to the ground and sat down to chat a spell with this man, known to me as Holly
I knew he worked away in some big city and came in on weekends to work his
drilling operation over on Joker Hill. He spelled his last name with a "Ki" and his
brother with a "Ke," a problem still confusing Calhoun genealogists.
Eddie took a box of cans, some full and some empty, from the trunk of his car and
pried open some Vienna sausage for breakfast. Eddie kept all his empties, long
before recycling. He had a car full of empty Vienna sausage, potted meat and pork
and bean cans.
"The time will come when people will fight over these," he said.
He ask the well worn Appalachian question, "Who are you?" I told him I was Giff
Weaver's boy. "I know ole Giff," he said. "A pretty good fella." Then it was time to
He spoke about things I had never heard. Politics and religion. He spoke of Franklin
D. Roosevelt like he was a personal friend. He quoted scripture and talked about
water wheels and nitro bombs.
"This world is not long for the making," he said.
"Christ is coming back to clean it up, and mighty soon."
He carried on a lifetime of letter writing to some of the world's greatest leaders,
I remember being frozen to my sitting rock, listening to this burly, wild man
expound upon his ideas on the nature of things. "Change must come soon, before
it's too late!"
"In the twinkling of an eye, it all will end!" he confided. "Are you ready Robert? Are
Being sufficiently churched within the Mt. Olive Methodist up on Hur Hill, I knew the
importance of salvation, but fear entered into me that summer morning and I
jumped on my bike, told Eddie I'd see him later, and sped around the Joker Ridge to
Fred Barnes' place to talk of other things.
Eddie Austin Kirby went on for many years to create a legacy of interest, much
of which is written in his collection he published in 1982.
From his correspondence with Huey Long and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, before
Roosevelt became president, to his ideas about world peace. Eddie has offered up
a fascinating tale of one man's insight, sideways and paranoid they be.
He describes in finite detail how to build things, an inventor of sorts, or admonishes
the reader to abide by religious conviction. He tells of over forty assassination
attempts made on his own life.
One time he said a projectile was shot though his open car
windows, barely missing his jugular while driving up Hur Hill.
There is much to recall about Eddie's life, opinion and revelations, which I intend to
do in time.