Joey Dowdel and his sister mar Alice invest a main in August through their Grandma every year. The two room "just kids" at the time of their first couple of visits, but though Grandma stays constant, your perception of her transforms as they flourish up.

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Chapter 1: "Shotgun Cheatham"s critical Night over Ground—1929"


Joey is nine and also Mary Alice is 7 the very first time they walk to stay with Grandma Dowdel. Your parents placed them top top the Wabash Railroad"s Blue Bird, which leaves Chicago"s Dearborn terminal bound for St. Louis. What in between those 2 points, Grandma stays in the last house of one of the many small towns lying follow me the tracks. Mary Alice no the place since at Grandma"s, one has to go outside to usage the bathroom, and there is never anything come do.

Joey and also Mary Alice frequently stroll "uptown," which is a brief block the brick buildings—a bank, insurance allowance agency, store, and The Coffee Pot Cafe. That is throughout the elevation of Prohibition, and though there are a few automobiles, many farmers come to town on horse-drawn wagons. Points are certainly slow in Grandma"s town—until the funeral of Shotgun Cheatham.

Shotgun Cheatham was "just one old reprobate that lived poor and also died broke," and also he might have been hidden in the very same obscurity in which he lived had it not been for his distinctive name. A huge city newspaper notices Shotgun"s obituary in a neighborhood newspaper and also sends a reporter to Grandma"s tiny town looking for a story. Rumors abound in ~ the Coffee Pot Cafe, together townspeople welcome the hapless investigator and vie to tell all they know about the deceased; many of their tales room exaggerations. Mrs. Effie Wilcox, "a actual old, humped-over lady through buck teeth," speak the most outrageous whoppers that all, until Grandma has her say.

The reporter, going door-to-door in find of more information, comes out to Grandma"s house. Joey and Mary Alice are astounded when their not an especially sociable grandmother regales him through a tale about how Shotgun Cheatham was a decorated Civil battle veteran that had broken the heart of Effie Wilcox in his glory days. Come the further astonishment that the children, Grandma announces that, fairly than allow the deceased to go to his grave unrecognized, she will organize a wake for the him, best in her very own front room.

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at Grandma"s direction, Shotgun Cheatham"s body is carried to she house, where he lies shielded through a veil in an open up pine coffin. The townspeople, who cannot believe that Grandma is holding open house, autumn by to pay your respects....