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JK: Come on in and bring your stuff back to the kitchen. I've got a pot of coffee on, and Nellie--that's my daughter, the one you came to talk about, brought home a box of goodies from Rose's Bakery this morning.
JN: Actually, Mr. Kelley, I came to talk about you.
JK: You did? Well, that's nice. Have a seat. And it's Jake. Just Jake.
JN: Tell me about Jake then.
JK: Where do you want me to start? From the beginning? Well, that's a long time ago, seventy-five years to be exact. I was born right here in this house, upstairs in the front bedroom. Grew up here, graduated from high school in the spring of 1942, and went down the next day and enlisted. Maybe you're too young to remember we were at war then. World War II. All the boys from my class enlisted, all five of us. Three didn't come back.
JN: Did you see action during the war?
JK: Did I see action? Son, I was part of the 29th Infantry Division that got dumped on Omaha Beach on D-Day! You know about D-Day? It was a bloody mess, and I don't talk about it. But one good thing came out of the war. I met a girl in London. Wynne. Married her. She was the best. And then there was Nellie--Penelope Corinne Louise, our daughter.
JN: What did you do after the war?
JK: I went to work at the Garden Market and stayed there until I had a little stroke a few years ago. Then I retired. Or they retired me. Said it was time. I didn't like it much then, but I do now. Nellie opened the B&B when the town had to pull together to save itself after Tobin Textiles pulled out and took so many jobs with it. So she stays busy and out of my hair.
JN: I guess I do want to know a little about her.
JK: She's the best, my Nellie. Takes after her mother. We lost Wynne twelve years ago. Twelve years. She was the best, too.
JN: So the two of you live here together.
JK: Don't know where else either one of us would live. 'Course, Nellie's always asking if I want to drive out and look at the old folks home...but it's a joke. Told her I wanted a room next to a pretty woman, and she said, "With or without teeth?" Nellie's sharp like that. Good sense of humor.
JN: I understand you have a grandson.
JK: Brad. Detective Sergeant Bradley Pembroke, Amaryllis PD. Nellie and I are really proud of him.
JN: What about his father?
JK: Well, Travis was a better father than he was a husband. He liked the women, if you know what I mean. Nellie got enough of it and came home. Brad turned out better that way, if you ask me, but he saw his father all the time and had a pretty good relationship until he decided he wanted to be a cop instead of a cotton grower. Still, they got along, I guess.
JN: Your daughter never remarried?
JK: Nope. A divorced Catholic can't remarry and still receive the sacraments, and the Church is important to both of us. And we get along all right. Nellie stays busy with the B&B and a lot of other stuff, and I like being a man of leisure. Three meals a day, laundry done, room cleaned. Yep, it's a good life.
JN: Is there anything you wish for?
JK: No...well, I wish Nellie had someone in her life. I'm not going to be around forever. 'Course, like I said, there's the thing about being divorced...but there's this guy named Sam and ever since he's been around, things have been poppin'.
JN: Sam? Poppin'?
JK: That's a story for another day. You recording all this? Hey, I like that little thing-a-ma-bob there...that recorder...might just go looking for one myself. I keep up with the times, you know. That's the secret, son...you get older, but you don't stop living. Nope. You don't stop living, not a single second of a single minute of a single hour of a single day. You remember that.
Tomorrow: A chat with Penelope's best friend since high school, Mary Lynn Hargrove