Dr. Henry “Indie” Jenkins

        Those of you who who have read the blog a long time already know Indie.  I hope you will bear with me.  I have a number of new readers, and want to get them up to speed.

        Indie is one of those old docs who has been around town for as long as anyone can remember.  Nowadays he leads a quiet life at the Nursing Home.  All that is left from his office is Barney, the skeleton who stands watch by his bedside, a few books, and his stethoscope which stays wrapped around Barney’s neck. 

        Indie was a fine fiddler, but seldom plays these days ’cause of arthritis.  He loves roses.  They let him have a small patch of ground at the Home, where he still grows some today.  Indie sees to it every lady at the Nursing Home has a rose on her birthday.  He says he can’t take care of the whole world, but at least he can make his corner a bit brighter.

        Indie had a lot of fine traits.  He was a loyal sort, and empathetic, especially for the less fortunate.  He took care of all comers, no questions asked.  A lot of folks said if he’d been paid fifty cents on the dollar he’d been the richest man in town.  He was a doctor, not a businessman, and none of that bothered him in the least. 

        People knew Indie was a smart doctor.  We had one Doc in town, old Blowhard Blake, who was politically connected, but couldn’t pass his Boards.  Many patients saw him because it they thought it looked good down at he Club.  But they didn’t tell people they had a chart at Indie’s too.  When the chips were down, they’d go see Indie; they just tried to hide the fact in polite society.

        Indie was loyal, but he did get tangled up one time.  Years ago, we had a French foreign exchange student in town.  Indie had a restored ’47 Indian Chief motorbike and the girl became infatuated with motorcycles and bluegrass music while she was here.  She wasn’t much of a student, but there ain’t a man in town who ever forgot how she looked in that cashmere sweater Indie bought her for Bastille Day.  As far as I know she only learned two American phrases while in the States-  “Motorbike ride” and “Cool Whip Indie!”

        Ms. Jenkins was not impressed.  Indie didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did, and when Ms. Jenkins caught up with them at the Cabin it warn’t pretty.  Of all the trouble Indie got in that was the worst.  I helped Indie negotiate his way back to Ms. Jenkins’s good graces, but I warned him I’d not be able to get him out of a jam like that again.

        Indie always felt bad about it.  When Ms. Jenkins died, he told me if he could only take back one mistake in his life, the French girl would be the one.  I was sure Ms. Jenkins forgave him, and told him so.

        Indie lived hard.  He smoked way too much, and it was always Benson and Hedges.  When we played music he drank too, but he was sober at work.  He took some Vicodin for his back, and I was not sure he always got a prescription for it. 

        By the time I came back to town, Indie was middle aged and looked older.  He had Parkinson’s disease and walked with a shuffle.  He’d been out in the sun a lot in his life, either fishing or playing music, and never got in the habit of sunscreen.  His face was a road-map of deep etches, wrinkles, and scars where he had a couple of skin cancers removed.  He was bald on top, and didn’t have much hair on the sides either, but did have a swatch on the back of his head.  Indie called it an old man soul patch.  Indie has some soul, that’s for sure.

        Indie’s favorite song is ‘The Cherokee Shuffle.’  The tune references his Indian heritage and is a self depreciating reference to his unsteady gait.  We share a love of Mark Twain, and ‘Tom Sawyer’ is his favorite.  He liked the movie “Catch Me if You Can.”  He said it was ’cause Decaprio was so clever, but I believe part of it was ’cause that FBI man couldn’t help but take a liking to the kid as the story wore on.  ‘Shawshank” was Indie’s favorite.  He saw it as all about hope and plus they let the hero cuss some.  Indie liked that.

        I realized something about Indie just the other day.  I know him better than anyone in town since Ms. Jenkins passed, and I still don’t know his middle name.  I asked him about it at the Nursing Home, and he said it was ‘Indian,’ and changed the subject.  I’m gonna have to research the matter and find someone who knew the family before Indie moved to Harley County.  I tried twice and Indie warn’t gonna go there.

        In spite of all of Indie’s rough ways, he was my favorite Doc in town.  When Indie got in trouble with the system, I had to go to bat for him.  He woulda done it for me.

        And I have full permission to tell his story.  At first Indie said not to go to print until he was gone, but he changed his mind, and wants to see the book before he’s outta here.  So, I’m gonna press hard to finish the final revision by the first of the year.  Somehow I’ve gotta find the strength to play my mandolin at his funeral too, ’cause I promised him I would, and I can’t let Indie down.

Dr. B

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8 Comments on “Dr. Henry “Indie” Jenkins”

  1. Cindy Carter Says:

    Isn’t it strange how bonds are formed? I can tell that Indie means a lot to you. And, you are very protective of him. It is always good to have someone in your corner who knows you with all your faults and loves you anyway.

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    You are so right. Indie had his faults, but the cat was dead solid honest, and loyal too. I admire that as much as anything.

    Dr. B

  3. Billy Says:

    This is kinda weird. I mean your story is bringing back memories of many a long year ago back when I was on the road for U.S Express Trucking. One night I ended up in a bar in New Orleans “La Casa’s” if I remember correct. It had a packed back room, but there were a few people sitting at the bar so I sat and started to talk to the guy next to me. He was waiting for some doctors to meet him to go out to eat. He said his name was Indie Jenkins.

    I told him I was Billy Brashears and he told me we could be cousins, that his great great great grandmother had married a Brashears in Oklahoma. We tried to make the connection, but I never could. He said that her father was a major Choctaw cheif who was killed in Maysville, Ky when he refused to sign a treaty giving up Choctaw land in Mississippi. Said a man had pushed him off a balcony after getting him liquored up.

    He gave me his card but I have long ago lost it. He did say the chief’s name was “Apuksunnubbee” which was his real middle name, after the chief. But said everyone just called him “Indie” since college. He wrote the name on the back of his card. I went to a library and looked up the chief and sure enough he was an important man. Knew Andrew Jackson and a bunch of other guys back then.

    Never saw Indie again, but never have forgot him either.

    Next time I have a load your way I will try to stop by and see him. Damn, it is a small world.

    Billy
    on the road deadheading back to Muleshoe, Tx.

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Biily,

    This is interesting. We heard his Indian heritage was Cherokee, but his fiddling has a Kentucky influence. He sounds like the early Bill Monroe fiddlers. Then again he also digs Byron Berline, the great Oklahoma fiddle man. He has all his records.

    If it has to do with Indians, booze, fiddling, Kentucky and Oklahoma, it has to be Indie. When I see him next, I am gonna ask if he has some Choctaw background.

    Another strange thing. I just took a trip to Mississippi, and it was like I’d gone home- like I’d been there before, or seen those folks somewhere in my life.

    Dr. B

  5. Smitty Neuse River Pres. Says:

    Doc, sorry I am late writing on Indie but did you ever decide if he was Choctaw or Cherokee. Billy brings up some interesting angles about Indie’s background. If I remember my history correctly, it might be possible to trace Indie back to Pushmataha blood. Keep me in the loop.

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Smiitty,

    So good to hear from you. I always thought Indie was Cherokee, but when I found out he might have some Choctaw in his background and some kind of connection to Mississippi I couldn’t believe it.

    I am still researching the matter. Sometime tell me about the Choctaw, the Pushmataha and Mississippi. I think I have much to learn.

    Dr. B

  7. Smitty Neuse River Pres. Says:

    I will be glad to drop you some info sometime. What has caught my attendion is Billy, he is on to something with the name Apuksunnubbee” I looked into the matter the other day and I will email you some thoughts.

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Smitty,

    The thing that struck me in Mississippi is I felt like I had been there before, and all the folks seemed like they knew me. I don’t know what to make of it.

    Dr. B


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