Molly Tenbrooks

        Molly Tenbrooks was a character in “The Mandolin Case.” As the story ran on, I fell in love with the child. She reminded me a lot of my wife and daughter. She had a splash of freckles across her cheeks, and auburn hair pulled back in a pony tail. At first glance you’d say she was just a kid.

        Don’t be fooled. Tough but still feminine, good with words, she had no fear of fools and was able to out-wit ’em and never break a sweat. Every morning I’d wake up early and couldn’t wait to get to my computer to see what she had done over night.

        At first my Lit people were confused. “Why the name Molly Tenbrooks?”

        “It’s after Molly and Tenbrooks. The song was a Bill Monroe number about a turn of the century horse race.”

        They went back and re-read the passages. “I don’t get it. A pretty little girl and she’s named for a horse race?”

        “You’ll have to read the whole story. Trust me.”


        Fast forward to the Red White and Bluegrass Festival. It was my first book gig. I was hot and sweaty, and covered in red clay dust and weary, but at least I was hitched in the shade. Perry, the bass player from the Harvey County All-Stars walked by. We had jammed that morning and he had picked up a copy of the book.

        He gave a thumbs up from across the field, cupped his hand around his mouth and hollered out. “Just getting started, but I already love little Molly.”

        I signaled back a high-five and signed another book.

        I knew a guy like Perry would get it. Perry is about medium in height, but look at his neck. He usually wears a T-shirt ’cause he can’t close the top buttons on a dress shirt. He favors an ex-Merchant Marine with those tattooed Popeye forearms. I knew Perry would respect Molly, and he did. I didn’t have to tell him, he could see it right away.

        One time there was man who thought he was better than Molly. He underestimated the child, and it was an error in judgment. One reason I wrote “The Mandolin Case” was I wanted to show we should never judge people until we get to know ’em. God gave all of us different gifts so we would be able to work together to survive. My only real talent is the ability to read books and fill in the right bubbles on those computerized tests, but over the years God has always delivered me friends who have skills that fill in the gaps for my deficiencies. It’s why I hold ’em so close. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I know my limitations, and I’ve gotta have my people to get by.

        By the way, don’t underestimate Perry either. He’s good with words, and is the only person I’ve met who knows all the lyrics to the instrumental “Dear Old Dixie.” You remember that high fallutin’ fellow who said bluegrass people wouldn’t read? Well he’s home scratching his head over “The Mandolin Case” and wonderin’ what the heck happened while we’re out jamming. I want him to know Perry can bush hog a snake-infested tract of land before I finish my morning coffee, but he also  reads, and reads quite well. After all, he understood “The Mandolin Case,” and was a third of the way through the book before that man could finish the Author’s Note.

        And more important, Perry got it. Like any good Lit man, his smile showed he knew. He didn’t have to resort to telling anything. I could tell from fifty paces he got it, and didn’t have to ask.

        If you ever come to Harvey County we’d love to have you. Just don’t underestimate my people, ’cause they’ll protect me every time. Molly would and so would Perry. They might look like they are from two different worlds, but they’re just alike; all you gotta do is take the time to get to know ’em to understand.

Dr. B

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20 Comments on “Molly Tenbrooks”

  1. Melissa Says:

    You know, I write for the same reason. My friends are always quick to judge people, but I always tell them to never be quick with their assumptions. They could be pleasantly surprised (or not). You should never judge a book by it’s cover, right? 🙂

    We’re all given gifts. I believe we’re also given lots of stories and characters to share with the world.

    • drtombibey Says:


      As always you are right on. You never know what folks might teach you if you read what they have to say.

      It might seem improbable to some, but to me it is logical that an old doc and young writers can trade ideas and both grow in the process.

      Dr. B

  2. Kathy Says:

    “You remember that high fallutin’ fellow who said bluegrass people wouldn’t read?”

    My pet peeve–one of them–is the city preachers who come out to country churches for special services and dumb down their sermons for the rural, small-town population. People listen politely, and next Sunday the regular minister gets back in the pulpit and raises the level of discourse. And the farmers go back to reading about history and politics and science and whatever else takes their fancy.

    I’m told I can’t use semicolons if I expect to be published. I conform, but I still think there are more than a few readers out there able to handle the subtlety of that punctuation mark. Even people who farm.

    • drtombibey Says:


      You go get ’em, girl. The only reason I made an “A” in English is ’cause in class I talked like mama. I don’t know whether you punctuate perfect or not but I like what ya got to say.

      Dr. B

      • Kathy Says:

        I made an “A” in English for the same reason. The rest of the family on both sides talked like my mama, too, except for my father’s father, who was ornery (in a nice passive-aggressive way), and MY father, who wanted to talk like HIS father. I think Mother’s main goal for me, at least initially, was that I not talk like my granddad. She worked hard at that.

  3. drtombibey Says:


    Those of us with mamas who cared are blessed our entire lives for their efforts.


  4. Sharon Says:

    Loved this post Dr B. It struck something personal in me. A now ex-friend of mine once called my husband illiterate, presumably because of his size, job and the way he talks. Bruce is the kind of guy who only speaks when he has something important to say. He doesn’t do small-talk. He’s a watcher, but Lord knows he’s got it figured out. He’s not illiterate, but because he doesn’t read the classics there was an assumption that he’s stupid. My man has the kind of smarts most people don’t even know exist and he retains information like I retain fluid! He has common-sense smarts, good judgement, a soft temperament and an even manner. He knows people, but chooses mostly to keep his opinions to himself. He’s held the same job for 25 years, and it’s enough to support both of us, something this “friend” had never achieved. Bruce doesn’t need a degree to know what he is worth. Above all, he has integrity. Just like your Bluygrass folk he’s been misjudged because he is not effusive. Too many erroneous assumptions are made about people on face-value.

    • drtombibey Says:


      If I were in a fox-hole and my life depended on the man next to me, I’d sure rather your husband be by my side than that guy who dissed my people.

      Dr. B

  5. junebugger Says:

    I love books like yours, focused on how one should not be quick to judge another. That’s why I write myself. I love the idea of writing about a person all of society might judge as being an inferior–but once your get inside the mind of an outcast, such a lovely story unfolded… As one of my characters said: “every individual is a walking masterpiece”

  6. newt221 Says:

    What has got you on this “protection” thing right now Doc? I get there are characters in your book and also friends. Also, I really “dig” you have your body guard! He sounds like someone who would be nice to know, just like a lot of people in Harvey County.

    Thanks for the well wishes on the 4th… I am out of the abusive relationship that is for sure. But, I am still experiencing the reprecussions of it as I will for the rest of my life.

    I really want to “help” others get out of the “bad” places they are in. Feeling my way along that trail.

    You and yours take care! And, WHOOT WHOOT for selling out on AMAZON! We illiterate people must have learned how to read or we need a really fancy door stop!

    • drtombibey Says:


      The people who believe in money, power, greed and domination do not care for me at all. They just can’t decide what to do about it, because the louder they yell, the worse they look.

      Most folks try to do good. Among them I have no enemies that I know of.

      Dr. B

  7. Ted Says:

    Dr.B – We’ve been coming south for a lot of years now. I’m a slow learner, but one thing I think I’ve learned is not to think that because folks talk slow, they think that way. Talking slow is a good way to bait the trap and then wait for the prey to fall in and let it snap closed. Eager for my copy of “The Mandolin Case” to arrive so I can review it. – Ted

    • drtombibey Says:


      You ain’t too slow. If I recall correctly you were the first on the Internet to locate Harvey County. If you are the only one of anything on the Internet, you are unique if nothing else, and pretty smart too.

      I began to realize the Limited Edition Copy was gonna sell out and pulled one out for you. It’s on the way. This is the version with the typos, and I apologize for that.

      On the other hand, it is trading at 125.00 today (unsigned) and yours is a signed copy. I hope you won’t sell it, but will pass it down to your people.

      Maybe some day it and a couple hundred bucks will get your descendants a cup of coffee.

      Dr. B

  8. drtombibey Says:


    Know what you mean. I have run into some people along the way who try to act real smart. They are usually easy to outwit.

    Dr. B

  9. Felix Miller Says:

    Hey, Doctor B., on a local message board there was a blurb for an appearance by you, with mandolin and books, in Chattanooga on July 30th. Hope that is so, we will both be there, for sure.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Tis true. You always stay one step ahead of me, my friend. I’ll be in Chattanooga Friday July 30 for a book signing BBQ lunch and bluegrass at Signal Mountain. My agent is lining all this up and I should have more details soon.

      If you bring your copy I’ll inscribe it as “Limited Edition Copy Number 1,” ’cause yours was the first one sold.

      Dr. B

      • Felix Miller Says:

        “One step ahead of you” doesn’t cover it. You have written a book which has moved both of us, Barbara and me. We are just following your road, bluegrass and all. We will be there on July 30th.

        Barbara loves the Mandolin Case as much as I do.

  10. drtombibey Says:


    I’m so glad y’all like it. I hoped my writing would help me find all the cool people and it’s working.

    Dr. B

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