My Time on Markham Hill, by Sam Edwards
I came to Fayetteville in 1966 to attend graduate school and teach at the University of Arkansas. In 1970, after taking acid and mushrooms, I decided to leave my academic career. I had just finished my master’s degree. After that I had an antiques shop called 'Remembrance of Things Past' above Dawn's Flowers and next to Roger's Pool Room on Dickson Street. I later sold the antiques shop for a dollar to some people.
Sam Edwards, 1970s
I decided I wanted to live away from people and society for a bit. I had had friends living on Markham Hill and I managed to snag one of the cabins which were hidden in the woods beyond the big field behind Mrs. Markham's house. The rent was 30 dollars a month and there was no running water during the winter when it froze. It was, in a way, a very simple life. I lived there 1972-74.
I did not meet Mrs. Markham at first. I had just taken over the cabin from whomever was living there. Back then things were very loose. I just continued to pay the rent. One day, however, I went to the Big House with the posh cars parked outside and introduced myself. Mrs. Markham was gracious. She and I hit it off because she realized that I would do things for her. By that time she was in the last years of her life and was trying stubbornly to remain independent and undisturbed. She did not want anyone in the house taking care of her. I would drop by several times a week and have marvelous conversations with her and make her the milkshakes with eggs that she seemed to live on.
Soon I had met a man in New York on a trip who came to live with me in the cabin. I introduced him to Mrs. Markham, and she requested that we drive the Bentley into town when she wanted to do some shopping. She would stand before a mirror and put a silk scarf around her head and say to me, "These silk scarves hide a multitude of sins." Then these two long-haired hippies would drive her around Fayetteville to do her shopping. We would secretly wave at friends from the Bentley with tiny Mrs. Markham riding like the queen she was in the backseat.
One day I went to see Mrs. Markham and she was sitting in the living room with her lap full of kittens. Her cat Queenie had given birth to these gorgeous little ones right in Mrs. Markham's lap and there they stayed, Queenie and the kittens, the whole lot. I would visit them each day to see how they were faring. Mrs. Markham insisted that I take one of the all black kittens. I did and she became my mascot on Markham Hill. I called her Princess and she was fierce and proud like Mrs. Markham and she was my friend and boon companion for eighteen years.
Near the end of my time on Markham Hill, I stopped by one day and Mrs. Markham said she wanted to be taken outside and I should grab a blanket for her. I took her tiny hand and we walked outside. She said put the blanket down and help her to lie on it. Then she said come back in an hour to fetch her. She said, "I am just going to lie here and listen to the sound the Earth makes."