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Daughter of the White River: An Interview with Author Denise Parkinson Part 1
Join author Denise Parkinson for an intimate look at a Depression-era tragedy. The once-thriving houseboat communities along Arkansas' White River are long gone, and few remember the sensational murder story that set local darling Helen Spence on a tragic path. In 1931, Spence shocked Arkansas when she avenged her father's murder in a DeWitt courtroom. The state soon discovered that no prison could hold her. For the first time, prison records are unveiled to provide an essential portrait. The legend of Helen Spence refuses to be forgotten--despite her unmarked grave.
Denise Parkinson is a freelance writer living in Hot Springs, Arkansas. A graduate of Hendrix College, Parkinson's writing appears in a range of publications, including the Arkansas Democrat, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas Times, Little Rock Free Press, Memphis Flyer and Cooper-Young Lamplighter. Since 2008, she has been the lead writer for Hot Springs Life and Home magazine. Dale Woodiel was born and raised on the banks of the White River in Crockett's Bluff, Arkansas. He teaches humanities at the University of Hartford.
Denise, thank you so much for joining us here on Crime Capsule.
[00:00:10.710] - Denise
Thank you for having me.
[00:00:14.670] - Ben
Take us to Arkansas, one of the poorest States in one of the poorest regions of the country. But you portray the natural state as its nickname, as far richer on the ground than anyone might have imagined. Why is that?
[00:00:46.950] - Denise
Well, I think of Arkansas as kind of like the Ukraine of America, because we're the breadbasket, self sufficient people, artisans, artists, people who love nature. The river people in particular were very matriarchal at a time when that word was probably not even used. For example, there were no such things as bastards on the river. They were called Woods Colts, and they would be adopted if it was a child born out of wedlock, there was no stigma attached to the mother at all, no stigma to the child, to the father. The baby was adopted, which I consider very patriarchal. I've been calling the river people an embrygenist culture because it seems to be a bridge culture between Indigenous and colonialists, and because of the selfsufficiency and the pioneering aspect of the settlers in Eastern Arkansas, in the Delta and on the White River, they had everything they needed. I keep thinking that if James AGI had gone a little bit further west when he was researching Let us Now Praise Famous Men, he would have found a paradise where people were still able to feed themselves even during the Great Depression.
[00:02:18.330] - Ben
One of the first characters that we meet in your account is not Helen Spence or her father, Cicero, but the White River. Tell us about the White.
[00:02:32.370] - Denise
Well, when I was a child, every summer we would go to my great grandmother's houseboat, which was on the levy at Clarendon. And because my maiden name is White, I thought it was my river as a child. Kid logic. And it is the longest river in Arkansas. It's over 700 miles. It goes up into Missouri and then comes back down diagonally, and then it joins the Mississippi and the Arkansas River at a place called Rivers End. So it's a very Arkansas waterscape because there were houseboats and communities all up and down the White River before the dams were put in, and the Corps of Engineers basically occupied the river.
[00:03:28.350] - Ben
When roughly did the houseboat sort of style of living or communities? When did those get formed originally?
[00:03:39.990] - Denise
I haven't been able to find out because I started this research back when you were writing your book, your first book, I think over ten years ago, I looked at archives at UCA. There were houseboats in the 19 teams before 1920, there were houseboats on the Washita River. I interviewed a descendant of a houseboat family whose houseboat was actually photographed it's in our film on the Arkansas River at Little Rock in so I'm thinking based on the age of our houseboat, it was not so much a vernacular structure as it was indicative of an earlier architectural period from the late 1800 and living that close to nature and on the river, especially in the summertime as a child, it was the most free and wonderful and beautiful experience that I ever had in my life. It was the happiest time of my life. And so I can imagine how happy Helen Spence must have been growing up.
[00:05:58.450] - Ben
This is a very Southern story. One of the early scenes takes place at a sorghum harvest where men and women are out cutting and boiling cane to make molasses. You have the seasons of your story revolving totally around agriculture and what is being sown or produced or harvested. You have these sort of reunion festivals in the autumn which bring together the entire community for days on end. I mean, you were writing about your home here, aren't you?
[00:06:35.710] - Denise
Absolutely. I've been to sorghum harvest. There's still a family just Southeast of here near Curtis, Arkansas, that it's a tradition. It's still ongoing. I've been to a demonstration of a sorghum harvest in Mount IDA, which is further west of Hot Springs, and these were just opportunities for people to come together. And when Mr. El C. Brown, who I interviewed at length for his memories of the White River, he conveyed such an air of just festivity and joy and multigenerational enjoyment, and at the same time, they were getting things done. It was a cooperative type situation, and that's why Arkansas overcame a lot during the Great Depression, because there were cooperatives I'm talking about off the river. But cooperatives did help people survive then Cooperative Canning cooperative, pecan shelling cooperatives, quilt, Quilton, bed spread, Shanille bedspread. I interviewed a family that had been a member of a chenille bedspread cooperative during the Great Depression. They had beautiful fabric art.I love molasses, too. It's my favorite thing for a biscuit.
[00:08:17.910] - Ben
Yes, I go cornbread, but no, I hear you really happily share the love on that. Well, let me ask you in your descriptions of this community. I thought that your account, say, for instance, of the mussel farmers along the White River was just extraordinary. These kind of depictions of men wearing old helmets made out of old Model T engine blocks going down onto the riverbank and sort of feeling blindly for the muscles by hand. It's almost a kind of primeval way of living, isn't it? You are directly at the mercy of the elements and everything that you do and the mortal risk posed by living along this riverbank. It's very real. It's lived, isn't it?
[00:09:11.770] - Denise
Absolutely. And I have seen these helmets in area museums. There's a good example of one in the desert Museum. And it's amazing the amount of just artisanship to take and repurpose something that was from an automobile. And then that becomes your diving helmet. And they would pump the air through just a hose. So it was very, I would say earthy, but it was watery. And the thing about the muscles is imagine what our world would look like if you took out all the plastic buttons that have been made since the 1940s and 50s. It was post war plastic before that, Arkansas Whitewater mother of Pearl buttons. They supplied the entire US Army. So that's a lot of buttons. So I've become somewhat of a button collector, and they're beautiful mother of Pearl buttons. I make things out of them now.
[00:10:23.570] - Ben
the reason I ask about the river is because you describe a tension which is central to understanding what happened back in the 1930s in this area. And that notion is what you call River Justice. And you contrast River Justice with the laws and the society of the dry Landers. Help us to understand that tension.
[00:11:47.170] - Denise
Yes. The phrase River Justice was spoken to me a lot by a lot of different river people that I interviewed. And Mr. Brown, whose life story is also included in the book because he was Helen's little buddy, he was in an amazing position to observe both sides because his father was the only deputy Sheriff that the river people trusted. So LC saw drylander justice and he saw River Justice, and his dad understood it as well. And I think that the only reason that Helen was subjected to what she was subjected to was because she was so fearless that she stood up in the courtroom and enacted her vengeance, her River Justice. [00:13:21.110] - Ben
I recall a couple of instances in which you write there were some murders that had taken place downstream, and yet there weren't really many investigations. You sort of had these things happen and things went quiet. And the notion that was sort of floated around was, well, they probably had it coming anyway. They needed to be killed. As the saying went.
[00:13:56.330] - Denise
Well, that was another phrase that people from the river tended to use was, well, he needed killing. And I'm thinking, oh, I get it now because I look at Putin, I'm like, somebody needs Kellen.
[00:14:17.490] - Ben
Now let's meet some of these people. You grew up in this area. You had heard of this case, but it wasn't until you met LC Brown that the story really opened up for you. So tell us about LC.
[00:14:33.550] - Denise
Well, I have been trying to research my own family's multiple losses after two of our houseboats were destroyed by the government. My great grandmother was basically left homeless, and she ended up in a nursing home, which I hate nursing homes, but I was too young to take care of her myself. And that stuck with me. I couldn't find anything in the history books, encyclopedias. And someone with the Hot Springs Documentary Festival alerted me to a river man living in Hot Springs who knew a lot about the White River. So I just looked him up in the phone book, and he was in his mid 80s. And I introduced myself, and we just started hanging out. We would meet for brunch, or I would go over to his house or we would just hang out and he would talk and I would take notes. And sometimes I type while he's talking and got a little video of him. And it was just the most wonderful friendship. And I'm wonderful friends with his family, his granddaughter. He's just a wonderful man. And he always wanted Helen's story to become a movie. So I hope he's looking down because we are working on that.
And he did love the book. He enjoyed coming to book events, and he passed away in 2015. But he was like a grandfather to me.
[00:16:12.230] - Ben
I mean, he had quite a childhood. You write that not only had he known Helen from his boyhood and had been friends with her, but as a child, he had a Wolf pup for a pet.
[00:16:27.710] - Denise
Yes. And when we were working on the book one night, he couldn't sleep. He's he told me this the next day. He said, last night I could not sleep. And I went out onto the back porch and looked up and there was a conjunction, a planetary conjunction with a full moon. And I don't remember. This was years ago. And he said, because we were working on that chapter about his memories of Wolf and how he would go to check his traps and Wolf would come with him and Wolfe would walk him to school. And it was just amazing. He was missing Wolf. And he said he walked out onto the porch, it was 02:00 in the morning. And he looked up at the moon and he said, I miss you, Wolf. And all of a sudden he heard a howl.
[00:19:55.490] - Ben
So let's meet Helen, our heroine, our femphotol. She occupies many roles. As I was reading your account of her, we have a phrase in Mississippi, which is, she's a pistol. Right. She is very adventurous and sort of spunky and self determined and is not going to kind of take no for an answer and so forth. I could not help but think of that great song by the Magnetic fields that goes Papa was a rodeo Mama was a rock and roll band. I could play guitar and rope a steer before I learned to stand. That just seemed to sum up Helen to a T. You know, she had it all. She had it all as a kid back then. So tell us about her.
[00:20:40.790] - Denise
Well, according to Mr. Brown and other folks that I've interviewed, who had been told by their own aunts, uncles, parents, she was a sensation. She was so stylish and beautiful. More than one person I interviewed used the phrase my mother or my father or my uncle said she was the most beautiful woman they had ever seen. And so that was something that kept recurring. And so we were happy to find the very few photographs of Helen that we could because it does show you her mug shot is incredible. She's 17 years old. She's staring straight at the camera. And it's just an amazing example of a feisty true grit girl. That's what you get with Helen. I think she's the prototype for Maddie Ross.
[00:21:42.150] - Ben
And for listeners who may not be aware, we're talking about the Charles Portus novel True Grit. So she was born on a boat before World War One, approximately not sure exactly what year, but it kind of doesn't matter. She graduated from 9th grade, got married, ran off with the bootlegger, came back, and then what happened?
[00:22:05.250] - Denise
Well, the funny thing is, after she married Buster Eaton and discovered that she didn't want to go that route, I found out from some folks here in Hot Springs where I live, that Buster Eaton is buried in Hot Springs. So apparently his bootlegging career took him to the heart of Bootleg Central, which is Hot Springs back in the 1930s. There's no telling he could have been driving one of those old cars full of whiskey, but very little is known of the length of their marriage. But she did go I believe it was less than a year. So maybe she married Busser when she was 16, 1516, and then within less than a year, went back to live with her father, her stepmother and her sister on the house boat. And she just loved it there. And yeah, Buster was out of luck.
[00:23:13.750] - Ben
Well, it's interesting because you have this great description of a community which is in one way very tight knit and in another way privileges its isolation. And so you describe this wonderful detail of the house. Boats up and down the river had calls that they would use. It sounded sort of like bird calls to where if an unknown person was approaching any one of the houseboats, you would hear that bird call from the houseboat facing the intruder to put all the other houseboats on guard. Right. And so everybody's kind of keeping to themselves, but they're also interwoven up and down the length of the waterway.
[00:23:57.130] - Denise
Yes, it was a language because each one had its own distinct sound. And Mr. Brown had a they were called quills. So his was carved with Cedar, and he had inherited it from his uncle Archie, who did live on a houseboat. And I found it interesting that these quilts were made from the materials at hand from Cedar, and yet they were a different shape than the quills made in the Ozarks by families that were Hill people. Their quills looked more like pan pipes because I've done research on some Hill people from the Timbo area, and they were 80, 90 years old, and they would play the Quill. So it's a very Arkansas game. And the river people put their own spin on it, and it was a total sustainably sourced communication system. And it worked because they stayed hidden for a long time.
[00:25:08.470] - Ben
And you described that for Helen and for her family, this was a matter of survival. It was a matter of selfsufficiency, because life on the White River was not without its risks. You had bootleggers who were sometimes violent. You had transients who were passing through, and you didn't know their motives. And as you write, the principle of live and let live was not always heated, was it?
[00:25:43.090] - Denise
Yes. And it's interesting, I never did have a Newspaper.com account, but you can Google on a site like that and pull up lists of people that got murdered on the White River back in the 20s. They just settled their differences that way. But what I found was interesting was one of my readers did additional research after my book came out because he's from that area, and he came up with this incredible story that I hope that he writes about it or somebody, because there were timber companies hiring mercenaries to patrol the bottom lands to prevent the river people from floating out Cypress logs during high water. So basically, they were cleaners. They were scavenging the leftover Cypress logs, floating them out during high water because river people do not waste anything. And the timber companies hired killers to prey upon them. So that's a whole nother angle to it. But, yeah, there were dangers there.
[00:27:03.890] - Ben
Well, and those dangers eventually reached Helen's father, which is what set this story in motion. Tell us about Cicero and tell us about Cicero's end.
[00:27:18.030] - Denise
Well, Mr. Brown always told me that his father, who was LC Brown Senior, the Sheriff's deputy for Arkansas County back during the Great Depression, the 20s and all of that. He said that Cicero and his father would have these wonderful philosophical conversations. They would constantly visit, talk. If his dad needed someone from the river to show up to answer a summons in DeWitt, all he had to do was get Cicero to put the word out. So there was a great communication, a great level of respect, mutual respect there. And Cicero, according to Mr. Brown, was the type of person that the river people, the community, brought their problems to him for him to settle differences. So I guess he lived up to his name. He was like a wise man on the river. And he definitely taught Helen Spence everything that he would have taught a son. So there was just a lot of respect. I think that was the foundation of the relationships. And that's what river people are all about. Even to this day, a river person is as good as their word. And so many people will give you mixed messages all day long. But not a river person.
This is a story of not one murder, but three murders, which are all related. The first murder takes place in December 1930 in which Cicero, Helen Spencer's father, has an unexpected guest on the houseboat. Tell us what happened.
[00:29:45.150] - Denise
Well, there was a lot of different accounts. So what I did was I took the most logical path, combining the most logical elements of all these different newspaper accounts that had no bylines whatsoever. And what Mr. Brown was received from the oral tradition pass down through the river people. So what happened was we do know that Helen's stepmother, Ada, was present when Cicero was murdered because Ada was then kidnapped by Jack Worls and taken and beaten and raped when she later died from her injuries in a Memphis hospital. But the thing that struck me was Jackworld, nobody seemed to even want to prosecute him for Ada's death. It was all focused on Cicero. Maybe it was just due to the scheduling, but it seems to me like she was not cared for by the system because she was outside it. She was a river rat is what people call river people. When dry Landers want to use a slur, it's river rat. I'm trying to make the case that river people is accurate. But what happened was Jackworld shot Cicero, pushed him off the boat, and they actually did not recover his body until the following spring because it was in the winter and the river was too icy.
So the body stayed down. So when it resurfaced in the spring, that's when he was actually laid to rest. But the trial took place in January 1931.
[00:31:48.800] - Ben
What was the conflict between them? Why would Jackworld have shown up on Cicero's houseboat, and why did it end this way?
[00:32:06.590] - Denise
Well, since Cicero was a fishing guide, all the newspaper stories, everything that the river people understood at that time that was passed down through Mr. Brown had to do with this was a kid from Rosedale, Mississippi. There was a lot of back and forth between Rosedale, Mississippi, and the White River Delta. And I haven't been able to quite figure that out. But he was from Rosedell. He was an outsider. So he was not someone that was known to the community. So the supposition was that he had come to Cicero on a pretext of a fishing trip and then was going to Rob him because it was the Great Depression. Everybody wanted money. But now that my reader has done the extra research, there is a question that he could have been a timber industry mercenary sent to punish Cicero for gleaning the logs. That's part of the mystery.
[00:33:30.890] - Ben
Well, you have this incredible scene in which Cicero and Jack have kind of left on a boat and have gone out into the middle of the river. And then Ada and Helen realize he's gone. And Ada says, we need to go look for him. And so they follow after him. And according to your account, they more or less witness the whole thing taking place right in front of them. The murder.
[00:34:02.490] - Denise
Yes. That was the most likely scenario. Based on how Helen reacted, there were accounts that she literally lost her mind over her dad's death. It was such a heavy trauma. And so I had to find a way to present that based on what I was told from the oral tradition of the river, people happened. And then these crazy newspaper articles were so exploitative, and they were never signed, and you just had to navigate them because some of them were very contradictory. Some of them were saying that Cicero had a party with this guy and they just got drunk during a party. Then why was Ada beaten and raped and essentially murdered as well? No, there was a beef. There was a beef going on, and it's just tragic.
[00:35:09.630] - Ben
So Helen is you write that she's spared because Ada more or less tells Jack. Oh, she's simple minded. She doesn't understand anything. Her stepmother tells the killer she's not worth anything. Don't pay any attention to her. Just take me instead sort of thing. And Helen is left on her boat after Jack kidnaps Ada. And Helen is sort of found later alone in shock. Who finds her? Do we even know how she gets off the river at that point?
[00:35:55.330] - Denise
Well, there are several accounts from the newspaper research I did, which was the archives of the Arkansas Gazette, the Democrat, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Pine Bleff Commercial, the Dwett era Enterprise. And then there were newspapers in Tuscaloosa and the New York Times and The Washington Post writing about this, but she was found by fisherman, fisherman downriver, and they pulled the boat in and brought her back to St. Charles.s. So the river was a very busy place back then, not like now, where it's very mystical and quiet and eerie and spooky. I'm getting ready to go down to St. Charles in a few days. So I'm excited to see the river again.
[00:37:19.970] - Ben
So they find her. And very quickly this becomes a community event. You have Jack is apprehended. He is awaiting trial. Helen is living with the Sheriff because her father's been killed and her stepmother is in the hospital. Her sister Edie, who is a paralytic cousins swoop down from Oklahoma once they hear the news and take Ed back with them because there's no way that Ed can survive alone on the river. as soon as the news of this incident spreads throughout the river, people community, you have the whole town or the whole sort of society along the river turning out for the trial and for the hearings and so forth. This is very reminiscent of the case that we just explored last week with the murder dog up in Brockport, New Yorkd. This is one of those trials that consumes an entire populace because it is so tightly woven in that area. And everybody is desperate to find out what actually happened and to see justice done.
[00:38:53.890] - Denise
Yes. Because one of the most amazing accounts of anything was when Mr. Brown was telling me what it was like as a five, six year old child on the courthouse lawn in De Witte, the Arkansas County Courthouse. And people came from all over Arkansas County. It's a huge area. So it actually has two county seats because the river cuts through and can rise. So you have to have a county seat in De Witt, and then there's a county seat in Stuckgart. So people just loaded up their buckboard wagons and came and their Model T's and came. And it was almost like a festive thing because all the children were playing on the courthouse lawn and they were playing kickball. And LC Brown remembers it how when you're older, like I am, you can really remember your childhood things. And he said when the gunshot sounded from inside the courthouse, all the kids out on the quad just froze. And then all the windows in the courthouse, all the first floor windows banged up and people just started pouring out of the windows and pandemonium. So I could really picture it when he told me
[00:40:18.850] - Ben
it was an incredibly cinematic scene. Right. I mean, you have this sort of gathering outside, which was very eerily reminiscent of the harvest festival, the reunion festival, but also like the sort of the Church revivals. Everybody's having fun, they're eating food, they're playing in the yard. And then suddenly this one sound erupts and shatters the entire field of joy. Right. And then there's just panic. There's just panic. So what happened inside the courthouse? Llc he heard it, but he didn't see it, but then he saw the aftermath. What happened inside.
[00:41:11.810] - Denise
've actually gone down to St. Charles and looked at the oral histories that are on file, and they're also at the state archives. People were hiding under pews. There was this one kid at the time who recalled many years later that he was under the Pew and he saw the blood dripping down from Jack Worl's chest wound. And then there were all these accounts of how the judge how Judge Waggoner, they were actually saying that he drove so quickly to get out of the way when she started shooting that he got his head stuck in the spitoon.
[00:41:59.090] - Ben
[00:41:59.630] - Denise
I don't know. We didn't try to portray that, but we do have spitoons in our courtroom scene of our documentary. Yeah, it was pandemonium, but she didn't want to cause any pandemonium. She just wanted to take her River Justice, action, avenge her father. And then she handed the gun to Mr. Brown's dad and said, Here you go. He killed my Daddy.
[00:42:33.150] - Ben
Yes. She's living with the Sheriff, and yet she manages to smuggle a gun into the courthouse, stand up point blank, draw and fire.
[00:42:44.790] - Denise
Well, that was something that I left out of the book because I thought it was too gossipy. But LC Brown swears up and down that it was the DeWitt Sheriff and his wife that she was staying with while awaiting the Jack worls trial because she was an orphan. They had orphaned her, or Jack Wales had orphaned her. So she was saying that LC swears up and down that the wife of the Sheriff gave her the Pearl handled lady's pistol because she felt sorry for her.
[00:43:19.770] - Ben
[00:43:22.050] - Denise
I left it out of the book because I was like, I can't tarnish someone that I've never met. This was just hearsaysay. This is LC Brown saying, I bet you. I bet you she done it. Yeah. And there is a tradition that I found out much later of the muff pistol from the 1700s when Queen Anne in England and women rode in carriages and whatnot they would hide a small pistol in their muff. So river people descend from Great Britain, Wales, Scotch Irish, Black Irish, German, Italian, all these mix of Celtic Peoples. And so it makes sense that that's a tradition that goes all the way back hundreds of years.
[00:44:15.990] - Ben
Not to go too far afield, but now you have me wondering what the actual mechanism or risks involved in keeping a gun in one's Muff are. What if the fur lining interrupts the hammer as it's going for the firing pin? What if the powder report manages to actually catch the muffin in flame? It just seems like, is it really worth it?
[00:44:56.590] - Ben
Probably not. I mean, open to try new things, I suppose. But she plugs him three or four times is that right? I mean, she gets a good few shots off before handing the gun over because justice, in her mind has been done.
[00:45:16.390] - Denise
Yes. And Mr. Brown told me after I sent the manuscript to print that she shot him four times in such a tight pattern, you can put a hat over it. And I was like, LC, that's perfect. Okay, so I'm sharing that lovely visual with you.
[00:45:37.690] - Ben
She is not just a pistol herself, but she knows how to use one. So you describe that at this moment. You call it pandemonium. The Sheriff himself later says all hell breaks loose. And I guess what I admired so much about your account, Denise, is that you did not really try to hide the chaos, the sense of total and utter chaos in that moment from the scene itself. The facts of the matter are chaotic, as are the sources that you use to try to establish the scene, which is to say the whole next few minutes of what you're describing here. When Helen Spence avenges her father's murder by shooting the murderer in the courthouse. Extraordinary. They say the first casualty of war is the truth. And you have all these conflicting details emerged. She drops the gun, she doesn't drop the gun. She shoots them in the back. No, she shoots them in the front. Everybody has a different version of this. And you come along and say, you know, we're not really going to know with a capital K on the knowledge, but this is the best kind of picture that we can form.
And if something else happened, well, so be it. It was chaos.
[00:47:09.810] - Denise
Yes, actually, because we're dealing with something that happened almost 100 years ago, and the fact that newspapers back then, there was no accountability, there was no byline used. So a lot of it was stuff that they were just using to fill a space. And I've worked in media, and I know that certain people still do that. But it was amazing to me when I went and saw all these contradictory newspaper accounts, sometimes on the same front page of the same paper, they would contradict the details. Everything that Mr. Brown told me because his father was there inside and Mr. Brown was outside and he received this information. Everything that he told me was completely backed up in the oral histories on file with the state archives. So the people that were there from Arkansas County, they backed up every single thing that Mr. Brown said, with the possible exception, that someone embroidered on the truth about the judge getting his head stuck in the spitoon.
[00:48:26.410] - Ben
a lovely enough image. I think we can hold onto it for now. We'll take a little editorial license there.
So the last question that I have for you this week is returning to this moment of drama. Is this kind of central tension that is present all throughout your book, which is the antipathy and the suspicion of the river people towards the drylanders. This kind of uncertainty between those two communities about what constitutes law and order and justice. And when this tension returns, what implications did that have for Helen in the immediate aftermath of her actions? Okay. And for the community of river people at large, what did this mean for all of the river people going forward after she took the law into her own hands?
[00:49:44.510] - Denise
Well, I could say that there was a separation that ensued because Helen ever after this she spent the rest of her brief lifetime trying to get back to the river. But there was this horrible anguish of separation because she had to be here. It was like a probationary situation. Don't want to jump ahead but when she was actually paroled from prison, the grounds were that she must never return to the river. That's all she knew. That's all she wanted. That's all she loved. And it's heartbreaking in the book to read the words of her grandmother who was Cicero's mother, just heartbreaking, the separation from the river. And I felt that because that's where my happy childhood was. So I think the river people themselves were traumatized and they continue to be traumatized to this very day by a government that destroys our bridges and Burns our houseboats. And, yes, it's happening to this very day.
[00:51:15.510] - Ben
Well, we'll pick the story up there next week. Thank you so much for introducing us to this extraordinary community and these amazing people. Denise, it's been a pleasure to have you this week.