If there ever was a man I feared in Phoenix Village, was Mr. Hollingsworth. He lived towards the end of Phoenix about a stone’s throw from the back dam. I think his house was close to Reuben Archer’s house and across from the Dorne’s old property. He was a man with a disability but you wouldn’t think so. He was a proud, quiet man who didn’t get involved in community life. He pretty much kept to himself. He was about 5’ 4” slight built and sapodilla brown skin. I never saw his head. He always wore a hat. His first wife, I think her name was Anna or Hannah, of many years died before him. She was a quiet, sweet woman and was sort of friends with my mom. They used to talk on the street, not going home to visit or anything like that. I think I would have been scared to go into Mr. Hollingsworth house. The Hollingsworth’s had no children.
He was the coffin man in the village. Someone died and he would whip up a coffin in no time. I guess that’s why children feared him. What was even stranger, he built his own coffin for when he died. Imagine that! His wife died before him and he buried her in that then built another one for himself again. Everyone thought that was strange. He remarried a red woman from Georgetown. Of course, being superstitious country people, we all thought the other wife would die again before him and be buried in that coffin. He had remarried a red skinned woman from Georgetown. Everybody wondered where and how he met that woman since he kept to himself, didn’t participate in anything. He did not even go to church although I believe he was some kind of a Seventh Day Adventist believer. This city lady was a lot more outgoing than his first wife and she was the popular chocolate and dainty lady. Every Sunday morning she would walk through the village selling homemade chocolate sticks and salara cakes. I loved chocolate tea and was our treat on Sundays after Church.
Mr. Hollingsworth walked with a hop and a drop – maybe he had polio as a child. I don’t know how he got to walking that way but he was a proud man. He commanded respect and he was a crafts person. His backyard was on a sand bed and was full of awaroes, really nice thick, juicy ones. I and my cousins, Ellis and Rita, sometimes Orson and Waldwin used to go and steal the awaroes that dropped from the tree. It was also so scary. If he got a glimpse of us he would yell so loudly he scoot off like there is no tomorrow. We had heard that people were buried behind his house and that it used to be a burial ground but that did not stop us but it was scary.
Later on the new Mrs. Hollingsworth used to bring her two nephews for August and at Christmas time – two cute little boys. I can’t remember their names but one had an eye that was smaller than the other. He was a good friend and the boys were allowed to attend to parties and so on in the village. The little girls used to fawn over them because they were city boys and more “civilized” (tongue in cheek). Mr. and Mrs. Hollingsworth died, Mr. Hollingsworth died first. I think the house was let to one or both of those boys and I’m not sure who is living there now or what has become of it.