Darren Doyle, story and photo:
One local man's Christmas got a little brighter a couple weeks ago after he had someone settle an outstanding bill that was over four decades old.
Chalybeate resident Carlton Skaggs, (84), who owned and operated Parker Hardware on the square in Brownsville from 1977 to 1986, said he received a strange phone call a couple weeks ago from a man that said he needed to pay an outstanding bill.
"I told him that I didn't know him and that all those books had been thrown away," Skaggs said. "I told him he didn't owe me nothing. I really thought it was just somebody playing a joke."
He said not long after the phone call, a man showed up at his residence and said he was there to pay the outstanding bill.
"I didn't recognize the man and still didn't know who he was after he told me his name," (Skaggs asked us not to mention his name). "He said he bought a chainsaw from me back years ago but he needed about a month to pay for it and that I told him I'd give him a month. I told the guy that I didn't remember any of that and that he didn't owe me anything because all those books and the bills were long gone. I told him he'd made a mistake but that's when he reached in his pocket and pulled out the invoice that was sent to him in July of 1978. He had the Parker Hardware invoice for a chainsaw for $110 with $24 interest added to it."
Skaggs said the man said he couldn't pay the bill when it was due and he kept putting it off, later and later. He said before he knew it, decades had passed but he never forgot about it.
"He just apologized and apologized and said it had bothered him all these years," Skaggs said. "He told me he wasn't leaving until he paid that bill. Not just that, but he wanted to pay the interest over all those years. I just kept telling him don't worry about it and he didn't owe me anything but he wouldn't have it."
Skaggs said the man was insistent on paying the bill, plus interest, and he wouldn't take no for an answer.
"I told him if it meant that much, just pay the $110 and we'd call it square. He pulled out five 20s and a ten, handed me the invoice and asked me to mark it paid. I did and handed it back to him. He cried a little and I did, too. We hugged each other and he left."
Skaggs said it was good to see someone want to do the right thing, although he had forgotten all about it.
Skaggs bought Parker Hardware from the late Vollie and Evelyn Parker in January of 1977. It was located on the corner of Main Cross Street and Washington Street. It is now the corner parking lot of Limestone Bank.
"I know the money will sure be handy right around Christmastime," Skaggs said.