All That Lingers


By Justin Murphy News21 / Syracuse University

Even after you get to the swinging front gate — across the gravel bridge over Bolster Creek, half a mile down a rumbling, rutted driveway, cheatgrass stabbing through the car windows and magpies rattling along a barbed wire fence — Jerry Middleton’s house is still out of sight.

Jerry's Cabin


Excerpt from "All That Lingers" by Justin Murphy

Talking with Mike and Karen pt.2

Photo by: Kate Szrom

Today, I spent another afternoon with Mike Stewart and Karen Schimpf.

Before Mike and Karen got together in 2007, Mike lived in the woods near Chesaw in a 16 x 48 cabin he built himself. 

For Mike, life in the woods was solitary but peaceful.  He only had to account for himself.  He didn't have a lawn to mow or a television with the full allotment of  stations.  He's still getting used to living in what he calls an "electric house."

a young John Wayne

A young Jerry Middleton, photographed by a friend in Vietnam

john wayne, the american cowboy
you can be him too, chant the troops,
follows the boy, still wishing for more than stubble
on his baby-soft chin.

pull up your boot straps, boy
towering over, says father
to war, you go, now is your duty

but rumbling streets, and white-brimmed hats
filled with beautiful young things
that only visit in the night
can't fight the feeling
nor the terror that lingers
when it's over.

touch the earth, young son
press your weathered face to my ground
rush, deep dirt, fill the holes
clothe him in the whispers
that run through the trees

Carrying the burden

Photograph of quilts made by wives and widows of Vietnam veterans

Yesterday we visited with Danna Hughes of Vietnam Veterans Wives, a veterans organization in Republic. Being the widow of a Vietnam veteran, she shared the everyday struggles of veterans' wives.

Back to Vietnam

Photo by: David Miller

Justin and Juliette have been spending a lot of time with Jerry Middleton, a Vietnam veteran living in the woods outside of Chesaw, Washington. Years ago Jerry was an aspiring photographer, and during his time serving in Vietnam he shot hundreds of slide photographs.

Jerry was gracious enough to give us his slide projector, 8mm film projector, and boxes of slides and film reels to go through.

Women veterans overlooked

As an Army nurse during the Vietnam War Karen Schimpf tended to soldiers whose bodies were blasted on the battlefield.

She arrived in Saigon as "an immortal 22-year-old" she said. But that wasn't the way she left.

When Schimpf came home the war was unpopular and those who participated in it were not celebrated heroes.

Women's contributions went unnoticed, she said yesterday when my partner Kelly West and I talked to her at her home in Tonasket, Washington.

"We came home by ourselves," Schimpf said.

Being overlooked, she said, still stings a little.

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