of much commoner clay; a mere clod
Uncle Ezra had been one of Aunt Eppie’s father’s hired hands. He was of much commoner clay than his wife and with age had become a mere clod. Almost as deaf as one of his own well planted fence posts, he heard nothing nor cared to hear. He spoke rarely and in half articulate grunts. His one thought in life had always been how to get the most out of his land, which was not his, but Aunt Eppie’s, as she was not slow to remind him when the occasion arose. Now that he was too old to work hard he spent his days puttering about the fields and the barnyard watching, always watching. He had the reputation of being the hardest man to work for in the whole of Scott County and he paid the lowest wages.
ex Edith Summers Kelley, Weeds (1923; Avon Popular Library Edition, edited and afterword by Matthew J. Brucolli, 1972?) : 65
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The same novel includes a passage about the impact of the 1918 flu epidemic there, in Kentucky, where the novel is set —
The great after war pestilence called “flu” swept across Scott County that fall and winter, sparing neither the old men nor the young virgins. It knocked at many doors, and often where its knuckles had rapped the undertaker hung his bunch of crape. Sometimes the crape was rusty black, often a rather soiled white. It took away Uncle Jonah Cobb and left Aunt Selina alone with the bees and rabbits. It took one of Joe Barnaby’s children and Aunt Abigail’s son, Noey, and Evalina, Aunt Maggie Slatten’s second youngest child. It took babies in arms and young men that the war had spared and women with child. It took Uncle Sam Whitmarsh away from his cheerful traffic in dogs and horses.
“It’s allus this way,” said Jabez Moorehouse “War an’ pestilence goes hand in hand. The bigger the war the bigger the pestilence. The Bible says them that’s near at hand’ll fall by the sword an’ them that’s afur off’ll die o’ the pestilence. We’re a hell of a long ways off, but we’re a-dyin’ o’ the pestilence jes the same.”
He hunched his shoulders over the stove, feeling suddenly cold.
The pestilence would take Uncle Jabez, too.
Edith Summers Kelley (1884-1956, wikipedia) also authored The Devil’s Hand (abandoned 1926; published 1974), set in California's Imperial Valley, in hard times.
the latter was dragged into one long-ago asfaltics post in bitter, useless waters, 3