Indescribable Jim

Thoughts, memories, and stories about James C. Taylor

Indescribable Jim

Postby Rex Vaughan on Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:57 pm

Being a fan of humor of most kinds, good and bad, I always had a great admiration for Jim’s ability to deliver the most clever and unexpected responses to most any situation. On one occasion when someone in our group was in a fit of philosophical jargon, he commented, “Eschew obfuscation.”

This will be lost on the young who are not familiar with Edgar A. Guest’s doggerel, but one of his most famous poems began ,
“It takes a heap o’ livin’ to make a house a home, A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam, A’fore ye really ‘prciate the things ye lef’ behind…” (I told you it was doggerel). When we were all at the McPherson’s in Colorado a few years ago, he carved a small piece of wood and gave it to me. The inscription he carved: “It takes a heap o’ homin’ to make a pigeon toed.”

One morning it the late 50’s a group of us were walking to morning classes at Garrett and, full of ourselves and our grand theological acumen, we were noisily chatting – everyone but Jim. When someone pointed out that Jim was quiet, I observed that he was doubtless thinking about holy things. “I was thinking about sex,” he tersely injected. “Well, that’s holy,” I said. His prompt response: “Not the way I was thinking about it.”

In spite of the fact that I have always known Jim to be one of the smartest people I have ever known, his first response to a question was almost always a puzzled frown, a dipping of his head to the right and down and a “Gosh, I don’t rightly know.” I am sure a lot of this was his reluctance to display knowledge greater than mine (which it immeasurably was). His gracious and cordial nature seemed to demand that of him.
Another example of his graciousness was when he and Helen were visiting us a few years ago, we persuaded them to go with us to a wine tasting at our favorite French café in Decatur. I was pretty sure ours and Helen’s enthusiasm for it was not fully shared by Jim. However, once we had spent our 2+ hours sampling wines, cheeses and various breads, fruits, nuts, etc., he expressed heartfelt thanks and proclaimed it “The best meal I have ever eaten.” I am sure he was caught up in the moment, but it certainly made us feel that we had been good hosts.

Now having said all this about his graciousness and cordiality, Jim would never like being fit into any neat little category. On one occasion, we knocked on the Taylor’s front door (maybe unexpected or even uninvited). Jim opened the door and said, “Come on in if you don’t mind intruding.”

Thanks for your great friendship and inspiration, Jim.
Rex Vaughan
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