SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Calhoun Eccentric: Eddie Austin Kirby, "In The Twinklin' Of An Eye The World Will End'

By Bob Weaver 2003

Eddie Austin Kirby was more than mildly eccentric.

He was beyond doubt, one of Calhoun's most notable characters, a strange mix of studious evaluation and paranoid absurdity.

Eddie was an original citizen of Joker and the Big Bend area of Sunny Cal, but worked for the U. S. Postal Service in the greater DC area for many years making numerous trips back to the county, eventually retiring here.

A follower of elixirs and potions to bring long life, he died at the age of 94.

He was always going to strike it rich in the oil and gas business.

He might also be remembered for drilling a water well on the courthouse lawn because he didn't trust public water, fluoride and all.

His published work "Many Be Called, But Few Chosen - A Message to Humanity," is among the strangest manuscripts I have ever read.

I first met Eddie in 1951 on the Joker Ridge near my house, as he was climbing from his ancient Hudson car from his bed rack, a plywood board placed across the seats.

I was about twelve. Eddie was shaking himself awake, his hair sticking straight in the air, putting on a clean white sleeveless undershirt (a forerunner to muscle shirts).

He called for me to stop, his car parked slightly off the main road. I dropped my bike to the ground and sat down to chat a spell with this man, known to me as Holly Kerby's brother.

I knew he worked away in some big city and came in on weekends to work his drilling operation over on Joker Hill. He spelled his last name with a "Ki" and his brother with a "Ke," a problem still confusing Calhoun genealogists.

Eddie took a box of cans, some full and some empty, from the trunk of his car and pried open some Vienna sausage for breakfast. Eddie kept all his empties, long before recycling. He had a car full of empty Vienna sausage, potted meat and pork and bean cans.

"The time will come when people will fight over these," he said.

He ask the well worn Appalachian question, "Who are you?" I told him I was Giff Weaver's boy. "I know ole Giff," he said. "A pretty good fella." Then it was time to talk.

He spoke about things I had never heard. Politics and religion. He spoke of Franklin D. Roosevelt like he was a personal friend. He quoted scripture and talked about water wheels and nitro bombs.

"This world is not long for the making," he said. "Christ is coming back to clean it up, and mighty soon."

He carried on a lifetime of letter writing to some of the world's greatest leaders, really.

I remember being frozen to my sitting rock, listening to this burly, wild man expound upon his ideas on the nature of things. "Change must come soon, before it's too late!"

"In the twinkling of an eye, it all will end!" he confided. "Are you ready Robert? Are you ready?"

Being sufficiently churched within the Mt. Olive Methodist up on Hur Hill, I knew the importance of salvation, but fear entered into me that summer morning and I jumped on my bike, told Eddie I'd see him later, and sped around the Joker Ridge to Fred Barnes' place to talk of other things.

Eddie Austin Kirby went on for many years to create a legacy of interest, much of which is written in his collection he published in 1982.

From his correspondence with Huey Long and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, before Roosevelt became president, to his ideas about world peace. Eddie has offered up a fascinating tale of one man's insight, sideways and paranoid they be.

He describes in finite detail how to build things, an inventor of sorts, or admonishes the reader to abide by religious conviction. He tells of over forty assassination attempts made on his own life.

One time he said a projectile was shot though his open car windows, barely missing his jugular while driving up Hur Hill.

There is much to recall about Eddie's life, opinion and revelations, which I intend to do in time.