Larry Barker is a musician, writer and insurance agent. This is a story about his rebirth and a new beginning.
“My story began when my father was sick,” Larry said. “Growing up, I remember him as always being a tyrant, very strict. Any infraction, according to his standards, would mean getting hit with anything, whatever he could find.”
There was a slow cadence, a wistfulness in Larry’s voice as he spoke, looking off to the side as though viewing something far away, remembering, but not sure how to articulate those memories from a time gone by.
I asked Larry who was there for him.
He answered quickly, “even though my mother had her issues with him, she was always there for me, my refuge.”
When his father, Darnell, became really sick it fell upon Larry, the middle child, to take care of him in the hospital, then in hospice. One day while watching TV there, an HBO special with Tom Hanks on Iwo Jima came on. His father told him to “turn that crap off.”
Emphatically he said ”that’s not history that’s Hollywood, I know, I was there.”
His father had suffered from PTSD all those years.
The violence, the anger, the rejection suddenly all made sense. Slowly his father began to talk about his war experiences. He gained back his life and gave Larry his.
The love, and the understanding of how powerful it was to at last have and claim a father became his.
The war ended for his father when he was shot out of a tree and broke his back but the agony of memories didn’t until he embraced his son and shared the nightmares he could finally let go of. Larry followed in his father’s footsteps to become a field artillery captain in the 70’s during the Vietnam- era.
Larry was 65 when he heard his father’s story.
The insights given him were cathartic. So was the book, “Pittman Creek” he wrote about that story.
He wrote under a pseudonym, Lawrence Wayne. When I interviewed him, though the first of the books are printed, he was able to complete his healing and accept his father’s love by using his own last name as the author for the next printing.
Larry’s father died August 5, 2016.
Larry said, “It tore me up.” He died on Larry’s birthday. “I wrote the book, ‘Pittman Creek,’ his book, so he’ll live forever in its pages.” Although a novel, it’s based on the true story his father told him on his deathbed. The rest of the story: Larry has been an insurance agent for 40 years.
With only a course in music theory in college he became a musician and writer as well. A deep man with a love of people and a great curiosity about life with an endless creative side is who Larry Barker is. He plays the guitar, has produced three CD’s of his music and marked Gregg Allman as a friend.
Richmond Hill became home because of the welcome to the school Mrs. Meeks gave them and their sons, Jason and Brian.
When they came to see the school, she took their little hands in hers, took them into the school, showed them their classrooms and welcomed them.
In 1987 the Barkers built their first home in Redbird Creek at “the end of the world.”
A Johnny Murphy development, Mrs. Meeks, and Gregg Allman, filled out his wonderful, fruitful life here with his wife Linda, an entrepreneur and a realtor.
“She’s my support, my pillar, my anchor who forever tells me ‘you don’t know till you try.’” “The best known song I wrote, “Linda Lou” is about her.”
Presently he is completing an entertainment venue on his Ford Avenue property. It will be a destination for food, live music and the arts. A gathering center for us, the people of Bryan County.
“Our wonderful town, Richmond Hill, my ‘back water town’ is coming into its own,” Larry said. “Tourism, art, and restaurants are flourishing. And, my story goes on, an overeducated redneck given a full life. Thank you, Dad, I’m doing just fine.”
Larry Barker is doing a book signing Friday, March 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. He will read excerpts from “Pittman Creek.” The cover of his book, will be created as a water color by Jim Leahy of Leahy Art Gallery to be given away at a drawing that night. The theme will be art, both visual and written, at Photopoint Gallery in Richmond Hill. Food will be served with a lecture on art by the gallery owner, Joy Dunigan.