Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Sleepwalking Burnettes, Part I

I come from a long line of sleepwalkers. My Daddy, my Grandpa, and my Uncle Lindell were all world class sleepwalker. Here are some stories.

During the Great Depression, my grandfather was building a new house with the help of his brother, Tommy Burnett. Grandpa, Grandma, Daddy, & Lindell moved into the house before everything was completed. One of the things that was not finished was the front porch.  The porch was a good seven feet off of the ground and the only thing that needed to be completed about it was the flooring. In the middle of the night, Grandma heard Grandpa get up and go downstairs. She hollered at him "John Ettered, where are you going?" (His name was John Edward Burnett, but many people called him John Ettered, Dettered, or J.E.)  He did not respond to her. She heard him opening the front door and she ran down the steps just in time to see him step out onto the front porch. Naturally, Grandpa fell through since the flooring was not down. He didn't even wake up!  Grandma got him back in the house and in the bed.  The next day, he discovered that he had several broken ribs and he did not remember a thing about it.  Grandpa was also quite a snorer!

Grandpa Burnette

My Uncle Lindell was also mightly bad to sleepwalk. In the wee hours of the morning, Grandma heard the wooden backporch screen door slap closed.  She got up to see who was up at that time of night. Even though they had an outhouse, most everyone would use the slop jar rather than going outside in the middle of the night so it was strange for someone to go out.  When she got outside, Lindell was thrashing around up in the woods, yelling and carrying on something awful. He thought that he was at war! She tried to get him to come into the house, but he just kept on yelling and threatened to hit Grandma if she got near him. Grandpa came outside and he couldn't get Lindell to do anything either, so they both just watched him to make sure they he didn't hurt himself.  He eventually calmed down and just walked back into the house and went to bed.

Uncle Lindell Burnette

My dad, Bobby, was also quite the sleepwalker. When he was younger and still living at home, Grandma said that he was always getting up in the middle of the night and talking in his sleep. If anyone tried to touch him when he was sleepwalking, he would punch them!  When I was just a small child, I can remember that he would get up in the middle of the night, cook food and then eat it.  The scariest thing that I ever remember him doing was one night, my mom was working third shift, so it was just me and Daddy at the house. Daddy woke up 6 miles from the house sitting in his car!  He had driven that far from the house in his sleep. It terrified him because he knew that he had left me at home alone and I was always so scared to be alone.


Another incident happened one night when we were all at home. Mom caught Daddy going out the back door around 2:00 AM. He was fully dressed and was walking with his cane. He was heading into the backyard where a creek bordered our property. Mom was afraid that he was going to fall into the creek and hurt himself because he was headed right to the creek. (My dad was very unsteady on his feet because he had multiple sclerosis.) She asked him what he was doing and he said that Jim Dalton, the mail carrier for Laurel Fork, had come by and asked my dad to deliver the mail for him!  Mom tried to reason with Daddy and he was just getting more angry and more insistent that Jim had came by the house. This was all happening in the wee hours of the morning and there was a considerable amount of yelling going on, so I'm sure that the neighbors wondered what was going on. Mom finally got Daddy back in the house after a good hour, but he was still convinced that he needed to deliver the mail. The next morning, Daddy was STILL swearing that Jim had come by and ask for his help!  Okay, so maybe there was something weird going on that we were unaware of, so Mom did get in touch with Jim and ask him if he came by the house.  Of course he did not, but my Daddy still swore that he did days after the incident!

This is the end of Part I. Watch for Part II and learn about some of MY sleepwalking adventures!

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