Well, he’s seen a peck of trouble, one thing after another…Oh, Bill…if you see my boy smoking cigarettes, just give him a word, will you? He thinks a lot of you, Bill. (I.427)
Mr. Webb justifies Simon Stimson’s drinking problem with the knowledge that his life has had a lot of problems. He wants to make sure that his son doesn’t fall into a similar pattern of substance abuse.
I guess I know more about Simon Stimson’s affairs than anybody in this town. Some people ain’t made for small-town life. I don’t know how that’ll end; but there’s nothing we can do but just leave it alone. (I.390)
No one seems to know how to help Simon Stimson.
But, Julia! To have the organist of a church drink and drunk year after year. You know he was drunk tonight. (I.371)
The small town gossip revolves around Simon, the town drunk.
SAM CRAIG: He was organist at church, wasn’t he? – Hm, drank a lot, we used to say. JOE STODDARD: Nobody was supposed to know about it. He’d seen a peck of trouble. Behind his hand. Took his own life, y’know? SAM: Oh, did he? JOE Hung himself in the attic. They tried to hush it up, but of course it got around. He chose his own epy-taph. You can see it there. It ain’t a verse exactly. SAM: Why, it’s just some notes of music – what is it? JOE: Oh, I wouldn’t know. (III.58-65)
Simon’s suicide coupled with his alcoholism shows that there were heavier issues in his life than most other people knew about or, as the music notes suggest, could even understand.
Been rescuin’ a party; darn near froze to death, down by Polish Town thar. Got drunk and lay out in the snowdrifts. Thought he was in bed when I shook’m. (III.179)
Simon Stimson is not the only person with drinking problems in the area.