Friday, October 05, 2018

Memories of Roy Jones #6

The sincerest compliment that I can give Ed Goddard is that he had a wholesome effect on my life for 70 years.  Our families have long been friends – our daddies were fishing buddies together.   I remember my papa saying that Mr. E.A. Goddard (Ed’s grandfather) liked to kid him but he always ended with “I never kidded a man that I didn’t like."

There are lots of qualities that shown in Ed but his ingenuity was shown at an early age – like the first time he spent the night with me.  We were eight or ten years old and he slept at our house.   The next day when it was time for him to go, he begged and begged me to spend the night with him, which I did.  Later that night he told me that he was glad I spent the night with him because his daddy was really mad.  He said Ed had imposed on my mama by spending the night with me.  Now that I had spent the night with him and had imposed on his mama, everything was all right.

We lived to fish and spent many a night in the swamp.   One time when we were around 16, we decided to sleep in the swamp.   I had an old boat near Double Bridges where the creek gets big.  We got there that morning and because the creek had risen, the water was muddy.  We couldn’t even catch any small fish for bait.   We tried everything.  I remembered that Matthew Carson, a sharecropper on the place, had killed a rattlesnake the day before.   We found that snake, skinned it and used it for bait.   A tree had fallen in the water so we tied the hooks to the limbs on both sides of the tree.   There were so many fish striking that it looked like the tree was moving.  We spent the whole night paddling around the treetops setting hooks and had a string full of catfish.  Rattlesnake was the best bait that we ever used.

On another trip we spent the night near Grandma Jones sucker hole.  The mosquitoes normally were not too bad but that night they were about to carry us off.  We saw we weren’t going to get any sleep so we devised a plan.  At the count of three we jumped up and ran 500 yards through the swamp to Hickory Top.  We doubled back about 30 to 40 feet.   We ran over everything in our way but we figured we could leave the mosquitoes behind us.   Everything was quiet then we heard the mosquitoes fly right by us.  We thought we were safe until we realized the mosquitoes were doubling back just like we had.   We still stayed the night but I don’t think we got much sleep.

Another night on April 1 when we were around 23, we walked to the river where now there is the school bus body.   It was warm and pleasant.  We set out our hooks and then it began to turn cold.   We built a fire and tried to go to sleep but we couldn’t due to the cold.   Our feet could be warm when next to the fire but our faces would freeze.  We finally got the idea of building another fire so that our faces and feet would both be warm.   On April 1 I always see in the paper that April 1, 1940 was a record low – the night we nearly froze to death.

Once we went to Cat Lake and were planning to use the boat that was left there.  We found the boat locked by some big muscadine vines.   The vines were about three inches in diameter and very tough.   Ed said we could cut the vine with a pocket knife, which he tried to do.   He cut and cut and pulled and struggled.   I looked up and saliva had covered his chin.   He looked like a mad dog he had worked so hard, but he did get the boat out.   He had determination.

On another fishing trip we had put our hooks around Bryan Bridges.  The river was coming through the creek.   We crossed the slough – you could jump across.  We stayed too long and when we got back, the stream was ten or twelve feet wide and the slough was about waist deep.   Since we were going to spend the night in the swamp, we couldn’t wade it because we didn’t want to get our clothes wet.   Ed looked up and there was a big muscadine vine that went into the sky and was attached to a big oak limb.   Ed figured we could swing across, which we did. We felt like Tarzan.   I named that place Goddard’s Crossing.   Ed always smiled when I mentioned Goddard’s Crossing.

Ed was so proud of a pistol he received in his early 20s that he inherited from his Grandfather McCoy.   He would send me to Jamie Barrow’s to buy the bullets.  It was a fine pistol – engraved on it was “Police Special," a 38 caliber.   He would carry the pistol everywhere he went in the swamp.   He would walk up to a tree, yell “hands up” and point the pistol at the tree.
Pistol inherited from A.C McCoy

The next story is one that I felt awful about.  We were fishing down below Bryan Bridges.   The fish weren’t striking.   I came along the creek and he was standing on the bank.  I made like I was going to push him but I didn’t touch him.   Ed dodged and lost his balance and fell into the creek.   Ed was big and strong but clumsy.  He was going to scare me by reaching for the pistol but it was gone.   We spent the day diving in looking for it but we were at the deep point of the creek.  We finally gave up.   Ed said that this was the worst thing that has ever happened to us.   He had to leave for Emory so we went home.   I told Matthew Carson what had happened to us.   Matthew, a sharecropper on the farm, was a person who could do anything.  He said we would go look for it the next day.  When I met him the following day he was dragging a piece of 1/4 inch pipe with a pitch fork attached with the tines bent like a rake.   He stuck it into the water and about the second pull he made contact.   I dove in and got it.   I then went to the depot and sent a telegram.  It said “found pistol."   Mrs. Hodges asked if that was all I wanted to put in the telegram.   I replied that it was enough.  (Update: Grandpa McCoy’s pistol is in possession of my brother George. Photo is posted here – Bruce Goddard).

The carp story is one of my favorites.   Miss Lucy, John, Lydia, Ed and I were fishing at Clear Lake.  We could drive to Twenty Eight break, which is way in the swamp.  We walked about a mile from there to Clear Lake.  We weren’t catching much and I told Ed that I had found another lake while duck hunting that I didn’t know existed.  He and I went there with our reels.   We got there and the lake had almost dried up.  It was awful looking.   Everything had died for lack of oxygen except for three carp.   They would swim and come up for air, then go back under.  Ed said we ought to catch them.   We tried our reels, but the hooks wouldn’t penetrate the fish they were so tough.  We decided to try a different approach.  We found some dead pine limbs to use as clubs.  When the carp would come up for air, we would club them.   The three carp we got were tremendous in size.  They looked really good when we cleaned them up in a levy pit.   We took them back to Clear Lake and as soon as Miss Lucy saw them, she said that we didn’t catch them – we had been mudding and those fish weren’t fit to eat.   Ed said he could sell them for 50 cents apiece.  She said, “You’ll kill somebody too.”   We carried them back to the car, which was itself a big undertaking.  Miss Lucy made her final appeal to leave the fish but we put them in the trunk and took them to Jake Prager’s store and sold them.  Two or three days later in the afternoon the phone rang.   It was Ed.  He said, “I know you’re on a party line; do you think anybody is listening?  I just found out that Jake Prager is sick."  I said, “Ed, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”   He said, “I think that’s the right way to go.   I don’t even remember calling you.  Goodbye.”   Both of us were very relieved when Jake Prager opened his store a week later.

…to be continued.

Recordings of Roy Jones. Transcribed by his daughter, Harriet Jones Geesey.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Memories of Roy Jones #5

Back in the late 1920's and early 1930's the crowd from Reynolds and Butler got together and decided they wanted to go Mammoth Cave in Virginia.   I don’t know why they picked that site but it was a popular attraction.   They decided to pay Mr. Hoke’s way to provide the entertainment.   They rented an old school bus.   Thelmon Jarrell, a very honorable person, reported that the first night they spent the night in Roswell, Georgia.   A few wanted to take a drink even though it was Prohibition.   They found a source and the two who went for it was Mr. Earl Marshall and Mr. Hoke.   They went to the man’s still and he was selling five gallons.   Mr. Marshall wore a glove over his left hand that I believe was stepped on when he was a boy.   Mr. Hoke said that a moonshiner shot it off at the last still we raided.   The man tore out through the woods.   They brought back the five gallons without paying for it.

Mr. Thelmon told another story that when they got to Petersburg, Virginia, Mr. Hoke decided he needed a new pair of shoes.   They went into a nice, big store and a young man waited on him.   Mr. Hoke said he wanted a new pair of shoes and the man asked him what size.   Mr. Hoke said “Don’t ask me my size with as many pairs of shoes that I have bought here.”  The man determined the size and everything the salesman said Mr. Hoke would scream familiarity with the store.  The salesman must not have been with the store very long and was sure Mr. Hoke was a regular customer.   After picking out the shoes the salesman asked how he wanted to pay for it.  Mr. Hoke replied to charge it to my account like you always do.   Yes sir was the reply.   I’m sure they had a meeting at the back of the store to see who to the charge the shoes to.

They continued to Mammoth Cave with a guide leading them.   Mr. Hoke started talking louder and louder.  His stories were more interesting than the guide’s and people started following Mr. Hoke around.
I saw Mr. Hoke one Saturday afternoon.  He was auctioning off the estate and mules of Mr. Wes who had passed away.   It was a big mule estate and Mr. Wes had been a big mule dealer.   Mr. Hoke was making a pretty good spiel like he knew all of the mules.   When it got to the bidding, he would point to the section that I was in.   I don’t think anybody around where I was sitting was bidding – I think he was getting a man to bid against himself.

Mr. Hoke could tell a story and you could just see it.   It could’ve happened or might not have happened – you just didn’t know.   He told me he went to the post office one morning and saw Dr. Fickling, the dentist.  Dr. Fickling said that his car wouldn’t start that morning and asked  about taking Mr. Hoke’s truck to push him off.  We rode down there and Dr. Fickling had a Model A with two seats and a rumble seat.   We went to push him off and I put the car onto the highway going to Oglethorpe.   I was in the truck behind him and hadn’t pushed him far before we couldn’t keep up.  He started waving for me to quit pushing – he was going pretty good.  We got across the creek and I couldn’t keep up with him.   I lost him at the hill by the James Rick’s place.  His foot feed had gotten stuck and I don’t know when he realized that it was the accelerator, not me, pushing him.

I never heard about Mr. Hoke paying but one bill and that was to the Ford Motor Company.   Being a mechanic, he had to pay them.   They would give you a receipt that was exactly the same size of a check and looked like one too.   A.J. Payne, the owner, would sign it.   Mr. Hoke would pay his bill and once gave that the receipt to Mr. Willis, who didn’t have much education and who ran a fish market in Butler.   Mr. Hoke said he wanted $4.00 of fish and they were weighed.  Mr. Willis came down to him later and said “Son, you’re $4.00 short on your education.”         
Once he was dealing with Thurman Whatley.   Thurman said “Hoke, you bragged about sneaking out the cloak room of school one day and that the teachers never missed you.”  Hoke replied that yeah, that was him.   Thurman said the lesson that day was “Don’t sell anything to Hoke McDaniel on credit”.   You missed that lesson but I didn’t.

One of the stories that has been repeated involves the barber shop.   Before World War II the barber shop was the social scene for the men.   The only razors were straight razors.   The men would have their shaving done at the barber shop.   The razors were four to five inches long and as straight as they could be.   It would be sharpened against a belt.  The barber shop in Reynolds had three chairs.  Facing the barber chairs were a line of captain chairs with cushions.   These would always be full.   Men would come in for a shave and haircut and just sit and talk.  In the back was a shoeshine – he kept a boy there.   A door went to three or four showers that you could pay for.   The barber would furnish the washing, towel and soap.   I forget the price.   I used the one in Butler because it came in handy when you didn’t have time to go home to shower.   The barber shop stayed open until 12:00 midnight.   I bet it was a blessing for people that didn’t have running water.   A lot of homes didn’t have bathrooms back then.

One Saturday night at the barber shop in Reynolds a hobo came in.   Most people my age have seen thousands of hobos.   There would be more people between the railroad cars and in the box cars than there would be riding the passenger train.  That was during the depression.   They would get off and try to find something to eat.   I remember Mr. Flowers, whose house was close to downtown, telling me that once his mother fed over 20 hobos.

This particular hobo came in a 9:00 or 10:00 at night.   He told Mr. Jim, the barber, that he didn’t have a penny to his name but his hair is so long and he feels self-conscious about it.  Would there be any way in the world that he could get a haircut?  Mr. Jim said “I’ll cut it – do you have any clean clothes?”  The hobo replied that he had just washed his other set in a stream near Columbus.   The hobo pointed to his sack on a stick that held the clothes.  Mr. Jim told him to take a bath and put on his clean clothes.  By that time he should be caught up and give him a haircut.   After the man came out of the shower with his clean clothes, Mr. Jim asked him when he last had something to eat.  The hobo replied that he hadn’t had anything today but he ate at noon the previous day at the soup line in Columbus.  It wasn’t a few minutes when Harry Powell came in.  Harry ran the meat market and café.  It was one of the few places that had both.   The café was in the back.  He would cut the meat up front while you observed from the café.  Mr. Jim explained that the hobo hadn’t had anything to eat.   All of the Powells have a reputation of being big-hearted and Mr. Harry said there was no law that said he couldn’t open back up and let him eat all he can eat.  The man went with Harry and left his belongings.   When he returned he made a speech about how this was the finest town he had ever been in.   He came in dirty, hungry and needing a haircut.  These people cleaned him and fed him.  He felt so bad for that he had to catch a freight train and get all dirty again but he had to get to Macon.  Mr. Hoke McDaniel immediately stated that a man wasn’t going to ride in any freight cars as long as he was running the passenger trains.  He pulled out an envelope and wrote “Mr. Conductor, please pass this man as far as Macon.   Hoke McDaniel, V.P.” 

Now Hoke McDaniel was not part of any railroad that I know of but he was one of the best comedians that ever lived.   Had he lived in Hollywood, he would get awards for best writer, actor and director all in one.  The hobo made another speech about how he couldn’t believe what had happened to him in a place like Reynolds.  What the hobo didn’t know is that a few of the men in the barber shop that night had never seen a man get thrown off of a train.  They decided that it would be fun to see one tonight.   The train from Columbus to Macon didn’t come through until about 4:30 to 5:00 in the morning which would put you in Macon at daybreak.  So they sat up with the man all night.  They met the train and the hobo got on and sat by a window so he could wave goodbye.  The train started off.   The three observers waiting for the train to come to a stop, but it never did.  They thought that was the last of it.

 Mr. Falcon, who lived in Butler, was a conductor on the Central Georgia Railroad.   Someone saw him in Butler the next week and Mr. Falcon said to get the word to Hoke McDaniel that he was never to give another pass on the Central Georgia Railroad.  The conductor said that he hadn’t checked the tickets until they had gotten to the Reynolds swamp.  He couldn’t stop the train there and put the man off.  Besides he couldn’t put a man off that was crazy enough to believe that Hoke McDaniel owned the Central Georgia Railroad.

Colonel Lunsford worked for the court in Butler and was on the way to work when he saw Hoke standing by his house outside of Reynolds with tears running down his face.   Colonel Lunsford immediately stopped and asked what was wrong.   Hoke replied that he had just lost his youngest daughter.   Colonel Lunsford hopped out of his car and took Hoke by the shoulders and said that he was so sorry.  Did she die suddenly?  Hoke replied that she hadn’t died – she had just gotten on that old yellow bus and that when they do that they are gone forever.  He started crying again.  I guess he wasn’t always joking. be continued.
Recordings of Roy Jones. Transcribed by his daughter , Harriet Jones Geesey.


Monday, October 01, 2018

Memories of Roy Jones #4

Mr. Hoke McDaniel was one of the best comedians that I have ever been acquainted with.   He made the depression a little easier to live through.  He lived about a mile from Reynolds in a house painted red on good land.  He was an automobile mechanic by trade.  He looked that part.   He really didn't look like anybody except Hoke McDaniel.

 He died in the Reynolds hospital   The day before he died Dr. Sams was making the rounds.  Hoke asked him if he had brought the asbestos soup – I’m going to need it for where I’m going.   He had a bunch of children but I never heard of any trouble from them.   I suspect he was a poor provider because he was always joking.

When I was in school he would come to the stage once a year dressed in all kinds of clothes – mismatched and in black face.  He would imitate the black preachers and give a sermon.  He told of a revival he had conducted a week or two before.   As the congregation got worked up, he had gotten himself worked up.  He took off his coat and laid it on – he pulled off his tie, he pulled off his shirt and kept preaching.   He reached down and got to his underwear and then said “That’s when I come unto myself.”

This is a classic story and it sounds like him.  He sat around in the drug store where the men would visit.   It was during a gubernatorial election and Mr. Charlie Neisler, who owned the bank and automobile place, was the most influential man in the county.   He had served as a State Representative before then.  Governor Tuby Hardman came to town and Mr. Neisler was escorting him around Reynolds and stopped at the drug store.  Hoke jumped up and met him.   He was excited and told the governor that it had been a long time – he thought they wouldn’t ever run into each other again.   The Governor was a good politician and didn’t act surprised even though he had never seen Hoke before in his life.  He went along and said it had been a real long time.   Hoke asked him “What have you been doing since we were together.   The Governor replied that he had been a doctor for 30 or 40 years.   He asked Hoke “What about you?”  Hoke replied that he had straightened up too – came on home.   Hoke then asked the Governor “Wasn’t that Birmingham jail on of the deadest places you have ever been in?”  Mr. Neisler was furious and blessed out Hoke.   But that wasn’t going to stop him.    

Right across the street from the drug store was the Reynolds Banking Company.  The bank was one of the easiest businesses to get closed up during the depression.  You could go in the morning the door will be locked.   A note would say “This bank is closed under regulations of so and so.”  Everyone would read the note on the door and check the handle to the door.

Mr. Luke Mitchell lived a mile out of Reynolds in a two story house.  He had a terrible affliction.  His legs would go before his chest and head.  He tried to hide it – he could walk without a walking stick but he usually would carry one in each hand.   He walked up to the bank to read the sign.   The people from the drug store would watch everyone read the notes.  A salesman was in the drug store at that time.  Hoke told the salesman that the man reading the note was Mr. Mitchell and was one of the biggest depositors in the bank.   He’s soiling his pants right now.  The salesman watched Mr. Mitchell and said “Doggone if he didn’t -- I can’t wait until I can tell what I saw in Reynolds!”

Hoke would pick up hitchhikers and say let’s get a bite to eat.   They would eat and Hoke would tell them that he was in a bit of a hurry but he would pay as he left so that they could stay as long as they needed.  The hitchhikers would tell the cashier that their dinner had been paid for.  She would say that no, Hoke said that you were going to pay for it.

 There are hundreds of stories about Mr. Hoke and sometimes the joke was pulled on him.   Once he was underneath a car he was working on.  A salesman came in and asked for Mr. Hoke.  A man said that he’s there under the car but you better talk as loud as you can so he can hear you.   The salesman thought Mr. Hoke was hard of hearing.  He screamed at him as he rolled out from under the car.  Mr. Hoke talked loudly right back.   The conversation continued until one of them finally figured that neither one of them was deaf.

Mr. Hoke went to extremes having fun with other people.   Once he mounted lights on the back of his car.   His plan was that when he passed a car – we only had dirt roads back then – he would turn on the lights on the back of the car and the people would think they were meeting a car.  He tried it out on Blackman curve – a curvy road that used to be six miles below Reynolds.   The people back of him took off through the woods and had a wreck.   He didn’t try that trick any more.

 Harry Powell ran the meat market/cafe/hamburger stand.   He would stand next to the window on the left where he cooked the hamburgers and to the right was the meat market.   In the back were the tables where he served meals.  You didn’t order – you would be served what he had.   It was one meal for everybody and he called it a sawmill dinner.   They were good except you were served twice of what you could eat.   Mr. Hoke called it a full house. 

 They were all eating dinner when Mr. Hoke opened the screen door in the front and held up a dead dog.  He said loudly “Harry this one is bigger than yesterday – what would you give me for him?”  Hash was being served for dinner and it was said most everybody put their silverware down and marched out.

 Mr. Hoke lived near the veterinarian, Mr. Clifford Whatley.   Why Mr. Clifford would haul Mr. Hoke around with him. I don’t know why but Mr. Hoke went with him a heap of times.   I called the vet one night for a sick mule.   That’s the worst feeling in the world.  It was always costly to replace a mule when there wasn’t any money but it was especially hard in the middle of crop season.  Mr. Hoke knew I was worried to death about my mule and called me over.    I asked him if he thought my mule was going to live and be all right.   He said, “Let me put it this way – every tool that Dr. Whatley uses is made by Winchester.”   He wasn’t very soothing.

… to be continued.
Recordings of Roy Jones.  Transcribed by his daughter, Harriet Jones Geesey.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Memories of Roy Jones #3

I told you a little bit about the town itself.  The town couldn’t survive if it wasn’t for the farmers. The land around Reynolds is above average – some is as good as any in the country.  The Crowell community north of Reynolds about seven or eight miles is where the old Indian reservation was the last to leave.  That land lines runs northeast to southeast. I don’t know how that came about but most of the farmers had about 100 acres of land. Economically they were about the same.  It made for a good community – each one tried to outdo the other.  The land was so good there that it could support the families.  One of the oldest churches is the Crowell Methodist Church.
The average farm would run about 200 acres. A farm without woods was not considered desirable because we used woods for everything.  If you didn’t have woods on your farm it was considered to be a bad thing. Most were worked by two mules – that’s all we had to plow with.  Each mule could work about 30 or 40 acres, which meant you had 80 acres a man.

Cotton was the only thing you could sell in those days.  A few families were big enough to work the land themselves.  The others were done by sharecroppers.  Each farm would have about two tenant houses. You wouldn’t call them shacks.  With a lot of them you were not much worse off than the farm owners. We didn’t have anything to preserve the wood with. Our house was always screened but the screen was so coarse it would let the mosquitoes through it.  The tenant house usually had wood shutters.  When those shutters where closed you lived in darkness.

We didn’t have electricity back then.  We had lamps – rail lamps.  It had shiny brass that would reflect the light better.  A lot used glass lamps.  Most of the water came from open wells.  Since the mules used more water than the people, the wells were generally located as close to the mule lot so that you could just pour water over the fence to the mules.  I’m sure today it would not pass any type of qualifications. There is an art to drawing well water – most had a pulley with a rope or chain that went through the pulley.   There would be a tin bucket on each end. You let the bucket down and fill it with water. As you pulled it up the empty bucket would be going down.   When that bucket would hit the water it would lie on its side.  You had to have the right twitch or else the bucket would jump up and down.  The people that used the wells a lot knew exactly how to pull and to let the top of the bucket go under the water just a little bit – then the bucket would go on and sink.

There were a few exceptions to the small farms.  One was the large plantation that had 18 or 20 mules and six or eight tenant houses.  They could always get sharecroppers because back then people liked to live close together.  The sharecropper would furnish the labor of planting the crops.  The owner would buy the fertilizer and seed.  The sharecropper would pay the owner back with half of his crops.  It came in bad repute but it worked pretty good because it gave a man the incentive to work when all he had to give was labor.  If there wasn’t any trouble by the fall, they would want to sharecrop with you the next year.   I guess some owners would want to cheat them out but most times they were making money for the owner because things were so cheap, particularly in the depression.   Most played fair and square.  Of course, if the sharecropper didn’t like it, he could move off and get another place.  Some liked to move but most stayed in the same place for years.
My daddy had the best reputation as anybody in the world.  I never ever heard him say as much as doggone. He was a mail carrier and started carrying the mail in about 1900.   He carried it in a buggy, then a motorcycle, then in a car.  When he died, I think he was using a 1931 or 1932 model Chevrolet. It’s nothing compared to what we have today.  Back then the mail man just went down the main road and the people who lived off from it would put up boxes.  In a lot of places they would have them mounted on wagon wheels.  The mailman would turn the wheels to get to the six or eight boxes.

A lot of advertising was done by giving out samples in those days.  We didn’t have the media like radio or TV or even newspaper.  Samples from companies were just put in all the mailboxes.  One time I remember – I believe it was Feenamint or Ex-Lax causing trouble.  The samples had been put in all the boxes. Children would get the mail and some thought they were candy or chewing gum.  It was a real problem, especially when there were multiple boxes.  But that’s the way they advertised.

… to be continued.

 Recordings from Roy Jones.  Transcribed by his daughter, Harriet Jones Geesey.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Memories of Roy Jones #2

Reynolds High School
About two blocks from the business section was our school.  Reynolds High School. It was an impressive, big building with two stories.  It was used for 6th, 7th and 8th grades after they combined the high school with the one in Butler in the 1960’s.  It has since been torn down.

Now Butler is nine miles west of Reynolds.  Of course there was a dirt road to it.  It is the county seat of the county.  There was always a lot of jealousy between Reynolds and Butler.  Being the county seat, Butler had a few more people – they naturally get more than Reynolds and Reynolds was always jealous of that.  We fought for years to keep our schools running.  It was not unusual for the graduating classes to have 12 or 15 students.   When I graduated in 1923, I think we had 21 or 22.  They bragged about how big the class was.  They kept the school because they knew it would be the center of the community.  After the high school left, all we had were the churches to hold the community together.  That’s really what has happened since the schools combined in the 1960’s.

There were a few old homes but not many that I know of that were built before the Civil War.  I always say the Woman’s Clubhouse was the oldest home in Reynolds.  There were a lot of nice homes like the Papphousing house that was built right across the street from the Clubhouse. There are several scattered around the town.  Back then most houses were built as close to the business block that you can get.  I guess that would be natural because to be away from town meant that you would have to walk or go in a buggy.  Reynolds was so isolated that it developed its own culture.  Fort Valley is 15 miles to the east but you would have to cross the Flint River and swamp.  To get to Fort Valley, you would have to drive to Roberta about 14 miles north but you would have to cross a river to get to Roberta.   To go to Macon you would go through Roberta.  Mr. Neisler, a prominent businessman, built a private bridge across the river and would charge 50 cents to cross.  When you came back, you would have to pay another 50 cents.

Montezuma and Oglethorpe were about 20 and 22 miles south of Reynolds but to get there was all dirt roads.  So that left only Butler - which was a good drive for a horse to make it there and back in a day’s time.  The best way to get out of Reynolds was the trains.  There were four trains that came to Reynolds.  Two came early, one going toward Columbus and about 30 minutes lataer the one from Columbus to Macon would come through.  That would be repeated at about 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon.

As I mentioned, we had developed a good culture within our town.  Mr. Joiner, the school principal for 50 years, was one of the reasons for that.  He came from Kentucky and many of us owe a lot to him. He believed in the old way – he taught in the classroom but would occasionally walk the hallways.  Any student having to wait in the halls when Mr. Joiner walked by would get the beating of his life.  He had a janitor named Uncle Henry.  Every Monday morning Uncle Henry would go across the patch of woods and come back with an armful of switches.  I don’t know how Mr. Joiner got to the switches so quick. The worst feeling in the world was when the teacher sent you to stand in the hall.  Every door that cracked you would think Mr. Joiner was coming.  You had about a 5% to 10% chance of him coming because he was teaching.  But if he did come there was a 100% chance you would get the beating of your life.  We would be sitting in the classrooms and would hear the licks out in the hall.  There is a certain amount of sadism in all of us – some would whisper, “Pour in on Mr. Joiner, pour it on!”  We wouldn’t know who was getting the whipping.  My wife had taught in three other schools. She said at the other schools, over 50% of the time spent in faculty meetings were covering disciplinary problems.  She was surprised that in Reynolds, discipline never came up in a single meeting.

We didn’t run out when it was time for lunch.  Mr. Joiner had his own rules.  He stood in the middle of the hall and we would march out by the drum beat.  If it wasn’t raining, we would sit on the steps on the south side of the building and eat lunch.  If it was raining, we would eat in our classroom.  The town people went home for lunch.  Most of us had light bread – you couldn’t buy it sliced back then.  It was the worst job in the world to cut soft bread – the slices wouldn’t be the same width.  The majority would bring a biscuit and meat or biscuit and peanut butter.  Some of the sacks would be greasy because they would bring side meat of fatback for their lunch.

I’m getting off the subject but I do remember in the third or fourth grade our teacher said a student needed to be isolated.  She said she wasn’t going to name him but for all the boys to take a good bath and the best soap to use was Lifebuoy.  We didn’t know what isolated meant.  Some that lived in town said they would look in the dictionary when they went home for lunch.  They came back and told us what it meant.  The funny thing is that it was a good percent of the girls and boys were from the country and I don’t remember being bothered by body odor the whole time I was in school.  I can name more people now that have body odor than did back then when we didn’t have indoor bathrooms.

I also remember in the third grade when the teacher said there would never be another war. I remember feeling that I was born at the wrong time because there wouldn’t be any excitement.  Our teacher had said the war to end all wars had been fought.  She called in the World War.  No one dreamed there would be World War II.

All of my children took music from Mrs. Pendergrast, who taught for many years. She was a good teacher – one of the best.  The extent of our culture is shown in the fact that her son, John Pendergrast, sang opera in New York for years.  I remember him coming to the chapels in the auditorium.  He could hold a note for so long that some of the students were snickering.  When we got back to our rooms the teacher was not too pleased.  We all blamed it on the Potterville boys but I suspect that it was some of us too.  We had never heard anyone hold a note so long.

We also had the Newsome family orchestra that, to me, was as good as any big name orchestras. I think they could have competed with Glen Miller or any of them.  It wasn’t composed completely of Reynolds people.  It included little Fred Peed and Doc Tante from Butler that I remember.  They played for dances all around and could play any kind of music you wanted.

The black community had their own way to show off their musical talent.  Southwest of Reynolds there were a lot of farm owners that were black.  Every Saturday, when a lot of blacks were in town, an orchestra would come to town. The band was led by a man named Johnny Salem and was much like the Florida A&M band.  He would go through all kinds of gyrations in front of the band with his stick. All of them would cut up and sound in rhythm.  In the back were little boys. All they would have were tubs and pans and sticks of wood but they had a perfect rhythm.  I used to beg Daddy to take me to town on Saturday afternoon and hoped to see them.  The streets would be filled and all of a sudden someone would holler, “Johnny Salem and his band are coming to town!”  You could hear them in the distance.  It sounded like thunder to start with from the west side.  They would come up the main street and go to the railroad, whirl around, and go to the other section of town.  Everybody would park and watch them.

There were other cultural events like spelling bees.  What always fascinated me was that not always the smartest person was the best speller.  The spelling bees involved all the towns around and we took a lot of pride in them.  Jim Brewer, who had one of the barber shops, was a good speller and was captain of the Crowell team.  Mr. Joiner was giving out the words.  The first word the Crowell team had to spell was “habit.”  You would spell by syllables.  The first Crowell participant said “ h a b hab, i t it.  The next word to Mr. Jim was rabbit.  He said, “r a b rab i t it.   It was hard for him to live down that he was the captain of the team and wasn’t able to spell rabbit.

---to be continued.

Recordings from Roy Jones.  Transcribed by his daughter, Harriet Jones Geesey.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Memories of Roy Jones #1

I’m Roy Jones. I’m recording this on September 28, 1995.  The purpose is to have some record of the changes that I have seen in my lifetime in our living styles.  I have really lived in two worlds – the world before World War II and the world after.  I often think how interesting it would have been if some of the family members had left some type of autobiography to show how they lived. The family tree is good but it is pretty dull.  The real stories are in the life they lived.

As a preface, I was born at the right time in history and in the right place.  I have seen so many changes and inventions – many of them coming after the age 21.  I am now 79.  I married the best wife in the world and I don’t think I could’ve married a better woman who could have suited me as Ruth has.  I have wonderful children – every one.  I think if I had to pick when and where I was born, I would pick the same. I had the best neighbors, best friends, the best co-workers – even casual acquaintances through my work.  All of this adds up to what I think is a very happy life.

I was blessed to live in the period I lived in and witnessed the many changes in a community like Reynolds and Taylor County.  My daddy’s folks always lived in Reynolds and my mama’s people lived near Butler, so this has always been my home.  There were wonderful stories told.  These stories were told thousands of times because it was before we had radio and TV.

First, a description of Reynolds. This is during my early childhood during the 1920’s.  Most of the buildings were two-story, brick buildings built all close together without a firewall or anything between them.  This proved to be a bad thing later on.  On the west side of the block of buildings was a tin shelter that extended all over the sidewalk.  It must’ve been 100 to 150 feet long.  That’s for people to get under when the weather got bad.

Reynolds Baptist Church
Saturday was the big day.  All of the black people came to town on that day from the farms and they just crowded the sidewalks.  An unusual thing across the south side was a park that I believe was donated by Mr. Coleman, one of the first settlers of the area, that comprised of must be four acres of land.  He gave it to be used as a park and for the establishment of churches.   On the southwest side of the park was a Baptist church.  At that time it was a nice, white wooden church. On the northeast corner of the park was the Methodist church.  It was and is an impressive building that was built right after World War II. In the center was a bandstand.  On Sunday afternoon the local performers would get up and give a concert.  It was torn down, much to my chagrin, because I thought it made a perfect setting for a park.

All streets and sidewalks were dirt.  All of the stores, or most of them, were in the bottom of the two story buildings. Upstairs housed the dentist and lawyers offices.  Right in the middle of the block was a hotel called the Big Oak Hotel. There used to be a big oak that stood by the sidewalk right in front of it and it had a balcony extended over the sidewalk.  I was always sorry that I didn’t ever go up there and watch the people but I never did.

The telephone office was also located on the second floor of a building about center on the west side of the business block.  The funny thing was that we always had a telephone extended out in the country and there were always jokes about the party lines.  I think we paid two dollars a month and we had five parties on our line.  When you rang the operator, we called her Central you would tell her who you wanted, not the number.  We did have a phone book but nobody went to the trouble of looking up the number.  A lot of times she could look out the window and see the person you were calling on the sidewalk.  She would call them and get them into the drug store to talk to you.  At one time we had three or four doctors.  Most of them were located in the back of the drug store, which made it convenient.

Most things were bought on credit.  The farmers depended on cotton and sold it once a year.  They had no income except that one day when they would sell their cotton.   One story that shows the extent of credit, that may be true and may not be true, involves the Barrow Brothers.  They operated a hardware store.  There were not such things as fresh vegetables to sell, but each store would sell cheese, crackers, flourpoints and small tools. The Barrow Brothers operated in a two story building on the southwest corner of the business block. One of them one day told the other that he had sold a saddle but couldn’t; remember who he had sold it to and couldn’t find a record of having charged it.  They thought of it a long time and decided to put “one saddle” on the top of each of the statements.  When the farmers came in to pay their statement in the fall, the one who didn’t object would be the one who had bought the saddle.  In the fall when the farmers paid up, nobody objected.  Every one of them paid the cost of the saddle.

Across the street from the Barrows was also a two story building that sold everything.  It sold clothes in addition to groceries.  In the back of Goddard’s store was his undertaking establishment.  Later on you could buy your baby food in the front and have your funeral in the back.  They eventually moved out and built a nice funeral home.

One of the first businesses was the Ford Dealer, Mr. Crawford.  He couldn’t read or write but was still a good businessman.  The story is that Clyde Hill, the druggist, went to try a new car.  Mr. Hill was a type of “desperado” when it came to driving.  They went across the railroad tracks and Mr. Hill started going too fast.  Mr. Crawford reached down to the floorboard and got the instructions.  He said, “This instruction book says here you have to stay between the ditches.”

The gins were dependent on cotton.  At that time we had two gins that were located not over two blocks from the business section.   We had an ice house located in one of the gins. The only time we could get ice was on Friday when they would bring it from Macon.  The jail stood right across the railroad that bisects the town going east and west.  The jail couldn’t have been over 12 or 15 feet square and stood out in the hot sun, 75 or 80 feet from any building or shade tree.  I think it had one window at the top and it had a heavy door with a chain through it.  I would be an awful place to be – hot or cold weather.

I mentioned we had three or four doctors.  Medicine back then was pretty primitive. This is a story told about Tom Sanders.  Mr. Sanders was 28 years old and became constipated.  He had never been to a doctor.  He went to Dr. Mangham and told him the problem.  Back then all they knew to do was to give an enema. Dr. Mangham told him to lie on the table on his stomach.  As the doctor began his procedure, Tom Sanders jumped up and yelled, “Be careful there doc – you almost stuck something up my ass!”

You develop a town like Reynolds in strange patterns.  About a block from the main section was a big storm pit.  I guess it was contagious but a lot of people would head to the storm pit when a cloud came up or looked anyway threatening.   One Sunday afternoon we went for a ride and there had been a shower about thirty minutes before.  We came by the storm pit and they were marching out and all were looking around to see where it was.  It had been gone for 30 minutes or more.

The stores sold most of the same thing except we had two or three meat markets.  They didn’t have deliveries like they do now.  The manager of the meat market would find cows and butcher them and bring them and sell them during the weekend.  It was anything but sanitary or humane.  We had a few cows, mostly dairy cows.  Daddy sold one grown cow and the meat market manager came out to kill the cow.  Daddy was gone.  The man came to the door to see if we had a shotgun because they were having trouble killing the cow.  That’s about as bad as you can get.  But we only had meat on the weekend.  There was no such thing as fresh vegetables, so the big seller was cheese.

Across the railroad track was the black section.  We called it the bottom.  Most of the houses were similar that have two or three rooms.  Everything was built out of wood.  There were three brick homes in Reynolds. One owned by Dr. Bryan, the other was owned by Charlie Neisler, who owned the gin and warehouse where they stored the cotton.  The third one was built out of some kind of stone by Mr. Ricks, who also operated and gin and warehouse.  Most of them that operated a gin and warehouse were considered the top men in a town like Reynolds.

The other houses were built out of wood. Most were painted and looked attractive.  Of course, at that time we didn’t have modern grass for lawns – there wasn’t any way to cut it.  So we swept the yards once a week on a Friday afternoon.  There is really nothing prettier to see a yard has clean as it can be and showing the print of the broom.  The broom came from sassafras bushes that had a lot of branches at the top and made perfect broom.  Some of them used cane brooms but that was a slow and tedious process.

A lot of people within a block of the business section had milk cows.  I particularly remember Mr. Flowers that taught school.  He lived in what is now the Crawley house.  On a Halloween he had gone off and somebody got his milk cow.  He hunted for him the whole weekend but couldn’t find him.  On Monday when they opened the school, they found the milk cow upstairs in Mr. Flower’s classroom. Mr. Flowers was old and they liked to play jokes on him.  How they got the cow upstairs and how they got the cow down, I don’t know.

 …. to be continued.

 1995-1996 recordings from Roy Jones.  Transcribed by his daughter, Harriet Jones Geesey.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

People of Taylor County

There were wonderful stories told thousands of times.  Before we had radio and TV, people were closer together and had more conversations and lots of stories were told.

One of these stories involves Judge Aultman and Mr. Paris.  Down Railroad Street right at the east side of the business block facing the railroad was the Paris House. It was across from Rick’s gin where they’re building a tourist place now.  It was a hotel built in a long L shape and it had a porch.  And the boards went up and down like you see chicken houses built sometimes.  It was protected from the weather because the porch went all the way around.  Every room opened on the porch and I guess there were chairs by every room.   But that’s where most of the traveling salesman would stay.  They would have a standing reservation.  They would work the stores and then go there and sleep.  One of them was Jewish and would fuss about everything.  Nothing suited him.

Judge Aultman was Bobby Aultman’s grandfather and a Justice of the Peace.  When I started school I know he was the mayor.  At the start of school Mr. Joiner got everybody in the auditorium and Judge Aultman welcomed us to Reynolds.  Most of the students came from the country.   I thought Judge Aultman would always be the mayor and I guess he might’ve been.  The only thing I remember people saying about him – and I don’t know if it was a criticism or compliment – was that if there was a sideshow in the United States, he was going to get it for Reynolds.   Back then we didn’t have much entertainment and we had all kinds of shows. Sometimes it wouldn’t be anything but a man and a monkey.
Anyway, Judge Aultman and Mr. Paris were the best of friends.  I don’t know which one thought it up, but they decided to pull a prank on the salesman.  They decided since he’s always fussing and nothing suits him, they would give him something to fuss about.  There weren’t any bathroom waterworks back then, so each room had a slop jar.  I think they’ve been used since the beginning of time. They filled a jar with home brew – and I think they put some crackers in it too – and put it under the bed in the man’s room.

They knew it was the day he was coming and they sat on the porch and waited for his arrival.  Sure enough he went to his room and he came storming out.  He was upset and said that this place is not fit for a pig to live in. They asked what was the matter.  He replied that for one thing the slop jar hasn’t been emptied for days.  They jumped up and Judge Aultman said, “Paris, let’s show him just how nice and clean a place you run!”  They went to the room and he followed them.  Mr. Paris reached under the bed and got the slop jar and started drinking it.  The man started jumping up and down and said, “Stop it gentlemen, stop it!!”  But they passed it to each other.   They said it was mighty good and they paused.  The man said that had he known they were going to drink it, he wouldn’t have used it.

Recorded by Roy Jones circa 1995