Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Time

The time when I was a kid and ordered a nudist colony magazine including plenty of pictures that said it would come in a brown paper wrapped package. The lady postmaster and family friend personally delivered the magazine to my mother.  They were both sitting in the living room with the magazine waiting on me when I got home from school.

The time when I was a kid and decided to drive my mama’s new Oldsmobile Vista station wagon around our driveway with my eyes closed.  I ran into the side of our house.  I was hoping nobody would see the damage to the car… or the house.  They did see both.  There was discipline involved.

The time I was invited to a birthday party where the group would be on a live kids TV show in Columbus, GA.   During the first part of the show we were told to line up and we would each pass by Cap O Hap who had the microphone and to introduce ourselves.  All the parents were gathered around their TV’s with their antennas pointing to Columbus to see their kids.  It was a big deal.   My nickname was Lucy and my friend’s nickname was Woochie.  Although all the kids were giving their real names to the Cap, my friend and I agreed to use our nicknames.  He went first.   “My name is Whoochie Byrd from Reynolds, GA.”  I followed but chickened out.  “My name is Bruce Goddard from Reynolds, GA. 

Speaking of that friend, the time in the third grade we realized we had the same girlfriend.  It was heartbreaking at first and could have ruined a good friendship.  But when her birthday came around we came up with a good plan.  We went in together and bought a small red suitcase (or training case it may have been called).  We signed the card.  “We love you!  Woochie and Lucy. 

The time my older brother and his friend had started a club and wanted to know if I wanted to join.  For the initiation, I had to jump out of the bedroom window buck naked and run around the house.   Of course, I wanted to join.   I did as instructed.  When I ran around the house and got back to the bedroom, they had closed the window and both were nowhere to be found.   I had to go to the front door and ring the doorbell to get back in the house.  I never asked how Mama explained that to her Bible Study group who was meeting in the living room.

The time my grandfather called me to his house to change his broken toilet seat.  He told me the new seat was in his utility house in the back yard.  I took the seat off and went to the backyard to get the new one.  The new one turned out to be the one he took off the same toilet about 15 years earlier.  He saw no reason to spend the money to purchase a new seat.

The time my grandfather called my brother and me back to his office.  He said he wanted to give us a Christmas present.  We were excited as he had never done that before.  He pulled out his very large checkbook.  He wrote a check to me for $10 and wrote a check to my brother for $7.50.   He knew I was planning to come back one day to take over the family business and my brother had no such intentions.

The time I put a perfectly placed golf tee on the pew in front of me at the Reynolds UMC on a Sunday morning when everybody was standing and singing “When We All Get to Heaven.”   When my friend sat on the tee after the song, he immediately jumped up and yelled.  Some thought he had caught the spirit.  My mother was not one of those.  She came down out of the choir loft and escorted me to the front row in front of God and all the congregation.

The time the preacher stopped in the middle of the sermon and said, “If the boys on the 3rd row will stop talking, I will continue the sermon.”

The time when I was 9 years old and my older sister was graduating from high school. I think it may have been at the Baccalaureate Service.  I also think it was my first experience with IBS (there would be many more).  My mama had me dressed in a coat and tie.  Somewhere during the ceremony, I completely dirtied my pants.  If I had been older, I would have excused myself or called the fire department for help.  But in my youth, I sat there in it.  After the ceremony, I was standing next to my sister in some sort of receiving line.  I never said a word.  But the expressions on faces as they shook my sister's hand or hugged her neck spoke volumes.

The time my future wife and two of her friends were singing a trio as part of a service to dedicate a prayer room at the Baptist church. The song they were attempting to sing was, “The Savior is Waiting.”  Someone in the trio had a growl of the stomach as they began to sing.  The girls got tickled and had to stop singing.  They attempted about three re-starts but laughter would prevail.  They finally sat down and the pianist played the song… alone.  I am not sure about the savior but my wife’s mother was waiting when she came out of the church building.

The time I was bullied in school and my dad gave me some sage advice very much against my mama’s wishes.   “Tomorrow hit him as hard as you can with your fist right between his eyes.”  I took my daddy’s advice and he never bullied me again. 

The time a few of my friends and I peed on the gas space heater in the visitors dressing room before a junior high basketball game.  Our principle and coach (same person) who I had never heard say a bad word in my life, came in our dressing room and loudly asked (and I quote), “Who is the smart ass that pissed on the heater?”

The time when my grandfather died at 97 years old.  His wife called me when she found him in his chair.   When I got there, I could not help but notice that days edition of  Macon Telegraph in his hands.  It was  carefully folded to the obituary page.  I mentioned that if he had waited one more day, he could have read his own.  

The time my grandmother died and my wife and I took her casketed body to Fort Myers FL in our Chevy Astro van for burial. That journey is full of stories including locking her in the van with the keys inside.  We had to call a locksmith at 1AM to get the door open.  His expression when he realized we had my deceased grandmother in the van is an expression I will never forget.  I suspect he never forgot my expression either.

The time my daddy walked in the Dealer Burger Diner with a pistol in his pocket filled with blanks.  He played like he was upset because there was not enough sugar in the jar for his coffee.  He pulled out the pistol and shot a few times at the ceiling.  Everybody in the diner hit the floor.  That would not go over very well today.   In fact, I am not sure it went over very well then.

The time a couple of my friends were on the sidewalk showing off two very large strings of fish caught on a big lake about three hours from town.  Of course, daddy took a picture of the proud fishermen and their big catch.  He told them he would send the picture to the local paper.   He did not mention what he planned to use as the caption.  “Fish caught Thursday afternoon at Lawrence Cook’s pond.”   Lawrence, my dad’s lifelong friend who was not one to open his private pond up for the public, almost fainted when he saw it in the paper.

The time my daddy backed into my car three times in one day during Master’s week.  The first time was in the driveway at the funeral home in Reynolds when he was getting ready to leave for Augusta.  The second was about five minutes later when he saw me behind him at the stop sign.  He decided he forgot to tell me something. He put his car in reverse and hit the accelerator.  The third was the same evening at the house in Augusta they had rented.   I was parked behind him in the driveway. We were leaving for dinner. He slammed his car in reverse before I could start my car.  All three incidents were within a 12 hour span.  Each time he blamed it on me.

The time I put a sign on #1 Fairway during the Chicken George Golf Tournament pointing to my friend’s house that sat close to the fairway stating “Free Beer and Clean Restrooms.” They had a lot of unexpected and unwanted business.

The time when my daddy died and we were seeing him for the first time in the casket at the funeral home.  All of a sudden, we realized we had forgotten to go by Cousin Anita’s house to bring her to the funeral home with the rest of the family for the first viewing.  Anita was 96 years old,  a little large and slow moving.  I stated that I would go over to Anita’s house to get her and bring her to the funeral home.  My brother replied, “It would be easier to take Daddy over to see Anita.”

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Patient Doctor and the Patient

Some stories are worth memorializing.  This story would be one of them.   When I heard it first, I smiled. After I thought about it, I laughed.

My brother in law is a doctor.  A retired doctor but one who spent his entire career as a practicing Internist.  Not only is he a retired doctor but one of the smartest doctor’s I have ever known.  Additionally, he is probably the nicest person I have ever met.  Patience is a virtue.  He has always had plenty of it.

IF only my son’s next-door neighbor could have known the person was coming to help when he frantically asked his daughter to go next door to the neighbor’s house to get help.

My wife was babysitting grandchildren the last several days in Alpharetta while the parents were out of town.  My wife’s sister came on Friday to help.  The doctor dropped his wife off on Friday and came back on Saturday to pick her up.

While sitting in the den on Saturday morning, an obviously upset preteen girl came in asking for my son –not knowing my son was not at home.  She explained that her mom was not home and her dad was lying on the bedroom floor in excruciating pain.  He asked her to go next door to get help.

The dad thought he was getting an insurance underwriter to come to his rescue. He had no way of knowing he was summoning an experienced doctor to come to his aid.

The doctor followed the daughter next door and up some back stairs and finally in the neighbor’s bedroom.  He found the neighbor on the bedroom floor just as the daughter had described.   As the doctor was checking the unsuspecting patient, their little dog must have thought he was an intruder.  He latched on the doctor’s heel – with his teeth.  The doctor was now multi-tasking - attempting to evaluate his unsuspecting patient while their dog was in attack mode. Thankfully, the son came to the rescue and pulled the little dog off the patient but now startled doctor.

It turns out the most likely cause of the patient’s condition was severe back spasms.  Since I have experienced the same, I can related to his condition and pain.  The neighbor had already called his chiropractor while lying on the floor before the doctor arrived.

After some questions, the doctor eventually helped his patient get up and somehow got him in the backseat of the doctor’s Ford Expedition.   The doctor of course had no idea of the location of the chiropractor’s office.   Not one to use GPS for directions, the doctor relied on the patient to direct him to the office. .  As the patient was lying on the backseat, he would lift his head up every now to look out the window to tell the doctor when to turn.

After they arrived at the chiropractor’s office, the doctor sat in the waiting room while the patient received treatment.  The doctor had the patient’s personal belongings including his cell phone with him in the waiting room.  The patient’s cell phone rang a couple of times.  The doctor went back and asked the patient if he was familiar with the caller.  “Yes, that’s my wife.  Please answer when she calls back.”

The wife did call back.  She was very appreciative of the doctor’s services (although she probably did not know he was a doctor) and said she was on the way.  The patient doctor said it was not necessary.  He was there and was noticing there were plenty of magazines to read.

The patient doctor stayed in the waiting room until the patient’s treatment was completed.  He then drove the slightly improved patient back to his house.

I suppose that is how a patient doctor treats a unsuspecting patient who finds himself in a predicament.  I am not sure there are many patient doctors out there like my brother in law.

In fact, I am positive of that.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Believe it. It's True.

You never know what a day will bring.  I had no way of knowing I would spend my Friday night in an emergency room watching a medical team frantically trying to save my friend’s life while trying to give some sliver of hope to a sweet and  frantic friend who was about to all of a sudden have her life changed forever and have her title change from wife to widow. 

We bought our place in Great Waters at Lake Oconee in August 2015.  Our very friendly next door neighbors were quick to come over to introduce themselves and welcome us to the community.  Roger, from Barbados and Barbara from New York City  were certainly an unusual match.  And both from completely different cultures from each other and from Kathy and me.  I think that is why we were attracted to them.  Roger, funny as can be in his Barbados dialect,  was always carrying on foolishness and keeping us laughing.   Barbara, being a New Yorker, has spent most of the time trying to interpret what I am saying with my southern dialect and trying her best to keep Roger in line.   Which, by the way, was impossible.  As you might imagine, Roger and I hit it off in a hurry.

To make a long story short, Kathy and I have spent a ton of time with the Beale’s during the last almost four years.  They would come over at the last minute to eat dinner with us and we would do the same at their house next door.   Since they live here full time and we are in and out, they kept an eye out on our place.  Roger watched when packages were delivered and put them in the house.  We have been out to eat together no telling how many times at the last minute.   Never anything planned.  It was just, “we’re going to get something to eat - do y’all want to go?,” sort of thing.  They always said yes and were always up for wherever we were going,  There have been lots of laughs and lots of conversations.

 I think everyone that has visited us here has met Roger and Barbara.  

Roger, an avid golfer and a good one, was very active.  He walked religiously and hit over 100 golf balls a day at the practice range across the street from us.  He also delivered cars from time to time for Childre Nissan in Milledgeville. He would get a call late one afternoon and be headed to Orlando or Nashville or who knows where  at 5AM the next morning to deliver a car.   He was available if they needed him.  They seemed to need him quite often.

Roger has not been feeling well lately.  About 2 months ago, he came down with what we believe was the flu.   That was the first time I had ever seen him sick and moving slowly.  They had been planning for months to go to Barbados to visit family and friends and for Roger to play in a golf tournament in Trinidad.   With him so sick, I was wondering if they would be able to make the trip.   A couple of days before their scheduled departure and about three weeks after getting the flu,  Roger was feeling somewhat better and went out to hit balls.  He told me he swung the club only a couple of times and realized he couldn’t swing the club.  He felt like something cracked in his chest.   I figured he probably pulled a muscle after being sick and coughing so much.

In spite of all that, they left for their three week visit to Barbados. Since they had a very early flight, they stayed at an airport hotel the night before they were leaving.  He started having excruciating pain in his chest and lower back.  He sat in a chair all night in the hotel room because he hurt too badly to lie down.   They somehow made it to Barbados the next day and spent the next three weeks there. He visited doctors there and even had a massage trying to get relief.   Roger was disappointed he could not play golf but he was very happy to visit all the familiar faces in his beloved homeland.   The trip back to Atlanta turned out to be worse than their trip home.   Barbara had to get a wheelchair to get him through the airports. I can tell you Roger had never been in a wheelchair in his life.  He didn’t like it but he had no choice.

I visited Roger after they got back and before I left for a business trip earlier this week.   He was still carrying on, laughing and trying to make the most out of his situation. He still could not lie in the bed.  He was sitting on the sofa with pillows and a blanket.   He had been to a doctor here and they had taken X-Rays to try to determine what was going on but it was obvious he was struggling.  When I got back Friday afternoon (yesterday as I type this), I walked over to check on him.  He was still sitting in the same place with the same pillows and blankets.  After our normal non-serious and very light  conversation, he said the thought he was a little better.  He had gingerly walked over next door to get in the Jacuzzi a couple of days before.  He said he thought it helped and he was going to try it again in a few minutes.  
Kathy had a list of things she wanted me to pick up at the grocery store, so I left shortly afterwards to do that.  While I was walking around Publix pushing my buggy, Kathy called me and told me to get back as quickly as possible because Roger had collapsed.  I left my buggy in the store and took off.  As I drove up, I saw the fire truck and the ambulance in front of the club house.  I walked up to the ambulance and saw them doing CPR on Roger.  Roger and Barbara had gone together to the Jacuzzi and spent less than fifteen minutes there.  They had a great conversation.  The last thing Roger told his wife as they were talking in the Jacuzzi was how beautiful she looked.   As they were walking back to their house which is at most a five minute walk,  he collapsed.

I have been in the “death business” my entire life.  Stories like this play out over and over. Dealing with it never gets easier.   The stories are different but in many ways they are all the same.  A human being is here one moment and the next moment he is gone and  those that are left are trying to get their breath and wondering what in the world happened.  And how to even begin to pick up the pieces.

I had to make a few very difficult calls last night.  One was to a daughter in Canada.  Another to a son in Barbados and a best friend who was like a brother.  Life changing conversations.

'We have this moment to hold in our hands and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand.  Yesterday’s gone.  And tomorrow may never come. But we have this moment today.”  Gloria Gaither

Believe it.  

It’s true.

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.