Category: Church

 by Delbert Reed.  (Originally published in The Northport Gazette, March 24, 2004).

I could tell the man was on a serious mission by the way he marched directly into my office and looked me in the eye.

“Are you Delbert Reed?” he asked in a tone that made me stammer a bit before confessing that I was. “I’ve been looking for you for over 35 years,” he said, finally offering a smile that told me that he probably wasn’t heavily armed.

He told me his name was J. T. Taylor and that he had been reading stories I’ve written since the sixties and wanted to meet me face to face. Then his story and our friendship began.

“I grew up at the foot of Reed Mountain and knew a lot of your family,” he said before quickly naming several of the 11 children of my great grandfather Wes and Leona Davis Reed who grew up on Reed Mountain just north of Haygood Methodist Church in northern Tuscaloosa County.

“I knew Etta, Elliott, Ed, Evaline, Ester and your grandfather Ellis,” Taylor continued. It would have been a real trick if he had been able to continue with the names of Ethel, Elbert, Elmer, Effie, Essie and Ella. “I knew Wes Reed, too; I knew all the Reeds,” he said.

I proudly told Taylor that I actually have Wes Reed’s dinner bell and that it was given to me by the late Carl Harris nearly 30 years ago. “I remember that bell,” Taylor said. “It was on a pole in their yard and I remember hearing it ring many times.”

Taylor quickly called off dozens of other names I’d heard all my life, and mentioned places I’d known about but had all but forgotten through the years. Before our first visit ended, Taylor promised to show me the site of the old Reed home place on Reed Mountain one day, and he did so last weekend as we talked about our roots and our lives.

The Taylor family grew up about a mile and a half down the “mountain” from the Reeds, and there were ten Taylor children who helped Jim and Stella Gilliam Taylor work their 120-acre farm. Six of the ten survive today, including Wiley, nearing 94; J. T., 79; Martha Donour; Brazzie Rogers; Maxie Bryant and Gladys Franks. Martha has even returned to the old Taylor farm where she lives today in the same house in which she was born and raised.

“I joined the Navy in 1943 and got out in 1946,” Taylor said, proudly noting that he even returned to Gorgas High School after his Navy tour and earned his diploma.

Taylor was in Japan from November 1945 until March 1946 and visited Hiroshima (the site of the world’s first wartime atomic bomb blast on August 6, 1945) “eight or ten times” and Nagasaki (the site of the second atomic bomb blast on August 9, 1945) once.

“I still think they (the military) used us as guinea pigs,” Taylor said of his visits to the cities devastated by the bombs. “My feet and hands broke out in blisters—bad blisters—for years afterward. It started in the spring of 1946 and finally cleared up in the mid-seventies. My feet were sore for 30 years and I had nightmares that my feet were rotting off.”

Taylor, though only a youngster at the time, recalled the difficult years of the Great Depression, especially 1930-31. “I guess we were well off,” he said. “We had plenty of peas, cornbread and sweet milk. And we played baseball in John Tierce‘s pasture down by the creek.”

Taylor spent several years working at Gulf States Paper Corporation in Tuscaloosa before landing a job with the Postal Service in 1955. He stuck with the job for more than 30 years before retiring in 1985.

“What have you been doing since then,” I asked. “Oh, I’ve been busy,” he laughed.

Taylor did admit to having run into a few bumps in the road of life, including having trouble with alcohol for many years and having his first wife leave him after more than 30 years of marriage.

“I used to drink regular,” he said with a serious look in his eye. “I drank every day; I was an alcoholic and I still am, but I’ve been sober 26 years. But for 20 or 25 years before that I drank every day. Alcohol was the best medicine I could find for my arthritis,” Taylor added. “It was hard, but I quit. It took me three or four years to get back to a normal life, but the last 16 years have been wonderful,” Taylor added.

(Originally published in The Northport Gazette, March 24, 2004)

James (JT) Taylor 8/28/1938-3/4/2015

James (JT) Taylor died March 4, 2015 at the age of 76, at home in Bonnie’s arms. Click here to read obituary.

Samantha Living would like to thank Delbert Reed for sharing this story. We appreciate his journalism and interest in the Samantha Community. We invite your comments below or send them and any photos you might have to editor@samanthaliving.

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It’s the 4th of July – What Does that Mean?

Independence Day.  Barbeque, hot dogs, beach parties, baseball games, and fireworks.  But what does “Independence Day” mean?

The Fourth of July is our country’s birthday.  The day our country’s founders declared independence from Great Britain. This meant they would no longer follow the orders of Britain’s king. To do this was extremely dangerous. At the time, Britain had one of the world’s strongest armies, and to go against the king was a crime punishable by death. But the king’s laws were unfair, so our founders decided it was worth the risk of war to win the freedom to govern themselves. In 1783, the new United States won that war, which we now call the Revolutionary War.

Why does the flag have those stars?   At this time of year, American flags are easy to spot. Point one out to your grandchildren. Explain that each part of the flag stands for something. The 50 stars stand for the 50 states. The 13 stripes stand for the 13 British colonies, which declared their independence on July 4, 1776. It’s a symbol — a way to show the world what we stand for. It also shows that we are connected to one another — that we’re on the same team. And because the flag is special, we treat it with respect.

What makes our country special?  That one thing that makes our country special is that it guarantees us certain rights, or freedoms.   We use these rights every day when we pray (or decide not to), read a newspaper, or meet and talk with friends. We can do these things because our country guarantees us the freedom to practice religion the way we want, say or write what we want, and go where we want.   These rights are spelled out in the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Which rights are most important to you?

What does the government do for us?  We pay taxes to our local, state, and national government so that, among other things, the government can build and maintain facilities that reflect our values. Education is important to us, for example, so we build schools. Safety is a priority for us, so we put up traffic lights. And we want open places where we can gather, so we set aside space for parks. It provides the people who help the community, including police officers, firefighters, crossing guards, librarians, postal workers, and sanitation crews.

What can we do for our country?  Our country is like a family: Everyone has to pitch in or it doesn’t work. As members of the U.S. “family” — in other words, as citizens — we all have certain responsibilities, like going to school, voting, and obeying the law.  Being a good citizen also means taking care of the country, by keeping it clean, looking out for people in trouble, and staying informed about the problems that we face. Of course, actions always have more impact than words, so set an example by dedicating some of your time to volunteering in the community.

What does it mean to be American?  In countries like China or Ireland, most residents share a common culture or ethnicity. But the United States is different. Here, what people share is a common idea — that people should have the freedom to live the way they want, and to work and earn money the best way they can. These freedoms have inspired people from all over the world to come to this country and become “Americans.” This is a profound idea many may never have considered and it should make us feel especially proud of our country, as well as more connected to other Americans of different backgrounds. It can also lead to a discussion about our own family’s journey to the United States. Why did your relatives come? Why did they stay? Every family’s story is part of the country’s story. Make sure you AND your grandchildren know yours.  Comments below.

God Bless America
God Bless Samantha

Happy 4th of July

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.
Becky Williamson-Martin

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Days Gone By Seemed Much More Simple

Memories of Growing Up in Samantha

OUCH!!!!!!

I was reading the article by Joshua Becker: Those Things By Which We Get Embarrassed and he made this statement: “What if, instead of being embarrassed because our house is too small, we became embarrassed over the amount of unused space within it?”

As I read this article I thought about my visit with a dear neighbor, Jesse Ann, this past weekend. She lived next to us when we were small and has continued to maintain her parents’ house next to daddy’s (my house), even though they have been gone many years. She spends Wednesdays and Saturdays each week at the old homeplace. What a wonderful visit we had – talking about days gone by and some more recent memories of daddy, which brought us both to tears.  The Weavers were such good neighbors. Oh the magic of ordinary days!

Old 1930s church. A gift from Jessie Ann Weaver Langston

The inside of the little farm house still looked much like I remembered it as a child growing up.  The beautiful pine wainscot paneling in the “front room”.  Jessie Ann gifted me with some absolute treasures that belonged to her parents that I will cherish and I hope my children will too after I’m gone, knowing “the history” behind them and the memories attached.  A couple of old (1930) churns and other collections that she wanted me to have.

Among them were two old books about the history of Fayette.

150 Years of History of Fayette

150 Years of History of Fayette

Sitting there in the small farmhouse having conversation with Jessie Ann, I thought about how life seemed so much more simple in days gone by. Memories came to me of running barefoot along the path from our house to theirs.  She must have thought I was such a country bumpkin.  “Probably still does”.  It seems that people were much more relational then.  And even though life was hard, the hurried pressures of day-to-day life that we live under now were non-existent.

Outdoor Fun in Fayette County in the Olden Days Followed The Simplest Form

Outdoor Fun in Fayette County in the Olden Days Followed The Simplest Form

We have enjoyed reading the stories about the history of Fayette – some from the 1900 – such comical entries in the local paper about events such as “fisticuffs”  and items like “demijohns” which I had to seek the definition.  As I was reading those stories it was even more magnified how much more connected folks were then and my soul longs for that.   They worked hard “together” and they celebrated accomplishments together.  It seems to me that folks were less interested in themselves and their personal interests.  It was more about “community”.

You know, I guess we can just “wish” for a simpler life with days of enjoying lemonade with our neighbors after a hard days work OR we can purpose to create those times in our own life today.

Somehow, I think we believe it’s either one or the other – work OR play.  But one huge important thing our daddy taught us – work and play go together!  “Many hands make the work load light!” And even fun.   Make a party out of everything!!

To quote Johnny Williamson, “It’s very simple.  Now I didn’t say it was easy, but it’s simple.  You just have to make up your mind to do it.”

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes.

Becky Williamson-Martin

A little interesting history

18 Year Old ‘Doctor’ Began Brilliant Career in Fayette, by Marguerite Tarwater Callahan

18 Year Old ‘Doctor’ Began Brilliant Career in Fayette, by Marguerite Tarwater Callahan

A reprint of Memories of Growing Up in Samantha from Stuff That Works Blog posted on  9/11/15 by Becky Williamson-Martin

What Happened to Sundays?

design-2Several weeks ago we traveled to North Alabama on a Sunday morning to visit Benny’s Mother who was very sick.   This time of year I enjoy seeing how other folks have landscaped and manicured their yards, taking note of the beautiful flowers, trees and gardens. Normally, we would have been at church on a Sunday morning and  periodically I would  look at the clock and think about what my church family was doing at that particular time (in Sunday School or getting ready for worship).  As we traveled along I started thinking about Sundays and how different they are from my childhood.  Sundays are the only day I EVER remember my daddy lying on the couch.  He would fall asleep reading the paper after we got home from church.  Sometimes we would visit family, make homemade ice cream and have a washtub full of iced down Coke, Grapico and Orange Crush for the whole gang.

So many folks along our way that day were mowing their grass, working on their car, plowing their gardens or doing what I call “Saturday chores”.   Some church parking lots were full, some had few cars and one was completely closed and the grass was grown up around it.1605e7c15864e8f54febc9b46dc61a0d What happened to Sundays?  Can’t we check out of our daily routine just one day to give honor and thanks to our creator?  To worship Him and rest our bodies and minds as He has instructed us to do?  After all, since He created us He knows what our bodies, minds and emotions need. What I observed that day made me sad.  Partially because I am guilty of abusing sacred Sundays, but mostly because I felt grief in my heart for the utter disregard we give to The Lord and what He has asked of us.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not legalistic about performing needed tasks on Sunday, but His Word instructs us to remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy and to rest.  That’s only 52 days out of 365.

This past week, I was searching for 7th Heaven on Dish so I could set the DVR to record.  When my granddaughter, Dakotah, comes to visit she likes to watch it and somehow all of the shows had been deleted.  Ironically, the episode I “stumbled” on was an episode about Sundays.  This is worth a watch.  Lucy says, “We work 7 days a week or at least on the go 7 days a week and yet we wonder why people need drugs to relax.  Could it be that we have lost 52 days a year to relax and enjoy our families?…Stressed, tired, irritable and no time to do the things I need to do and no time to do the things I want to do. We have lost our Sundays forever unless we make an effort to reclaim them.”

suppose every generation longs for the “good ole days”.  I’m no exception.  How do we reclaim Sundays?  It’s really very simple – we make a conscious decision to do so.  Now simple doesn’t mean easy.  Change is NOT easy.  It’s like telling a drug addict to stop using.  Yes simple – not easy.  Sunday-Dinners

It would be very interesting to hear how our neighbors and friends spend their Sundays today compared to Sundays from years past and how they line up with God’s word.  Do you catch up from the past week?  Do you prepare for next week?  Do you attend church?  Do you break bread with family?  Do you visit the sick?  Do you pray?  Do you reflect?  Do you work?  Do you mow your lawn?  No judgements please, just your personal activities of today and yesterday and your thoughts on Sunday.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!!

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes!

Becky Williamson-Martin

Oregonia Baptist Welcomes New Pastor

Jimmy Holliman

Jimmy Holliman, Pastor, Oregonia Baptist Church – Samantha, AL

54 year old Jimmy Holliman accepted the call to preach at 52.   With such a strong passion for evangelism, he thought that was God’s plan for him.  He didn’t think he was being lead to pastor a church,  until Oregonia called and he felt the Lord was leading him to accept. Jimmy says he grew up in church, but as is the case many times, life takes over and he was out of church for 18 years.   He started working at Phifer Wire on the Sunday crew and before he knew it church and God were gradually pushed to the back.   But God had plans for Jimmy and He sometimes uses different interests to draw us back to Him.  Jimmy says his church started picking guitars on Sunday nights and he had an interest in learning to play so he started going, then back on Sundays.  When asked did he learn the guitar, he responded, “I laid the guitar down and picked up my Bible”.  He says he still wants to learn to play the guitar but for now his focus is on winning souls to Christ.

Jimmy enjoys being involved with  Dax Lancaster’s  Yet there is room tent ministry.  (Missionaries to the USA, preaching the gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ to the lost in the highways and hedges and pointing them to a local church.)

Jimmy is a Bi-vocational Pastor.  He works for Main Street Development.    He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Dianna Holliman for 33 years.  Dianna works at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse in the Tax Assessor’s office.   He attributes the staying power for their marriage to “knowing the Lord and divorce is just not an option.   When two people get married they become one – you won’t have a whole person if you split them in two.”  They have one daughter,  Misty Herring.

Jimmy would like to invite everyone to attend Oregonia’s  revival July 31-August 5.  Ben Watson will be bringing the message Sunday morning and Sunday night.  Brandon Vaughn will be bringing the message Monday-Friday.  Services start at 7:00 p.m. with special music each night.   Oregonia Baptist Church is located at 20369 Oregonia Rd.

Jimmy can be reached at (205) 242-0604.

Oregonia Baptist Church

Oregonia Baptist Church

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