Category: Faith

Mama Confession

by Samantha Native  Christina Williamson Eads

There are days that feel so unproductive. 😣 Days that I accomplish nothing on my mile-long to-do list. I look around my house and see all that needs to be done – laundry to fold, dishes to wash, floors covered in toys and dust. Just to name a few.

I foolishly had many idealistic expectations when I became a stay-at-home parent. Our home would be spotless. I’d whip up a gourmet meal every night. I’d have time for cute Pinterest projects and reading and exercise. This hilarious list goes on (I’m literally laughing 😂). But the truth is, raising young children is no easy task! Who would have thought I wouldn’t have time to do things I want to do?! Even if those things are good, productive, necessary things like maybe take a shower or mop the kitchen floor. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Life isn’t always what you expect it to be, which is something I struggle with handling. But the Lord is teaching me so much through motherhood. Like having a grateful heart despite the challenges I face. Perspective is everything, and these boys won’t be babies for long. I will blink and Sam will be in middle school. Logan will be driving. 😭 They won’t need me as much. Or at least not in the same ways. Part of me is already mourning over this fact. But another part of me is looking forward to a little more peace and quiet. 😏

Until they grow up before my eyes I’m determined to spend each day soaking up the boo-boo kisses, adorable giggles, silly word pronunciations, and that precious sweet baby smell 👶🏼. Some days I might not get much done besides keeping these little boogers alive, but maybe that’s enough sometimes, because they are worth every showerless day. Every sleepless night. Every mess. Every tear. My own personal agenda doesn’t matter compared to these kids. Being their mother is at the top of my to-do list. And what a sweet, worthy task it is. 💙

Printed with permission

Christina grew up in Samantha.  She lives in Trussville, Alabama with her husband Dusty, and their two sons, Logan and Sam.  If her words encouraged you, please let her know by leaving comments below.

Mama Confession by Christina Williamson Eads

Sam & Logan Eads

The Inspiration Behind the Samantha Living Cookbook

Samantha Living First Edition Cookbook

Order Information at the end of post 

My life’s journey has taken many detours but it brought me home and I have the honor and privilege of living in the home where I grew up. A few years ago, I would have never entertained the thought of living in Samantha again. But it’s strange how you can develop a longing to reach back and pick up those lessons learned from your growing years and you realize how rich your heritage really is. Not monetary wealth, but the love of family, friends, neighbors and community. That is getting more rare with each passing day. I was inspired to create a community cookbook primarily for four reasons.

  1.  To preserve our rich heritage and create a connection between past generations and future generations. It is my hope that someday our grandchildren will pick up this book and not only read and use these tried and true recipes, but it will prompt conversations about the names attributed to them. While I do believe we must live in the present and embrace our future, knowing our past gives us a sense of well-being and ownership. This project has given me opportunities to have precious conversations with some “senior” members of our community. Their laughter when remembering nuggets from the past is priceless to me and it encourages me to deepen my roots and strive to be able to offer the same one day when I receive such a call. Knowing stories about what others have faced, what they have drawn upon and risked. Great wisdom comes from their experiences. I believe knowing where we came from helps us understand the purpose of where we are going. Our heritage and legacy is a critical part of who we are as individuals. Embracing the heritage we were given enables us to leave a strong legacy. One worthy to be passed on.
  2. To preserve family meals together. Ronald Reagan said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” When I was growing up we always had supper every evening at the kitchen table. TV off and enjoying a home cooked meal and having conversation. When I visited with my friends, it was the same. Families, friends and neighbors sat around the kitchen table and told stories. It was a time to learn about each other’s lives. Having a meal at the kitchen table is not just a time to eat, but a time to tell stories. I loved to hear Momma and Daddy, my grandparents and aunts and uncles tell stories of the past. Families are so busy now that having supper together at the kitchen table is a lost art. I believe breaking bread together is important and I hope this cookbook will encourage us to cook more and eat more together. When I read stories in the Bible where Jesus sat and broke bread with others, it makes me know that is important.
  3. To promote community. When folks come together to work toward a common goal, it serves to buildup and strengthen relationships. I believe communities grow stronger when folks regularly do a variety of simple things together. It gives us a chance to connect with others.
  4. To raise funds for ministries and projects within our community.

Thank you for submitting recipes to make this cookbook possible and thank you for purchasing a copy. I appreciate you all more than you know.

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

For more information, send an email to editor@samanthaliving.com Or call (205) 233-3794

old recipes found at an estate sale in Samantha to be included in Samantha Living Cookbook

Riggs Farm, Samantha, Alabama

Southern cooks don’t measure, we just sprinkle and shake til the spirits of our ancestors say, “stop my child.”


Samantha Living Cookbook




 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.

Please comment below

by Norman W. Naugher

A while ago, we had the opportunity to visit with Norman and Nell Wright in their home.  They shared a wonderful written story of the life of Norman growing up in Samantha.  The writing is attached at the bottom of this page.

Playing dominoes with friends

Cowden home, old Byler Road (Old Highway 43)

The photos were captured on our visit.

 


“…This writing is dedicated to my wife, Nell, who almost had to get a knife and cut me open to extract these stories. To my son, Marty, whom she said would enjoy reading it, to my daughter, Jan, who keeps us all together, and my parents who had a hard time raising me…”  Click here to read Norman’s Story

If you enjoyed reading Norman’s story, please leave comments below and let him know.

 

Becky Williamson-Martin

Visit to Reed Mountain Awakens the Imagination

by Delbert Reed
 Reprint -- Published in The Northport Gazette, April 7, 2004

I had to go back to Reed Mountain in northern Tuscaloosa County last week. Something drew me there to stand at the old home place of my ancestors and look out on the wide, breath-taking vistas to the East and wonder about the history of the Reed family.

There is little left to prove that anyone ever lived at the site now except a few rocks, likely from the foundation or chimney, and a thriving wisteria vine, which was covered with bumblebees on the late afternoon that I visited.

I listened for sounds from the past, like the tolling of the old dinner bell or the chopping of wood, and I watched for wispy images of people I might know as the sun began to cast shadows on the hill, but there was none of either.

I could see, though, why someone would want to live on Reed Mountain. That spectacular view toward the faraway bottomland beside the small, clear stream below had me dreaming for a moment, too, although the place is generally poorly suited for farming in many ways. Those red-land hills and hollows are far more suited for hunting.

But my great grandparents Wes and Leona Reed raised 12 children to adulthood on the place and farmed a large area first owned, by all accounts, by Wes’s father Thomas Reed, the first Reed known to have settled in the country near Haygood Methodist Church. Thomas likely walked or rode a mule or wagon from Georgia if he was typical of the Southern Scots-Irish settlers. All I know of his wife is that her name was Parthenia Moore and that she was from the Moore’s Bridge area.

I imagined the large Wes Reed family meal time and wondered just how much food they had to grow and can to manage through the winters. I wondered just how many biscuits Omie, as Leona was called, had to cook each morning before sending her family into the fields.

Wesley Washington Reed was just 16 years old and Leona Elizabeth Davis only 15 when they married on December 16, 1886, according to family records. My grandfather Ellis, born on December 20, 1887, was the oldest of the children, and he was 25 years old when his grandfather Thomas Reed, born in 1847, died in 1913. The youngest child of Wes and Omie Reed was Elliott, born in 1907. Three children were born dead, including two after Elliott’s birth, and another died at age three.

A photograph of Wes and Omie standing together shows tanned and hard-working people, and a similar photograph of Ellis and my grandmother Viola is quite similar. They seem to be typical of the proud, poor, rural Southerners of the early 1900s.

My dad had an old scrapbook that included several old receipts showing purchases by Wes Reed from the late 1800s until his death in 1938. One was for a yoke of oxen for $30 on May 13, 1897; many were for fertilizer and taxes; one was for a one-ton Ford truck purchased from Tucker Motor Company in 1923 at a cost of $451.40; another was for $9 as “full pay for his child’s tombstone.” Wes had signed some of the notes and mortgages with an “X” for his mark, indicating that he could not write his name.

Unfortunately, there are few photographs of the Reed family from the early days, but there are enough to trace a family resemblance, and there are markers at Haygood Cemetery that help trace the family back in time.

Fortunately, though, the dinner bell from the old Wes Reed place survives today, thanks to the late Carl Harris. That same bell that called the Reed family from the fields or marked a death in the community rests safely in my storage shed, and I promise soon to display it proudly for the memories it holds, for the hands that rang it, and for those who heard it ring so many times.

“I heard that dinner bell ring at 11 o’clock every day for years,” Brazzie Taylor Rodgers said in recalling her years as a neighbor of the Reeds. “Omie always had dinner ready at 11 o’clock. Wes Reed was a good man,” she added. “He walked by our house early nearly every morning on his way to the store to get a box of snuff, and I was at his house the day he died.”

The old Reed place on Reed Mountain was sold many years ago to some large corporation, probably a timber company, and the old house destroyed. When I visited, the timber around the old house place had recently been cut, leaving the area scarred and ugly except for the view across the valley eastward.

But the Reed place was surely a glorious place once, with hunting dogs and teams of mules and oxen and cows and a large family to care for it all. I’d like to think Reed’s Mountain in the old days was much like the mythical Walton’s Mountain depicted on television and that the Reed family was just as happy and loving as the Waltons.

I’d like to think those 12 children grew up with good memories of life on Reed’s Mountain. And I wish I had thought to ask them to share them with me years ago. Now I can only imagine how it must have been.

(Originally Published in The Northport Gazette, April 7, 2004)

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.

Please comment below

The Old Cabaniss Store is Only a Memory Now

The Old Cabaniss Store is Only a Memory Now

By Delbert Reed
Published in the Northport Gazette June 19, 2002

I went looking for a bit of the past last week, following a newspaper advertisement to the old, deserted stone store on Highway 43 in Samantha built by Oscar Cabaniss in 1939 and operated by the family for 45 years. I had hoped to buy some small item from the store just for the sake of history.

But there was no sale after all. No one showed up to open the doors of the crumbling old store to the dozen or so people who showed up, just as I had, searching for a piece of history and perhaps a memory or two.

I peeped into the darkness of the store through the bars of a broken window, trying to see just what might be left after nearly 20 years of abandonment and decay. I wasn’t expecting much, and I am sorry to say that I saw even less among the dust and spider webs.

But I did remember a few visits there from far in the past when Cabaniss’ Store was the big city to me. I was just a barefoot boy of seven then, playing in the dusty fields along Wolf Creek as Daddy, Mother and a mule named John struggled to feed themselves and four small children as a tenant farmer on the old Espy Mill place.

The old store was a familiar place to me from my childhood on as we lived in ten similar tenant houses within two miles of the store during the 1940s. Daddy, older brother Lonnie and I walked to the store several Saturday afternoons a year in those days. Lonnie and I sometimes drank a NuGrape and watched the older men playing checkers while Daddy talked about the crops and weather with the neighbors. I always filled my pockets with soft drink bottle caps picked up from around the front of the store as we started back home and Daddy usually carried a 25-pound sack of flour over his shoulder.

We proudly rode a borrowed wagon loaded with cotton past the store in the autumn of 1947, headed East to the gin near the Samantha Post Office with what amounted to the product of a year’s hard work, and we likely stopped at Cabaniss’ Store for another NuGrape on the way back home. Years later, from 1952-73, Mother or Daddy stopped at Cabaniss’ Store every day for 22 years to deliver a newspaper to the store, and I was with them a lot of those days to get another NuGrape.

Now I hear that the old store, located just a stone’s throw from Northside High School, may be torn down to make way for a modern convenience store. It is inevitable, I suppose, but it seems a sad ending for the once-grand old general store that proudly served the people of that community from 1938 until 1983.

The store was built in 1938 by Oscar Cabaniss, who ran it until turning it over to his son, John Manley, in 1955. John Manley had been a part of the store from the start, having helped his father build it and run it from his teen years on. Oscar continued to spend time at the store until his death in 1968 at the age of 76. John Manley operated the store until his retirement in 1983. John Manley and his sister, Margaret Crump of Northport, recently sold the store and property..

John Manley, now age 80 and living in Northport, recalled this week that the store once handled almost anything anyone needed, including groceries, clothes, shoes, gloves, feed for livestock, plowlines, nails, horseshoes, tires, tobacco, plows, gas and oil. The store also served as the Beat 4 polling location for many years, and it was a general community gathering place where gossip and news–and sometimes even a bottle—were passed around.

John Manley recalled that former governor James E. “Big Jim” Folsom stopped at the store once about 50 years ago as he passed by on his way to visit his in-laws, who were from nearby Berry.

According to John Manley, many of the rocks used to build the walls of the store were taken from a quarry near North River, not far from the old Gorgas School. Other rocks used in the foundation were taken from the fields on Reed Mountain, he said.

“The Reeds (the author’s great-grandparents Wes and Omie Reed and their 11 children and dozens of grandchildren) piled them up at the edge of the fields and we hauled them in there by the truck load,” John Manley said, recalling that the truck used was an International.

John Manley also recalled that the first gas he ever sold was to Crockett Kyzer, a well-known farmer and basket maker from the area. He said that sale came in 1936 at another nearby store his father operated before building the stone store in 1938.

The old stone Cabaniss store holds many memories for John Manley, and he and his children and grandchildren have kept a few items from the store for themselves. Still, he isn’t overly sad to see it finally sold. “I guess it eases my mind a bit in some ways,” he said of the sale.

“It’s a different ball game now than it was in 1936,” John Manley said, noting how times have changed. “At one time I knew everybody who lived on Highway 43 from Berry Junction to Stone Hill in Northport.” And there is no doubt that everyone who traveled along Highway 43 knew that old stone store and its owners Oscar and John Manley Cabaniss, who served their community well for almost half a century.

Now it appears that the store will soon be gone, with not even a bottle cap left behind as a souvenir for a barefoot boy who thought of it as the big city itself more than 50 years ago.

This story is a follow up to a previous blog “Who Remembers Cabaniss Gro.”  Published on June 26, 2017 on Samantha Living.

1963: Cabaniss Grocery in Samantha This rock store stood at the corner of Hwy 43 North and Northside Road in northern Tuscaloosa County.  The store replaced one that was once part of the Stagecoach Exchange at what was then called ‘Marcumville’.

 

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.

We invite you to comment below

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

Article Source

By Delbert Reed
(Reprint -- Published in Northport Gazette, June 4, 2003)

I saw the stranger walking through the mall and guessed correctly that he had a story to go with his black hat and clothes and guitar and that hungry look in his eye. I had seen plenty others like him plodding along Music Row and Broadway back in my Nashville days. And to tell the truth, I’d seen the same look in the mirror a time or two.

“I’m looking for some work playing and singing,” he answered when I asked if I could help him. “I need a job and I’m not able to do much of anything else.”

Jack McCaffrey is his name, and although he shows the wear and tear of hard times beyond his years, he hasn’t given up hope quite yet. But if it’s true that artists do their best work when they suffer, McCaffrey just might be about to write that hit song he has always dreamed about.

“I don’t like to play in bars, but I’ll play anywhere right now,” McCaffrey said. “I’ve got to survive. I’d play at the North Pole if the Eskimos would listen to me.”

A self-proclaimed poet, songwriter and musician, McCaffrey is 59 years old, with more hair on his chin than his head and a nasty cigarette habit. “I spent my last three dollars on cigarettes,” he admitted with a bowed head. “I know I shouldn’t be smoking; my brother died of lung cancer.” But on a hot summer afternoon a few days ago, cigarettes and music was about all that kept McCaffrey’s modest Tuscaloosa apartment from being a lonely place as we continued an interview started the day we met at McFarland Mall.

“I’ve written about 200 songs,” he said, offering to sing one for me he had written in 1982 while visualizing himself as a successful musician out on the road. “I wrote the song for my wife. It’s been ten years since I played it; I hope I can get through it,” he said before singing a not-so-bad little ballad with a few memorable lines about big dreams and a broken heart.

“I’m working on a contemporary gospel song with a blues beat now,” McCaffrey said as he sang a few lines of a song he called “Rock Me, Jesus.” None of McCaffrey’s music is recorded or written down. “It’s all in my head,” he said.

By my standards McCaffrey really can play and sing a little, and sometimes a little is all it takes if the breaks fall your way. Whether he can make it in Nashville or even Tuscaloosa could be simply a matter of luck, although McCaffrey has almost given up on giving Nashville a try.

McCaffrey carries a list of 150 songs in his guitar case and claims he can play and sing all of them on cue, although he had only one formal music lesson in his life. His songs cover 50 years of music and include rock, country, gospel or whatever else one would care to hear. He can also play several instruments, he says, “but I don’t really play the piano; I bang on it.”

“My grandfather, John Williams of the Samantha area just outside Northport, was my inspiration,” McCaffrey said. “He played the bass fiddle and sang bluegrass music. He claimed to have some Indian blood, so I claim to be half-Irish and half-Indian. I’m Irish enough to like a drink of whisky and Indian enough to go on the warpath,” he continued with a wry smile. “That’s why I don’t drink anymore.”

McCaffrey’s mother helped start him on his musical career by teaching him to play a ukulele at age seven. “I worried her to death with that thing singing songs I learned off the radio,” he said. “My older brother had a guitar, but I couldn’t get my hands on it until he joined the Navy in 1956. I taught myself to play and played a lot with a buddy named Ronnie Wheatley.”

McCaffrey and Wheatley played together for several years, working in Birmingham night clubs after working at EBSCO Industries together in the daytime. “We played every club in Birmingham in the sixties,” McCaffrey said proudly. Wheatley still works at EBSCO while McCaffrey is disabled, but they both still enjoy their music.

A Catholic, McCaffrey attends Holy Spirit Church and sometimes plays music at a local Church of God. “I don’t earn any money, but the Lord blesses me for it,” he said.

McCaffrey has children and grandchildren in Birmingham, where he spent several years in construction work, and carries their pictures in his guitar case. He is divorced from his first wife and separated from his second, something he finds painful to talk about. He has been in Tuscaloosa for three months.

“Here’s one of my favorites,” McCaffrey said, breaking a somber mood and patting a bare big toe as he played a current patriotic song made popular by country music star Toby Keith.

McCaffrey’s father worked in construction and moved a great deal, allowing Jack to experience life in Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and even California, where he said he even attended school with some of the Mouseketeers of Walt Disney television fame for a while.

McCaffrey’s brother, John McCaffrey Jr., lived in the Samantha area on their grandfather’s old place until his death. His widow, Betty, still resides there, according to Jack.

Today, Jack doesn’t often dream of that elusive big break. He’s just hoping to find a paying gig so he can sing his songs and see better days. “If I don’t I’ll starve, he said without a smile as he gently strummed the guitar he was holding onto like it was his only friend.
(Northport Gazette, June 4, 2003)

POSTSCRIPT: I couldn’t help liking Jack McCaffrey, and his music, too, for that matter, and I visited him several times over a month or so. I even bought him cigarettes and a can of soup a couple of times when he ran out of money between disability checks. In an effort to try to help him, I bought a small cassette recorder and had him record some of his songs for me to take to a friend in Nashville who had connections in the music industry there. “If you see Martina McBride, tell her I love her,” he said as he handed me the tape a week or so later. I passed the tape along but never heard anything about it from my friend. I saw in the newspaper a year or so later where McCaffrey died, taking his songs with him except for a line or two I still remember from the one he wrote for his wife and the one I’m writing about his Martina McBride line. (Delbert Reed)



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.com

Historical Barbee School

From Delbert Reed.

Barbee School Reunion Offers a Lesson in History

(Written by Delbert Reed – Published in Northport Gazette, June 18, 2003)

Historical Barbee School

You’ve probably heard stories told by your parents and grandparents about how they walked three miles in the snow and rain to school as youngsters. If you haven’t, you should arrange to attend the next Barbee School reunion, where you can hear the stories of the good old days from those who lived them.

A small group of former Barbee School students gathered recently at the home of Nell Howell Sheffield in Northport to recall their times together as schoolmates at the former small elementary school near Northside High School. Those attending the May gathering included Sheffield, Mary Freeman Hagler, Clytee Rogers Holloway, Lowell Skelton, Faye Maddox Boone and John Aris Harris.

 
“I’ll bet no six people ever had a better time that we did,” Mrs. Hagler said of the reunion. We waited until most of us were gone before we started getting together, but if we can we’re going to get together again next year and reminisce some more,” she said. The Barbee reunions have been going on for six or so years and were started mainly by Loy and Woodrow Wilson.
 
Barbee School, according to history relayed by John Aris Harris’s son John, was named after James and Sarah M. Barbee, who settled in the area in 1818. The school was located about a mile west of Barbee Creek and about two miles west of Northside High School. It was formed in 1909 by the consolidation of Friendship School and the Deal School and closed in 1942.
Mrs. Hagler lived east of Barbee School on the Bart Brown Road for much of the time she attended the school 1932-38 and walked through fields, pastures and woods and even across a foot-log bridge across Barbee Creek to schools with siblings Otis, Clay, Martha and Ouida.
 
“We had some good times there,” Mrs. Hagler said. “We had a few fights, too, but not often.” Mrs. Hagler’s memories of her days at Barbee include the school closing twice because there was no money to buy coal for heat during the winter.

“They brought our teachers out from town on Sunday evening or early Monday morning and they boarded with my Aunt Ida Cabaniss across the road from the school during the week and went back to town on Friday afternoons,” Mrs. Hagler said.

The Barbee School remembered by most of the former students had three or four rooms with two grades in each room. Earlier, a one-room school had stood on the site, according to some former students. “I saw a picture of the old school and I’m pretty sure it was only one room,” Mrs. Hagler said. “It looked like an old crib.”

Mrs. Boone attended Barbee School for six years starting in 1933 and later graduated from Talladega High School before earning master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama. She worked as a nurse and teacher until her retirement in 1990. Mrs. Boone has attended several Barbee School reunions and recalls elementary school friendships with Nell Howell Sheffield and Loy Wilson.
 
Skelton started school at Barbee in the mid-1930s and went there through the sixth grade before attending Etteca and Gorgas schools. Skelton’s brothers Adrian, Shorty and Gordon and sister Louise also attended Barbee, as did Skelton’s father Clarence. Skelton, retired from B. F. Goodrich after more than 42 years, is nearing age 75 and still has many friends from his days at Barbee.
  
Mrs. Sheffield lived less than a mile from Barbee School in what was known as the old Deal home during her childhood. The house, which burned in 1980, was located near one of the two stores her father (Paul Howell) operated for many years. “That old house was made from wide, hand-hewed planks; we wouldn’t have taken anything for it,” Mrs. Sheffield said.
            
“I remember my first-grade teacher was Miss Ruth Rice,” Mrs. Sheffield said. “She later married Horace Brown and we went to church with them at Chapel Hill Baptist Church. “Another teacher recalled by Mrs. Sheffield was Marian Scrivner, who boarded with the Howells.
            
“I remember Miss Rice giving us a picture to color in the first grade and I colored a woman’s hair green. Miss Rice said she had never seen a woman with green hair. Forty years later we saw a woman at church with green hair and she (then Mrs. Brown) remembered that fist-grade incident and remarked to me that we had finally seen someone with green hair.”
 
Mrs. Sheffield’s brother Paul B. Howell also attended Barbee for a few years. Both of them laster graduated from Tuscaloosa County High School.

Harris, a retired telephone company employee who lives in Moundville, attended Barbee for three years starting in 1938 when it had 30-40 students in six grades. He also attended Samantha and Gorgas schools “I still have my first-grade report card,” Harris said proudly. “I carried it to the reunion and my first teacher’s name (Margaret Tatum) is on it.”

Mrs. Holloway lived about two miles north of Barbee School at the head of Wolf Creek near Haygood Methodist Church and walked along a path through the woods and fields to school with friends from the Rice and Nuchols families.

“I can remember being freezing cold when we got to school and gathering around the pot-bellied stove to get warm,” she said. “It was hard living, but there were good days. Everybody loved everybody and everybody helped everybody else during crop time or sickness. We lost our farm and were sharecroppers some, but I’m proud of my raising,” Mrs. Holloway added.

Mrs. Holloway began work at Jitney Jungle Grocery in Tuscaloosa in 1956 and retired from Food World in 1991.

Most of the Barbee School students grew up on farms in the community and many of them came from sharecropper families left poor by the Great Depression of the 1930s, as Mrs. Hagler pointed out with pride.  
“I’ve lived a full life for a poor girl,” she said. “But I’ve had friends and people I cared about and who cared for me. What else do you need?

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.com

Submitted by Anita Bailey – Estel Williamson (Freeman) Barbee School 1936 (Anita’s Grandmother

The Barbee School which taught from first to seventh grade was located near Samantha in northern Tuscaloosa County from about 1907 to the early 1940s. After students completed the seventh grade, they were awarded diplomas and encouraged to continue their education. However, students who lived in the rural communities had farm and home responsibilities and transportation was mule or horse and buggy. Photo shows the graduation class for the 1913-1914 school year. The teacher, Annis Estelle Griffin, is on the back row in the white shirt. To her right is Carl Harris. To Harris’ right may be Paul Howell.Submitted by John N. Harris.

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Rt. 1, Box 152

by Becky Williamson-Martin

Apparently I have always had a love for or maybe taken ownership of the Samantha Community.  Recently, we did some remodeling on the home I grew up in. I came home one day during during the remodel and the carpenters asked me if I drew on the walls when I was a kid. Then they showed me the “art work” they found on the ceiling of a closet they were tearing out. 

Rt 1, Box 152, Samantha, Alabama 35482

While I do not remember creating this masterpiece, I do remember hiding in the top of that closet many times to try and scare my brother Ricky (pay back you know?). I also recall having a thing about drawing mailboxes as a little girl. Maybe that was a result of daddy always teaching us the importance of putting down roots.  

 

I often hear folks from the Samantha Community say they live in Northside. This is always a bit comical to me. Having grown up in Samantha and going to Northside School, I always think to myself, “do they live in the school”?   I guess younger folks don’t remember or those who moved here over the passed few years didn’t know this but before the postal service restructured everything our address was actually Rt. 1, Samantha, Alabama 35482. I still remember our address was Rt. 1, Box 152. It just sounds funny to me having grown up here when I hear people refer to Northside as the community.

Mailbox topper – “Johnny Williamson, Rt. 1 Samantha”

A few years before daddy passed away, I came to visit him and found him in the barn working on “something”.  During our conversation I noticed an old mailbox topper hanging on the barn wall.  It was covered with dust and spider webs.  He granted my request to take it home.  At that time, I lived near Lake Tuscaloosa.  I took it home and restored it and I proudly displayed it on my back porch, Johnny Williamson, Rt. 1, Samantha, even though I didn’t live in the Samantha community at that time.  My heart and all my childhood memories are still connected to Samantha.  I can’t help but think that mailbox topper had some historical value for daddy, too.  After all, he had kept it all those years.

I believe we should be proud of our roots. Even if some of the memories might not be good, where we came from helped make us who we are today and hopefully we learned from it all, even if we moved away.   So, for me, I am proud to say I’m from Samantha, Alabama and I live in Samantha, Alabama.  I am also proud to say I attended Northside School in Samantha, Alabama – home of the Rams.  After all, we do still have a zip code and a Post Office located on Northside Road.  What are your thoughts?  Comment below

Samantha Post Office, Samantha, Alabama

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

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Hope Chest and Father’s Day

I saw this post on Facebook this week.  Caption read  Remember the Hope Chest?   I remember the day daddy took me to Weems Furniture in Fayette to buy one for me when I was a young girl.  I still have it.  It no longer has a lid but I’m still using it.  It has had a purpose in my house since the day we brought it home.  Currently, I have it in the children’s corner of my house being used as my grandchildren’s toy box.

Cedar Chest Daddy Bought me

Daddy was a man of few words most of the time, but he knew how to make the important things, the important things without having to talk about them.  As I recall, Mother mentioned it to him one Saturday morning that I wanted a Hope Chest.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to go to Fayette with him on a Saturday.  I would often tag along in his old dirty truck, smelling of diesel fuel and gasoline and sawdust on his Saturday errand day going to saw shops and tire stores.  We always stopped in somewhere for lunch.  I loved going to Lofty’s Cafe.  That was the best hamburger I ever had.  He would usually run into folks he knew and they would talk about “you momma and them”, gardening and logging.   This particular Saturday he “asked me” to go with him.   Our first stop was Weems Furniture.  He tells the sales lady we are there to purchase a “Hope Chest”.   She ushered us to the row of chests lined up on the side wall.   Some with dark wood, some with  padded lids,  some more “fancy” than others.  And there was this one, plain cedar chest at the very end, which is the one I liked.  He paid the lady and as the young man was coming from the back to load it, Daddy just picked it up and took it the truck.  I always thought he had the biggest muscles and he was always doing things like that to remind me.  🙂

Reliving my memories of Daddy and my cedar chest and it being Father’s Day stirred up other thoughts and sweet nuggets of precious memories of him.  It’s sort of funny how when you are living the moment it doesn’t seem significant at all, but later as you touch it again, you see (and feel) it differently.  For instance, Daddy, was always breaking or losing his reading glasses.  He would fall asleep in the recliner reading and sit on them or they would get crushed somehow.  He would repair them in his special way by tying whatever he had available to make them stay on his head.  14 pair of reading glasses were found in the house after he left us.  Some with those special ties.

Daddy’s Glasses

When I saw him wearing those glasses I would think it was funny or silly or wonder why in the world does he do that!  Now I have them all in his box that he kept notes with phone numbers or whatever.  I guess most people would have just thrown them away, but to me it’s a connection to him – sort of fills that “missing him” part in my soul.  It’s the “real” things he did that I love so much.  Those things that made him unique.

Another example of that unique repair work he would do, is his nut cracker.  He never enjoyed TV much so he often would crack nuts at night to be doing something productive waiting on the sun to come up.   A lot of men repair everything with duct tape.  Not daddy.  He used medical tape.  Probably because he had a lot of that on hand because he usually had some sort of injury.  LOL  He wrapped medical tape around the big nail and continued on with his cracking nuts.  I just couldn’t throw that away either.

Daddy’s Phone Books

Then there’s his phone books.  He wore  out some phone books I will tell you.  Proof that he stayed connected to folks.  He was interested in knowing about them.  He spent hours on the phone at night reaching out to his friends and turning strangers into friends.  He made opportunity.  (Galatians 6:10).

To those who still have your dads – I promise you that those things which you think embarrass you or cause you to shake your head or roll your eyes about your dad – those quirky things he says or does – will someday be a precious memory that you embrace and that you will long to relive.

To those who have said a temporary good bye to your dads, I ask you – “do you agree”?  Please feel free to share your memories in the comments below.

Daddy’s Glasses, Phone Books, Nut Cracker and hammer

The greatest man I ever knew!

by Becky Williamson Martin

In memory of Johnny Williamson (4/19/35-6/30/13)

Daddy in the swing on his porch

Daddy’s hands

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

A Graduate’s Prayer

We are publishing the prayer below at the request of several parents who have children graduating this year.

A Graduate’s Prayer

Father I have knowledge
so will you show me now
How to use it wisely
and find a way somehow
To make the world I live in
a little better place.
And make life with its problems
a bit easier to face. . .

Grant me faith and courage
and put purpose in my days
And show me how to serve Thee
in the most effective ways
So all my education,
my knowledge, and my skill
May find their use fulfillment
As I learn to do Thy will . . .
And may I ever be aware
in everything I do
That knowledge comes from learning –
And wisdom comes from you.

May God bless and watch over all the graduating seniors.  Please leave your comments or well wishes for your graduating senior below.

Congratulations Northside Class of 2017

Northside High School, Samantha, Alabama
Principal:  Mrs. Cindy Long 
Graduation Exercise: May 15, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m. in stadium 
Valedictorian and Salutatorian will be announced at graduation ceremony 

School Colors: 
Navy Blue, Columbia Blue and White 
Mascot: Ram 

Class Officers 
President: Stella Wilson 
Vice President: Anny Barrentine 
Secretary: Amber McCarley 
Treasurer: Karlie Colburn 
Parliamentarian: Samuel Newcomb
 
SGA Officers: 
President: Stella Wilson 
Vice President: Anna Barrentine 
Secretary: Samuel Newcomb 
Treasurer: Marian Bolin 
Parliamentarian: Karlie Colburn

2017 Candidates Listed Alphabetically

A Graduates Prayer

Father I have knowledge
so will you show me now
How to use it wisely
and find a way somehow
To make the world I live in
a little better place.
And make life with its problems
a bit easier to face. . .

Grant me faith and courage
and put purpose in my days
And show me how to serve Thee
in the most effective ways
So all my education,
my knowledge, and my skill
May find their use fulfillment
As I learn to do Thy will . . .
And may I ever be aware
in everything I do
That knowledge comes from learning –
And wisdom comes from you.


					
		

Shepherd Hill Opry Welcomed Guy Penrod

Samantha, Alabama – Guy Penrod sang to 600+ guests at Shepherd Hill Opry this past Saturday.  During his concert, which was very relaxed and intimate, he called his wife, Angie, on the phone to wish her a Happy 32nd Anniversary.   Angie kidded him about celebrating their anniversary with new friends while she

Penrod calls his wife Angie during concert

was home planting flowers.  The crowd applauded when he bragged on how blessed he was to be married to “a good country girl”.

Penrod is one of the most in-demand touring artists in Christian music. His DVD, The Best of Guy Penrod is certified platinum by the RIAA.  A vocal powerhouse, Penrod travels throughout the U.S. and abroad in addition to making multiple media appearances including radio’s “The Mike Huckabee Show,” RFD-TV’s top-rated “Larry’s Country Diner” and one of North America’s most popular Christian television programs “100 Huntley Street.” Additionally, Penrod hosts DayStar Television’s Emmy Award-winning “Gospel Music Showcase” program.

Known for his country styling, Penrod’s music has been applauded in the Gospel as well as country formats.  He has appeared on “The Grand Ole Opry” and on numerous country recordings.  His Hymns recording (Gaither Music Group/ Servant Records), debuted at #1 on the Nielsen SoundScan Southern Gospel retail chart and became the top-selling southern Gospel album of 2012.  In 2011, he became a Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee; and he was inducted alongside the Gaither Vocal Band into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

Penrod certainly worked his charm on the crowd in Samantha.  In addition to his beautiful voice, he has a wonderful repore with everyone he meets and you know immediately that he practices what he preaches – “loving folks”.

The band had some technical difficulties and Penrod asked to borrow a car to “run to Eat My Beats”.  Without hesitation, a volunteer handed him the keys.  It had a full tank when he returned, she said, “and it was probably on fumes when he left in it with all the running around getting ready for the event”.

Representatives from The Good Shepherd Foundation, who sponsored the event, said folks have already been inquring about when Penrod will be back to Shepherd Hill Opry.

Shepherd Hill Opry was built in memory of Johnny Williamson by his children on the property where he

Guests enjoy the sounds of Guy Penrod

called home and created deep roots.  Concerts are held throughout the year.  Well-known Nashville artists Lulu Roman (former Hee Haw Star), Allen Frizzell (Lefty Frizzell’s younger brother), Marty Raybon (lead singer with Shenandoah), Clinton Gregory Bluegrass Band, Jennifer Brantley, Gerald Smith, and Addison Johnson have performed at Shepherd Hill Opry as well as Donnie Lee Strickland and Shannon Knight formerly with The Gaithers in addition to many local artists.  To find out more about Shepherd Hill Opry, visit the website at http://www.goodshepherdfound.org/shepherd-hill-opry.html or by calling (205) 233-3794.

In Little Towns Like Mine

I heard a song this morning that made me think of our community and I wanted to share it with my neighbors.   I hope you enjoy and that it uplifts you.   

In little towns like mine we still believe

In things like love and honor and an honest day’s work.

And always give a little more than you receive

And we try to help somebody in a bind

In little towns like mine.

 

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

I would love to get your comments so leave a reply below and feel free to share.

Story of Two Sons

I once heard the story of two sons who had a father who was a criminal and ended up in jail.

One son grew up to be a doctor.

The other grew up to end up in jail himself.

A psychology student was doing a term paper on how children who grow up in the same house, with the same rules and same daily lives could turn out so differently.  He interviewed both of the sons and asked each of them the same question:

 “What do you think is the primary, contributing factor of where you are today?”

They both gave the same answer, “With a father like mine, how else could I have turned out?”

So you see – in the final analysis it was their own behavior, choices and attitude that made them who they had become as men – not their father.

One son decided he would follow in his father’s footsteps.  The other son made up his mind he would not.

Make good choicesWe can blame every one of our problems on everyone in the entire world, but in the end, it is our own behavior that will either make us or break us into becoming the person we need to be.

 

Formula  to Know Right from Wrong taken from Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges:

  1.  Is it helpful – physically, spiritually and mentally?
  2. Does it bring me under its power?
  3. Does it hurt others?
  4. Does it glorify God?

Samantha Living

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Faith, Family and Farming: Growing up in Samantha

By: Brooke Hughes Snipes

Naomi Judd once said, “In life you have to have roots and wings.” Growing up in Samantha, Alabama, I was given both of those things. I was shown how to use my wings to fly and make my own way in the world. I also had roots that taught me that sometimes going home is the only cure for your problems. My name is Brooke Hughes Snipes, and I was born and raised in the Samantha community. My family has been living here for three generations and has made a living farming cotton, corn, and soybeans. My granddad is Floyd Hughes Jr., who has made a huge impact on the community and in my life. He has always instilled in me the three f’s in life: faith, family and farming. These three things have had a huge impact on my life and shaped me into the person I am today.

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. And I at my wedding November 2013

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. And I at my wedding November 2013

I grew up in a way that would be foreign to today’s generation of young people. My summers were spent playing outside in the clubhouse built for my sister, cousins and me. We would spend hours building onto our club, where many tears, fights, and laughs took place. In the afternoons, we would gather underneath Granddaddy and Grandmother Faye (Momma’s) tree to shell peas or shuck corn. At the time, I thought it was boring and a waste of time, but now I understand that we were learning much more than how to prepare food. That’s the thing about grandparents; every task always comes with a free life lesson. On hot summer days we would go to my Mama Charlotte and Papa Norman’s pool for a swim. They too are longtime residents of Samantha. My Mama Charlotte was born and raised in Berry, Alabama but she will be the first to tell you that she is a Ram fan.

In the fall my grandmother Faye would load us up in their Dodge Ram (that they still drive to this day) and take us to the cotton field to watch my granddad Floyd, my dad Barry and Uncle Bryan pick the cotton fields.

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. In his cotton field in Samantha, Alabama

My Granddad, Floyd Hughes, Jr. In his cotton field in Samantha, Alabama

We would spend hours picking cotton by hand, riding in the cotton pickers, running the packing machine, and jumping into big piles of freshly-picked cotton. It felt as though we were jumping on clouds. As a child, I thought nothing was more beautiful than a cotton field, and at twenty eight I still feel the same way. Weekends were always filled with cheering for Toybowl football, showing sheep for 4-H, playing softball, or spending time playing on the farm. The I-phone and social media generation of today will never understand the fulfillment that comes from fishing in a pond, playing in a creek, or spending time around animals.

Sundays were all about church. My whole entire family (which was 15 people at the time) would sit on the same group of church pews Sunday after Sunday. We would sing songs together from the Baptist Hymnal. Even today with the Contemporary music that is popular in most churches, I prefer the classic gospel. After church we would all go to my grandparents and eat lunch, and on special occasions we would enjoy homemade ice-cream. Easter was something that we looked forward to for months because my grandmother would take my sister and me to town and buy us matching dresses. Today in our twenties, my sister and I still coordinate our Easter outfits.

Throughout high school, cheerleading filled up most of my time. Now as an adult when I watch my younger brother, Mason, play for the Rams, I still remember the feeling I had on Friday nights when I stepped on that field. Football at Northside is about much more than playing a game. At Northside football is what brings people together. I remember looking up in the stands on Friday nights and thinking how blessed I was to be a part of this community, one that was really more like a huge family. Some of my friends growing up hated that small town feeling of everyone knowing everyone else. I, however, loved that feeling. I loved the fact that complete strangers would run into me and tell me that I looked just like my mother, or that people I met could still remember my dad’s first truck: a 1981 red and white Chevrolet that he still owns to this day.

I did most of the normal things that girls do growing up like sports, beauty pageants, and school clubs, but the hobby that affected my life the most was hunting. My granddad Floyd put a gun in my hand for the first time and taught me how hunting is about time, patience, and respect just like life. My granddad is the only person I have ever seen who can read the newspaper, crunch on an apple, and unwrap candy in the shooting house and still kill a deer. I, however, sit completely quiet and see nothing but squirrels; that’s just how it goes. I wouldn’t trade the days I have spent hunting with my granddad for anything in the world though. My grandparent’s generation is a walking book of knowledge that I love to explore. There is something amazing about hearing about how my grandparents first met, that my granddad broke down on the way to a date and stood my grandmother up, or that they share the same love for Johnny Cash’s music as I do. Looking back on my almost thirty years of life, I feel very blessed not only to have my family, but the family that is made up within my community.

If I am ever blessed with children these are the main things I would teach them: 1. to get outside and enjoy nature; it’s hard to beat a snow white cotton field or autumn in the South, 2. to always count your blessings, because there is always something to be thankful for, and 3. To spend as much time as you can with your family, especially your grandparents. They are the best teachers, motivators, and friends. As far as my roots and wings go, they have both made an impact on my life. I’m glad that I learned to fly. I left my hometown, graduated from the University of Alabama, got married and on my honeymoon even swam in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. But as the saying goes, “There is no place like home.” It turns out that my roots were stronger than my wings, and my husband and I are getting ready to build a house on a hill overlooking quiet, simple Samantha. And if I ever do have kids and grandkids of my own, I will I pass along what my granddad told me that it takes to build a successful life in the country: a little faith, a little family and a little farming.

Brooke Hughes Snipes –Samantha Living, Guest Contributor
tbhughes1@crimson.ua.edu

If you enjoyed this article please let Brooke know by leaving comments below.

Do you have memories you would like to share in a similar article?  Send them to editor@samanthaliving.com

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