Tag: history

 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

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

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