Tag: simple

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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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

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

Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy

This newspaper clipping was found in my daddy’s things after he passed away.  It is not dated, but I remember sending it to him when I lived in Kentucky.  It is also torn – the missing word in the caption is “Liberals”.  It is from The Daily Independent in Ashland, Kentucky.  I haven’t lived in Kentucky since 2008 so it was written sometime prior.   The article captured my attention because Daddy always taught us this concept when approaching a seemingly difficult task or problem.  He would say something like, “It’s simple.  You just have to make up your mind to it.   Now that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  But it’s simple.”

Now, Daddy referred to himself as a liberal because to him a liberal was someone who gave selflessly and generously and walked with those  who were different (some might say undesirable, neglected, downtrodden, brokenhearted).  He said Jesus Christ was a liberal.  And he was right in that sense.  Chuck Swindoll used the following quote by Charles Thomas (C.T.) Studd in a message I listened to this week about how it does no good to shine a light in the light – light is only seen in the darkness: “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell”.  When I heard this statement, I immediately thought of how Daddy lived his life.  He sort of ran a rescue shop in a sense.  The interesting thing is though, those folks often came to his door.  It was not unusual to drop by daddy’s house in the middle of the day (a rainy day) and find several of daddy’s friends gathered around him having a deep theological discussion.  They came to him because at some point he had touched them in their world – in their daily, normal walk of life and they knew he cared.  Sometimes, Benny would get to listen in on the conversation.  He would tell me, “We had church at your dad’s today”.

When I read this article, memories flooded my mind of the many  long telephone conversations daddy  and I would have when I was in Kentucky, about life and about God and daddy would share his deep revelations about a certain scripture.  I also thought about how much truth there is in the words of this article.

If we can just take away the labels of liberal vs. conservative, left-wing vs. right-wing and simply look at the truth.  Simple solutions to complex problems.  “You might as well pull up your boot straps, and…”,  more words from daddy.  There is so much news inundating us every second of every day about how our government is corrupt and what all the politicians need to do.

CHANGE DOESN’T START AT THE WHITEHOUSE – IT STARTS AT MY HOUSE!  And then in our own communities.

Let’s look for simple solutions, even if they are hard and let’s make our homes and communities better.   My community, Samantha, Alabama has it’s problems just like everywhere else in the world, but there is NO WHERE in the world I would rather be.

Always keep “The Son” in your eyes,

Becky Williamson-Martin

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