In the previous post I told the story of our lost family – Poppy’s relatives about whom we ever knew anything. There’s more to come on that story, but I’m still sifting through papers getting the full story together. Meanwhile, I wish to tell more about Poppy himself, who was actually, in a way, lost to his second batch of grandchildren, as he died before we were born.
|Mommie and Poppy, 1940.|
I wonder if this is the same felt hat he used to dip water from a spring and give to his two
daughters for a cool and refreshing drink?
My grandmother used to tell us that the first time she saw her future husband he was playing a banjo at a square dance. She didn’t provide any other details and I didn’t ask questions. (WHY didn’t I?) It’s only after we are older that we care to know about our family history, and it’s often already too late to ask those who would have known.
I have been able to learn quite a bit about Poppy from Mother. Also, I questioned two of my aunts and one of her older cousins while they were still alive.
Poppy’s banjo hung on the wall in Mommie’s house for years, but I don’t know what happened to it. I also recall that Poppy’s gun rested above the dining room door nestled in a rather primitive looking gun rack. I don’t know what became of it either. I hope someone in our family has these two items.
Poppy arrived in North Alabama riding a horse, traveling from Adamsville, Tenn, where his mother’s family, the Stantons, lived. I don’t know the date, but it was before 1900.
He came to work as a blacksmith for Mr. Jim Waddell (father of Ferris Waddell), whose shop was directly across the road from the house known in later years as the Sam Springer place. Poppy later owned and operated his own blacksmith shop just down the road, across from his own house. It was beside the little country store he also owned and operated.
After the store went out of business, the building was moved a bit further south and converted into a small house. It was known to us as “The Little House.” George and Wilton Bowen lived there for a time, and it was later purchased by Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Andrew and they lived there until their deaths.
When Poppy was a storekeeper, his son Buster peddled supplies into the surrounding area, first via horse and wagon and later by truck. A shed was attached to the store and the truck was parked there when not in use.
Eggs and live chickens were exchanged by farmers for the supplies they needed from the store. Once a week, on Saturday, Poppy traveled to Athens, some 18 miles away, to sell the eggs and chickens he had collected. It is unknown to us what sort of business took chicken and eggs and paid out cash.
Occasionally, he allowed Mother and her younger sister to accompany him to town for the transaction – a huge treat for them! Mother remembers a natural spring along the way where Poppy would stop, go to the water’s edge, scoop water into his felt hat and bring to them for a cooling and refreshing drink.
Another story told many times over about Poppy and his trips to Athens was the neighbor woman, Mrs. X, who ever so often showed up on Saturday mornings asking if she could hitch a ride to town. This happened a bit more often than he liked; however, he always grudgingly obliged.
One Saturday morning, perhaps when he was in a bad mood, he came to the kitchen for breakfast and was told by Mommy that Mrs. X, was waiting outside and hoping for a ride to town.
Poppy, never one to mince words, said in a very loud voice, “Why in the #&@)_$ does she want to go to Athens? So she can priss her a-- around town so everyone can see her?”
All the while, Mommie was trying to hush him, knowing that Mrs. X , sitting just outside the open kitchen door, could hear.
After his rant was finished, Mommie walked to the door and peered out, just in time to see Mrs. X, dressed up in her Sunday best, hastily making her way across the lawn, heading in the direction of home.
Mother said it was the last time Mrs. X ever showed up on Saturday morning looking for a ride to town.
Another rather funny story is the one when Daddy’s car wouldn’t start and he engaged Poppy’s help. The car, an old Plymouth, the first one Daddy owned, and it was plagued with problems. The year was about 1940, shortly after Mother and Daddy were married.
Daddy borrowed his brother’s car in an attempt to get the Plymouth running. His idea was that he’d get in his brother’s car and push the Plymouth until it started on its own. He asked Poppy to sit in the Plymouth driver’s seat. When Daddy began pushing from behind and the Plymouth started moving, Poppy was to mash the gas pedal, with the hope that the nudge from behind and giving it gas would make the old car start up.
The plan was working; the Plymouth was moving after being nudged from behind. Daddy yelled out the window for Poppy to give it some gas, which he did – more perhaps than was required. The car took off, leaving Daddy in a cloud of dust, when suddenly the canvass top blew completely off the Plymouth.
Poppy was able to get the car stopped. Daddy caught up with him and found Poppy sitting behind the wheel, a bit shaken. He uttered a few choice words and told Daddy he didn’t know what happened, but that all of a sudden it “lit up like hell in here,” he not yet realizing the top of the car was gone.
My daddy always loved to tell this story when I was a little girl! He told it many times and we always laughed so hard.
Mother said when Daddy told the story when Poppy was still alive, it always brought a big smile to Poppy's face. And he wasn't a man who smiled often.