Monday, March 24, 2014

Poppy - Part I

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.


  1. Great stories. I love the clothes people wear in historical pictures! If you're not a member of, I would suggest looking into it. There are loads of resources that help you investigate your family tree.

    1. Thanks, Shelly. I am not a member of now but was at one time. I was able to obtain quite a bit of information from them. I have documented back pretty much as far as I can go, or at least as far as I'm interested to.

  2. Wonderful stories Sanda. Like me you wish you had asked more questions, and yet you have retained some good ones. The Mrs X story is priceless, and good on Poppy for finding a way to stop her being a nuisance. We had one of those cars with a canvas roof too, way back when I was very little; fortunately it did not blow off!

    1. Thank you, Patricia. Love family stories. Fascinated by that time period. Times were hard but people were so happy. So glad the roof didn't blow off your car!!

  3. Sanda, you should ( perhaps you already do ) collect all these old stories about your family and publish a book. You are such a good story teller!

    When my MIL was alive, we often asked her about her WW2 times. She said she did nothing and shut her mouth tight.
    Now we know, that every single adult ( and older kids too ) had to something at the time, as all men were at the front.
    We know, that she did not get along very well with her own mother. In general, she got along better with men ( as friends ).
    She worshipped her husband ( who died at an early age ) and her two sons.

    She never liked me, nor did she like her other DIL, but she was thrilled by the grandchildren, especially the firstborn, a boy.

    It is true that people in the olden hid their secrets.
    What surprises me is that people in 2014 still find it difficult to share their true thoughts.

    1. Mette, I am in the process of doing exactly that! I just don't want these stories to be lost; I am very grateful that so many stories were told and I have recorded some and remembered others. I recall you telling the story of your MIL refusing to say what she did during the war and took her secrets to her grave.
      It is true that people in olden days talked less about problems -- to keep up appearances. So who knows what some of the sordid stories are in my family that have NOT been shared!!

  4. i'm enjoying your by-gone days stories. i think when we're young, we either don't think to ask or don't know what to ask to get the stories flowing. general questions never got me much in the way of a response. it's almost as if you already have to know in order to know what to ask lol.

    1. You are exactly right! You almost have to know in order to know what to ask! I cannot say to my mother, for instance, "tell me about x." I have to find more creative ways to get her going, knowing a bit already about what I want to know more about.

  5. Thanks for bringing me a good laugh even though I have heard them many times. Maybe our quick reaction to situations comes from Poppy! I agree with the comment above you are a wonderful story teller and should write a book!

    1. HAHA. I never thought about it that way! It is said Poppy was very quite and easy-going until he got made and then he was a real fireball. Thanks for your confidence in me. I will need you to encourage me and keep me focused as I begin the journey of collecting these stories.

  6. Enjoyed this installment of the family stories. I was caught on the part of moving a building down the road and turning it into a house. There is a similar tale involving my Mother's home as a child. That people seemed to move buildings around fascinates me. I know it is still done but somehow in the past it didn't seem like a big deal.


    1. Yes, one wonders exactly how it was done in the old days. There's a tale about a local house that was dismantled brick by brick for location to a more hidden location during the Civil War. Now that would require a great deal of manpower. Thank you.


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