Saturday, March 29, 2014

Poppy - Part II

Because our grandfather was deceased by the time we younger grandchildren were born, he remains an elusive figure, someone who danced on the fringes as a secondary star but never had the starring role. I’m certain that was not the case, however, with his children or the older grandchildren -- who were in the same age group as his own children.
This may be the only picture that exists of Poppy as a young man. He's standing on the front of the wagon. The original photo exists with an uncle's family. This reproduction of the photo appeared in the local newspaper during the 1970s. Popppy appears to be a rather handsome young man!

For us, our grandmother was the rock of the family, around who all gathered for comfort during difficulties, for companionship in times of need, for camaraderie at times of celebration. She exercised a strong pull on the affections of not only family, but neighbors as well. If anyone didn't have a place to spend holidays or long Sunday afternoons , they showed up at Miz Bammie's.
Because she wore the robe of widowhood with such strength, resolve and determination, I’ve often wondered if she was that way by nature or if it was a trait developed out of necessity.  I firmly believe it was part of her DNA. Additionally, her mother would have been a strong role model – herself having been widowed and left with five children at the age of 33.

She was the glue that held the family together. Things were never the same after her death.

Maybe it was because of her strong presence in our lives that we never felt the absence of a grandfather. 

I don't recall a single photograph of Poppy on display in Mommie's house, not significant I'm sure because it’s doubtful he ever sat for a studio portrait (and people didn’t tend to display homemade pictures in frames then as they do today). Mommie never owned a camera and any photos from his past, if they existed at all, were likely stored in a box inside the dresser. Photographs of Poppy exist today because of ones made by his grown children.

For our knowledge of him, we have relied on the little verbal vignettes provided by the story tellers in our family. Too bad I didn’t have the foresight to question my older aunts about him before they were gone. But such it is with many things in life; we sometimes don’t know what we need or want until it is no longer available to us.

Poppy at one time owned and operated a general store that was located just “across the road” from the house where he and the family lived. The house was built shortly after he and my grandmother were married, in 1900.

I do not know the year he started the business, nor do I know the year of its demise. It definitely was operating in the late-1920s and 1930s, as my mother has knowledge of it. Items such as soap, nails, snuff, lard, thread, flour – basic necessities for country people – were sold there.

The scale Poppy used in his store, still pretty close to accurate after almost 100 years!
Although it is written on the face the scale is not legal for trade, I suppose in those days the scale was near enough accurate to be acceptable!

My mother well remembers, however, why the business failed:  People didn’t pay what they owed. During the Great Depression most people suffered, including rural people of the South. While they may have been fortunate to own farms and raise crops, certain items still were needed from shops.

Poppy was a kind and gentle man and it is said he couldn’t refuse his neighbors what they needed. I’ve heard an aunt say people would come to the store, tell what they needed and Poppy would at first refuse them if they couldn’t pay. But after they stated their sad case Poppy would tell them to go ahead and take what they needed. After this situation continued for some time, naturally he was forced to close the doors.

Mr. Schmidlkofer's page in Poppy's debit ledger.
Playing a large part in the store’s failure was the closure of a saw mill less than a mile away. It was owned and operated by a Mr. Schmidlkofer. It employed several men in the area who were left without jobs and could not pay their bills after the closure. Schmidlkofer skipped off, himself considerably in debt to Poppy. (To those interested, the saw mill was located across the road from the Sam Springer place, far back in the woods on the right side of the road. Another interesting fact: Schmidlkofer later operated the Yellow Taxi Service in Florence).

After his shop keeping days ended, Poppy returned to farming until ill health prevented him from any longer doing so. By this time, his two sons assumed the duty of raising the crops planted each year – primarily corn and cotton.

Poppy died April 12, 1941. He was buried on Easter, a day Mother says has always been a sad one for her.


Thanks to readers who may not generally be interested in my family history. But I've always approached my blog as somewhat of a daily diary - about what I'm thinking about on any particular day.

I don't write about what I think is a popular subject, what's "in" at the moment or to gain the admiration of certain audiences. Neither do I write to gain followers or garner glowing comments from readers (although I do indeed enjoy those who comment here!)

Blog posts you read here are subjects dear to my heart and if you enjoy reading them I am most grateful.


  1. Very interesting post. I'm so glad you have all this information buried in your head and have recorded it as well. Our family has a very interesting story so I think it would be a good read for anyone who isn't a family member.

    1. Buried, and trying to retrieve it all! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't want to bore anyone with these stories, but they are so interesting to me I can't keep myself from telling them.

  2. "But I've always approached my blog as somewhat of a daily diary" exactly! but i am enjoying your family stories :)

    1. I am glad you enjoyed these stories. Some of the life situations and struggles, as well as the good times, are universal and people can identify with stories even if they aren't their own family stories.

  3. I, too, write my blog for my own pleasure first. I can't imagine how tedious it would be to write on a single subject or for income. I'm interested in this post for several reasons: you're taking about a period in history that is dear to my heart and about Southern traditions, those of my mother and grandmother.

    In my experience, genealogical research always has a bittersweet aspect. One revels in the information, imagining the lives of our ancestors, excited about detecting new facts. Then there is always the frustration of what cannot be uncovered, the regret for lost opportunities, the sadness of some of the horrible realities of those lives lived in difficult times.

    As to widowhood, I think there was a dignity that it conferred to women; also - particularly here in Europe - there was a lot of it about (following WWI) and so there were role models. I'm also aware that not all women really enjoyed being married, even though they may have loved their spouse. They were very much under the authority of their husbands and widowhood gave them their own authority. I would imagine being the matriarch of a family would be quite satisfying. My mother was the glue in our extended family and my Aunt Rita took that up when Mom died. I probably know more members of my extended family than anyone else because of my interest in family history. However there are only a very few of us who are particularly close and then only because we have lost everyone else.

    1. A most insightful comment, Shelley. I'm sure independent women are more prone to adjust to widowhood than are less secure women. My grandmother if anything was fiercely independent. All the women in her family were/are.

  4. Sanda, I enjoy your writing and your family stories. You may be writing your blog as a daily diary but it feels to me like I'm having a good chat with a neighbor over the back yard fence. We might both talk about one thing one day and something else another. Like a patchwork quilt. Keep up the stories.


    1. Thanks, Darla. A patchwork quilt is an apt description. I appreciate your encouragement.

  5. I appreciate your message for us readers. I feel very much the same.
    Writing is therapeutic and if it is ok for others, I´m more than pleased.

    I liked your two articles about Poppy. You described him and the period very well. More of these please, thank you!

    1. Thanks, Mette. I know we've both visited blogs where they seem inauthentic -- as if they are trying to give readers what they're looking for: the latest fashions, etc. That is perfectly fine if it's what readers are looking for, but it doesn't work for me. I may tell a few more stories now and then!!


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