Thursday, February 16, 2012

Part 2 of Papaw's Remembrances

The older Chapman children went to school at Newellton public schools. The oldest son, Malcolm, was sent to military school at Gulfport, Mississippi. The teenage girls, Evelyn and Helen, both very beautiful and popular, went to school and had a good time with all the young men in the area.

Helen was in the ninth grade at school when she fell in love with Doc Lynch. Doc worked for the sheriff's department and was much older than Helen. Doc asked her parents for permission to marry Helen, and when they said no, he told them he would kidnap her. Her parents agreed to the marriage even though she was only fourteen years old. She was pregnant. Helen and Doc moved into an old church building and hung sheets to separate the large room into small rooms. This was quite different from living at the big plantation house. They were in love, and they were happy.

Helen loved little Buddy and missed him. She would go to the big house and get him and take him home with her to keep her company while Doc was at work. Buddy really grew close to his sister. Since baby Virginia had been born, he had been neglected because he was no longer the baby. Helen gave him the attention that he needed. Helen lost her baby with a miscarriage. After this happened, her marriage to Doc was over. She moved back home with her parents and continued her schooling. She was a bright student and made excellent grades in high school. She earned being valedictorian of her class. The school board did not want to give the honor to her because she had been married, but since she had earned it, they finally gave it to her. She got to make the valedictory speech at her graduation.

Malcolm, meanwhile, was brought home from the military school and went to Memphis, Tennessee to look for work. He was seventeen. He met and married a woman in Memphis who was twice his age. When his parents found out about this, they were enraged. They had the marriage annulled and brought him home. He was then sent to Brownsville, Texas to oversee a grapefruit farm that Mr. Chapman had invested a lot of money into. Malcolm was too young and had no experience in farming grapefruit, so the investment was lost for taxes. He may not have had experience with grapefruit, but he had a good time with the Mexican senoritas.

Evelyn, the oldest daughter, was beautiful. She graduated from Newellton high school. At that time Louisiana schools only went through the eleventh grade. She courted all the young men and had a good time. She once said, "Don't ask the trees about me." She must have been a popular gal. She and Helen would slip out the window at night and go out with their boyfriends. They would go out and party and then slip back in the window and go to bed. One night they were not so lucky. When they came home, their mother was waiting for them. Helen sneaked in first, but when Evelyn started climbing in the window, she got caught. Her mother was waiting for her with a stick in her hand. She got a good thrashing, one she never forgot. This didn't stop them; they just got sneakier.

Evelyn met and fell in love with a nice young man from Georgia. Bob Kelly was working for Louisiana Power Company, and they were putting in electrical lines in Tensas Parish. They were soon married. Everybody loved Bob Kelly.

James and Brooks were mischievous young lads. There was one episode when they were shooting a BB gun, and they shot a little black boy in the head. Their daddy took the boy to the doctor and had the BB removed from the skin on his head. Brooks would steal chickens from the chicken yard to pay for sex from the black girls on the place. He contacted an STD and that is when his family found out what he was up to.

Mr. Chapman or "Big Jim" as his friends knew him had some failed crops and couldn't pay off his mortgage, so the Chapmans had to move away from Franklin Plantation. The family moved to Anguilla, Mississippi where Jim was the manager of another large farm. He managed this farm for a year, and then he bought the farm. This farm was called "Avie Acre" (I remember it as Abby Acre) and it was near Cruger, Mississippi. Avie Acre was a beautiful place. The big plantation house was located in a grove of pecan trees. There was an arbor with wisteria vines and grapevines. There was a fruit orchard. This large family had finally found their Shangri-La. The plantation had tenant houses and a commissary on the grounds for the farm hands.

Mr. Chapman had several families who had stayed with him through these moves from Franklin Plantation in Louisiana. One of these couples was Jackie and her husband. Jackie worked at the house helping raise all those Chapman children, and Arthur, her husband, worked on the farm. Jackie was a good cook, so she was always busy, tending babies and cooking meals. She had no children of her own; the Chapman kids were hers.

Buddy started to school in Newellton, Louisiana when he was five years old. He had gone to school in Anguilla, Mississippi and now he had to go to another school at Sidon, Mississippi. This was too much for him. He was upset about having to start school again at a new school with a new teacher and having to make new friends. He had to ride the bus to school, so he went off to school each morning kicking and screaming, because he did not want to go. One morning he walked bravely onto the bus and then suddenly threw his books and lunch box down and ran off the bus. He spent the day in the cornfield. Needless to say, he got punished for this. On one occasion his father put him in a tub of cold water as punishment.

Little sister Virginia took over the admiration of her parents; the older children took care of little Buddy.

Jim Chapman liked his liquor and women, so he began hanging around the bars. Floy Chapman would get Jackie to stay with the children, and she would go out looking for Jim. Finally Floy started going with him to the bars. Sometimes when she went with him, they would take little Virginia with them. Buddy wanted to go too, but they would not take him. He said he would run down the road after them. He would be screaming and crying for them to come back for him, and they wouldn't even look back at him. They just drove away.

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