Sunday, February 26, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
World War II was under way. Aero Technical School was built at West Helena to train pilots for the air forces. Buddy got a job there working in one of the offices. He worked there until he enlisted in the Air Forces in 1943. He made many friends with the cadets at the school. Buddy joined the Air Forces and was immediately sent to Sheppard Field Air Force Base in Texas. He did his basic training there. He went from there to Colorado Springs, Colorado. He remembered the barracks where he stayed as being very primitive and open. The snow would sift through the walls. The heat was a big furnace in the middle of the room. His bed was at the back of the room, and a window was broken, so it was very cold. They would get out of bed early every morning and take exercises in the snow before breakfast. They would take long hikes and camp out in the cold weather. He developed pneumonia and had to be hospitalized there. After his training was over and because he had experience as a clerk, he was given an office job. He went to school in Kearney, Nebraska.
He had many pleasant memories of Kearney. He had a girlfriend there. She was a only 15 and worked at the USO there.
Back home in West Helena the housing for the cadets was scarce at this time. Many families opened their homes for rooms to rent to these young men. Mrs. Chapman cooked meals for some of the men who roomed in the neighborhood. She was a good cook, and she made a little money to help support herself and Virginia. When Buddy joined the Air Forces and left home, she rented his room to the cadets. One of the cadets that stayed at the Chapman's was named Mike. Mrs. Chapman was like a mother to him. He had been in love with a girl and had bought her a diamond ring. When the couple broke up he was left with the ring. He gave the ring to Mrs. Chapman for payment of room and board. She pretended she had a lover and all her kids were upset, because they thought she had gotten the ring from an old second hand furniture dealer that she had sold some of her furniture to. This old man had taken to liking her, maybe because he could take advantage of her being deaf. She was vulnerable because she had to sell her good furniture so she could live. She got an allotment from the government since Buddy was in service. He also sent her part of his money.
Burt Bickerstaff was one of the cadets that lived in the neighborhood and ate at the Chapman house. He and Buddy became fast friends. They had many fun stories to tell about the things they did. Burt had a car, so he put a hot seat in the car so the girls would have to sit close to him. [this was an electric shock]. He and Buddy double-dated and had lots of fun. The Chapman house was another home away from home for Burt.
Mrs. Chapman was doing well now since she was getting an allotment from the government. She made a victory garden to raise vegetables to feed the cadets and her family. Every household had a victory garden. Everyone was helping to win the war. There were now three Chapman brothers in the war. James was in the Army; Tommy was in the Navy; and Buddy was in the Air Forces.
Buddy was sent to Guam in the South Pacific. He was a Staff Sergeant and worked in the office. He worked in a division that monitored the preparations for the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima.
Their quarters were in tents. They slept in tents. The barracks had cots lined up side by side, and there was no privacy. They were near the jungle and near a Japanese prisoner camp. There were big rodents that invaded the barracks constantly. One night a big rat ran across one of the sleeping airmen, and he awoke screaming. Everyone thought the Japanese had attacked him.
It was dangerous to go outside the boundaries of the camp. The Japanese were lurking in the bushes everywhere. One night when one of the guys went out to the latrine, a Japanese sneaked up behind him and slit his throat. They had to be very cautious when they went outside the camp.
Some of the guys saved raisins until they had enough to make "raisin jack." One night one of them went out and drank some of the stuff and came stumbling back into the barracks and fell across the cot Buddy was asleep on. He thought he was being attacked and drew his knife before he realized it was his buddy. Luckily he was too scared to use the knife.
There was a prisoner of war camp near Buddy's camp. He said the Japanese prisoners would sit in a squatting position all day and stare at them. After the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered and the war was over. This was a happy time for everyone all over the world, but especially for all the servicemen who could go home. Buddy's office immediately started writing orders for release for the airmen to go home. He said he wrote his own release. They were shipped out of Guam and were on their way home. Buddy got sick on the plane before it landed in Hawaii, and he was put in the hospital there. He was kept in the hospital until he was able to travel on to the United States. He was released from the Air Forces in October 1945.
The end of the war was a joyous time for everyone, but especially for Floy Chapman. All her sons came home safely. They were alive and healthy. Or were they? War does terrible things to people. There are visible wounds, and then there are mental wounds. James was a foot soldier in the army, and he fought hand to hand battle with the enemy. He came home with terrible memories of the war. For several years he tried to kill the memories with alcohol. He and his wife, Floy, struggled to keep their marriage together. They had two children, Bobbie and Charlotte. James lost his lumber company and failed at running a service station. He finally pulled himself together and got a job as a milk distributor for Coleman Dairies. Floy worked hard to keep the family together. She worked for a doctor in Russellville, and when he died she got a job in the shoe factory. She worked there many years. Tommy came home to his wife Violet and his little son Tommy, Jr. He opened a service station and did well.
Buddy was so happy to be home. He got a job with Interstate Grocery Company. He worked in the office. He was a good office worker, and he worked hard to support his mother and sister Virginia. He had a great love for music, and the first thing he bought for himself after he came home was a big console radio and record player combination. He also bought his mother a new chrome breakfast set. He was back with his friends and was enjoying life again. Then he met me!!
(And that is how Memaw ended Papaw’s Remembrances.)
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Mrs. Chapman said all the relatives would come to visit, and they would stay if she fed them. She said she quit cooking for them, and they quit coming. After Buddy's father died, his mother moved the family back to Helena so that Buddy could go to school there. She had a little money left from the insurance so she bought a new Buick automobile. Now Buddy could take her where she needed to go. She could not drive. Now he had wheels and could party. Everything was OK until she found out just how much partying he was really doing. She sold the car. He didn't think it was fair, since he made good grades in school and had a little job that paid for the gas. He didn't know how badly his mother needed the money. The insurance money was gone, and she didn't have any other income. She was deaf and couldn't get a job away from the house. She took the money from the sale of the car and bought a little three-roomed house in West Helena. Times were really bad for them, so James built another room on the house. Buddy now had a room of his own, and Virginia shared a room with her mother. The little house was small, but it was nice, and they had a permanent home.
The summer before Buddy's father died, Buddy went to visit Helen in California. He had saved enough money for a train trip to Los Angeles. Helen lived in Los Angeles and was working at Pine Thomas Movie Studios. She had an apartment with a girlfriend. He stayed with Helen all summer and he had planned to stay there permanently, but his father got really sick and he came home to help his mother. Neither he nor Helen had enough money to buy a ticket for him to come home, so they went to social services and got money for a ticket back to Helena. While he was in Los Angeles, he had lots of fun, and he got to see a lot of movie stars. He got lots of autographed pictures from this visit. It was a fun time for him.
After his father died and his mother had finally bought her little house in West Helena, Buddy didn't want to finish his high school days in West Helena. He lived part time with Lucille and her new husband, Elbert Weaver, in Helena so that he could finish school at Helena High School. He had many friends there. He was popular and liked to dance. He and his friends would go to the American Legion hut every Saturday night and dance. Jitterbug was the dance at the time. He graduated from high school in 1942.
(Keep tuned for WWII experiences. Happy Anniversary, Memaw. You and Papaw married 65 years ago today-February 21, 1947, in West Helena/Helena, Arkansas.)
Monday, February 20, 2012
Florence and Lucille were in high school then, and they were pretty and popular. It was their time to be young and wild. Florence and Henry Pike fell in love, and when they found out that she was pregnant, they got married. Soon after that Lucille and Hoss Simon found out that she was pregnant. They got married but only stayed married until their little girl was born. Lucille went to live with Evelyn and Bob in Shreveport. She went to beauty school and became a beautician. Her pretty little girl, Evelyn Ann, was raised and loved by all the family.
Buddy started to school in Cruger when he was fourteen years old. He joined the football team. He was a good football player and was proud to be part of the team. He loved going to school there and had many friends. He was very upset when the family decided to move from Mississippi to Helena, Arkansas. They packed their things and moved in the middle of the night. This was planned so they could move some of the animals and farm equipment that were on the mortgage papers. This was illegal, but so what, it wasn't the first time they had done something illegal. The bootlegging and gambling in the shed at Avie Acre were also outside the law. This move was very upsetting to Buddy. He had a girlfriend named Mildred that he was very fond of. He didn't want to move away from her. He missed her very much and wrote her letters, but then they grew apart and went their separate ways.
The family moved to an old house on Perry Street in Helena until they could find a house in the country. Buddy started to school at Helena High School. When his family found a nice house in the country in West Helena, they moved there. Now they had a place for their cows and chickens. Buddy had to change schools again, but he had learned to drive the car and was allowed to drive to school. He didn't like to go to this school. He had to make new friends again.
Mr. Chapman had become sick, Lucille had moved back home with little Evelyn Ann, and Tommy had moved to Russellville and was working with James in the lumber business. It was a hard time for Buddy and his mother. His father had a liver disease from drinking heavily of alcohol all these years. He was still a young man, but he had abused his body. When Buddy was seventeen, his father was very ill one night. His father was bleeding and the water pipes were frozen, and they couldn't get water. Buddy had to go to the stockyard and break the ice on the watering trough so he could get water to stop the bleeding. Other times he would have to run to the neighbors to call the doctor, because they didn't have a telephone. His father died on Christmas Eve in 1940. He was buried on Christmas Day at Helena Cemetery.
Mr. Chapman had some insurance, but when he got sick they had to borrow money against it. When he died it left the family very little money to live on. The house they lived in was rented. It was a nice house with a nice yard. They had a garden to raise vegetables, and they had chickens and cows. They were able to raise most of their food.
Buddy said there was a blood spot on the floor of one of the rooms when they moved there. The neighbor, Mrs. Mullen, told them that there had been a murder in the house, so it was haunted. The bloodstain couldn't be washed up. She said chains would rattle at night. This story scared the Chapman kids because they believed this story. When Brooks Jr. came to visit, the kids would put him in the basement and lock the door. Then they would tell him that the ghost was going to get him. He was so mischievous that they were trying to get even with him.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Buddy loved pecans. They had a big orchard on the front lawn. Every year when the pecans fell from the trees, he would pick up sacks of them and sell them on the roadside. One day when he and Lucille were picking up pecans, he stepped on the cover of the septic tank that was buried in the orchard. The boards were rotting, and they broke. He fell into the muck in the septic tank. Lucille ran for help, and he was pulled to safety. What a horrible thing to happen to a child!
Buddy bought his first watch with the money he received from selling produce on the side of the road. Later he also saved money for a trip to California to see Helen after she went there. He finally got settled in school and loved it. He had many fond memories of some of his early teachers and some of the things he did at Sidon school. He had a little girlfriend in the second grade that he took gum to every day.
The Chapmans were not churchgoers, but Buddy loved the chapel meetings that were held at school. The principal would read verses from the Bible, and he would explain it to the children. He told the principal that he wanted to join the church. It was decided that he would do that the following Sunday at the Baptist Church in Sidon. He told his parents, but they didn't or wouldn't take him to the church that day. He joined the Methodist Church many years later when he was forty-five years old.
The school in Sidon was a new school, and it was heated with steam radiators. One day when it was very cold, Buddy bumped against the radiator and a shot of steam came out and burned him on the leg. The heat was so intense that it went through his corduroy knickers and burned his leg badly. He rode the bus to school, so he had to stay at school until it was out for the day so he could go home. The thick corduroy pants made the burn worse because it held the steam in his pants. He had a bad sore leg for a while.
Buddy’s mother loved to play the piano, and this love was passed on to Buddy. He begged his parents for piano lessons, but he never convinced his parents to pay for them. In the fall when he was big enough to pick cotton, he earned enough money to pay for two lessons. He learned to pick out the notes by sound. He loved playing. His mother was going deaf, and she didn't play the piano anymore, so they sold the piano because they needed the money.
Due to the floods and then the drought of the early 1930s, the Chapmans had two bad crops in a row. The farm was mortgaged, and when there was no money to pay off the mortgage, they lost Avie Acre. The family moved into a house near Cruger, and the children went to Cruger schools.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Buddy's brothers James and Brooks were paired up together. James was the oldest. In the summer when he was sixteen, he fell in love. Floy Safley was a pretty young girl from Russellville, Arkansas who came to Cruger, Mississippi to visit some of her family for the summer. She met James, and they immediately fell for each other. One night James, Floy, and Brooks got into James's father's old Model A Ford car and drove off to the next town where James and Floy got married. She was eighteen, and he was sixteen. Brooks said they had six flat tires on the trip. When they got back to Cruger, they took Floy back to her house, and James went home to his. Mrs. Chapman said she saw James crying the next day, and then he told her that he and Floy had gotten married. She helped them fix up one of the tenant houses so they could live there. Now both Malcolm and James were married and living at Avie Acre.
Evelyn and Bob moved to Shreveport, Louisiana where Bob had a job with Louisiana Power and Electric Company. Evelyn worked for a dentist. They would come home to Avie Acre every chance they could get. Bob was a mild mannered person with many talents. They used him to fix up things around the place. There wasn't much he could not do. He was also a good storyteller, especially about himself. Some of his stories were pretty unbelievable. The guys liked to tease him, and when they did Evelyn would hit the ceiling. Bob was a really good person, and he loved all the Chapmans.
The depression came, and the heavy rains in 1929 caused the Yazoo River to overflow. There were no levees to hold back the water, so the Chapman farm was covered with water. The water was so high it came into the houses. They had to put the furniture up on blocks to keep it dry, and they finally had to move out of the big house. They moved into one of the little tenant houses that was on higher ground. They lived in part of the house, and the pigs and chickens were in the other part. They drove the cattle and other livestock into the hill country. They lived like that until the water went down in the main house so they could move back in. They rode around the farm in a boat. The children rode a boat out to the road to catch the school bus so they could go to school. Bob Kelly built a big boat so they could transport food for the animals in the hill country. The water was so deep in the yard that the children could stand on the porch and catch fish.
Lucille and Florence were just kids, and they decided to take a boat ride. The boat overturned, and Lucille nearly drowned. After all the excitement was over, their mother gave them a whipping with a switch. Buddy laughed because they had gotten into trouble, so his mother whipped him for laughing.
Spring came and the water receded. James and Floy had their first little baby. It was a boy, and they named him Bobby. The work on the farm was too much for Floy, and she wanted to go home to Russellville to be with her family. She left James in Mississippi and went back to her family. Later James missed her so much he went to Russellville to be with her. He found work there in the coalmines, but he didn't like it there so he persuaded Floy to go back to Mississippi with him. They worked hard in the fields and making a garden, and then Floy had had enough. She took their little Bobby and went back to Arkansas. James followed her, and they made their home in Russellville, Arkansas.
Brooks, the maverick of the family was still at home. After having his way with all the girls in the community, even the black girls on the farm where he bought favors with stolen chickens, he was still single. When he met Lucille Layman, she won his heart. When they married they also moved into one of the little tenant houses on the place. All the family loved Lucille. She and Brooks had a little son, and they named him Joe Brooks, Jr. after this father.
Now there was a whole community of Chapman families living on the farm. They were a wild bunch; they liked to drink and gamble. They made their own rotgut liquor.They got the sugar and corn from the commissary, and they built a still in one of the vacant tenant houses. There they made "white lightening" moonshine whiskey. The little kids knew something was going on inside the house, but were not allowed to go near there. Buddy would sneak up to the house and peek through the cracks. He knew about the still. The guys would drink the moonshine liquor and shoot dice. This was during the Prohibition and both liquor and gambling were against the law. There was discord in the family among the young men. On one occasion Brooks threatened to split James’s head open with a double-edged chopping ax. There could have been several reasons for this, but it may have been from too much drink or jealousy over who got more from their parents. James moved his family to Russellville, and Brooks and Lucille got a divorce and she went home to her parents.
Big Jim Chapman began hanging around the bars more and more. He started "fooling around" with the owner "Miss Nellie Gray." The kids knew about this, and they would snicker about it to his back. Buddy would sing "Oh my darling Nelly Gray" and then he said he would run like "Hell" to get out of the way. His daddy was a big man, so he was sure to stay out of his way.
Friday, February 17, 2012
There was a commissary on the place where the farm hands got their supplies. These supplies were mostly meat, meal, and molasses. The farm hands were supposed to raise their own gardens and other food. Some farm hands did raise nice gardens and had plenty of good food. The lazy ones weren't so lucky. The Chapmans had their own milk cows, so everyone had plenty of milk and butter.
Buddy learned to milk the cows when he was small. It later became his job. He would have to get up early each morning and milk the cows before he went to school. He said that in winter when it was so cold, the cow's teats would chap and crack open. When they tried to milk her, she would kick the milk bucket over and spill the milk. Sometimes she would kick them also. His sister Lucille helped him milk the cows. The cats in the barn would hang around when they were milking. They would squirt some milk in their mouths. The cats loved it. They didn't waste any of the milk. If dirt got into the milk, they took it to the house and the dirt was strained out and the milk was used.
In the summer Papaw herded the cattle to the pasture on the hillside. He had to stay with them all day. His father would bring him lunch. He got to ride the horse and kept the cows from running away. One day one of the cows wandered into the woods, and he couldn't find her. He was afraid to go home and tell his father that he had lost the cow. He found the cow a few days later; she had a new calf.
Summers were fun and sometimes hectic at Avie Acre. Uncle Jim, as the relatives called Mr. Chapman, was prospering. He was an easy mark for all the Tennessee relatives. They would come to visit by the carloads. Uncle Jim would put them to work on the farm, and they would stay all summer. Times were tough for the relatives, so Uncle Jim was glad to help out. This got to be common knowledge, so there was a constant stream of relatives in and out of the house at all times. One Sunday while the preparation for a big Sunday dinner was underway, Buddy decided to liven up the group a bit. There was a big cat curled up on the kitchen floor and a little dog in the yard. He picked up the little dog and tossed it into the kitchen. The cat went berserk, and a big fat cousin jumped up onto the kitchen table. She was screaming her head off. Buddy got a good punishing, but he said it was worth it.
Helen had a boyfriend that her mother did not like. She forbade her to see him. Helen would sneak out of the house to see him. One night when she had been out, her mother waited up for her. When her boyfriend let her out of the car and started to drive away, her mother shot the back window out of the car. Her boyfriend wouldn't date her anymore. He was afraid of her mother. He was afraid she would get him the next time.
Malcolm (Mike) married Marie Chandler. She was the daughter of one of the sharecroppers. Mrs. Chapman fixed up one of the tenant houses for them to live in. They soon had a little baby son that was retarded. They named him James. All of the family loved him.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
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.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
(Memaw wrote the following memories of Papaw's life.)
Papaw was born June 23, 1923 at Newellton, Louisiana to James Alexander Chapman and Floy Thomas Davidson Chapman. He was a fine baby boy. He was number nine in a family of ten living children. Floy, his mother, had lost two babies before him from miscarriages. He was the youngest of five boys. There were four girls older than he was. His parents named their new baby boy William Franklin, and they called him Buddy.
The name Franklin came from the plantation where they lived when he was born. Buddy's father was the plantation manager of Franklin Plantation in Tensas Parish in north Louisiana near Newellton. This was a large plantation in the cotton delta country. Robert Clark of Natchez, Mississippi owned it. There were many employees on Franklin Plantation. Most of them were housed on the place. There were separate quarters for Mexican, Negro and White farm hands. Each group had their own quarters. Each family was provided with a little shotgun house and a plot of land to grow a garden. They all worked together in the fields but were segregated for living and sleeping. There were fights and disagreements among the groups. Mule teams and plows cultivated the farm. They worked from sun-up until sundown with an hour off at noon for lunch. The big plantation bell located at the main house rang to tell them when to go to work and when to rest. The animals were taken care of after the long day in the fields. They were unharnessed, rubbed down, and watered and fed. The field workers were then free until sun-up the next day.
Cotton and corn were the main crops on the plantation. Cotton was a big commodity at that time. It was picked by hand and then baled at the cotton gin. Then it was shipped down the river by boat to be sold. Steamboats took the cotton down the river to New Orleans. The corn was grown for feed for the livestock and was ground into cornmeal for bread for the table. Cotton was chopped (weeded) by hand. It was not unusual to see hundreds of men, women, and children with hoes chopping the grass and weeds from the many rows of cotton and corn. The mule teams pulled cultivators to keep it plowed.
Things at the plantation house were great. The cooks in the kitchen were always busy cooking the big meals for the large family and anyone else who happened to be there at mealtime. There were starched white tablecloths on the table, and the table was always laden down with good food.
Baby Buddy thrived on all the love and attention he received from his older brothers and sisters. He was twenty-one months old when he developed pneumonia. Their doctor, Dr. Noble, sent him to the hospital in Natchez, Mississippi to be treated. The doctors there operated and removed a portion of a rib on the right side of his back and placed a tube to drain the infection. It made him well. All of this was a traumatic experience for a little tot like Buddy. He threw tantrums and threw his food, and he cried for fat meat. He liked turnip greens and fat meat.
Back home from the hospital life was beautiful for a tow-headed little boy who had sisters that played with him and older brothers that catered to his every whim. One day he was playing with his sister Lucille, and they were watching some baby kittens through a crack in the floor of the front porch when someone yelled that the house was on fire. The plantation house burned to the ground. Buddy's mother rang the plantation bell, and the farm hands came to help, but everything was lost. The piano was the only thing saved from the fire. The family moved into a small house on the place until another house could be built.
Now someone new had come on the scene, and Buddy was no longer the baby. His baby sister Virginia was born when he was five years old. Mr. Clark, the owner of the plantation had mortgaged the plantation to the Bank of Newellton. He couldn't pay the debt, so he lost the plantation to the bank. Mr. Chapman leased the plantation from the bank. He was successful for several years, and then he too had to turn the place back to the bank. The Chapman family had to move away from Franklin Plantation.
While under Mr. Chapman's management of Franklin Plantation, there was a lot of unrest. There were always fights among the field hands and their families. On one occasion two Mexican men got into a fight over one of the ladies. One of the men stabbed the other one to death in the harness room of the barn. There was blood everywhere. The Chapman children were afraid to go near the barn after that.
All was not well with the manager and one of the black employees. One morning when the black man didn't come to work, and Mr. Chapman had heard that he was bad mouthing him, Mr. Chapman went down to his cabin to see what the problem was. The black man met him at the door with a gun in his hand. There was gunfire, and the black man was killed. It was claimed self-defense, and Mr. Chapman wasn't charged with the crime.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
My oldest sister V got married. My next oldest sister I went off to college. My brother R went to the CCC camp and later to war. My brother W and I got to be pretty good buddies. We had some good times together. Then he had to go to war. It was hard to say goodbye that cold winter morning. I cried all the way to school that day. Now I was the oldest kid left at home.
Everybody tried to do his or her bit for the war. We had a drive going on to collect all the scrap iron that we could find. The school turned out for the day, and we gathered scrap iron. Daddy hauled the iron in the old wagon. He worked all day helping to gather the iron. We piled it in a huge pile by the railroad track so the train could pick it up. We had a great time that day.
Then my sister I finished college and went to Biggers to teach school. She met R and fell in love. That summer she wanted me (or I wanted) to go visit her. Now to get to Biggers without an automobile was really a trip. And WWII was in full swing. I packed my bag. Probably a paper bag and took my big purse stuffed full of letters so it looked like I had something in it. I had my ticket and maybe a couple of dollars, and I caught the little dinky train that came through town on its way to Searcy. From Searcy I’d catch a Trailways bus to Biggers. I arrived in Searcy okay, but when the bus came through, the driver said he couldn’t take more passengers. He had people standing in the aisles. What was I to do? I couldn’t call my sister I. She didn’t have a phone. And I couldn’t get another bus until the next morning. The lady at the bus station took me to a rooming house to spend the night. I paid $.50 (yes 50 cents!) to stay there. I was scared to death all night. I heard noises all night. The next morning I got up, got dressed but didn’t have a comb or brush in my big purse to comb my hair. I did the best I could do with my fingers. I walked around the corner to the bus stop. Got my bus and was on my way to Biggers. I sure was glad to see my sister I when I got there.
This is the end of Memaw's Memories on my PC. I will look through papers for further memories. Tomorrow I will include Memaw's record of her family tree information. And we will get back to the recipes next week. Have a good weekend.