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White Washed Stones part 1
By James D.F. Samdavid1
Friday, September 27, 2002
White Washed Stones
This is a true story of a three-year old boy, and the things that happened in the early days of his life and up through his marriage and heartaches of the loss of his family members and loved ones.
James’s earliest thoughts go back to when he was three years old. His parents, and his three sisters and two brothers lived in a small house that belonged to the city. His father worked for the city and tended the city dump sites on one side of State Highway 45, that ran pass in front of their house, and the other side where the incinerator was located that was used to burn things that could not be left out in an open dumping area. It was not uncommon to see a horse or some other large animal being hoisted up by the long chain that hung inside the huge brick building that was called the incinerator. The animal would be lowered down inside the large open pit that was usually hot with flames from a fire that had been lit earlier. The brick building that housed the incinerator had a tall smokestack that was constructed out of brick that extended forty-five feet up into the sky.
There was a large man made lake that was located off to the north side of James’s house about two hundred yards away. It measured approximately one eighth of a mile in length and three hundred feet wide. The family and their friends would swim and fish in the lake and his most favorite and first recollection of the lake was during the month of January 1939. The lake was solidly frozen over and his father had driven a dump truck across in testing the strength of the ice. It would hold their weight, without any doubts.
James was too small to get out onto the ice by himself to skate. He so wanted to join into the fun that was being had by all. The laughter and the games were going on and he was on the sidelines. Being the youngest of the six children that lived near the lake, he would often get special attention. He had asked his sister, Nell, who was twenty-one at the time if she would take him out onto the ice. She told James to be patient and she would assist him.
She left the ice-laden lake and returned shortly carrying a wooden highchair, slung over her shoulder. She had a plan that was for sure. Somehow she, and another sister Mary and his two brothers, Sam and Floyd attached the highchair onto the top of a wooden sleigh and he was suddenly on the ice. They all took turns pushing and pulling James over the frozen lake. He can remember his sister's smile and her laughter as she witnessed the expressions on his face and listened to his screams at times when they would go very fast.
James remembers that day as well as earlier times, when his two sisters, Nell and Mary, would take turns heating up an old steel iron on top of the wood burning stove at night during the cold winter months. First heating, and then wrapping it in a towel and placing it under the bedcovers at his feet and that of his other sister, Jeanette. It would keep them warm long enough for them to doze off into dreamland.
The next summer, his brothers, Sam and Floyd had purchased a metal pedal car for him and they took turns pushing James down the long concrete driveway of the incinerator. The road or path that ran in front of their house in a circle was paved with gravel. The inner circle was covered with small green bushes and flowers and there were eight to ten tall trees located there as well. An abundance of poppies had been planted all around, inside and outside of the circle. James remembers it being a very colorful and pretty place to live. The grass covered hill that was located on the west side of the incinerator was covered with neatly cropped green grass and his father had taken some large stones, and white washed them spelling out the name, Jackson. Then he made a border around the name using more large white washed stones, creating a border to look like the outline of the State of Tennessee. Jackson was the name of the city that James and his family lived in and whom his father worked for.
Later on in the fall of his fourth year, his father woke everyone up late one night and told them that the house that Jeanette and James were born in was in danger of burning down. He was actually telling James’s mother, but being a nosey kid, he had overheard them talking. It seems that his father owned the house and they were going there to try and save it from catching on fire from the house next door. James wasn’t much help to his parents that night, except he does recall helping them push the old Buick out of the mud a few times while leaving the house after being able to save it. How they got enough water to save the house he can’t remember. James does recall that the house was located outside of the city limits and there were no fire hydrants anywhere in the area.
Nell dropped by a few years later for a visit. The only thing that James can recall about the visit was that she was trying to learn how to drive a Model-A Ford and she kept letting out the clutch too quickly and jerking the car, then killing the engine. That was his first experience with the word belly laugh. James laughed so hard that his belly hurt. Nell was laughing so hard that she was crying. It stuck in his mind and he can still recall it as if it happened yesterday.
He was barely six years old when he saw his father customizing his 1928 Buick four-door sedan, making it into a pick-up truck. It had been involved in an accident and he had gotten the idea to change the looks after the damage was done.
One Sunday morning, James recalls it being a very bright, clear and warm day, his mother was standing on the front porch and she was watching for his father to drive up the road. It was not like his father to stay out all night and not to get in touch with her. They did not have a telephone so the only way for him to get in touch with her would have been by a personal visit.
James’s mother was a good Christian lady and attended church each and every Sunday morning. This was going to be the first time in his young lifetime that he could recall her not being in attendance.
Suddenly, James overheard her talking to Jeanette.
"Hey, doesn't that look like John…driving your dad's Buick, coming up the road?"
She half asked and half told his sister, who was eight years old at the time. Sure enough, it was his father's car, but he was not inside as it pulled up in front of the house. The 1928 Buick had extensive damage to the rear and to the top, it appeared that it had turned over and rolled a few times, but it had been driven home under its own power.
When John, the lone driver, a cousin to James, pulled up in front of the house and saw his mother standing there, he started to stammer and stutter as he was trying to explain what had happened to the Buick and to James’s father.
"Jesse…Jesse…and ahhhhhh, ahhhhhh, me, we ahhh, had a dam, dam, dammmm…wrec…wreck last..lassst..night, wit..wit..his ca, ca, car!"
"Where is Jess, has he been hurt? Where is he?" James’s mother asked.
Before John could get the words out to explain more in detail, Jeanette saw her father as he walked around the bend of the road along side of the lake, slowly approaching their house.
"There he is, there is Dad." Pointing her finger in his direction.
His father was a sight to behold. He was dressed in his black suit with a large black hat. It wasn't a ten-gallon hat, but it appeared to be more of a five-gallon hat that had been sat upon. He had chicken feathers all over his suit and hat. He looked quite comical, but no one was laughing. James knew better than to do so, although it was difficult keeping a straight face and not to bust out into a belly laugh. James did giggle just a little, but only a little one.
James’s father and John had been out to a few local gin mills the night before. While on their way home, John was driving and his father had passed out and was sleeping in the back seat. Somehow John either fell asleep or lost control of the car, dropping off into a small ditch flipping the Buick over twice before landing back on its wheels. He could not get the car restarted so the two of them decided to sleep in a hen house that was located a short distance from the now stalled and sad looking automobile.
James’s father had asked John to drive the car up to the house and let his wife, Mrs. Fullington see it prior to his arrival. It must be said that James thinks that was the first and only time that he ever saw his father fear his mother. She was not known to be anything other than a quite and loving person. She was never heard to have raised her voice or to say a bad thing about another person during her seventy-one years that she spent on this earth prior to going home to be with her God in heaven.
The next morning James was awakened by a strange banging sound coming from just outside his bedroom window. He set up in bed and looked out the open window. His father was slamming away with a sledgehammer, striking the sides of the Buick, tearing off the sides, the floor and the top. Then he removed the rear seat and finally stripped the four-door sedan down to a flatbed pick-up. They called it the first Buick pick-up truck. He had to do some sheet metal work, and applied some tar and some paint here and there, but afterwards it looked pretty sharp for a car that had rolled over a few times, just the night before.
James was six years old at the time, when they traveled out into the country to visit his Uncle Claude and Aunt Elaine after his father made the pick-up truck. Jeanette, and James would have to hang on for dear life as all they had back there was a flat wooden floor, (bed) with no side rails or tailgate, with the gas tank neck sticking up for all to see as they drove down the road.
Floyd came home on leave in 1942 from the Navy during the early days of World War Two and had gotten married prior to returning home. His wife, Kathleen was a very pretty lady and James was very shy during those years. The first visit with her was very embarrassing to say the least. When Floyd opened the front door to their house and entered with his new bride, James crawled under the bed and tried to hide. Why he did such a stupid thing, he will never know. He has been teased about that many times over the years.
One day Jeanette and James were across the highway at one of the dumpsites, when they heard shouting off in the distance. Then they saw them running across the piles of trash and up onto the dirt road directly in front of them. A man, James does not recall his name, had struck Mr. Fullington on the forehead with a hatchet and blood was gushing from the wound in his head as he was chasing after the man. He was carrying a pitchfork in his hand and had it in a raised up position as if he was going to throw it towards the man that had struck him. The children never asked their father why they were fighting and thank the Lord their father did not catch the man.
James’s father was known to have been a strong-minded person and did not take any guff from any man. Quite often it would get him into arguments such as the one above. Shortly after the above allocation occurred their father went into the hospital for treatments in an attempt to get his high blood pressure under control. When he returned home a few weeks later he was much more subdued and seemed to be more relaxed and understanding towards others.
December 10th 2001
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