Archive for June 23, 2012

Growing Up   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of the State of Georgia in 1905


“Papa” is John Dodson Taylor, Sr., my great-grandfather, and “Mama” is Harriett “Hattie” Stoddard Taylor, my great-grandmother.  This text comes from Leaves in the Wind, pages 7 and 8.

John Dodson Taylor, Jr., was born on January 19, 1905.  He died on September 27, 1976.



The twentieth century had just graduate from training pants when I entered Summerville and the world.  Entering was not a simple matter.  It was impossible for me to knock on the door and to make my entrance attired in my best bib and didee.  Even to this day, it just isn’t done this way.

Preparation for my arrival had been going on for months–nine, to be exact.  Dr. Jack Bryant was the referee and was calling all the shots.  Dr. Jack was a wonderful man; he was the personification of the beloved horse-and-buggy doctor, graduating late to the Model T variety.  Whatever his mode of transportation, to me he was the only doctor in the world; and why shouldn’t he be?  After all, he was present at my launching.  Of course, I didn’t wish for any of us to be sick; but it’s only fair to be honest and to confess that I always was glad to have him come to our house.  His medicine bag fascinated me.  He filled all his prescriptions so painstakingly!  Since he had no scales, he used only the broad blade of his knife to measure his medicines; but it seemed to work because he usually kept us in good health….but I am getting ahead of my story.

I was the fourth and last of the little Taylors to enter this world.  From all accounts, Dr. Jack took care of Mama and saw to it that she had exactly the right amounts of this and that.  I can easily imagine a telephone conversation that these two old cronies might have had when Papa began to suspect that Mama was “expectin.”  Perhaps it went this way:

Papa went to the old-fashioned crank-type phone that hung on the wall in the hall, right behind the front door.  After much cranking, Central (the operator) finally decided to answer with a familiar,

Helluh.  What do you want?

By this time Papa was fit to be tied and exploted,

Where in tarnation have you been?  I’ve about worn this blamed crank off.  I want to talk to Jack Bryant.

To this atomic eruption, Central replied,

It ain’t none of your business where I have been.  Besides, a gentleman never asks a lady where she has been.

Papa could contain himself no longer and screamed,

Who in hell accused you of being a lady, anyhow?

Central chided,

All right, Johnny Taylor.  Calm down.  It’s still none of your business; but to show you that my heart’s in the right place, I’ll tell you that I was in the kitchen a-stringin’ a mess of beans.

Papa replied,

Please, ma’am, will you just ring Jack Bryant’s house?

There was a pause; and then a familiar voice answered,

This is Jack Bryant.

Papa replied,

Jack, this is Johnny Taylor.

Dr. Bryant answered,

Hello, Johnny.  What’s bothering you?

Papa confessed,

Nothing is bothering me; but it looks like we are going to be needing you before too long.  Maybe there’s going to be another little Taylor; and maybe you ought to come and see Hattie.

Dr. Bryant replied,

Bless your heart, Johnny.  I most certainly will see Hattie tomorrow.  You know, Sister Al and and I were discussing you two just last night, hoping that you wouldn’t let little Helen grow up as the baby of the family.  Egad, Johnny, let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope this one will be a boy.  Then Gene, Faye, and little Helen will have a baby brother.

Months passed, and it was finally time for the big day (or night).  Dr. Jack was busy; and Papa, not to be outdone and not taking any chances, laid his plans carefully.  At home, he had two daughters–Faye and Helen–still at tender ages; and the impending event could have made it “too wet to plow” for the little girls.  Anyhow, he had to do something about them, since they might have bothered Mis’ Hat; and that would never have done.  To clear the deck for action, Papa shooed the girls off on the train–let’s call it the “Maternity Special”–to spend the night with Aunt Will Powell down in Berryton.  Gene was of sufficient age to travel alone, and I understand that he went to visit other relatives.  (It’s nice to have relatives, especially when another young one is bidding entrance into the world.)

Through the years, it has been a pet theory of mine that Papa must have attached some importance to this event which happened on Wednesday night, for–well, Wednesday nights always had been prayer meeting night; and permission to be absent from this service was next to impossible to obtain.  It could have been granted only in cases of flood, war, or impending calamity.  (I am still wondering in which of these categories he placed my advent.)

I once lost my hat and other articles raising dogs.  One time a breeder wrote me that

after they get here, you just put them to one side and let them grow.

That is exactly what happened to me, because for a long time I just

growed and growed.

During that time I enjoyed the somewhat dubious title of the town’s

fat boy.


 I have always lived in Summerville, except when I was away in college; and it is only natural for me to love the town.  As a child, I used to sit on our big front porch, drape my legs over the banisters, and try to imagine how the town came into existence.  There were many theories,but the one that persisted in my child’s mind ws this:

One day when there was just this lovely place where no one yet lived, God walked up the valley between what is now Lookout Mountain and Taylor’s Ridge.  (No, the Ridge was not named for my family.  I was always told that it was named for an Indian chief.) In His big, kindly left hand, He carried many families in search of new homes.  As He strode along, this section particularly appealed to Him.  He knelt down; and with His mighty right hand, He smoothed out the portion of land which is now the main part of town.  As each place was completed to his satisfaction, He lifted down one family and placed them there to live.  In this manner all the pioneer families were located.  Standing to survey His handiwork, He realized there was no water; so, with the forefinger of His right hand, He outlined the bed of a small river which He connected with that of another and larger river.  As a tributary to this river, which we now call Chattooga, He outlined a smaller stream which became known s Town Branch.  The work being completed, He admonished His children to forever cherish and care for the land

which the Lord their God

had given them.

Thus, went my dream, was Summerville born.