It seems right funny to be my age, trying to remember sixty plus years ago. It doesn’t feel like I am 79.
There are so many happy memories of my brother Don and my cousin Jack Butler, and I've been thinking about them both lately.
I’ve written about the almost total lack of housing when we moved back to Atlanta in about 1945, almost the end of the war. My family owes Don thanks for noticing a moving van in front of a house on 9th St, one block up the hill from old Boys’ High School, which had been renamed Henry Grady High School. My timing may be a bit off here but you get the picture.
Brother Don was in the first class that graduated from Grady and I was in the first class that went all five years there. It was a fine school because we had the cream of the crop of teachers from all over Fulton County. At that time, Fulton County drew the best teachers in the state because its pay was the highest. After a short time, we also got the best principal in the state, Dr. Rural Stephens. The first and only year I taught in Fulton County, Dr. Stephens was my area supervisor.
We truly enjoyed our big old white frame house after getting by in a small apartment. We began catching up on many family and friend get-togethers. Most of the family was back in the area, or at least the south. My oldest brother was back home from WW2.
My Uncle Dan, Mother’s youngest brother, and his very loved wife, Estelle, moved to Macon and had another child, my cousin Carol. They had three older children. Their middle child, Jack, had lived with us for a while. He loved music, as I do, and I spent many hours curled up in a big old chair just listening to him play and noodle on the piano. He was a fine accordion player as well. He graduated from high school and joined the Navy. All of us adored him as he was like our older brother.
After his stint in the Navy, he came home, graduated from Mercer, and then Emory Dental School. He married his beautiful Frances and set up a dental practice in Clarksville, Georgia.
I graduated from UGA the same year and married about three months after they did. My memory may be off, here, but I think Frances wore my hoops for her “something borrowed.” My “something borrowed” was my beautiful wedding dress which had been worn by my friend, Babs Hezlett and, yes, I wore the “family hoops,” too. Jack and Frances were married by Dr. Gus Verdery, Baptist Hospital Chaplain. He married Tony and I, also.
Those growing up, teen years, were busy ones for Don and me. We were solidly immersed in the activities of Atlanta’s old First Baptist Church, on the block of Peachtree Street between 4th and 5th streets. We sang in the young people’s choir, and later in the senior choir. Dad was a member of the 20th Century Men’s Bible class and an usher, for years. Mother was active in all the women’s groups.
My mother worked away from home from the time I was 9 or 10 years old until I was in college. I was usually the first one home in the afternoon and I absolutely hated coming into an empty house. I was afraid and lonely. My job was to clean up the kitchen before Mother got home. Also, after moving to 9th Street, in cold weather, I had to rebuild a fire in the huge old furnace, in the basement and feed coal into it. I hated it so much, I’ve tried to make sure my children and grandchildren never come home to an empty house.
So many of the good memories of my teen years were of times spent with my brothers and cousins. We often moved around as a group with various friends mixed in. Don had lots of friends and I guess I was the little sister tag-a-long. If Don resented my being ever present, he didn’t show it. As we got a little older, Jane was Don’s steady girlfriend, and I began actually dating. We had fun together. We all loved music; and harmonizing when we sang was great fun to me. I remarked, not long ago, that I wish Jane and I lived close enough to sing together if only for our own pleasure. I remember one day trip we took to a beautiful park, south of Atlanta, called Indian Springs. Jane’s brother, Bill, a few months younger than I am, went along to make a foursome. We carried a picnic lunch and had a grand time.
I still chuckle when I recall Don’s and my foray into the first really racy movie
scene. The film THE OUTLAW, with Jane Russell released in 1943, according
to Google. But I’d have only been ten years old and Don, 13. So I guess it was
re- released when we were teenagers. It was shown to a packed theatre, the
Lowes Grand, in downtown Atlanta. We were SO straight, but we went to see
THE OUTLAW three times! Each time we agreed on an “acceptable movie”
our parents would have approved of in case they asked. So three Friday nights
we spent our money to see Miss Russell’s naked hooters for about five
seconds. It really did nothing at all for me except, perhaps, an inferiority
complex. Our cousin, Jeannine was living with us at the time so we carried her
I believe I’ve written about singing in Jane and Don’s wedding and how the substitute organist lost her place in the music. She just took her hands off the keyboard until she found her place. Thank heaven I was still on key when she jumped back in. At that point, I’d been singing a long time and it did not bother me that much.
To me, it is such a shame that families live far apart. My parents always stayed in touch with Jack and Frances and kind of kept me informed about the little ones as they grew. One day, in about 1968, someone rang my front door bell. It was my favorite cousin, Jack. He’d been in Augusta for some kind of meeting and was on his way home. He spent the rest of the day with us; rode with me to pick up my kids at school; and stayed to visit with Tony at dinner.
After Jack established his dental practice, he took care of my parents’ teeth from then on. It was a win-win situation for them. They totally trusted Jack plus they got to spend time with Frances and the children. Quite often they could hardly wait to tell me something cute the kids had said or done so I got to enjoy them too.
Not too long before he died, Jack drove down to Don’s, in Marietta, so they could go together to another cousin’s funeral, in South Georgia. I believe Jack was having some vision problems so it was doubly good that Don could drive them. Don told me later how much he treasured that last visit with Jack.
I moved to Knoxville in 1971 and didn't see Jack for years after that, which I regret. He died in the 1980's. However, I am so happy to be back in touch with his sisters and some of his children.
I am fortunate to still have precious brother Don and my sis Jane.