Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Sunday, March 17, 2013    9:30 pm

I have just talked with Barbara Chadwick Calloway, daughter of Johnny and Ruby Kilgore Chadwick, who lives in Longview, Texas.  Barbara’s purpose in calling me was to share some fun memories of family.   Barbara chose to communicate by phone because, due to her arthritis, she has difficulty typing and posting.  She does not know why exactly, but these particular memories are a part of her vivid remembrances.   The indelible source for some of them is from occasions when all the women gathered to quilted at Granny Kilgore’s. Barbara’s mother, Ruby was the source of other memories. Then, some memories Barbara experienced first hand.  Each little tidbit was a small window into the humor of life.  I had a hearty good time hearing Barbara tell me these nuggets of family lore.  They may be new discoveries for some of our kin.  They surely were for me.   It was a gift to hear Barbara’s voice.  What she told me was priceless.

The first memory shared was one that Barbara did not have knowledge of first hand, but was told to her.  “Grandpa had a still.”  When Barbara disclosed this fact, my mouth dropped.   It did not sound like the PaPa Kilgore I knew!   Barbara was quick to point out that in that day, alcohol was used for many purposes, such as “animal care” and medicinal reasons.   I wondered if PaPa Kilgore was doing something illegal. But I know it was a different time when everyone raised and made what they needed to sustain a farm.  

Now to the rest of the story.  It seems that Grady, the oldest of PaPa’s children, and some of his teenage friends thought the still would be good for something besides animal care, such as human consumption.  When PaPa Kilgore found out, he blew up the still!

During the war years, maybe 1943 or 1944, Barbara, her parents, and her siblings moved to the country to live near PaPa Kilgore and Granny Kilgore, aunts and uncles, and cousins.  The Chadwicks sold their home in Birmingham and moved to the farm to live. It had something to do with a job loss and the war years.  It was quite an adjustment for the Chadwick children to move from the city to the country.  In the city, they had all the conveniences.  In the country, there were very few. In the move to Nauvoo, they brought their electric refrigerator with them.  There was only one problem.  The area did not have electricity.  Barbara’s dad converted the electrical appliance into a kerosene power source, making it functional. During their two or three year stay on the farm, Barbara remembers riding a school bus to school. Riding a school bus driven by Mr. Wilson was a new experience for a young girl raised in the city. 

During that time, Barbara had a first hand memory of “Grandpa and his chewing tobacco.” It has already been verified by a recent post from another cousin, Ronnie McKeever, that during those early years, PaPa did raise tobacco on his farm, providing the source for his chew.  Barbara’s fun memory during this time in her young life was riding in the back of PaPa’s pickup truck.  As he was driving his pickup and chewing his tobacco, it came time when he needed to spit.  He did just that, out the window of his truck, the tobacco spit in turn, landed in Barbara’s face!

Another country memory was told to Barbara by her mother, Ruby, about Aunt Ruth.  It seems that “Ruth begged for store bought food”.   The family had to work hard for all the food they ate, so store bought food would mean less work. Some of that work involved PaPa’s apples.  PaPa raised apples, and there would be basket upon basket of apples to be peeled so they could be dried.  The Kilgore girls would sit on the porch, peeling away with no end in sight.  As soon as one basket was completed, another one would appear.  It was never-ending work. Ruth’s solution to the problem was to take the peelings and place them on top of an unpeeled basket of apples, hiding the apples not peeled.  PaPa, not suspecting that there were unpeeled apples there, would then take the basket and feed what he believed were just apple peelings to the pigs!

Other memories of Grandpa Kilgore that Barbara shared with me are one-liners:

     “Grandpa put two younger brothers through school.”  Responding to this statement, I told Barbara I knew on of the brothers, and had visited in his home in Jasper.  His name did not come off the tip of my tongue at that time, but it was George Kilgore.  George Kilgore had been principal for Dora High School in Walker County, Alabama for a number of years. 

     Grandpa Kilgore was a “local banker.”  Barbara remembers Granny Kilgore saying, “a lot of people owed him a lot of money, and at his death everyone had paid him.” 

     “Grandpa peddled to the miners in Nauvoo.”  Lois and Carl McKeever lived near the area.  Grandpa Kilgore would drop Barbara off to visit Lois and Carl while he was peddling, and then picked her up on his way home.  I am sure there were other grandkids that enjoyed that ride also.

One special memory that Barbara disclosed was about Aunt Sis.   (Sis was married to Grady Knoblet on February 1, 1925.)  Sis was living with her husband’s family.  The husband was abusing her.  Grandpa Kilgore got wind of it some way, and rescued her.  The marriage was annulled.   About that time, Sis lost all her teeth.  Sis lived without teeth for many years.  She learned to effectively eat her food with only her gums, and did so for a long time before getting dentures.  Even after Sis had use of false teeth she would still take them out to eat because she had become accustomed to eating that way.  Barbara recalled seeing Sis taking out the entire heart of a watermelon during our 1982 family reunion on Smith Lake.  Barbara was thinking how great it is to be that age and do what you want to do.   Barbara also recalls Aunt Sis taking her on “toothbrush hunts.”  They would search for a particular kind of tree, and break off some short sticks from it, fray the ends of the stick, and dip it in soda to brush their teeth.
Barbara can remember being at Granny Kilgore’s when my daddy was getting off the school bus as he came home from military service. She heard Granny Kilgore shout to my mother across the holler, “Cecil is home!”   By the way, this would have been in October of 1945.

The last memory Barbara shared with me was about a circuit preacher, her parents, and Grady and Nettie. During a protracted church meeting, Johnny and Ruby were scheduled to have the preacher come for lunch—fried chicken and all that.  Besides the refrigerator, the Chadwick’s brought with them from Birmingham a complete silver plate setting.  For the special occasion of having the preacher come for lunch, Ruby got the silver out.  On that same day, the preacher was scheduled to have supper at Grady’s and Nettie’s.  After the silver was washed and dried from the wonderful lunch that Ruby served, it was then transported up the road to Grady’s where it was used for the supper meal.

I am grateful we now have these memories written down for posterity.  After Barbara and I hung up, I could not resist writing her thoughts down while everything was fresh on my mind. I stayed up past my bedtime doing so.  When I got to back, I was so wound up and excited that I could not sleep.  Barbara, please call me again anytime.  You made my week!

I appreciate my sweet wife, Pat for editing this post.  I was planning to post this on Monday, March 18, but it did not work out that way.  Before this post was totally completed, it was time for me to leave the house for a meeting with a long time friend of mine.  I was gone from 10:00 am until 4:40 pm visiting Jesse Lee Martin.  At the end of that visit, a March storm came in—heavy rain and strong winds.  As I was traveling down I-459 in the storm toward home, I got a call from Pat.  She called to tell me that the power was out, and there was no phone service.   She was calling on her cell phone.  That power outage was from Monday at 4:00 pm until this morning, Wednesday, March 20 at 4:30 am.  So here I sit, completing the task at hand—one dear to my heart.

Johnny Kilgore


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