"A Monday Morning Memory of a Wash Day Boogie"
When I was young one of my chores was to fill the ringer washing machine with water along with the three wash tubs for rinsing. The house we were renting from cousin Henry and Florence Lastinger Henderson had a huge enclosed back porch which was the width of the house. And it was here where the washer and tubs sat near the water shelf.
On Monday mornings, whether hot or cold, I would pump bucket after bucket of water until I had filled them. Next I would go to the peach basket which served as a dirty clothes hamper located next to the door which led from the porch to my bedroom. I would reach into it and put the clothes in a pile on the floor and then sort them for Mother to wash. This was always before breakfast whether school was in session or we were out for those long country June, July, and August summers.
One morning I sleepily made my way to sort the clothes. I don't remember which month it was, but it was quite cool, and even after all that water pumping I felt chilly. About the only thing on my mind was the hot chocolate and cheese toast I would soon be having for breakfast.
I reached into the basket, picking up as many clothes as I could. I had an armful, and as I backed up to place them on the floor I felt something move on my right arm. I immediately dropped the clothes and there I saw and felt, twisted around my arm, a long, brown snake. It was coming toward my face.
I began to dance a jig and shake my arm as hard as I could. I didn't want to grab hold of it, so I shook and jigged and boogied like a person obsessed and possessed. And it seemed like time stood still as I moved about stomping on the dirty clothes on that porch. Not a sound came out of my mouth but my feet beat a frenzied tattoo on that pine floor.
The snake had come in to find a warm place from the chilly night and had spent it outside my door in that basket. It moved sluggishly due to the cold, and it finally fell off my skinny, flapping arm. (Perhaps I warmed him up with all my animated antics.) Anyway, he slithered for the backdoor and was out of sight by the time I quit my gyrations and had caught my breath again.
I checked the hastily dropped clothes to be sure there were no surprises hiding there. Then I picked up the basket and dumped the remainder onto the floor, checking them as well.
Will you believe me when I tell you that never on those washday Mondays did I ever reach into that peach basket again? From that morning forward I always dumped those dirty clothes on the back porch floor.
As I write this memory on 30 March 1999 sitting in the glider on my back deck in the soft spring sunshine, I can see that me that early morning, and I laugh at that animated boy. We just never know in life what might happen to surprise us and add a little boogie to our step when we least expect it.
Memories and Facts About My Grandfather Boyd
His maternal grandparents were Daniel Corbitt and Mary Ann Letitia (Pollie) Bennett Corbitt and his great- grandparents were John Corbitt and Penelope (Penny) Unknown Corbitt. His great-great-grandparents were Daniel (RS) Corbitt and Martha Unknown Corbitt.
Art attended the Inman School in the Inman Community about three miles from his home. He finished the seventh grade, which was the most education one could receive in a public school in that area at the time. He learned farming and carpentry skills from his father, and he in turn taught his sons these skills.
Art Boyd married Sarah Ella White, a daughter of Jacob Riley White and Cecilia Ann Corbitt White on 27 January 1908 at her home with Dr. Little performing the ceremony. They were third cousins, for their mothers were first cousins. Art's father gave them cattle as a wedding gift. Sarah's wedding dowery was a 150 acre farm, and it was here their five children, Alvin Otto, Oscar B., Lottie Mae, Edna Evelyn, and Clara Ruth were born.
Art worked as a farmer, as a carpenter, often with his father-in-law, as a coffin maker, and as a general store owner. This store also had a barber shop, and the store had gasoline pumps and also served as a service station. Grandaddy also was a butcher, and I remember the butcher block in the back of this store next to the meat cooler.
He was a short man measuring perhaps about 5' 6" or so, and he had a small build. He had thick black hair and dark brown eyes as a young man.
He died from complications arising from a malignant cancer on his face almost six months from his 58th birthday on 20 May 1942. A growth appeared on the right side of his head near his ear. It turned out to be cancerous. After going to a doctor in Waycross for treatment, he was told of a hospital in Savannah, Missouri which specialized in cancer care. He took the train alone and went there only to be told that had he come a month or so sooner they could have helped him. I don't know if it was here or not but he had radiation treatment which severely burned his face. He returned by bus alone and when he came into the house he went over and hunkered by the woodstove. Grandmother told me she could tell he had given up by the way he looked. Aunt Clara said that during the night Grandmother would awaken and hear him moaning in pain. She would get up and put on a light and he would stop. He didn't want to disturb her or Clara with his moaning. Later, as the end neared, his brother "Dick" would bath and dress him for he was hemmoraging very badly from the cancer. "Poppa," as his children called him, is buried in the Camp Branch Holiness Cemetery out of Manor about a quarter of a mile from his and Ella's original farm. He was a member of the Church of God when he died. Ella was 53, and she remained a widow for 37 years until her death. With the exception of my father, Oscar, who died when he was 51 years and seven months old, all of his children lived longer.
Art asked to be buried in a homemade cypress coffin, for he believed they held together longer than other woods. (I have a copy of the bill for the materials puchased on 20 May 1942 from the Enterprise Manufacturing Co. located at 1214 Albany Avenue in Waycross, GA. It says "Cash Sale" and below that "Casket Lumber" and the materials listed with the price beside each item. The total bill is for $46.23. This copy was given to me by my first cousin, Travis Smith.) My Father and Uncle Alvin purchased the materials and made their father's coffin. I called my Aunt Clara today (9 April 1999) in Blackshear, GA and she said that the coffin was built outside beside the barbershop attached to Granddaddy's store. Two of his sisters, "Em" and "Rockie" lined the coffin. He wanted to be buried in his denim overalls and a white shirt, but he was buried in a dark suit, white shirt, and tie instead. Today Aunt Clara told me something I had never heard. She came in from Manor High School one day and saw her father in a white union suit and it was covered in blood. She was crying and almost hysterical for it fully hit her that he was dying. (When Grandmother died 5 December 1979, Granddaddy's old monument was replaced with a new one to match hers. His name is misspelled on this monument. It says "Author" instead of "Arthur." I miss the old monument for it was part of my history.)
My father worked as a clerk in Granddaddy's store which was located on the south side of Highway 84 in Manor, GA. (On my birth certificate it lists Daddy's occupation as "Clerk.") Mother would dress me in white shirt, white shorts, and white sox and shoes and take me to the store to visit Daddy and Granddaddy. Granddaddy would hide behind the counter and crawl out around the corner and scare me. I knew he was back there, but I enjoyed the game and would run from him screaming in fun and in terror. He delighted in giving me candy and ice cream and watched as my white clothes became soiled. Mother objected to his "scare me game" and also to the candy and ice cream, but he laughed the objections away.
I remember sitting at the dining table and he sat at the end to my right. He had his right foot on his chair seat with his knee almost under his chin as he ate his meal. Facing me was a wall filled with shelves which contained canned vegetables and fruit. I especially recall the canned blue berries. (My Grandfather could "hunker" with his sons and his brothers and talk in that position as easily as he could sitting in a chair. Mother said the first time she ever saw his Mother was when she went to the store and my great-grandmother was there hunkering outside the store with her back against the side of it.)
One Thanksgiving or Christmas, I don't know which, I recall standing in the back of the house with Granddaddy. I seem to see my Father there as well. I remember there was a fence and my Grandfather had a turkey. Before I knew what was happening, he had put the turkey on this structure and had chopped its head off. I saw the severed head and the blood and the turkey flapping its wings and working its legs, and I went running for the back porch not believing what I had just witnessed.
My last memory of him must be in May of 1942. Mother, Daddy, and I are at his house. There are others as well as Grandmother. We are in the living room and people are talking quietly. Mother tells me that Granddaddy wants to see me. We go into the bedroom and he is covered in a sheet or blanket. I remember kissing him and then tears rolling down his face. He motioned for Mother to take me away, and we left him there and went back into the living room. (It just struck me now that we are back among the living in the "living" room, and he is there dying in a dying room.)
My Father rarely spoke of his Father. It was always too painful for him, and I fully believe he never got over his death. Daddy was 30 when his Father died. [I was 24 when my Father died.])
For many years Grandmother kept his clothes hanging in her chifforobe along with his hat. On the wall was a picture of him in an oval frame which was taken for his wedding. I have a copy of it on this web page. When I look at him I see a handsome young man with his future as a married man and a father ahead of him. Thank God he could not look into this future on this picture taking day in 1908.
Aunt Clara tells me that he had a great fear of bad weather. She recalls on several occasions when she was growing up there on the farm when Granddaddy would pile them all into the wagon and go to the nearest relative's house till the storm had passed.
Grandmother said he had a fear of fire, "of the house burning down" and that once when they briefly lived at Uncle Joe Henderson's house upstairs he forced her to follow him out of a window, slide down the porch roof, and jump to the front yard. She didn't want to do it, but she said she did it to please him.
Travis Smith gave me a copy of a promisory note between Granddaddy and Grandmother and Great-Granddaddy Boyd. It is dated 14 September 1925. They have borrowed $100.00 and promise to pay it back on 14 September 1926. Notice the collateral they put up for the $100.00 loan: One mule Named (Jack) weighing about (900) Nine hundred pounds, also (6) Head stock cattle marked as follows. Swallow Fork and under Bit in one ear and Streight Split and under Bit in other, kept by me on the place where I Now live about 3 miles from Manor, Ga. This is typed and I have transcribed it exactly as it appears. It is "Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of," Hampton Hughes and J.R. Hodges. Across from their names it has "W, A, Boyd" and "Ella Boyd". The question I ask about this interesting document is, "Why would my great-grandfather have my grandparents sign such as this?" Why not just loan them the money and keep it between them without getting so formal? It was drawnup on The Manor Trading Company form with that name being scratched through.
(I have more things to add here about him.)
In looking at the deaths of Granddaddy and his brothers and sisters it seems so unfair that he died so young.
Granddaddy's older sister, Polly Anne, died young. 13 Jan 1881-27 July 1887
His older brother, Screven, died young. 22 Nov 1881-7 Oct 1891
James Daniel, 29 Jan 1883-23 June 1903, died at 20 years and 6 months when Granddady was 18 years old.
Roxie (Rockie) Ann died at 96 years and 6 months.
Thomas M. (Tom) died at 87 years and 10 months.
Harley (Harle) died at 65 years and 11 months.
Isaac (Ike) died at 81 years and 7 months.
Rosa (Rose) died at 87 years and 9 months.
Richard (Dick) died at 82 years and 8 months.
Emma (Em) died at 63 years and 1 month.
Granddaddy was survived by his wife, five children, nine grandsons, and seven brothers and sisters. His father died 20 June 1929 as the results of a freak accident. He was riding in a truck loaded with barrels of turpentine on its way to a turpentine still in Waresboro, GA. His hat blew off and he stepped out to retrieve it and was run over by the truck. He died at home and Granddaddy was 44 years old. His mother died on 24 February 1941, just one year and four months before his death. She was 84 years and 8 months old.
As I am working on this material one image keeps coming into my thoughts, my Grandfather going to Missouri alone on the train with hope and returning home alone on the bus knowing there is none and that he is going home to die. Without meaning to sound dramatic or sentimental I vision him on this journey, and I try to imagine what he was thinking and what must have been the words to the prayers he was praying. I think of his wife and children and brothers and sisters waiting to find out whether he will return with good news or bad. I think of how he must have told them and how they talked about it among themselves in that small Southern town. In thinking like this he becomes more human to me. I remember so little about him, but I do remember that I deeply loved him. I was told often in growing up how very much he loved me, and I am grateful for both loves.
13 April 1999