Thursday, April 14, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Wadley, Georgia

Current address:  1384 Coleman Chapel Road, Wadley, Jefferson County, Georgia

In 1932, my paternal grandparents, Lusion Keman Tapley and Nealie Drake Tapley, lost their home in Johnson County, Georgia to foreclosure.  They had to move.  I don't know why, but they ended up living over in Jefferson County, in Wadley, in a rental house. Amazingly, the house is still standing, and I took the above pictures in 2009.

My Papa Lusion became ill while they lived here.  I am not sure exactly what the illness was, but he would seem to go out of his head and not realize what he was doing.  He was a big man - somewhere over 6 feet and well built to boot.  Therefore, the family had to lock him in the bedroom.  Believe it or not, the funniest story in my father's family's history comes from these sad circumstances.  Now this story is really meant to be shared verbally for the most effect, but I will try to get the point across here.

Lusion Keman Tapley on right - between 1903-1912

One evening while she was cooking supper, Grandma Nealie told my Uncle Dempsey and my father, Gilbert, to take their father's medicine in to him and have him take it.  (Dempsey would have been about age 12 and Gilbert about 6.)  Dempsey took the medicine in while Gilbert stood back by the door.  Lusion was sitting quietly on the edge of the bed, with his cheeks resting in his hands.  Dempsey says to his father, "Daddy, Mama said to take your medicine."  Lusion says, "I don't want no medicine."  Dempsey repeats, "Daddy, Mama said it's time to take your medicine."  Lusion again says, "I don't want no medicine."  And my father, Gilbert, ever the wise-cracker, says very loudly, "Don't beg him, Demp!  Just grab him and pour it down him!"  ...  and that's when all HELL broke loose.  Lusion jumped up from the bed and slapped poor Uncle Dempsey across the room while the medicine went flying in the opposite direction.  My father ran out of the room and locked Dempsey IN the bedroom with their father.  Dempsey is beating on the door and begging Gilbert to let him out.  Papa Lusion just simply sat back down on the bed and assumed the same position he was in when the boys entered the room.

Gilbert finally let Dempsey out, who promptly ran to their mother crying (And this where the verbal telling is handy because evidently Dempsey had quite a cry... kind of "WAA - HAA" in a whiny voice.) and told her what happened.  She promptly fixed more medicine, took it to the bedroom and said to Papa, "Lush!  Why'd you go and do that?"  And Papa took his medicine from her without a word of protest. 

Now some of you will be horrified hearing that story and think "child abuse."  But Uncle Dempsey wasn't hurt and it was a different time back then.  In addition, Papa didn't know what he was doing... he would have been devastated if he had.  (As a matter of fact, the story was that during this time, he burned Aunt Irene's doll in the fireplace, and once Grandma told him what he had done and he comprehended it, he was very upset.) However, this story was always one of the top stories told when any of the brothers got together.  It was always a favorite of mine to hear.  I am sure hearing it from the horses' mouths - Uncle Dempsey and Daddy - added something to it.  

Papa Lusion passed away from heart disease in July 1935.  Daddy was only 7 years old.  When it happened, Grandma sent Daddy down the road to his brother's (James or "Fella" as he was called) house for help.  I cannot imagine being 7 years old and having to make that trip.  

Uncle James's house is still there too, though in disrepair:

Grandma and the children moved soon after Papa died.  I am sure she couldn't afford the rent.  They moved around a lot from 1935 until Daddy was grown in the mid to late 1940s. 

I am sure that this place held a lot of memories for my father.  Not only was it where he lost his father at such a young age, but it was also the time of his life (age 5-7) that he began to form lasting memories.  He spoke of their time in Wadley a good bit. 

1 comment:

  1. I've been through Wadley many, many times. It used to have a large "Oxford" plant there. They made shirts for Polo and some other popular names. When it closed, I think the population declined substantially.