Monday, October 24, 2011

Memories of Visiting My Grandparents: Columbus and Arsula "Suler" Taylor

Columbus Washington Taylor
Columbus Washington Taylor was the son of Lucinda Swims and George Washington Taylor, (1858-1926). George Washington Taylor was a son of Louisa Jane Curtis and Charles Alexander Taylor, (1834-1916).  Charles Alexander was a son of Eliza Cagle and John Taylor, (1808-1880).

In the year 1905 or 1906 Columbus Washington and his father George Washington were our riding when Columbus spied the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen.  Having no idea who she was or what community she was from, he could only dream about her until his father advised him to visit a different church every Sunday until he located her. 

We aren’t sure how many Sundays it took, but eventually Columbus did locate this beautiful dark haired, dark-eyed beauty at Posey’s Mill.  It seems that Arsula (Suler) Posey, daughter of Appleton Posey and Celia Jane Jones, thought the young blue-eyed man was the one for her.

They were married in January 1907 and set up housekeeping in one large room with a lean-to which served as a pantry for staples, dried fruits and jars of canned vegetables.  At some point a long open porch and two rooms connected by a open hall were joined to the original house.  Another porch was added to the front side of the two new rooms.  Two double beds were placed in each of the two new rooms.  My mother often told of how three or four of the girls would sleep in the same bed in the winter in order to stay warm.  There was no “living” or “family” room as we know it today, no sofa or lounge chairs.

This wonderful God fearing, church going couple produced five daughters, two sons and ten grandchildren.  My mother, Annie Bea, the middle child, told of gathering around the fireplace in the evening and listening to her dad read the Bible.  She also told many stories of hosting the pastor or guest preacher for Sunday dinner.

What talent!  All the girls played either the pump organ or piano, the sons played guitars, Suler played a zither.  Columbus played the pump organ and led singing at church for many years.  You can be sure their talents were also utilized at all day singings.  For you young folks, a zither is similar to an autoharp.  

Being a hard working farm family they produced the food need for their family.  Columbus was also a master can syrup maker, processing sugar cane brought by residents from all around Winston county.  Suler was known for her dough-ball butter in which a small ball of dough was used to start the ball of butter, thus ensuring that the ball of butter would be round.

Watching my grandmother make biscuits in the dough bowl kept in the flour bin never ceased to fascinate me.  Ma Maw  made an indentation into the flour, added leavening, seasoning and liquid, then proceeded to mix and knead until she was satisfied that the dough was perfect. She never measured any ingredient and when I asked how she knew how much to add, she would say that she just knew. 

Times were hard, eggs were exchanged for needed supplies, clothes were made from feed and flour sacks.  In the fall after the crops were in, one pair of shoes was purchased for each child.  The toes were cut out of the shoes in the spring so they could be worn until the weather permitted going bare footed.

Remember those straight, ladder back, cane bottom chairs?  In the summer most of  the adults would sit in a long row on the porch with the chairs leaning against the house, cooling themselves with feed store or funeral home hand fans.  (Some of those fans had beautiful scenes and look great in a picture frame). Pa Paw and some of the men squatted on the edge of the porch.  Everyone was afraid that Pa Paw would fall, but no matter how many times a chair was offered to him, he always refused it.  This was a time for adult conversations, with all the cousins sent to play.  But we discovered that we could eavesdrop by crawling under the house and hiding in the “root cellar”, which was noting but a large mound of dirt with a big hole in the middle.  Needless to say, the adults soon discovered our shenanigans and we were sent away from the house.

Ma Maw’s favorite sitting area was by a window in one of the bedrooms from which she could read her Bible and  see vehicles coming down the road.  Her chair was the only upholstered chair in the house and eventually the back conformed to the shape of her Dowagers  hump.  A little spit can hidden behind the curtain was the only indication that she dipped snuff. Ma Maw waited until everyone else ate breakfast, then she dipped a hamburger bun into a mixture of  leftover meat drippings and black coffee. I thought this must taste terrible, but she really seemed to enjoy it. Oh, what fun all of us grandchildren had running around, chasing each other through the bedrooms and off the porches, going to the creek, drawing water from the well, eating watermelon at the edge of the porch, spitting watermelon seeds as far as possible, making watermelon rind teeth, and making homemade ice cream in the old hand turned freezer.  In the summer someone had to swat flies in the kitchen in order to keep them away from the food.  After everyone ate, the food was placed on one corner of the table covered with a tablecloth, just waiting for one of the grandchildren to sneak back and grab a piece of cornbread or other leftover.
"MaMaw" holding Scott,
Bea (left) and Kay

I was in awe of the beautiful quilts, and more that once, an aunt would come by and tell me to close the doors of the quilt press.  Each daughter received 13 quilts when she married.  Even today I admire my portion of those quilts. 

The beautiful crocheted doilies also fascinated me.  The oldest daughter, Hattie Viola, could simply look at a picture and replicate it.   All the daughters could look at a dress and cut a pattern. My mother even made clothes for a chicken whose feathers had been pecked off by other chickens.  All that training came in handy in making my clothes when I was in grade school.  It was so exciting to pick the dresses I liked from a mail order catalogue, then watch as my mother measured, cut and sewed my school dresses.

Of course, there are not so fond memories such as the hen pecking at my face because I just had to see the eggs in her nest.  And yes, there really was a mail-order catalogue used for toilet paper  in the three hole outhouse located in the barn.   
Front: Columbus Washington Taylor, Arsula, "Suler" Posey Taylor;
2nd row: living Taylor, 3rd row: Lonnie Taylor, Rose Altha Watts Taylor,
Claudie Taylor Brown, Robert Brown; 4th row: Dayton Taylor, Hattie Viola, "Ola" Scott
5th row: Annie Bea Taylor Davis, Pernie Taylor Ellenburg
There aren’t many of us left, the old house has changed, the barn is gone, the chicken coop is falling apart, but I am so glad to have the fond memories of visiting Ma Maw and Pa Paw Taylor in Double Springs, Alabama.

                                                                                        Written By Kay Wojack

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