Posts Tagged ‘H. D. Story Author All Roads Lead to Tucker’


“I am wearing that skirt today!” I demanded.

“Oh no you are not! Mary Ann is wearing that skirt today,” said Patricia, my older sister.

“You and Mary Ann always get to wear the long skirt,” I argued.

“That’s right, Pat. Diane is right,” argued Becky Leake in my defense.

And that’s the way it was in our playhouse built behind Daddy’s workshop. The playhouse was not really a house since it had no walls. The walls were made from thick rows of pine-straw fetched from the woods just a few feet away; the furniture consisted of bricks and boards discarded from Daddy’s workshop.

It was fun to play dress up and pretend to manage our own home, but more fun was to be had if one could wear the long skirt and pretend to be “Mother” or “Mother’s helper.”

Becky and I were always on the losing end and never got to be “Mother.” We always had to be the “guests,” and there were no dress-up clothes for visitors.

And one day, Becky Leake had enough of that. She went home across the road in a huff, but she came back all smiles. And why not? She was carrying a mink coat.

“You’d better put that back, Rebecca!” Mary Ann Leake said in complete devastation.

“Nannie won’t care. She won’t need it until Christmas. We can play with it today,” said Becky – with all smiles.

With reluctance, Mary Ann conceded to her (slightly) older sister. All four of us were intrigued by the beauty of such a jacket – in our playhouse.

After we all tried on the mink coat, Pat and Mary Ann decided to continue sharing the long skirt, not the mink. We had no problem with that, since Becky and I had a turn at trying on the long skirt. The brown and white checked skirt was a tad too small for Becky and too big for me.

So Pat and Mary Ann would continue to share the long skirt, while Becky and I would share the mink coat. All four of us agreed that it was a good deal all around.

Becky had no problem wearing the gorgeous coat. She pretended to be an “important guest” from New York City. As she stood there in her mink coat, she described the Statue of Liberty, Radio City Music Hall and Broadway.

Then it was my turn. The mink was actually a jacket length which made a full length coat for me. But even with open toed sandals and shorts – it was too hot to wear the mink for long. Georgia summers are just too hot and humid for such attire. Soon after my grand entrance, the mink coat was hung on a pine tree limb which doubled as the “hall-tree.”

As I sat there enjoying my invisible cup of tea, I told stories of the North Pole and how I had run into Santa. I played a guessing game with them so that they could guess what awaited them Christmas morning, all the while stroking my mink coat as it dangled from the pine tree limb. Mary Ann enjoyed guessing until it came to her turn. She did not want to know what she was getting for Christmas, even though it was just a pretend game. Christmas had to be a surprise to her, reality or make believe.

What fun we had, but summertime was not all about playing house. The warm days gave way to soft ball games, swimming, and rainy day games of Parcheesi and Clue.

We had a great summer and then came the fall. We saw less of the Leake girls since we were all busy getting ready for school at Tucker Elementary, just a five minute walk behind our homes. As the year progressed, seeing the Leake girls at school and the walk to and from school, was about the only time we saw them.

One weekend Becky and Mary Ann did take the time to join our family as we raked and played in the red and gold leaves that had fallen to the ground in our woodsy yard. An odd thing happened while playing in the leaves.

Patricia’s kitty, Precious, ran wild in circles. It was apparent that something was seriously wrong with the animal. Mama called the animal control center.

The animal control men could not catch Precious. The frightened cat climbed up on top of Daddy’s workshop and out of reach. The animal control men were afraid the cat would flee into the woods.

“If anybody can, my daughter can get that cat for you. That cat will do anything for her,” Daddy said as he looked at Patricia.

With that Patricia joined the men. Daddy explained how important it was to let Precious go away.

Eight year old Patricia cried, but worked hard at controlling her sobs as she said, “I need a baby blanket.”

With that our little sister, Barbara, courageously gave up her long time baby blanket. Pat took the blanket and ascended the ladder while Daddy held it secure.

When atop the roof, Patricia flattened the blanket and called out, “Here Precious, here Precious.”

Precious heeded her master and came.

Pat wrapped her “baby” in the blanket and carefully climbed down the ladder. She bravely handed the poor cat over to animal control. They placed Precious in a cage.

Before leaving, one man examined Precious, and said it looked like the poor cat had gotten a bad case of the wolf-worm (caused by green flies).

As soon as they drove away with Precious, Daddy looked for the “fly infestation” while Mama consoled Patricia. Becky, Mary Ann, Barbara, and I looked on and cried too, but not nearly as much as Pat.

Daddy did not have to look far. Just behind his workshop was Nannie Leake’s forgotten mink coat on the ground and it was infested with flies. The tree limb, used as our hall-tree, broke under the weight of the coat. Apparently the soft furry coat had become a napping place for Precious.

The playhouse story came out as all four girls told how the mink coat got into that condition behind the workshop.

Daddy found a long board and scooped up the coat, then placed it on a big pile of red and gold leaves. He drenched the coat in gasoline and threw a lit match on it. With a matter of fact voice, he said, “Diane, go with Becky and Mary Ann and tell Ms. Leake what I just did to her mink coat.”

Whoa! Are you kidding me? Those were my thoughts, though I remained silent with my feet frozen to the ground. I think Daddy must have read my mind.

“Did you wear the coat, Donnie?” Daddy asked as a reminder.
“Yes, sir.”

“Then go with them,” gently urged Daddy.

As I slowly walked away, Mama said, “Diane, you made your bed, now you must lie in it. Now, get a move on.”

The three of us walked across Morgan Road to the Leake’s house. Becky was distraught and Mary Ann wept. I walked in silence wishing my father believed in corporal punishment. I would gladly take a spanking rather than face Nannie Leake today.

When face to face with her grandmother, all Becky could do was blurt out, “Nannie, I am so sorry.” She collapsed to the floor with grief. Mary Ann was the one who did the talking.

I whispered, “I’m sorry Nannie Leake.” My throat tightened up and I could not produce another word.

Nannie Leake was still and silent, finally she spoke in a strained voice.

“Girls, we will speak of this another day.” It was as though she did not see us at all as she leaned on her cane and made her way out of the house and into the front yard. There she stopped and watched the dark smoke billowing from behind our house. And though she was distraught, this elderly lady stood there looking grand as though she was a queen watching her castle burn down from a far. After all, the mink coat had been a Christmas gift from her late husband. She wore the coat during the Christmas season, whether it was cold in Georgia or not, and now it was gone.

After a while, she spoke again, “Mary Ann, go inside and cut a generous piece of your mother’s pineapple cake and wrap it pretty with the pink ribbon. You’ll find the ribbon in my top dresser drawer. Bring it to me.”

Mary Ann returned and her grandmother examined the beautifully wrapped plate of cake. She nodded her head in approval and said, “Give it to Diane. Diane, please give this cake to Patricia, with my love.”

“Yes ma’am.”

I took the cake and when I was about to cross Morgan Road, Nannie Leake again called my name, “Diane, please tell Mr. Story, that I send my apologies.”

Nannie Leake was a gracious lady even when the world did not go her way.

Often I do not meet the standards demonstrated so eloquently to me on that day of the mink coat burning. But with each and every failure, my memory bank offers up an image of a mink coat to correct me. These are just a few of the things that I learned while growing up on Morgan Road in Tucker, Georgia.

In March 2008, I found myself sitting by the bedside of my mother at the Dekalb Medical. It was about a week before she passed away. Just two weeks earlier, Mama was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Our visits were reduced to sitting by her bed while she slept. One such evening, I stood to leave. The chair made a little noise and Mama opened her eyes startled. She lifted her head and glared at me.

“Mama it’s me. Oh Mama, don’t you know me?”

She relaxed and laughed, “Of course I know you! You’re that little Diane Storyteller!” She chuckled, then closed her eyes, and fell back into her deep sleep.

I sat back down in that chair. I found a piece of paper and scribbled down details of the day I was first called Diane Storyteller back in 1955. I thought about how I ran away from the first grade at Tucker Elementary School all the way home to my mother’s arms. When she saw me, Mama threw down her daffodil bulbs and held me tightly. I called that story, “Diane Storyteller.” In the following lonely months when I could no longer talk to Mama, I found a new way to communicate.

I recalled the “old days of Tucker” she so loved to talk about, I wrote it down. I called it “Tucker History According to Mama” and “Semi-Centennial.” When I recalled the love and pride she had for her children, I wrote “Three Kittens and a Tucker Tiger.” When I remembered how she cared for her Aunt Annie on Old Norcross who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, I wrote “Poor Side of Tucker.” When I recalled how much she respected Tucker historian, Roy Hutchens, I wrote “Tucker Historical Society.” I remembered the gleam in Mama’s eyes when she told me how she met my father, Tom Story, while roller skating. I wrote “They Paved Old Norcross.” When I thought about young Helen “Polly” Voyles graduating from the seventh grade at Tucker, I wrote “Ms. Herndon.”

When I was four years old I was pulled out of Clarke’s Hill Lake unconscious. When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was Mama’s face. I wrote about that day and called it “The Chariot.” When my spirit reached an all time low, I thought about how Mama coped with the death of loved ones. I wrote “The Forgotten Valentine,” “A Christmas Snowflake,” “Passed in Love,” and “Gwinnett’s Finest.” When I recalled how Mama cared for me when I was an invalid, I wrote “Snake Doctor.”

Every time I am tempted to advise my sons on how to live, I hear Mama tell me for the ten-thousandth time, “Diane, sweep around your own back door. Pull your own little red wagon.” I wrote “Law of Nature.”  When my mind replayed the moment Mama’s spirit left her body, I wrote “Angel Band.”

When the “five story” house sold on Morgan Road, I let the house do the talking in “Treasure Chest.” In all I have written over fifty such stories and entitled the collection, All Roads Lead to Tucker Georgia. I dedicated the book to my mother, Annie Helen Voyles-Story.

I think often of Mama’s dedication to her family and community. I think of her every day, but now with a smile rather than tears. And yes, sometimes I just have to sit down and drop my mother a line or two.

March 6, 2012

Dear Mama,

It is springtime again and the daffodils are in bloom. They are lovely. And just last night, four years after losing you, I found my place at the Tucker Elementary School once again, after all these years. I was nervous about being there. When my name was called, I knew it was time to kick the ball. I gave it my best shot. I stood there in Ms. Purcell’s seventh grade classroom with my back to the kick ball field. I peered out at friendly faces consisting of family, dear friends, acquaintances, and total strangers. And I was honored to tell the Tucker Historical Society about you.

Ever yours,

Diane Storyteller

P.S. Mama, I didn’t look up to see if you were there sharing my joy. I didn’t have to. I knew you were there.

Author’s Note:

Tucker Elementary is now known as Tucker Recreation.

All Roads Lead to Tucker Georgia (c) copyright 2012  by H. D. Story All Rights Reserved

Caleb Hardin Bentley

September 26, 1906, “Nancy” Elizabeth Bentley left the Leathersville family farm that she so loved. She grew up there in East Georgia on wide open meadows, timberland and a bustling tannery. But perhaps it was the herb gardens that Nancy would miss the most; time spent with her father, Dr. Dennis Brantley Bentley, who passed down the art of healing through the pretty flowers.

Nancy soaked in the healing stories of her grandfather, Dr. John Bentley and her great-grandfather, Balaam Bentley.

Oh how she loved hearing about her great-great-grandfather, William Bentley II, who settled in Wilkes County Georgia in 1775. Nancy knew her history well and could have told you that a part of Wilkes County became Lincoln County in 1796. And that William Bentley II (b.1729) was a captain in the Colonial Army.

The captain brought with him from South Carolina, his wife Mary Jane Elliott (1729-1843) and five children. He built a two room log cabin on the north side of Little River.

Because of  a low treasury, Captain William Bentley II, received two land grants for his service to the Colonial Army, one in 1784 and the second in 1785.   The cabin he built was damaged by fire when burned by Indians. Fortunately, Captain Bentley’s daughter, Chloe (Mrs. John Josiah Holmes) and her two daughters Apsylla and Penelope Holmes, hid in the woods and watched as the cabin burned. They narrowly escaped harm and the girls made it to the fort where Captain William Bentley II was in command. He rebuilt and dug in to stay. When the captain died, his hundred acres had grown into a thousand acres.

The land was a mirror of the origin of the name Bentley, “place where the bent grass blows.”

Captain William Bentley II left his land to his two youngest sons, Joshua and Balaam. Balaam eventually bought out his brother’s interest in the land. Farmers in the area brought in hides to sell to Balaam to make ends meet. With the hides, Balaam opened the first tannery in Georgia in 1805. He also built a store and traded with the locals as well as the Union Army and Northern markets. Because of the bustling trade of leather goods, this area became known as Leathersville. The Bentleys sold shoes, straps, bridles, harnesses, and saddles made by hand at the tannery.

Dr. John Bentley Courtesy of Bill Tankersley

Dr. John Bentley 1797-1867
Courtesy of Bill Tankersley

 

During the War Between the States, Leathersville sold leather goods exclusively to the Confederate Army. After the war, the Bentleys signed a oath of allegiance to the Union and they were back in business selling to the North again.

When Balaam Bentley died in 1816, he left Leathersville to his two sons, John and Benjamin Bentley. Dr. John Bentley bought his brother part of the estate.

Over the years, the two room log cabin became a log house by adding another log cabin to the existing structure, as well as an outdoor kitchen. At some point in time, clapboard was added. An office was built in the front side yard for Dr. John Bentley to perform surgical procedures and administer medicine to the general population arriving by foot, wagon, buggy and on horseback.

Another member of the family, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Bentley, built a two story home on the property in the mid 1800s and carried on the medical tradition as well. The land grew to over thirteen thousand acres.

Eventually, the Bentley descendants drew lots of five-hundred acres each, thus dividing the land.

And on this day in 1906, Nancy Elizabeth Bentley’s wedding day, the Bentleys still lived there.

Nancy was proud of her adventurous and accomplished family, but realized her roots mysteriously lie across the Atlantic Ocean in England. There it started with yet another William Bentley. But it was the stories about healing that captured her attention.

There was no question that Nancy’s grandfather, Dr. John Bentley was a medical physician. In fact, Dr. John Bentley was paid for medical services quite often by the deeding of land. But it is doubtful her father, Dennis Brantley Bentley, was truly a medical doctor since he signed documents “Esquire.” All the same, he was called “Doctor” by all who knew him.

During Dennis Brantley Bentley’s days on the Leathersville Bentley farm, his job was to oversee the tannery. He stated his occupation as shoemaker in a Georgia census. But no matter how involved he became with the tannery, Dennis Bentley never neglected the herb gardens and was prolific in his knowledge of healing. And his daughter Nancy learned as much as possible from “Father” and excelled in school.

In Lincolnton after school one day, young Nancy Bentley “whopped” a young school boy with her lunch pail for teasing her little brother, Caleb. Nancy had had enough of Lawton laughing at Caleb’s long dark curls. She told that tall lanky Lawton Story to pick on someone his own size! She walked ahead with her hand on little Caleb’s shoulder, as she looked back at Lawton with those piercing blue eyes.

Nancy Bentley was far more than just a pretty face with unruly thick hair. She understood the secrets a beautiful flower held within. She knew which flower could heal an abscess and which one could cool a fever. She could play a piano, sing and ride any horse she had a mind to. And she would not take any stuff off that Lawton Story!

Being from a long line of farmers, young Lawton Story did not understand all about Nancy being called a “blue blood” or her knowledge of medicine. He did understand one thing, he loved spirit and Nancy Bentley was the epitome of spirit. Nancy Bentley was the only girl for him. And he knew it that day after school when she stood up for her little brother, Caleb.

And on this glorious autumn day, September 26, 1906, Nancy Bentley left her beloved home of five sisters and two brothers, to marry that boy she “whopped” upside the head with her lunch pail for teasing her little brother. He was Horace “Lawton” Story, the son of Radford Gunn Story and Sallie Elizabeth Gunby-Story. Rad Story was a well known farmer. When Rad married Sallie Gunby, they moved into a home on the Story farm called Mistletoe in north Columbia County. Sallie was reluctant to live there so far away from her family. Her home was in Lincolnton. The Story farm was about ten miles from Lincolnton.

The Gunbys were a close knit family who were highly educated and staunch Methodists. Rad Story built a two story home in Lincolnton near Arimathea Methodist, near the Gunby homeplace.  Their son Lawton was born at Mistletoe, but for most of Lawton’s young life, he lived in the house that his father built in the Clay Hill area of Lincolnton.

The total burden of farming was set upon the shoulders of young Lawton the year he was but seventeen years of age, when his father, Rad Story, was killed December 1, 1904 on Thomson Road.

Lawton remained on the Rad Story homeplace and carried on. Two years after the death of his beloved father, he proposed to his sweetheart, Nancy Bentley. The two were married by Reverend LeRoy (LaRoy) while Lawton and Nancy sat together in a horse drawn carriage under blue skies and colorful foliage in the background – witnessed by God and family. With the “I do” said, a “giddup!” and the crack of leather, the horse trotted on and the carriage pulled away. Nancy Bentley left Leathersville, to start her new life with Lawton Story in Lincolnton.

Author’s Note:

Records state that Captain William Bentley II was born in 1729 and died in 1792, although other records state that he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1799.

 

Tom and Helen Story’s children: Diane, Barbara, Patricia and Tommy

I have spent the last year putting together a lot of little stories I have written over the years – which were scattered in disarray all about my house. One day my son, Jonathan, said, “Mom, you really need to put this stuff on the web.”

Today I completed that book, All Roads Lead to Tucker Georgia. Most of it is on my website, www.tuckerdaysremembered.com. Thank you Jonathan for being an excellent (and patient!) internet technician.

I want to thank my son, James, who insisted I write my little stories down. He has done this for many years, while it be sharing a meal or walking at the mall. He is the first to read my stories, and to give me an ‘atta girl!

I would also like to thank, Jillian Hudnall, a two time Teacher of the Year Award recipient, for happily helping me with my questions about grammar. I might add – Jillian is a Tucker teacher!

I would like to thank my mother, Annie Helen Voyles-Story, for instilling the love for “the old days of Tucker” in my heart, her care while I was an invalid, and her up and at ‘em attitude.  I can hear her now, “Take the bull by the horns and go girl!” “Put your ears back and go to it!” and the one I like least, “Sweep around your own backdoor!” Thank you Mama for tea-time. All Roads Lead to Tucker Georgia is dedicated in loving memory to my mother.

I would like to thank my father, Thomas Jonathan Story, Sr., for always being there; ever so soft spoken in the background. He brought the sense of family first, love of history and good bluegrass music to our home. Daddy took a sledgehammer to my fears and illustrated just how big God is to me with the moon and stars.

I want to thank my brother, Tommy Story, and my sisters, Patricia Story-Logan and Barbara Story-Williams for their unending love and support. You will never know how much I have gleaned from our relationship over the years, or how much you mean to me.

I want to thank my sister, Patricia, for her hard work as the family genealogist. I am grateful to Patricia for sitting at the feet of our PaPa Story, listening and locking away stories of old. Her notes and memories of the Storys, Jenkins, Palmer and Voyles families are endearing as well as invaluable.

Special thanks go to my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for keeping family memories alive.

I want to thank the community of Tucker, Georgia, as well as my Morgan Road neighbors, Pleasant Hill Baptist (DeKalb County), Tucker Historical Society, teachers, friends, and family for contributing to the life of this Story.

THANK YOU!

Coming soon:

All Roads Lead to Southern Charm

All Roads Lead to Stone Mountain Georgia.