Posts Tagged ‘tucker high school’


I wrote my first book in the little white house. The little white house was a building next to Tucker High which took care of the overflow of Tucker Elementary, the whole second grade.

The second grade teachers encouraged us to participate in an autumn art project. Anyone wanting to do so could use the desks lined up on the front porch. I liked the idea of getting outside and viewing Main Street downtown Tucker.

I took the first desk.

All the week, I worked on my project. Another second grader, Gwen, sat next to me. She had a square freckled face, always the best dressed girl in school, and her soft brown hair sported a fresh perm. Gwen was very interested in my project.

“Looks like you are making a book of some kind,” commented Gwen at least ten times a day.

“Maybe I am and maybe I’m not,” I did not want Gwen or anyone knowing what I was doing. No copycatting my work. I wanted to be the only author.

“It’s easy to see that’s a book, Diane. You have a bunch of pages tied together with red ribbon. I know a book when I see it.”

“Maybe it is and maybe it’s not,” was my only answer. This served to intrigue her all the more. Gwen became all about my business. I worked hard drawing pictures of birds; all kinds of birds. And at the bottom of the page, I wrote a line or two about each species.

“That’s a book alright,” said Gwen knowingly, “a bird book.”

I ignored her.

At the supper table when asked what I did at school today, I informed my family that I was writing a book. I also told them that I planned to be a famous writer or artist when I grew up. I had not yet decided which, maybe both.

Mama agreed that I did have talent, a talent I did not inherit from her. I was proud of my artistic talent and explained to my family that I was the best artist in the whole second grade, this project would be an easy A+.

“Pride cometh before the fall, remember that Diane,” was my mother’s response.

What in the world was Mama talking about? What did being a great artist have to do with pride or falling down? I think Mama was confused and I chose to ignore her. Actually I thought Mama ignorant for saying something like that to me. She reminded me a little bit of that girl, Gwen.

Of course I kept this information to myself and looked forward to my outdoors class. I took close notice of the trees and pinecones. I wanted to create a natural environment to show case the birds.

And every day, Gwen interrogated me, “How many pages does your book have? What’s the title?”

“How do you know it’s a book?” I snapped back. That Gwen was tricky alright.

“What do you think you are? An author? Or an artist?” laughed Gwen.

“Maybe I am and maybe I’m not.” (Dealing with Gwen was getting harder by the day.)

Just as I was finishing up, my teacher, Mrs. Keith, came out and said, “Okay children, you have five minutes left to finish your project and turn it in.”

With a knowing smile Gwen rubbed it in. “Now we’re all going to know the title of your book!”

Still ignoring her I tweaked my cover page with my best effort, a beautiful red cardinal. I waited to the last second to write the title across the top of the page. Now it was time to reveal my work. It was a simple title, “Birds.” And that was it. I took a fat black crayon and wrote the title. There! It was finished and perfect. No doubt Mrs. Keith would show my book off to all the other teachers, and no doubt they would marvel at it as they displayed it for all the second graders to witness.

I, Diane Story, was about to known as a great artist and author right here in Tucker, Georgia, in the little white house.

“Brids? What’s a brid?” Gwen asked.

“Gwen, it is Birds, not Brids!”

“Oh yeah, take a good look at that Diane.”

I looked at my manuscript and could not believe my eyes! In my haste, I wrote B-R-I-D-S.

Mrs. Keith held out her hand. I held the book close to my heart with both hands. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Keith. But I have a correction to make.” I was devastated. The blood left my body.

“Sorry Diane, time is up.” Mrs. Keith took my book as she glanced at the cover. “And by the way, that is a good looking cardinal.”

But it was not perfect and I did not have time to replace the cover page. To truly correct it, I would have to draw another cardinal. It made me sick.

That afternoon, Mama was waiting for me on the front porch.

“Let me see it! Let me see that easy A+?”

I was not at all enthused. Daddy walked up and said, “Let’s see it Donnie! We’ve been waiting all week. I took off from work early to be here for this event!”

“Oh, it’s not that great, it’s okay, I guess. I got an A- not an A+,” I said discouragingly.

“Oh no, no way, but you are the best …” said Mama.

“A- is nothing to sneeze at, Helen,” Daddy pointed out.

“I should have gotten an A+, but I wrote a word wrong,” I tried to explain while choking back the tears.

Mama examined my book.

“Diane, you know how to spell birds. I know you do.”

“I know, but at the last minute, I rushed and got it wrong,” I sobbed.

“I like brids, just as much as birds. I think I’ll start calling them brids too,” said my father. He was like that. He would rather change Webster’s dictionary than to see his children disheartened.

“You’ll do not such thing, Tom Story. The correct word is birds, not brids. Diane got it wrong and that’s a lesson learned.”

That was just like Mama, she was a realist while Daddy was a creative dreamer. Mama often said that being a creative dreamer was why Daddy was such a good musician. And yes, pride cometh before the fall – even in the little white house in Tucker, Georgia.

I never got over admiring birds. And to this day, I  love trees and pinecones. And I will never forget how my father on occasion whispered to me, “Donnie, that’s a beautiful brid.”

“Yes, Daddy, that is possibly the most beautiful brid I have ever seen.”

It was our secret.

 

 

 

 

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.

Gail Lineback

“That lipstick is too bright,” said my good friend Gail.

“Really? I don’t think so. Maybe I need to blot…”

“You can blot all you want, won’t do any good. The color’s too bright.”

I have had a lot of best-friends at different stages of my life. But when I think on my very best-friend, my mind will time wrap all the way back to the sixth grade at Tucker Elementary. I returned to public school mid-year after an on-and-off illness of four years. The first person to greet me at the classroom door was Gail.

“Welcome back Diane! I know you don’t know me, I’m kinda new, I’m Gail Lineback,” Gail said with a big smile. But I know you. I signed some of the get well cards. It’s okay if you don’t remember my name. If you get tired, let me know. I can carry your book bag. My father is a doctor, and he told me how to look after you,” Gail assured me, “I know what signs to look for.”

Before I could speak, she said, “My parents are divorced. I live with my mother and little sister, Little Nancy – just off Chamblee Tucker Road – not too far from where you live – just off Chamblee Tucker Road. I have an older sister Ellen; she’s moved out and doesn’t live with us anymore. My father has re-married and has another family. My mother has a boyfriend, but she probably won’t marry him. Little Nancy collects Barbie dolls…”

Gail could go on for hours. She was determined to be my friend, and did her best to look out for me. It was Gail that I talked to during the seventh grade dances. We were the two tall girls in the class. It seemed that all the boys were short and did not really grow tall until late high school. The most popular girls were short; makes sense. We would dream about how different our lives would be if only we were “short girls.”

High School came and Gail was still looking after me, on occasion, remarking about my skin tone. “You look pale, want something to drink? How about a piece of cheese? Maybe it’s your lipstick. It’s too bright. Honestly, Story, the birds know it’s you that’s coming down the road, when they see that lipstick.”

“Well, I look paler with lighter lipstick, Gail. When I look pale, they think I’m sick!”

“Just take it down a couple notches.”

“Well quite frankly, Lineback, I like this shade.”

“You need to get your eyes checked out.” And on and on the conversation went. Gail Lineback could never offend me, nor could I offend her.

In our eighth and ninth grade, we had Physical Education together. One cold morning after walking out to the practice football field behind Tucker High School, Gail said, “You look flushed, sit down, Story.” Gail instructed me as though she was a real doctor. “Here, sit on my purse so you won’t get wet.” She stood tall and gave a big wave to Miss Bell and Miss Curtis our PE teachers. They gave her the “yes” nod. “See, it’s okay, you sit here until you feel better.”

I was never allowed to run laps around the field with the other girls, I walked one lap. If I walked too fast, Gail would pass me and yell back, “Story, slow down!”

In the tenth grade, Gail and I did not have any classes together. She was also busy with drill team practice. It had been a while since I talked to her, so I decided to call her at home and catch up. I was met with an unfriendly voice.

“Well hello Diane.  Why the sudden burst of friendship?”

“What?”

“Diane, you haven’t spoken or had lunch with us in weeks.”
“I know I’ve seen you around, I know you’ve been busy with the new girl…”
“Of course, I’m busy with the new girl. I want her to feel welcome. You should be busy making her feel welcome. By ignoring your friends, you make her feel unwelcome. She thinks you don’t like her.”

“Oh no, I didn’t mean to do that. I’ve been busy and thought y’all were doing a good job taking care of her…”

“That should never be the case. You should go out of your way to speak to a new person; have lunch with her.”

“You’re right, I just didn’t think…”

“Dee Dee’s funny. You’d really like her. Join us Monday in the lunchroom, you know the table.”

Gail was serious about her friends. I was very fortunate to be included in that list. The other thing she was serious about was her French. If ever she had a moment to spare, she had her nose in that French language book. Her accent needed to be “authentic.” She wanted to impress her father and make her mother proud. She worked hard to strive for perfection.

We graduated from high school and went our separate ways. I found myself soon married and living in the Canal Zone where my husband urged Green Berets to jump out of helicopters into the jungle; jungle training for Viet Nam. Afterwards, my life became focused on my two sons. Gail became a school teacher. Her life became focused on her children; her students.

I saw her once at a THS reunion. Gail met me at the door. She was still pretty, but I was concerned about her eyes since she wore glasses with very thick lenses. She was married briefly to a British man.

“What? Not French?”

“No,” she laughed, “but he could sure speak French! It was an authentic accent! I couldn’t resist. Oh, by the way Story, your lipstick is too bright.”
Gail missed the next reunion.

The years slipped away quickly and again, I prepared for another class reunion. Hopefully Lineback would come to this one. I would look for her at the door and this time, I would introduce myself to her. I was certain she would not recognize me since the years had changed me so much.

When we graduated, I was five seven and weighed just under a hundred pounds. My dark brown hair had given way to — shall I say — platinum blonde. Some would say — almost white. My Twiggy short hair was grown out pony-tail length. I had gained over forty pounds. No one would recognize me tonight, not even Gail Lineback.

I walked in alone – divorced. Before entering the ballroom, I looked for my senior photo button pin. I walked about a long table looking for it. As I made my way around the table, I happened to look up and saw Gail’s photo framed – on the Memorial table. My heart almost stopped and I could hardly breathe. I walked over and stood before her smiling face. As I looked at her smile, I had a silent conversation with her.

“You’re still meeting me at the door, girlfriend…”

I had seen enough. Just as soon as I get my bearings, I will turn and walk out that door. I will slip out and not talk to anyone. There were a few people about, but no one had spoken to me yet. I’m sure no one has recognized me. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. I was not prepared for this. Why had I not heard about her death? Why couldn’t I have been a good friend and stayed in touch?

“Diane, here is your pictured down here!” called out Brenda Martin from the other end of the table.

Steve McLeod walked into the hallway from the ballroom, “Diane! I thought I saw you come in.”

How in the world did they recognize me? I know I look like a stranger.

 

Then I thought…uh oh! I need to check my lipstick. I hear you girlfriend!

As I walked down the hallway to the lady’s room, I thought, I don’t want to appear unfriendly to my friends. I will finish in here, and then I will enter the ballroom, where I will speak to each and every friend here tonight.

Yes, Lineback, I still hear you – loud and clear!

 

AJC Obituary 2007: Gail Lineback was an artist, a teacher, and an avid and accomplished gardener. She pursued a wide range of interests, including St. Matthew’s Handbell Choir and Cajun dance. She was active in the spiritual communities at St. Luke’s Episcopal and St. Matthew’s Episcopal churches. She was a passionate advocate for women and families in need, giving generously of herself. She will be remembered fondly by friends and family. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Family Promise, to Bethesda Elementary Care Team, to the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association.

And Gail Lineback was my best friend.

Harold R. Turpin

Harold R. Turpin

“Would Diane Story please return to the Home Economics Building? Diane Story – report to Miss Ina Mae Jones in the Home Economics Building! This is an emergency!” asked/demanded Mr. Turpin – as only Mr. Turpin could do. His voice rang out all over Tucker High School.

That was the last thing I ever wanted to hear as an eighth grader at Tucker High; my name blaring over the P-A system – out over the entire school – by Mr. Turpin. What would Sister think?

This was my first year at THS. My sister, Patricia, was two years ahead of me. Pat was a model student and on the THS Drill Team. I was just recovering from a long illness and was not interested in anything much but socializing. I had a few years of conversing to make up, and I enjoyed every moment of it with friends. I didn’t even care if I knew the person I was talking to, I just loved talking. And I knew to avoid the perfectionist principal of Tucker High, Mr. Turpin.

Mr. Turpin was known for his no nonsense attitude, and refused to accept anything less than the best effort from his students. No matter what was going on when Mr. Turpin walked down the halls, disguised male voices from seemingly out of nowhere announced his approach, “Chief, chief, the chief!” Everyone knew to straighten up and walk a bit taller.

Harold Turpin met Mildred Newton at Hiltonia where she was a teacher and he a principal/coach. They married and moved to Tucker Georgia where they were well known by all; the Turpins were educators. Mrs. Turpin taught fourth grade at Tucker Elementary, while Mr. Turpin took charge of Tucker High. In the presence of the Turpins, a student was compelled to put forth their very best – behavior and otherwise.

The truth be known, as I learned years later, Mr. Turpin did everything he could for a student – including breaking the rules – if it was to better a student’s education or station in life. He was all about improvement and moving upward and onward.

But here today in the eighth grade, I was facing the very situation I hoped to avoid. I was being summoned by Mr. Turpin over the P-A System. There was no sweeping this one under the carpet.

As I left class and headed for the Home Ec Building, I recalled my first real visit with Mr. Turpin back in the fall. Coach Terry Sparks, who was my Georgia Civics teacher, sent me to the front office to “help out.” When I learned to stop talking so much, I could stop “helping out” and return to class.

My one hour job in the front office was to take permission slips into Mr. Turpin for his approval. One by one, the football players of THS filed in. It was like they had a schedule going.  It was always one football player at a time. One jock would come in and say, “Hey, get Mr. Turpin to sign this,” as he handed me a note.

“Okay, I’ll ask him,” I said after I read the note and asked a few questions.

Ida Mae Jones

Ina Mae Jones

I really didn’t want to disturb such a busy man, but I swallowed hard and tapped on his door. I did my job.

“Mr. Turpin, could you sign this for…?”

“What is it now?”

“It seems that so and so forgot to shave his legs, and he needs his legs shaved so that the tape will stick to his legs. He needs to check out of school and go home to shave his legs — sir.”

“What?” barked Mr. Turpin as he leapt from his desk downing an antacid on the way to the front-office, barreling toward the hunk of an athlete like a freight train.

“Let me take a look at that ankle. Weren’t you in here just last week? Asking to go home to shave your legs?”

“Yes sir, but the hair’s grown back out. If I play ball tonight, I need to go now to be ready. Coach Hodges sent me over.”
With a grimace and a lecture, Mr. Turpin finally agreed and hastily signed the permission slip.

Coach Terry Hodges

Coach Terry Hodges

Not five minutes later, another football player came in with the same story. Each time Mr. Turpin jumped from his desk, and went through the same routine. Each time acting as though he was going to refuse the request, but always Mr. Turpin gave in and signed the slip – after his lecture was heard. And each time, he turned suddenly to return to his office, downing an antacid shaking his head in disbelief.

I thought it strange; it was almost like Mr. Turpin was hiding his face with his hand as he downed his antacid. This went on for the entire hour that I was on duty, with one football player after another approaching Mr. Turpin with the same story. I just knew at any moment, Mr. Turpin would blow up like a volcano, but he never did.

As I left my class and very slowly walked down the hall toward the Home Economics building, I hoped Mr. Turpin would have the same forgiveness in his heart for me, but who was I?

I certainly was not a football player, nor a cheerleader, nor was I on the drill team. I was not even in a club, and couldn’t play a musical instrument if my life depended on it.  I was just an eighth grader finding my way through the halls of Tucker High School. My heart pounded a little harder with each step closer to the Home Ec Building. This was my third audience with Mr. Turpin.

The second time I was summoned by Mr. Turpin, he tracked me down in my art class.

I especially enjoyed my art class, because it put me in the same class with upper class-men – even seniors. What fun that was; especially when the class was asked to decorate the halls to market the Junior-Senior Prom. The theme was Hawaii.

I created a very sensual Hawaiian girl dancing the hula. Her grass skirt was made of long yellow strips of paper that hung loose from her body. She was attached to the poster paper with a spring and would wiggle as the students passed her. She was a hit, especially with the upper class-men. I wowed them with my talent.

But our smiles left us the day Mr. Turpin knocked on the art classroom door. He stuck his head in as he cracked open the door. Everyone froze as his gaze circled the room. His intense eyes landed on me. He nodded at me and pointed – silently demanding me to follow him.

I took a deep breath as all the art students stared at me. I stood and did the only thing I could, I followed Mr. Turpin. He did not speak all the way to the front office door. There he stopped at the hula girl.

I knew they should not have placed her next to that door, but the art class upper class-men insisted. And, there she was – wiggling all over herself.

Mr. Turpin stopped and stared at the hula girl as he downed an antacid. “What do you think she needs, Diane?”

“Uhhhhh, nothing sir.”

“Nothing sir? Look again.”

“Where sir?”

Mr. Turpin paced the floor for a moment and then approached me again. “Do you have any more of that red paint?”

I looked closely at the red paint on the hula girl and realized Mr. Turpin was speaking of the hula girl’s halter top. “I don’t think so…”

“You don’t think so!”

Realizing that was the wrong answer, I tried to make amends, “Well, I suppose I could mix up some more, but sir – it’s supposed to be a bikini and a bikini…”

“I know what a bikini is Diane!” He turned suddenly as I had seen him do when he really comes down on someone, almost like he was hiding his face.

“I’ll do it. I’ll mix some more red paint sir, but I can’t cover her up too much, it’ll ruin the whole…”

“A little will do,” he snapped.

The bell rang for classes to change.

“I’ll do it tomorrow…”

“No ma’am, you’ll do it now.”

“But sir, I’ll be late for my next class.”

“I’ll take care of that. Let’s go.”

Mr. Turpin escorted me back to my art class. It was quite an ordeal. As the students flooded the halls, all eyes were on me and the “Chief” – as the disguised voices of the male students announced our approach. When we got to the art class, Mr. Turpin walked in and went straight to the paint.

“Red? Where is it?”

“I’ll mix it, sir, here it is.”

Mr. Turpin carried the cup of red paint back to the hula girl. He stood there and was my assistant holding my paint. As I painted over her cleavage, he nodded with approval and then walked me to my next class. He did not speak as we walked. His silence was worse than his bark.

I promised myself to steer clear of Mr. Turpin.  And now, here I was being summoned to the Home Economics Building. What in the world could be wrong? And why the PA system? Before, he found me in class. Could it be that he could not find me, since I changed my schedule while working in Mr. Turpin’s office that day? My locker was too far away from my classes. I just could not carry so many books at one time, so I took full advantage of the front office files while there. Mr. Turpin is going to kill me today, I just know it!

I left the Home Ec building this morning after first period. I was the captain of the cooking team; eight of us including me in my group. We spent the whole class reading and preparing: how to bake a carrot cake. The class time was up and Miss Ina Mae Jones, our teacher, told us to leave the cake in the oven and she would remove it when done. I gave her the time to remove the three layers of cake. We had the frosting mixed together and would frost the carrot cake first thing tomorrow morning. We were to serve the cake at a tea for an invited teacher. Our tea time guest was Coach Terry Hodges.

Even though I needed to make quick tracks to get to the Home Economics Building, I made a mad dash for the girl’s restroom. I had to get some of this make-up off my face. Miss Ina Mae Jones did not approve of the “over done look,” and I did not want to disappoint her. Miss Jones was my mother’s Home Economics teacher and Mama told me – repeatedly – to listen to Miss Jones and obey her. Mama said she never wanted to hear of me being anything but “the perfect young lady” in the presence of Miss Ina Mae Jones. So, you see, I had no choice but to delay my summons.

Some of this mascara and eye shadow had to go.  I had recently recovered from rheumatic fever and found myself five foot seven and weighed only eighty-nine pounds. My saving grace was to fix myself up to look as much like the skinny London high fashion model, Twiggy, as possible.  Of course, I made up my face quickly after Miss Jones’ first period class. And I washed my face before going home. As I washed my face clean, my sister, Patricia, Rena Jones and Sheila Kirkman found me in the restroom.

Twiggy

Twiggy

“I figured I’d find you here. Do you know Mr. Turpin is looking for you?” asked Sister.  But before I could answer she said, “Oh my, let me help you get those eye lashes off. You can’t go to the Home Ec Building looking like this. Miss Jones might call Mom.”

“Jimmy (Cofer) said Mr. Turpin is already at the Home Ec Building waiting for you,” said Rena. “Diane, what happened to the cake?”

“What?”

“Mr. Turpin just came on the speaker again,  and said that you needed to get to the Home Ec Building, because you blew up a cake,” added Sheila. “How in the world did that happen?”

“Oh no,” I said, not believing my ears.

“Hurry Diane, you poor baby,” said Sheila, “You’ve got to get over there now.”

“I’d go with you if I could,” added Sister.

“No, I’ll go. I’ll go now and get this over with,” I said as I wiped my face with a paper towel.

“Be brave,” said Rena.

“Yes, be brave,” encouraged Sister and Sheila.

Blew up a cake! Not the carrot cake! I hurried to get there although a knot balled up my stomach the closer I came to the building. And, then there it was – just what I had dreaded most, the steep steps to the front door of the Home Economics Building, and there stood holding the door open – Mr. Turpin.

“Captain Story, so nice of you to join us,” said Mr. Turpin, “Come on in.”

I followed him to the kitchen area and there stood Miss Jones with a concerned look on her face.  “Diane, look at this. What do you think happened? You may need to form an investigative team to analyze this one.”

I looked into the oven and could not believe my eyes. The three cake layers had exploded! And the cake batter had dried on the top, sides, door, and racks of the oven. Not to mention what little was left in the pans. I didn’t know what to think or say.

I would later form an investigation committee and realize that there were nine ingredients for the carrot cake recipe. Each girl on the team would add her assigned ingredient. Since one ingredient was not assigned, I took care of that one; so did all seven of the other girls. The ninth and unassigned ingredient was baking powder. So you see, baking powder was added eight times to the carrot cake batter. But today, right now, I did not have a clue. I just knew that tomorrow Coach Hodges would not have any cake with his tea.

I stood there looking at the mess without an answer. I turned and looked at both of them. They looked at me. Miss Jones handed me a bucket and a sponge.

Mr. Turpin placed his hand on his face and turned quickly – just as I had seen him do when the football players wanted to go home to shave their legs, just as I had seen him do as he helped me paint the hula girl’s bosom. And today, I saw it – without a doubt – I saw what he tried so hard to hide – a smile!

 

All photos from 1963 THS Yearbook except Twiggy. Twiggy Google Image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Now Diane, I want you to take this and put it in a safe place. I want you to have this,” smiled Mama as she tried to hand me one of her porcelain what-knots, three little white kittens – two kittens side by side on the bottom and one kitten stacked up on top.

“No, Mama, that’s yours.”

“Well, I know it is, but I want you to put it in your secretary in your living-room. It’ll be safe there. I have too much stuff around here. It could get knocked over and broken. I’m too old to look after all this stuff…” Mama shook her head as though she was overwhelmed with her house. Then smiled while a far-away dreamy look took over her face, “Yes, I remember the day I got this pretty little thing. I wouldn’t take nothing for it. I got it at your Aunt Bonnie’s house, you know, the old Henry Cofer home place.”

“Really?”

“Yes, Bonnie and Lawton Story gave me a bridal shower – back in about – 1946. And this was one of my gifts.”
“Who gave it to you?”

“I wish I could remember; I’m sorry to say I don’t. That was sooo long ago. But I do remember unwrapping it and opening the box. I held up the little kittens and looked into their faces. I knew in my heart of hearts, that one day I would have three little kittens.” Mama sat there quietly gazing at her little kittens for a few minutes. I do believe she was at Aunt Bonnie’s home in her mind and was not yet ready to return. Finally she spoke, “Yes, I knew I would have three little kittens – as pretty and sweet as these little kittens. I knew it, and I did.”

THS Prom Night, Patricia and Tommy Story

“Mama, I hate to tell you but, you had four little kittens.”

“No, Diane,” Mama perked up and spoke confidently with a twinkle in her eye, “I had three kittens —- and a Tucker Tiger.”

A Tucker Tiger indeed!

It was the “three little kitten” for many years before the Tucker Tiger was born. My father always teased us “three little kittens,” by calling us his “boys.” Patricia, Diane and Barbara were called, Pat, Donnie and Bob by our father. When we three sisters were fourteen, twelve and ten, another baby was on the way to the Story home.

It was a cold January morning with snow, ice and power lines on the ground. The three sisters peered through the windows, and watched Mama and Daddy walk gingerly on snow and ice to the car. We watched the car tires spin and slide on ice as Daddy fishtailed up Morgan Road, and thought how in the world will they make it all the way to downtown Atlanta? And would they make it in time? A challenging day with the elements and time issues; this was the kind of day my brother, Thomas Jonathan Story, Jr., decided to be born.

And what a welcomed sight Tommy was! We were all elated to have a little boy in the Story house, a first! We could not stop looking at him! Daddy could not wipe the smile off his face, and teased us often as he said, “If I had known y’ mother was having a boy, I’d a picked her up and carried her across that ice!” He would then burst out with laughter, and we all joined in on the fun. Then we would quickly go back to our obsession of looking at our new little brother.

That little baby boy grew up with three sisters watching over him – at least one sister no more than four feet away at any given time. Though on several occasions, I have heard Tommy say, “Sisters? I don’t have any sisters; I have four mothers.”

And he is just about right!

And for all practical purposes, Tommy was an only child. But not even that stopped him from playing his favorite sport, football.

Little Tommy kicked a football up in the air as far as he could, and then ran to the other side of the front yard to catch the descending football. He got so good at beating the ball; he made a game out of counting how many seconds it took the ball to land in his arms. And the higher he kicked the ball, the more seconds he racked up. No one ever had to look outside to check on my little brother while he played football, because you could hear the thump of his left foot kicking a leather ball – about every two minutes. This went on for hours, days, months and years.

Fitzgerald Field, (named after Charles Fitzgerald), was the place Tommy put his hard work to good use. My father never missed a practice or a game. I received a telephone call from my proud father to tell me about a Saturday morning football game at Fitzgerald Field.

“Donnie, you should see your brother at that football field. ‘Never seen anything like it.  This morning he kicked a forty-five yard field goal. He’s just twelve years old. They don’t even ask the Falcon’s to do that.” Our father was so proud of his son. And sadly, that was the last football game Daddy ever saw Tommy play.

That phone call was the last time I heard my father’s voice.

That following Friday, on an October day, my father fell from the roof of the Avondale Elementary School. He was up there piecing together a new section of roof with the old section. The day after his accident, my brother had a Vikings game scheduled at Fitzgerald Field. Mama told Tommy he could stay home, stay at the hospital, play the game, or stand on the side line with Coach Doug Smith. It was his decision. After careful consideration, Tommy said, “I’ll play ball for Daddy.”

Mama and my two sisters, Patricia and Barbara, along with a host of family and friends, stayed with Daddy. My husband, Jim, and I took Tommy to Fitzgerald Field. Jim walked the sidelines, because he wanted to be close to Tommy in case he changed his mind. Jim clapped and cheered the Vikings on. I was glad Jim was there, because that’s where Daddy would be if he could.

I sat there alone on the bleachers looking about at that gorgeous autumn morning. It was a perfect day in every way, except for the fact that my father was in intensive care on life support. I thought how strange it is that the world continues on so beautifully, during a time such as this. I froze my tears and plastered a smile on my face. I can’t tell you who won, because I don’t remember. The whole game was a blur, but I do remember that every time my brother jogged out on the field to kick the ball, I stood up to applaud him.

After the game, we returned to the hospital, and waited for the inevitable. My father went to live – Up Yonder.

Each boy on Tommy’s football team honored Daddy by wearing his purple Vikings football jersey to the funeral. They sat together as a team, and as a team, they were the first to follow the coffin out of the church. The team, coaches and parents were of great emotional support to Tommy and our mother throughout the remaining football season and many years to come.

It was a difficult time for the whole family, but especially for Mama and Tommy. Mama had to learn to drive a car, and to become an independent woman. Tommy stayed busy in after school physical education where he excelled in running techniques and hitting hoops. Staying after school helped Tommy keep busy until Mama came home from work – that way – he did not have to enter an empty house – alone. And now, Tommy Story had completed his Tiger training and was ready for Tucker High School.

And what a high school career Tommy Story had! He was on the Tucker Tigers Basketball Team in his eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth year.

He was on the Tucker Tiger Track Team in his eighth, ninth, and tenth year. Tommy loves to run. He knows every mile of jogging trails in Tucker like the back of his hand. And to this very day, runs up to the top of Stone Mountain just for grins.

And last but not least, Tommy Story played his heart out as a kicker for the Tucker Tigers Football Team in his eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth year. In the ninth grade, he played first string Varsity Football as a kicker. Many articles were written about him in the AJC, local Tucker and Dekalb County newspapers. And Tommy was awarded the honor of All County and All State his Junior and Senior year.

Tommy graduated with the THS Class of 1980.

Mama supported Tommy by attending all of his games – that is except basketball. At first she thought she would enjoy basketball more than football. “Oh I just can’t wait to see Tommy play indoors! I won’t have to sit out in the cold air – through rain, sleet and snow! These Tucker people don’t have any quitting sense! They’d play football in the middle of a tornado,” Mama laughed. “Basketball will be sooo much better.”

That is what Mama thought until three minutes into the first basketball game. And she had a lot to say about that game.

“I sat on the floor level. I decided to let those younger mothers climb those bleachers. There I sat – as close to the center as possible; I wanted to see y’ brother up close and personal play basketball. All of a sudden – a whistle blew. Like to have scared me to death! I couldn’t take the noise! The yelling —- the screaming! The boys running making their shoes squeak! And that ball bouncing around —- echoed inside my head. It was just too loud! And there was too much pushing and shoving going on. And the referees didn’t do a thing about it. It was too rough. I prayed – Please Lord – don’t let these boys get hurt; this is so dangerous! And the little cheerleaders – they need to get out of the way. I wouldn’t have a daughter of mine in the middle of that mess.”

Mama rolled her big brown eyes and swallowed hard, “And then, another whistle blew – lonnng and loud! Somebody was down! A boy was hurt! I could‘ve told ’em that was gonna happen! I couldn’t see who it was, ‘cause so many were standing around the poor hurt soul. Then I looked down and saw your brother’s foot sticking out from the crowd! It was Tommy! I wanted to go down there, but y’ brother told me not to get on that court for any reason. He told me it didn’t matter if he died; I was to stay off that court.”

Mama teared up a little just thinking about it. She wiped her eyes with her dress tail, “I held my breath and prayed. Please Lord, let Tommy walk again, let the boy live. That crowd of folks stayed bent over him for such a lonnng time. It felt like an eternity. But finally —- they carried him off the court.”

And then Mama became a little bit outraged, “And they blew that blamed whistle again! I couldn’t wait for that game to get over. I told myself, Helen, if you ever get out of here, you’re never coming back!”

And Mama kept her word to herself; she did not attend another basketball game. But she found other ways to support her basketball playing son by selling tickets, baking cookies, pies and cakes. Mama never missed a pancake breakfast, and always supported the Tucker Tip Off Club. Her tickle box turned over every time she slipped the cheerleaders into Tommy’s bedroom to hide candy in his dresser drawers, and color his room in a sea of maroon and gold balloons and streamers. She also made terry-cloth tiger outfits for her grandchildren to be little Tucker Tigers.

Mama was proud of her Tucker Tiger! She never missed a football game!

On a beautiful autumn evening in Briarcliff at Adams Stadium, my two sisters and I sat with Mama at a Tucker High School football game.  It was a perfect night in every way. But strangely, I became overwhelmed with sadness as I watched my brother jog out onto the field to take his punting position.

Tommy took his time as usual to size up the situation. Now he was ready. His arms by his side, fists clenched, upper body bent forward, he stood frozen, the way he does when he blocks out everything – except for the football. The snap was good and Tommy had the ball in his hands. He paused for a moment, took a couple steps, and then put his left foot into the football. The crack of leather was the only sound made except for the crowd’s gasp. The ball soared up into the sky, past the lights and out of sight. That ball went waaay – Up Yonder.

I leaned into Mama’s shoulder and said, “I wish Daddy could see him now…”

Mama spoke with conviction, “Oh he sees him! Tom Story knows what his son is doing, believe you me! In all these years, he’s never missed a practice or a game. Y’ Daddy’s got a front row seat!”

About then the football fell back into view, and the spell was broken. The Tigers were deep in enemy territory. The crowd stood and roared in unison while the Tucker Tiger Marching Band played. The Tucker Tiger Drill Team and Majorettes danced. The children dressed as tigers clapped their little hands. The Tucker Tiger Cheerleaders jumped into formation and cheered their hearts out. It was pure magic!

Mama stood and we three sisters stood with her, as we followed her lead.

GO TIGERS! GO – YOU MIGHTY – MIGHTY TIGERS!

Little Tiger Kimberly Logan, Tommy Story's niece

 

 

Action shots taken at THS practice field – courtesy of Nona Boyd AJC 1979. Click on photo to enlarge.

 

Note: In 2008 our dear mother passed away and we have not been able to locate the newspaper articles of Tommy playing football. If you have an article or any action shots of him, and would like to share, please email: story@tuckerdays.com I want to post them for this Story! Thank you!