Vacation / Genealogy Trip
Day 9 – October 22, 2016
Where has the time gone… it’s my last day at mama’s, and she’s already saying, ” it seems like you just got here and now you’re packing to go home.”
We were up earlier than usual today as we planned to head back to Greene County for the last time. Our first stop was at Holcomb’s to order our BBQ and Brunswick Stew to bring home. I ordered 4 gallons of stew and 16 pounds chopped BBQ! We were bringing home 3 gallons to Connecticut, and leaving 1 gallon to fill up mama’s freezer; I can’t leave mama stew-less!!! She often goes there about once a month with friends to eat and bring stew home. I should have taken photos of all the stew and BBQ after loading it into mama’s fridge. The next morning we repacked it into three coolers; at every stop, we haul them in and out of the hotel room – it’s a tough haul, but we love it, and I have two kids at home patiently waiting. Most of the hotels we stop at have small fridges so we’re able to refreeze the ice packs; besides bringing the BBQ and stew, we also bring home Sunbeam BBQ bread… can’t buy it here. It’s a staple of the South!
Our only stop today was a visit with my cousin Charles Bryan and his daughter Lynn… and whoever else stops by; the more the merrier makes for fun conversation. We arrived by lunchtime, and I was armed with a notebook of questions on my grandfather working at the mill, and my great grandfather who sold more than just mineral water.
Lynn dug out her dad’s family photo albums and looked through them as we chatted, but they mostly were of her immediate family; photos she had shared with her parents. But every so often, Lynn said “here’s one”… so I did leave with a few new family photos.
Once I prompted cousin Charles on our great grandfather, William C. Bryan, and asked if he really made moonshine… the stories quickly flowed. I decided to write a separate blog post, so just click …More than just Spring Water… in that Wagon!
Between my mother and Charles, I don’t know who enjoyed the stories more, it’s funny how once they began talking, the two of them were really quite involved in those tales…I don’t know who enjoyed the talking more, she or Charles! I’m more of a behind-the-scene type of person, but not mama, she’s right out there and often tells me I don’t know where you get your personality from…. definitely not from me!
If I had the opportunity to spend more time with Charles… I know there’s plenty of stories just waiting to be told…I’ll be prepared with new questions on my next visit.
I recently discovered a financial document on the Chipman-Union Mill in Union Point where granddaddy Paul Bryan worked, along with many of the Bryan men. I found granddaddy’s brothers Leon, Clyde and Gordon listed. (A future post is planned on my discoveries)
In talking with Charles, I learned… “the mill ran a couple of stores where the employees purchased items they needed for work, or items produced by the mill. “There were two mill stores in Union Point, one on each side of the railroad tracks – the rat hole underneath was how everyone traveled back and forth. It never mattered if the train stopped on the tracks as you still were able to cross underneath – via the walkway. Those stores sold gas, coal, clothes, groceries… almost anything you needed. Whatever you bought, went on your tab and was deducted from your weekly wages. There were no checks, their pay with given in an envelope – cold cash. Some people ended up with only change in their pay envelope… if they over-bought!”
Granddaddy lived on Binns St…. it was just across the street from the mill. He walked the two short blocks to work every day, and when we lived there I often sat on the front steps waiting for him to walk by. Everyone knew when work was out as the mill blew a whistle that could be heard all over town; often people said they always knew it was lunchtime when the mill whistle blew.
Even though I knew granddaddy Bryan worked at the mill, which was only two blocks from his house on Binns St., I never really knew what he did…. so I asked Charles. “Uncle Paul was more of a Foreman in the maintenance department at the end of his time before retiring, but years before he worked in the spinning room and in maintenance before that… they were known as “the fixers.” Aunt Evelyn worked there also, but I don’t think for long. I really can’t even remember her working there past the late 1940’s.”
When I mentioned granddaddy in the movie “Coward of the County” – Charles laughed… “I still can’t believe Uncle Paul was in that movie as an extra, but I bet Aunt Evelyn had a hand in pushing him to do that – he made about $35 dollars for that day’s pay; she liked money! When it was decided that they would shoot scenes in the mill and looking for extras, the local woman in charge actually called granddaddy and asked him to come and try out for the scene; she knew he had the right look and told him to wear his Sunday pants and hat; that was the exact look they wanted.” I wrote a story called Granddaddy’s 15 Minutes of Fame on his short movie career.
Granddaddy lived in the last house at the end of Binns Street, the perfect place for him as it offered him land on the side of his house, as well as another field of land behind; a stream, branched off from the Ogeechee River, separated the front field from the back field where the horse stable and barn were; he built a small bridge to utilize the back field past the stream. I remember running across that bridge, and every time imagining a troll jumping up and grabbing my legs; I guess I read Billy Goat Gruff too many times! Charles told me… “Your grandfather bought the entire block of land at the end of Binns St. and eventually built three houses. He first built his house at the end, the best spot for farming, later when his son Floyd married, he built a house next door and finally, he helped your grandfather McKinley build your parents house at the top of the block.”
I’m planning a separate post to talk about the BBQ stories I learned today… Who knew granddaddy and Uncle Leon sold plates of all you can eat for $1.25! Stay tuned for a separate blog post!
I never knew granddaddy drank beer until Charles mentioned it today...”He’d go to Bill Walker’s beer joint with my father Leon, (his brother) and have “one” beer and buy a quart to bring home. That quart lasted him all week… he’d take a sip – put the top back on and then go out to the field and plow. Aunt Evelyn wouldn’t let him have any more than that every week, but he often had two beers before leaving. He might let Evelyn (my grandmother) think he was listening, but he had selective hearing with her.”
Granddaddy Paul was a man of few words…. and hearing Charles talk today about him today brought him more to life for me and painted a different picture.
We can never leave Union Point without a ride around….
A Southern weed known as “Kudzu” engulfs everything and anything in its way; you often find deserted homes almost completely engulfed. The top right photo reminded me of a dinosaur with his head high above the Kudzu. In the early 1940’s the county agents came around to the farms planting this “new” plant on the farms to control soil erosion, or so they thought. Little did they know what havoc it would reek in years to come. My granddaddy McKinley wanted no part of it and as soon as they left… he burned it all off. Many farmers lost their timber to this evil plant called Kudzu.
I don’t know what I see more of around Greene County… the huge stones or the large mounds of cactus. Mama always said these stones are the roots of Stone Mountain in Atlanta. You don’t see them in many places like this in Georgia, but all throughout Greene County they are abundant.
Jackson’s B-B Que in Union Point, Georgia
Before leaving my hometown of Union Point for the last time on this trip, we made a stop for lunch at Jackson’s BBQ. Before granddaddy began cooking BBQ, this was where he bought. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten here, so we decided to enjoy sandwiches before leaving. I ordered mama an order of onion rings as she didn’t want a sandwich, and she raved all afternoon about how good they were. LOL, they were so good that they gave her heartburn the rest of the day. It won’t stop her from wanting another order next time we stop!
Last stop for the day was back at Holcomb’s BBQ in Greensboro for my pickup of Brunswick stew and BBQ. If you’ve never enjoyed a bowl of this stew, just head on over to Holcomb’s in Greensboro, but remember they are only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And believe me, when Thursday rolls around… the locals can’t wait for lunch – everyone knows where they are going for lunch!
I missed my opportunity to take photos of the cotton field on the way home to mama’s as we discovered the trucks were picking the last of the cotton as we came by. Those “cotton pickers” ruined by Photo Opp!
Mama caught me photographing her headboard of jewelry… and shook her head! She’s quite the “jewelry hound“! I arrived home one day to discover her new fabric headboard… with the idea of attaching her jewelry to it. She could open her own store with all she has… Whenever she dresses, you’ll find her walking around looking for just the perfect piece to wear. She’s quite a character…. my friends at work refer to her as “Driving Miss Daisy” from my stories.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my memories and photos of my Vacation / Genealogy trip to Georgia. Thank’s for stopping by…
To read more posts of my Vacation Genealogy trip, click on link.
© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved