AVIS NAOMI TATUM WHATLEY
My grandmother (Avis Whatley) has an incredible memory. She has told countless stories, many of them almost unbelieveable, to me and her other grand-children and great-grandchildren about the many things she has experienced in her life. The following pages contain a collection of these memories. My cousin, Yvonne (Emory) Lee, asked Grandmother to record some of the wonderful stroies she so frequently shared with her grandchildren. Grandmother wrote them down into a 36 page history of her life. Yvonne then photocopied it, bound it, and distrubted it to several family members. I recieved my copy on March 2, 1995. Grandmother has been working on it for the last 6 months - 1 year.
For readability, I have transcriped the collection into this typed form. I have copied it word for word and not changed any spellings. Anything shown in [brackets] has been added for clarity. The paragraphs are numbered to show the original page numbering. I have separted the stories by indentions.
The following page is a family tree that I added and was not in the orginal writing. Avis's word's begin with a repeat of the title.
Andrew Adams Whatley
My Geneology (Family Tree) Andrew Adams Whatley ___________|____________ | | Robert Lamar Sally Elizabeth Whatley Adams ___________|_____________ | | Walter Avis Whatley Tatum __________|___________ | | Lee Naomi Tatum BarnettMemories
1 My life began on Sept. 18_1908. It began in a situation of sadness. By the grace of God I was placed in Christian home and had a very happy life. I [My] Mother [Naomi Barnett] and Dad [Lee Tatum] lived in the country near Norcross Ga. Dad & his brother were share croppers. Share croppers work the land and at the end of the year shared with the owner of the land. Dad[']s brother was a widower with three small children. My mother cooked, cleaned, [and] washed clothes [with] water drawn from a well and clothes washed in tubs & boiled in a wash pot. [When] My brother was five, making seven in the family, her health failed. She begged Dad to separate. He sighned [signed] for another year. Depression & ill health caused her to try taking her own life. She was taken to Piedmont hospital and Dad gave blood for a transfussion but alas her life was over at 28 yrs. I was three week[s] old.
2 My Mothers sister, Johnie [Wallace, after being married-Barnett before] rode in a buggy to Norcross to get me. She stopped in Atlanta to see a pidiatrion [pediatrician] & got formula etc. I learned this at age 18. She took excelland care of me. When I learned to talk, I called her Mama, Uncle Jim I called Papa. They had two girls who called their parents mama & papa.
- Now -
My memory goes back to a very young age. I use to tell the grand-children & great-grandchildren just to intertain [entertain] them. One day when I was approx two and one half years old, I awoke to find Mama gone. She had gone across the road to milk the cow. I immediately started across the road to find her. Up the "big" road (as country people called it) came a wagon with two big horses[...]
3 [...]pulling it. A black man was driving. When he saw me darting across in front of him, he stood up, pulled on the reins so hard that the horses rared up on their hind legs, [as] I ran under. I have never forgotten what horses look like from underneath. I[']m not sure, but I think the black man almost turned white. This story I dont really rember. Papa and the girls thought I was so cute. I crawled sitting up and bouncing along with my fanny. I would bounce out from the porch in their store, get a bottle of Coke form its case, [and] put in my lap.
4 Then I would bounce back to Mama. She would drink most of it, then give me sips. While I was still crawling, Mama & I visited her friend. The[y] were at the end of the porch laughing and talking. The lady stepped back on my little finger. I still have a knot on my finger. I still remember the house & the varanda. I cried, she picked me up and showed me the snow ball bush. She would say, "Here's a soft one'["]. I would say "Here's a shoft one["]. Another time we went to visit Homer Dwight's mother. The house had a long porch, a chimmey on each end, [and] step[s] inside that went to the attic. I had never seen anything[...]
5 [...]like that, so I spent lots of time climbing to the attic. Mrs. Dwight would call me to her side. She would push my hair behing [behind] my ears. I would slip back into the house. She did it again and again. I did not like it or her. She seemed to get a kick out of it. At approx. 4 years old, my cousin Clara would come across th field to play. We built a play house in an empty stall in the barn. One day Papa brought some Piney Woods Rooters, little baby black pigs. We didn't know it (or played that we didn't know.)
6 We went in to play - out came the pigs Mama picked me up and spanded me, while I was getting spanked, Clara was running home as fast as she could run, I think mama was sorry about the spanking. She was excited. They had a hard time catching them. About that time, about four 1/2 we moved to Fayetteville We moved into a big two story house, with an elderly batchers. Mama cooked and washed for him for rent payments. He gave me a baby turtle and a brand new dime
7 While we were still living in the country, I was almost four, a very unusial thing happened Clara & I were in our yard playing. We saw, comingdown the big road, (as country people called it) something strange. It had four wheels, a flat body- a wheel on a rod a seat. A man sitting on the seat was some how making it go. No horse or mule. All the grown-ups came rushing cut to see- They called it a car. The man making it go was papa's nephew. He was the son of the Dr. in Fayetteville.
8 After living there for a year we moved into a house of a Widower. He had four kids. One was my age- again mama cooked an[and] took care of the kids to pay the rent. They had a long back porch with a well in the middle Shelves were along the edge one day mama was cutting up chickens for dinner. She had to go inside for a minute. The kid grabbed the butcher knife. She started chasing me, round and round the well, saying, "I'm gonna cut you'r[e] head off.["] Boy! did I run around & around Mama come out, grabbed the knife, put it up. Grabbed the kid, turned her over her knee- pulled
9 her panties down and gave her something to remember. I shall never forget how red her little fat behind became I have a lapse of memory between six & seven. At 7 I started to school. We had moved again. Mama croched for me a cute little hat. They had double wooden desk They were supposed to be nailed to the floor. Mine came loose catching my chin & head between. It hurt and I cried. The teacher picked me up. To get me to quit crying she picked up my hat. Oh what a pretty hat Who made it for you? Between cries I said, "mama" Do you think she will make one for me. I begged mama but she never made it.
My First Christmas
If I live to be one hundred I hope to remeber my first Christmas tree. I had never seen a Christmas tree. We had some young ambicious girls from Atlanta for teachers. Our building was very old wooden frame with a pot belly stove. The teacher bought doolls for half othe girls. For the other half she bought doll cradles. For half of the boys she bought drums. For the other half she bought whistles. They ladies sociey made dresses for the dolls. We made constrution paper chains and strung pop-corn. They made paper cones & put red apples in each and oranges.