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Precious in His Sight

Precious in His Sight

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Precious in His Sight

205 página
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May 2, 2018


Faye Whatley Thompson was born and raised in the Deep South during a time that racial integration and segregation issues were beginning to explode into more serious problems. The year that she graduated in 1954, the law had changed that gave black people the right to go to a school of their choice. Her family had hired "colored" maids since she was a small child so her parents could work outside the home. She and many others saw how the local colored people were put to the test, which caused them hardships and even jobs if they did not cooperate with their leaders. As time passed and after many difficult situations, integration was accepted as a way of life, which offered many of the black people the opportunity to go to universities and be hired for jobs that once were only offered to the people of the white race. Her story in the book shares some of the awkward and trying situations that both races endured during this era (or period) of history. Faye's brother Andrew "Andy" Whatley was killed during a racial demonstration in Americus, Georgia, in July 1965. Faye believes that Andy's death was not in vain. Over the years, some of the major integration problems have been resolved, but we still see signs that show us discrimination may never go away. God's word says that all people were created as equals and precious in His sight. Faye believes that the sooner our world learns this altruism, the better it will be.

May 2, 2018

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Precious in His Sight - Faye F. Whatley Thompson


Chapter 1

In the Beginning

In the beginning God created . . .

It was May 1928 and graduation time for the seniors at the high school in Shellman, Georgia. Lyda Melton was graduating and had high hopes of attending Georgia Southwestern College, a junior college in Americus, Georgia. It was located about forty-five miles from her home, which was approximately ten miles from Shellman out in the country. She had applied at the college, and after a visit, she had hopes of getting financial help from a subsistence program at the college to finance her tuition. A representative of the program explained that they could help her with the college tuition but could not help her with the cost in the college dormitory. Discouraged, but not ready to give up, she searched the want ads in the local Times Recorder, newspaper in Americus for a job. She found a family who was looking to hire a nurse’s aide for a seventy-eight year old bedridden woman. With no medical training or experience, she felt she wouldn’t qualify; however, she did believe that she could do the job without any problem, so she answered the ad in the paper. As fate would have it, she was hired for the job through the mail, and one of the Whatley sons, Aultman, was sent to pick her up and brought her to Americus.

Lyda was excited that she would be able to make enough money to pursue her college career in nursing. Laura Aultman Long was the lady that she was to care for and also the mother of Lula Whatley—one day to be my grandmother. The salary was not as much as she had hoped for, but it appeared to be a good job, and thankfully, she liked Laura from the beginning because she was a sweet, kind, and gentle person. Mother had found a room to rent in a home not too far from the Whatley house in the home of a chiropractor and his wife, whose last name was Thurman. Mrs. Thurman soon became a good friend to Lyda. Since it was approximately an hour’s drive from her family near Shellman, Georgia, and having no car of her own, she couldn’t go home for frequent visits. She was delighted that she had found a good home to share with the Thurman family. Lyda and Aultman became close companions and, as fate would have it, later became man and wife. Mrs. Thurman, a Godly Christian woman, attended the Calvary Episcopal Church in Americus, and she encouraged Mother and Daddy to ask her pastor, Rev. James Lawrence, to perform the marriage ceremony. Since the Whatley family had no particular church in Americus with which they were affiliated, they asked Rev. Lawrence to perform the ceremony for them. That was the beginning of the married life of my mother and father.

Daddy was small in stature for a man and was a thin person. His height was about five feet seven inches, and Mother was five feet nine inches, which was considered tall for a woman. She also had a large-framed body. Once she had shared with me that during the ceremony, when they were standing before the priest, Rev. Lawrence, it crossed her mind that the difference in their height and the fact that she was taller than him might be a problem to him after they married. She was probably right because the few times we all walked down the street together as a family, Daddy would not walk next to Mother but would lag behind with us children in between them instead of walking side by side with her arm locked in his, as most couples did while walking down the street—at least that was the proper etiquette back in those days. My feeling is that Mother was bothered as well.

On June 13, 1933, Mother and Daddy were married. They lived with Daddy’s brother Pasley—Pat for short—and his wife, Grace, in a small town called Smithville, Georgia, just a short thirty-minute drive from Americus. A year and two months later, on July 1, their first daughter, and my sister, Linda Carol was born at their home, delivered by Dr. Prather, a prominent doctor in Americus. In those days, doctors delivered babies in the homes, and even traveled to the smaller towns surrounding Americus. Uncle Pat and Aunt Grace had a three-year-old daughter named Jean. When Jean looked at the cute little round-faced baby girl, she was so excited, with a smile on her face, she looked at the doctor and said, What did you do for Aunt Lyda to get a baby?

The doctor answered with a serious expression on his face, I gave her a shot.

Jean jumped down from the chair and ran into the kitchen where her mother, Aunt Grace, was preparing a meal and said, Mama, I want you to get a shot so we can have a little baby too.

Ironically, exactly nine months from the day my sister Linda was born, Jean had a brand-new baby sister born on April 1 (April fool’s day), and they named her Joyce.

Daddy had been hired to work with an insurance company located in Montezuma, Georgia, so Mother and Daddy moved there and lived in a two-room apartment house. Two years and a month later, on September 2, I was born. At that time, Daddy commented sarcastically to Mother, Well, I guess we’re not ever going to get a boy. To make Daddy feel better about having another daughter instead of a son, she named me Andrea Faye. Daddy’s first name was Andrew, and since Andrea is the feminine version of Andrew, that was the name I was given.

When I was three months old and Linda was about three years, Daddy and Mother decided to move to Oglethorpe, Georgia, a town just across a bridge from Montezuma. After living in Olgethorpe for only a few months, we move to Americus, Georgia, which was to be our home—and mine until I married, for many years later.

Chapter 2

Family Affairs and Other Stories

Be fruitful and multiply.

I never knew my grandfathers William Robert Whatley or John Clay Melton because they passed away before I were born, but I had heard stories about them that I feel are worth sharing.

Granddaddy Whatley was the overseer of a large plantation in a small community near Reynolds, Georgia, called Beechwood. They grew crops such as peanuts and cotton. My daddy and his family lived there for many years and raised their family of five sons and two daughters. There were colored families that lived in tenant houses on the land and worked on the farm and in the fields. Granddaddy built a small building and stocked it with food products such as staple goods, flour, sugar, rice, etc. The store was called a commissary. The black families were paid with food that they got in the store. Granddaddy must have been a kind man—except for his form of punishment on his boys when they misbehaved—and also a generous person because he built a church for the black workers so they would have a place of worship. His ability for building seem to be lacking somewhat in some areas though because he inadvertently put the steeple of the church at the wrong end of the building. More than likely, it was a source of humor until it was torn down many years later.

The cotton that was picked and made into bundles were transported by large trucks to the processing plants where the cotton gins were located. Daddy shared with us that once when he was hauling some cotton on a trip that a bale fell off the truck onto the dirt road, and he didn’t know it until he got back home that evening.

He related with a scowl on his face, My daddy made me walk thirty miles in the middle of the night all the way back to where the bale of cotton fell off the truck and bring it back home.

He never told us just how he brought it back to their home if he had to walk to the place where he lost it, and I never asked. Hopefully, someone gave him a ride along the way.

The reason for Daddy telling us this particular story, I surmised, was to let us know what a firm disciplinarian his daddy was and to let us know how lucky we were that he wasn’t as stern and domineering as his daddy. As time would tell, he came close to being like his father.

Our cousin Bill(y) Whatley told us that his dad, Uncle Pat, Daddy’s brother, had told about our grandfather William Robert, who used some cruel methods of punishment for his children. He said that Granddaddy would tie his sons to a tree and whip them with a leather strap. It sounds a bit harsh, and one wonders what they did that was so bad that he had to use that method of discipline.

When Granddaddy decided to give up his job as the overseer at the farm, they moved to Reynolds, Georgia. From 1927 to 1928, he started a logging business located in Eufaula, Alabama, which kept my daddy and his brothers employed driving the logging trucks. Granddaddy managed to make enough money in the logging industry to buy a plot of land in Americus at the end of Lee Street, on which they lived for many years. He did some farming and also managed a service station/store on Lee Street. It was located on South Lee Street and later was known as Rushin’s market and gas station.

Grandfather built a house on the land and a large barn in the back of the house where the farm animals were kept and utilized for farming. Mama Lula still lived there when my family moved to Americus in 1936, although Mama didn’t live in the original house. Mother told us it had burned down and was rebuilt with money from an insurance policy. Behind the house down a small dirt road, Mama owned two tenant houses, and our family lived in one for a little over a year. Most likely, the tenant houses were built and used at one time by either white or black farmworkers and their family.

The two houses, one of which we lived in, were made of large boards that were dark-brown wood and, obviously, had never been painted inside or out like many homes in the country back in the early 1900s. A small porch was located on the side of the house in which water was piped up through a faucet. It was mostly used for bathing purposes since there was no indoor plumbing with bathrooms, tubs, or showers in the house. There was a two- to four-seater outhouse located behind the houses, which were used for personal body functions. The smell in them, to put it mildly, was terribly offensive, but it was better than no place at all to relieve one’s self. People who lived on farms were accustomed to this way of living for many generations.

In the summer, Mother gave Linda and I baths in a large round metal container in the yard we called a washtub. That was a treat for us. As for washtubs, Linda and I didn’t have a real bathtub until later when we moved into town. Mother was a clean person, and she gave us both a sponge (bath cloth) bath every day in cold or hot weather. In the winter, we were bathed in front of indoor fireplace.

Apparently, I was born with a nature of adventure and travel in me because Mother shared the story many times of how I, at age two, somehow slipped out of our house and walked all the way on the dirt road to Rushin’s store by myself before anyone missed me. It would probably have been a good fifteen-minute walk for an adult. Believe it or not, I vaguely remember doing it.

My first cousin Tom—the only son of Aunt Annie Laurie, Daddy’s oldest sister—on occasion would come to see us when he and Aunt Annie Laurie would visit Mama Lula’s house. Once he brought a set of tom walkers, which are long sticks with a piece of wood attached in which a person would put their feet on. We all had fun trying to walk on them without falling down. Tom always joked around, and we loved to see him come for a visit.

A private airport was on land adjacent to my grandmother’s property line. As small children, it was exciting to see the small airplanes take off and land. Eventually, the airport was closed down and the property was sold, which later became a housing area and possibly, a nursing home, named Magnolia Manor, which was financially supported by the First Methodist Church in town.

Chapter 3

Robert Is Born

Man that is born of woman is but a few days.

The recent rainy weather in the area where we lived had caused a lot of problems for us. The narrow dirt road leading to our house, adjacent to the airport, was washed out; and in order to get to our house, Daddy had to drive a very old panel truck he had borrowed, on the road which was on the other side of the fence located on the airport property. Daddy was taking care of me for some reason, and I remember standing up next to him as he drove to our house. There was no such thing as a seat belt for kids back in those days. At the time, I was under two, but I still remember the closeness I felt to my daddy. He gave me special attention for some reason. My sister Linda wanted Daddy to show his love for her, but for some unknown reason, he never did. Linda’s features resembled my mother and her family, and I favored Daddy’s family, inheriting his small statue and small bones. I have been told by family members that Daddy’s older sister, Annie Laurie, and his older brother, Pat, mistreated Daddy when they were growing up. So it is possible that Linda, being the older child, reminded him of his sister who bossed him around. Like many families who have several boys, he and (Uncle) Pat fought a lot. My cousin Billy related to me that his daddy, Uncle Pat, and my daddy nearly killed each other on one occasion during a skirmish. I know my daddy had a violent temper, so it was probably the truth.

When I was four months old, Mother was pregnant again. Robert was born January 20, just seven days before Daddy’s birthday. One day Robert was lying in his crib crying, and I found a switch that mother had brought in the house to use on Linda and I if we misbehaved. Even as small as we were, we knew what a switching meant. I picked up the switch and proceeded to switch Robert, thinking—how silly of me—that it would make him stop crying.

What are you doing? Mother yelled when she saw me. Then she took the switch and proceeded to switch my legs with it. From that time on, I let Mother decide the best method to make Robert stop crying.

At age seven months, Robert caught pneumonia and colitis, which caused him to run an extremely high fever. Mother didn’t have money to buy medicine

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