From long ago now and far away, there are memories that are cherished. Home. Family. Gran. Aunts and uncles and first cousins. Family like my children have never gotten to be a part of, extended family. It made you feel safe, secure, loved. You learned what was important even when you did not know that you were being instilled with values and wit and humor. My ancestors James Richardson Isbell and Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell lived in that
little community of Paint Rock while other kin lived in Larkinsville and other surrounding towns and communities. In Jackson County during those days Isbell was a fairy common name. There was John Isbell, James Isbell, Allen Isbell, Levi Isbell. There were Birdwells, too. John Birdwell, Elizabeth Birdwell Isbell’s father, with all his family were in Jackson County before statehood as well. There were the Houk and the Peters families, and the
Murray lines. Rev Simeon Houk whose wife was Tobitha Murray Houk married William Deaton Jackson Murray and Susan Anna Isbell Murray in the year 1848 in Jackson County.
My Birdwell/Isbell line settled in Jackson County, Alabama after they had brought their family into the Mississippi Territory a good fourteen years before statehood. And then moved to Franklin, now Colbert County, Alabama. But first were the towns of Paint Rock and Woodville, Trenton, Pleasant Grove, and the communities of Aspel and LimRock and all the surrounding little towns and communities.
When I read the account of one man named Hodges recount in a speech in 1993 his experience and delight in being born and raised in the little community of LimRock and Aspel. His title is Judge Bob Hodges and his story sounds so much like one that my Gran may have told. It made me feel at home, safe, and longing for the good old days, the simple days, the days of extended family. The content of his speech follows:
AN ADDRESS AT LIM ROCK ‐ ASPEL HERITAGE DAY on October 9 , 1993 by Jackson County Circuit Judge Bob Hodges
Before you take anything else I say seriously, I want to read to you my father’s business card he used at Hodges Drug Store for over 30 years: “Robert Leslie Levi Buchannon Fairbanks Hodges, Jr……. Born on land lying N W One-fourth o f S E One ‐ fourth of Sec 10, Township 4 , Range 7E, Berry’s Cove, North Lim Rock, Alabama…… Now located in trading business about, 1 2 miles N E born site…….Come’n see me…. T
elelphone: Day: 2 longs and 1 short Nite: 2 longs and a half….” As you can see, he never forgot where he came from, and he was one of the best representatives o f the Lim Rock Chamber of Commerce who ever served. My roots go back here a t least three generations before me, and my memories of this community go back to the years of my childhood just before World War II. I want to share some of them with you today, because the heritage of a place, to me, means what culture that place has left us ‐ that unique and special quality a community has that is measured not just by its physical boundaries and its geographical features, but by its people: Who they were, what they believed in, and what they raised their children to be. And so, as I began thinking about what to say today, I considered In any memories of this community and its people, and ‘the special place it has occupied in my heart and in my family.
It began, for me, over 60 years ago, when three brothers left the cotton fields here on a sharecropper farm and moved ten miles up the road to the big city of Scottsboro. Each of them, my Dad, my Uncle Mess, and my Uncle Charles, never missed a chance t o remind travelers who stopped at Hodges Drug Store ‘that Lim Rock and Aspel were not just places you passed by on your way from Woodville to Scottsboro ‐ Lim Rock and Aspel, to them, was an oasis where you could come from Huntsville or Scottsboro or wherever else and quench your thirst for plain and simple beauty and good solid. working people who loved a good laugh and a rocker on the porch in the evening after a plate of pinto beans and corn bread and turnip greens, and the sound of the animals in the barn at night. The stuff a farm boy never finds, no matter how long he has been gone from the farm and no matter how far removed he has become in his dress and his income, from that simple beginning. The stuff he always longs to return to, and he can only find in a place he called home.
From my great ‐ grandfather George Johnson Hodges, known to the folks in this community only as Crockett, or my Grandfather Bob, for whom I was named, to my father, I learned legends of the people who lived here. They were told over and over to me and to others in my hearing so many times that they have become the stuff of this community. Whether they ever really happened or not is now not important to me when I think of them and of this community ‐ What i s important is the humor and the dignity of those who were portrayed in the stories I heard and the respect of the storytellers for them and for this community.
M y memories begin with evenings spent with. my grandfather here as a very small child on the porch of a two ‐ story log house which sat just over yonder around the curve from the Methodist Church. And I remember the smell in the springtime in those evenings of freshly turned earth, and of his eagerness over the crop he thought he could coax out of it, and of our watching and waiting for the sound of the Joe Wheeler to come churning through the night, its whistle blowing for the people of Lim Rock.
I remember Clyde Gentle’s store, where my father had his first job as a boy clerking and keeping up with the eggs and chickens on the rolling store, and the smell of pine wood floors and kerosene, and the sight of mule harnesses hanging from pegs, and glass jars of candy, while we waited for the Joe Wheeler to return me to Scottsboro after a weekend. Even as a child, there was a sadness on leaving, a sense that the old man in the overalls who was waving bye to me as the train pulled out from Clyde Gentles’ store, and so many others like him in this community were somehow special parts of my beginning that I wanted to come back to and hold on to until I understood the peace and the simple virtues of this place.
I remember cotton fields and hoes and long pick sacks and the hot day in the field when my grandfather and Charlie Stewart watched me drink in gulps from a cool thermos jug and then cackled and told me it was a chamber pot they kept under the wagon for themselves.
Some of the past citizens of this community, many of them now dead and gone, have become legends in my mind, because of the stories I was told about them. The athletes in Lim Rock took on superhuman proportions for me. Dr. Rayford Hodges swore to me in the drug store as he was sipping his coffee, time and again, that Rabbit Gray, the catcher for Lim Rock’s baseball team, played barefooted and once caught a foul ball that traveled 200 feet and never got higher than his head. M y father swore to me that Shine Lusk kicked a 50 yard field goal barefooted for Lim Rock’s football team, against the wind, in the closing seconds of a big game against Aspel.
The people of this community were always church ‐ going people on Sundays. My father’s earliest memories were of being carried in a wagon by my Grandmother to the Primitive Baptist Church. He remembered it well, because when they got to my Grandfather with the footwashing, he always let out a cackle when they got to the foot with the stub of a little toe he had cut off when cutting railroad ties.
The people of this community“ have always stood out for me as being folks with a never ‐ give ‐ u p attitude. Through the droughts, the flooding rains, the bitter winters, the poverty of the depression, the great tornado that swept through Paint Rock and here, the infant flu deaths that struck family after family ‐ through all those times when it seemed that a mother and father and children could not possibly hold up for another day ‐ your ancestors and mine ‐ and some of you who are older and here today ‐ squared up your shoulders and spit on your hands and went back to work and endured. I think that never ‑ give ‐ u p attitude is best remembered by me in a little story by Bob Hodges my grandfather told me that happened back in the late twenties.
My Uncle Mess, an older and larger boy than my father by far, had my father down, pinned flat to the ground, pummeling him at will, when my grandfather discovered them on his way back from milking. “What’s going on here?”, he asked. Immediately, my father, who was flat on his back and taking a mighty whipping, said: “Papa, you better get him off of me or I’m gonna kill him.”
The generations of the people of Lim Rock and Aspel before us were hard ‐ working, church ‐ going, mostly quiet ‐ spoken people, it seems from my memory and from stories I heard. But in all that toil and adversity they faced as farmers and farmers’ children, there beat within many of them the pulse of a sense of humor that no other community surpassed.
My father never got past the little nine ‐ grade school house that used to sit down the road over yonder, and he always envied his older brother, Charles, for being so bright and for getting a college education. There came a day when my father’s old school teacher came in the drug store to get a prescription filled and my father” waited on her. He was working there as a teenager then, and he had some conversation with the lady, and then called all of us employees over t meet her.
We gathered around, and he said, “Now, Miss Birdie, tell all these people what you just told me.” She looked at u s and said: “He was the brightest student I ever had. He made all A’s and h e could work any problem I ever gave him. He was a brilliant student.” My father swelled up and beamed at all of us, and the little old lady made her way to the store going out, and she turned, looked back at my father, and said: “CHARLES (not R.L.), it sure was nice to see you again.”
My grandfather and my father had the same name, except for the junior and senior that separated them. One day a juror summons came to the drug store delivered by the sheriff and made out to just R . L . Hodges. My father made a call to the courthouse and discovered that, by the birthdate, it was intended for my father. He called my grandfather to the store and told him he had a jury summons delivered there for him.
M y grandfather took the subpoena, never said a word, went to the courthouse the next week, and served on the jury. Many months went by, with never another word being said. Then, just before Christmas, Mr. Brad Stewart, a long ‐ time friend and customer of m y father’s, delivered a nice big country ham to m y father as a gift, wrapped in brown paper and labeled “R.L.Hodges.” My father put it on a table at the back of the store until he could take it home at quitting time. In comes my grandfather, walks straight to the back room, picks up the ham, and starts out the drug store. “Papa” screamed my father. “Papa ‐ that’s m ham!” “Son,” my grandfather said, “If that was my name on that jury summons, that is my name on this ham.” And off he went.
Lim Rock and Aspel people have always been known as good neighbors. My grandfather Bob Hodges’ neighbor was Charlie Stewart, who lived on the next farm down the road toward the school house. One cold January day, when the snow was on the ground and more predicted, a Saturday, my grandfather told Charlie that h e was taking his wife and children down to Paint Rock Valley to sit with a sick relative for the night, would be gone the whole weekend, and would Charlie milk the cow and feed the mule the next day. Charlie readily agreed to help out.
The next morning, more snow having fallen during the night, and bitter cold, Charlie came trudging up in the darkness, milked the cow, set the pail on the back porch, fed the mule, and on his way out through the snow, just as he passed my grandfather’s bedroom window, my grandfather threw up the shade and the window, and said, “Much obliged, Charlie.” You don’t find good neighbors like that any more.
There are many, many other stories I could tell which reflect the solid kind of people who founded this community and those who came after them. It says something about what we revere in this community and its people that those of us who have ties here come back and back again and are here today to celebrate it.
Someone once wrote that you can never really go home again, but I think we can, time and again, in our memories. Less than thirty days before my father died, just before Christmas of 1983, we took our last ride together. He was s o frail I had to help him in the car, and he was so weak he could hardly talk above a whisper. “We’ll o anywhere you want,” I said as I backed the car out of his driveway. “I’ll show you,” he said, and he just from then on, pointed his finger where he wanted me to turn.
W e came here, and w e rode through Aspel and by Jenny’s Chapel and past Gentry Hastings’ house and down to Pinky’s Store to say hello and then by the old Clyde Gentle store where he first worked as a boy. And then on we went, by the fields where there used to be cotton and by the piece of ground where the barn and log house once stood, and around the curve where the old schoolhouse once stood, and then out into Berrys Cove where he was born, until. he became too tired to continue. He wasn’t talking during the ride, but both of us were thinking of these communities and his childhood and all the years that had brought him full circle back to here. You see, he never ever forgot that this was home. And you never ever forgot to take him in. That is why I am here today, and that is why I thank you for letting me be a part of it.
The phone number has changed for us – It’s no longer ” 2 longs and 1 short”, but our “trading business“, as he said on his card, is still about 1 2 miles
northeast of Berrys Cove, and, for our family, this is still home.
Robert L . (Bob) Hodges practiced law before being elected Circuit Judge of Jackson County, Alabama. He is a highly esteemed judiciary by profession, much sought after as a speaker, and without equal as a storyteller and writer. Bob is the son of the late R . L and Zelma (Nichols) Hodges, Jr. who set an impeccable example before him.
after the ordeals encountered on April sixth and seventh 1862. Least of all for those who survive. Maybe that was the point, they had survived; and that was a big point for so many of them did not survive. The place was known as Pittsburg Landing. The location in Hardin County, Tennessee was just above the state line above Corinth, Mississippi. Another name for the place and event was Shiloh. The 16th Regiment of Alabama Infantry fought there alongside a host of other Alabama regiments. The 16th is especially pertinent to Shoals area folks. So many of us are descended from that ragged and war-torn group.
The campaign was for Federal Penetration up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. Key Individuals Involved in the Battle of Shiloh: Union had Major General Ulysses S. Grant and Major General Don Carlos Buell; Confederate had General Albert Sidney Johnston and General P.G.T. Beauregard; Alabama had the likes of Hester, Bowen, Lucas, Terry, Peebles, Abernathy, Elkins, Sparks and the list goes on and on.
Charles Albert Brock is? He wrote this song way back yonder.
those Peebles’ hands. I like to think that I carry a little bit of Gran around with me as I too have those hands. I have often wondered who gave those hands to Gran (Robert Duncan Peebles) and how many generations they go back. There are many of us who have those hands. I could name a few: mother,
Ellen,me, Gran, Rayburn, Sandra, and Chad. I never notice them on anyone else, but with age I have learned that they are a symbol of strength and so
what if jewelry and nail polish could never make them look more ladylike – every time I look at my hands I remember. I remember Gran. Gran as stated before was one who when he died left each and every grandchild believing that he/she was his favorite. And I consider that a great accomplishment.
Chad Peebles has those hands, as does his Dad. Chad is right now using those hands to grasp those big bullets (I guess they are actually grenades) and load them into those pop guns that could cause someone to meet Allah sooner than they may wish to ordinarily. He is a Marine, our favorite Marine, currently serving this country that we so love. His father, Anthony Peebles, served in the military and was one of those who went to Grenada; he is another of my heroes. And sure as God made little green apples, he would druther, if he had his druthers, be home holding those he loves in those Peebles hands attached to those Peebles arms.
One of Chad’s sisters, Beth, cross-stitched the following poem about her Daddy’s hands many years ago. It describes those Peebles’ hands pretty well, I think.
I remember Daddy’s hands folded silently in prayer,
And reaching out to hold me when I had a nightmare.
You could read quite a story in the calluses and lines.
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind.I remember Daddy’s hands, How they held my Mama tight,
And patted my back for something I’d done right.
There are things I’ve forgotten that I loved about that man,
But I’ll always remember the love in Daddy’s hands.Daddy’s hands, were soft and kind when I was crying.
Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle,
But I’ve come to understand,
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.I remember Daddy’s hands working till they bled,
Sacrificed unselfishly just to keep us all fed.
If I could do things over, I’d live my life again,
And never take for granted the love in Daddy’s hands
~ Unknown author
Godspeed Chad Peebles. Thank you for your service to our country. Your family anxiously awaits your return and the return of all those brave boys and girls who are serving in the military. I would wager to say that there will be a lot of those Peebles’ hands waiting to shake your Peebles’ hands when you get home.
with the event he and Ian Sanford are putting together for downtown Sheffield. The event is called Back to the Sixties on Saturday Night. It will be held Saturday, May 28, 2011 on Montgomery Avenue 6:00pm – 10:00pm. Included in the performer lineup for the event are the Weejuns. Weejuns I asked? What are weejuns? Perhaps they are ‘Long Tall Texans’ with a penny in their shoe.
Photos of Norwegian farmers wearing loafers to perform work inspired the re-introduction of them here in the United States. That was back in the 1930s. In the 1950s they were again popular, very popular.
The shoes featured no buttons or shoestrings, had a low heel, and fit below the ankle. Loafers suddenly became quite popular, and were manufactured by both Spaulding and the Bass Company. Bass retained the Norwegian name for loafers, calling them Weejuns. One can still purchase Bass Weejuns today, though technically they only differ from other loafers in name.
The shoe had a mouth opening which soon was used to hold an ornamentation – perhaps a penny and thus penny loafers became a style. Penny loafers often held a dime instead of a penny. If a girl’s date got out of line she could call home on a pay phone. We called the dime or dollar mad money.
Never having been a material girl, it is just now that I realize that you were not cool unless your penny loafers were Weejuns. By that statement I’m not confessing that anyone was or was not cool in high school, I just did not care if the brand name of my penny loafers was Weejuns.
for each of us and our families and …
This came in an email from a friend, no author was provided.
or is it funny? It is truly the life in your years that is important. This graphic came in an email from a friend, so I adapted it from the MILK slogan to the MOMS slogan. The MOMS slogan must be very meaningful and purposeful. It must resonant with the kids. Now, what will it be? Post your suggestions.
Just know that Mother is the first one they cry for at birth and the one they scream for when hurt on the battlefield. Never let anyone make you think you are not important or a piece of property or a piece of anything else; or omg* and wtf**…hazardous material!!!!!!
As a widow with a young daughter and young son a fellow teacher found herself in a dilemma. She was a wonderful lady I taught with many years ago who said this about mothers when her son was taunting her authority as Mother, “There is one thing for **** sure, you know who your Mother is; and all you know about your Father is what I told you.” I have never forgotten that phrase or that teacher. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world – no more, no less.
- It’s Official…I’m Becoming Me (theeasyplace.wordpress.com)
- The Soapbox: A sense of humor is your number one weapon (massively.joystiq.com)
you know, the inside scoop, the real tidbits that make her human, and all about her talent for we know that there are many still around here that knew and worked with her. First hand accounts of any story or person are always the best.
Ava Aldridge was born 21 Feb 1946 and died 12 August 2003 of cancer. She was a Sheffield girl; a river rat. And a very talented one at that.
Ava Aldridge was an acclaimed songwriter and vocalist and beloved figure in the Muscle Shoals music industry, who recorded as a solo artist for MCA in the 1970’s and sang backup for artists like Hank Williams Jr., Delbert McClinton, Amy Grant, Crystal Gayle, Percy Sledge and Wilson Pickett.
She is probably best known as a songwriter, however, whose compositions include “Sharing The Night Together” for Dr. Hook and “Treat Her Right” for Sawyer Brown. Ava was also renowned in the Muscle Shoals music industry for being one of the area’s finest songwriting mentors, always eager to assist young talent as they navigated their careers and burgeoning talent. Sadly, Ava died August 12, 2003 of cancer in Sheffield, AL at age 57. Her impressive legacy of music continues to inspire countless Muscle Shoals musicians.
Singer, Songwriter. Her songwriting crossed several genres, and she wrote songs for country, rhythm and blues, gospel, and pop music, with two of her songs reaching high chart status twenty years apart. In 1976 she co-wrote the song “Sharing the Night Together” with fellow songwriter Eddie Struzick. After being recorded by several artists, the 1979 recording of the song by the group “Dr. Hook” reached Number 6 on the Popular Music charts. In the 1990s she co-wrote “Treat her Right” with singer-songwriter Lenny LeBlanc. It was recorded by the country music group “Sawyer Brown” and his rose to Number 3 in the Country Music charts in 1996. More than 150 of her songs have been recorded. (bio by: Chuck Kearns)
- Mark Narmore in his own words… (rememberingtheshoals.wordpress.com)
- Barry Beckett:… (rememberingtheshoals.wordpress.com)
- Percy Sledge Recounts His Journey From Hospital Orderly to Soul Legend (spinner.com)
- Charlene Green Montgomery (rememberingtheshoals.wordpress.com)
and make them last.
Things I learned from Cancer 101 (3)
To savor means to enjoy something with unhurried appreciation. My diagnosis came at the age of 46. I know, not so young but I was still reveling in the joy of being a Nana. My grand daughter Ryleigh had just turned two and my grandson, Trey was only 9 months old. His giggle echos to this day in my head as I remember how he loved to jump in my lap as I sang “Five Little Monkeys” Such a happy time.
The night before my mastectomy, I sat in the floor and played with them, crying and “savoring” them. I knew it would be a while before I could hold them so I “savored” them in my arms. They were so unaware. The blessed innocence of
childhood. The un-knowing-ness (If that’s not a word, it should be) of their play was so sweet.
Not one of us knew with certainty what the outcome of the next day would be. Had the cancer spread? Were the lymph nodes involved? Was there other cancer? Would these two precious little wonders remember me if I should die? Who would tell them how very much they were loved by their Nana? Would they really ever know how much I loved them? I was afraid, not of dying, that is the one certainty in life, but of being forgotten. To just be one of the faces that disappeared and was no more. I could not bear the thought of being forgotten. I knew how special a grandmother was, I had mine until I was 55 years old, and , oh how I loved her! I so wanted to be here for them.
The grand babies were going to be fine, but what of my children? My daughter and two sons were scared. It showed on their faces, but they were young. My Mother and my little Daddy were another story. I was supposed to be around to help take care of them. What if I wasn’t able to do that? My daddy cried every time I looked at him. My precious mother had a shell shocked expression. She doesn’t handle fear well at all. I just wanted to take care of them all, and I was terrified that I was not going to be around to do it. My husband, my sweet Doug, never missed a treatment. Would go and bring back burgers for anybody who needed one. In sickness and in health and he proved himself to be faithful. He is truly my better half. But what if???? What would he do without me? Who would tell him to pick up his dirty clothes? Who would remind him to cap the toothpaste, or remind him to take his medicine? The little things became so much more important and the big things that we used to worry about faded away.
What were we going to do about cancer? So many thoughts, emotions, fears to face. Talk about emotional overload, I was eat up with it!!
So surgery the next morning. I don’t remember much about that time, this is the part that gets a little fuzzy, thank heaven for good drugs. I had an incision from the center of my chest ,across and under my left arm. And drain tubes, oh my goodness, THE DRAIN TUBES!!!
People let me tell you………..drain tubes are created by Satan, straight from the bowels of Hell!!!
For those of you blissfully unaware of what those evil things are, allow me to enlighten you……..picture this….two small plastic bottles with caps, from which a tube extends. Now this tube travels into my body, up my chest and into the front part of my arm, a good foot and a half of tubing. The way this works is like this.. The bottle is compressed and capped while collapsed, so as it expands the suction pulls fluid from the chest which allows the muscle to reattach itself to the chest wall. I know sounds gross, but you should of been there! So the fluid drains. Now you get to keep these nifty little gadgets until no fluid is collected. For me that was about 8 weeks for one tube and 10 weeks for the other. After that amount of time, the incision that holds the tubing in has healed. So has everything else, which means the tubing is stuck in my chest wall and guess how the Dr. takes it out???????????? Oh yeah, he says “take a deep breathe” and proceeds to PULL it out. Oh yes!! with a mighty yank, out it comes. I could have sworn it was wrapped around a wisdom tooth, it hurt so bad!!
I have never had to have another person tell me to breathe, but on that day, Doug had to shake me and yell breathe!!! Not fun, and not something I ever want to do again.
So, the healing began. Long days of ignoring the left side of my chest. Just pretending that if I didn’t look at it, it was OK. The longer I ignored it, I could delay the inevitable. I knew I had to face the fact that my body was different, but I was not ready. When the time came, after drain tubes were out, the bandages came off. Reality would not be ignored any longer. I had decided to take a bath. So with the tub filled with a wonderful scented bubble powder and refusing to look in the mirror, I stepped in. I took a deep breathe…….and looked down. I remember putting the wash cloth over my mouth so Doug would not hear me cry….but he did. This giant man knelt down beside the tub and said ” Mama, it’s not so bad, really it’s not. It’s OK! I knew, I finally knew, I could do this. The first step in reconciling my heart and my head to deal with cancer had been taken. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS! And I have. Cancer may win in the end, but I’ll die trying to kick it’s butt!
The days of waiting for results was agonizing. The tests to see if I had lymph node involvement was agonizing. Patience, hurry up and wait. Not my strongest attribute. I hate waiting. The news was good. Thank you GOD! Finally, something was going in my favor!! No involvement. Now onward to chemo!! I figured, the sooner I got started, the sooner I would be finished. I learned this about myself……….I am a fighter! Now let’s get this show on the road!
The next thing cancer taught me was……I am strong! I am a much stronger person than I ever believed it possible to be. I know where I get it, it comes from my Father. Without his strength, I have no power. I am woman, hear me roar. Patience, strength and courage, that became my prayer. When I knew something was going to be particularly painful, I said my mantra over and over in my head. Never once did HE fail me. Not one time when I asked did HE say no. I am such a lucky child that my Father loves me so much. This I know!! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
The next lesson cancer taught me was I AM STRONG IN HIM! Fear, to Savor each day, and where my strength is found, just the beginning of lessons learned.