Train Whistles & Granddaddy Alexander

Train Whistles & Granddaddy Alexander

(Like Wikipedia, I welcome people to add names & pics… I will add things as I find them).

 

steamengine_TVA

(Thanks, TVA for the pic.. this is a restored, 1904 engine that ran on Southern Railway!) 

William Oliver Alexander : May 15, 1875 – June 29, 1935. Southern Railroad Locomotive Engineer.

Friday evening September 28, 2018 location = Collegedale, Tennessee, Collegedale Greenway 

Ammon and Sean were walking and scootering about 5 minutes behind me as I jogged at Collegedale’s Greenway in Collegedale,Carter was at home with Nana recuperating from his hernia surgery. I was jogging beside the railroad track headed toward’s Collegdale’s Southern University, and I heard a train coming: Sometimes it’s a CSX train, and sometimes it’s a Norfolk Southern train. Traveling at about 35-40 MPH a Norfolk Southern diesel locomotive comes barreling into the clear. I smiled, kept jogging, and I waved. Of course, trains blow their whistles at the crossings, and the engineer had just passed the College Station Crossing. I had no idea if my waves would illicit a friendly blow, but THEY DID …. “Toot, Toot…. toot ,  toooooot”: I smiled from ear to ear and continued jogging. Granddaddy Alexander whom I never met (he died 31 years before I was born) immediately came to mind…. However….

Join me  the summer of 1988.

My dear friend of  mine, Loraine Morgan Hammontree (February 2, 1913- May 13, 1989) , and I had been cultivating our awesome, Varnell friendship, and she had said, “Uh, Haven, would you like to visit my sister (Ralph Morgan, I’m tracking you down for her name! LOL) in Dalton. She can tell us some stuff about Varnell from our childhood.”  Loraine’s sister was several years older than Loraine and she couldn’t drive, and neither could Loraine who had heart failure. I rearranged some of my busy, summer schedule (I was in town for the weekend from Lipscomb University Summer Semester where I was just about to finish my last year) , and we drove to Dalton. Loraine’s, sister was so hospitable and so sweet, and charming. I fell in love with her lovely demeanor immediately.

 

Loraine: Haven, I was just a kid and I don’t remember, but my sister remembers living in the Alexander’s house in Varnell. (Turning to her sister) Tell Haven about living there and Mr. Alexander.  Mr. Alexander was Haven’s great-grandfather.

Loraine’s sister: (With a huge smile). I didn’t know that! Let me tell you.  You know , Mr. Alexander had a fixed schedule, and we always kind of knew he was coming. He would begin tooting the whistle as he entered Varnell, and we would run down to the track. The train went right in front of the Alexander house, and he was going slow. Depending on what he had, he would toss it out to us kids. Sometimes, it was candy wrapped in sacks and sometimes it was bags of coal we needed for our coal-burning stove. It was like having Santa Claus!

Loraine: (Turning to me with a huge smile.) Yeah, just like Santa Claus, that’s just what I was thinking.

The visit was perfect, and I had spoken with someone who knew Granddaddy Alexander personally. I took Loraine home with a full heart and lots of joy.

Before I finish this Santa Claus tale of  Granddaddy Alexander, I ‘ve got to share one more thing (I could be dead tomorrow, and I want Carter & Ammon to know) LOL ….

Trains (Steam engines in the 1900s – 1930s) were steam engines and so different from the powerful diesels of today. The trains stopped at every “pig trail” in those days. Granddaddy Alexander’s route took him from Atlanta to Chattanooga. When stopping at the “pig trails”, boys from the local area would bring stuff (nuts, berries, live animals such as baby squirrels or baby opossums) to sell to him. He would buy whatever for a few pennies. On up the line, while stopping for water, coal, or passengers, he would let the animals go free. He sometimes would even take a baby squirrel or a baby opossum back to his house in Atlanta for Nanny, Madeline, and Florence to play with!  In a few weeks he would put them back in his pocket, take them to Inman Yard where his engine was then carry them back up towards Chattanooga where he would set them free.

Back to September 28, 2018-

As I turned around to face my jogging destination, I was overcome with emotion, and tears came unexpectedly into my eyes as I started sobbing  with happiness about Granddaddy Alexander as I trotted onward.

No one is ever perfect, but William Oliver Alexander was a good, caring human with a wonderful heart.  His girls (Mary Naomi Alexander Caylor, Gloria Madeline Alexander Kirk, and Florence L. Alexander Sheeley) adored him. Nanny always shared how he loved life, loved to joke, and loved nature.

With my memories and the wonderful avenue of the Internet and/or writing journals, I can keep Granddaddy Alexander and his story “alive”.

-Happy Saturday to all- Haven

Correct Alexander Dates

My Great Grandparents buried in Varnell, Georgia

My Great Grandparents buried in Varnell, Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the Hartsfield Family Bible, The Atlanta Journal -June 29, 1935, and The Dalton Citizen News the week of May 9, 1945, the stone should read:

William Oliver Alexander : May 15, 1875-June 29, 1935

Sarah Maro Cox Alexander: September 26, 1886- May 9, 1945

These great-grandparents are paternal, and it goes next to Mary Naomi Alexander Caylor (May 15, 1918-August 10, 1985), to Oliver Haven Caylor (September 19, 1939-May 28, 1982) to me, Haven William Caylor-Brown (May 7, 1966-present).

 

 

Cousin Linda/Daddy’s Birthday

Daddy’s Birthday

Once again, thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to meet a family member and do some good chatting…both online and phone. My 2nd cousin’s name is Linda Kirk. She is 8 years younger than my father, but she spent A LOT of time with Daddy, Nanny, & Granddaddy.

It’s such a treat to hear her perspective of Varnell, Georgia during the 1950s with my father. My father had a wonderful (no, nothing is ever perfect as we all know) childhood with Linda, her mother, Madeline, her father, Charles, and Linda’s brother, David. As has been told by Nanny Caylor and Linda, there was hardly a weekend that went by (for years and years mind you)  when the Caylors and the Kirks were not together.

Well, today is Daddy’s birthday (he would have been 73), and I know that Linda is like me and filled with wonderful memories of a wonderful man, my father. However, I’m envious of her because she got to know him as her “big brother” cousin who knew each other as human beings so to speak. Knowing my father as a human being was something I only got to know for a little while, and it was still that “friendship/father” relationship.  Linda and I each have our own set of blessings that came from knowing Oliver Haven Caylor….cousin to her…father to me. Happy birthday, Daddy!

Daddy would be 73 today!!

Carter & Ammon: Laughter Memories (Haven & Nanny)

Ammon's Irises

Carter & Ammon

Carter and Ammon
Okay, to begin with, I don’t have a bath picture of Carter and Ammon.
Ammon picked me some irises Saturday evening then Sean gave both Carter and Ammon a bath. During the bath, I stayed in the kitchen (some 40 feet away from the bathroom but with CLEAR ear shot) to do some cleaning. It wasn’t exactly the conversations that were clear and enjoyable but the laughter. I just had to stop and enclose the moment in my “Carter and Ammon treasure chest” that is in my heart.
My Nanny Caylor and I were parents at two different times in life: I became a parent at 42, and my Nanny became a parent at 21. However, when the laughter started I had a flashback of my Nanny telling a story about my father and his younger brother when she was a young parent. In 1944, Nanny, Granddaddy, my father, and uncle were in Brunswick, Georgia where Granddaddy was working in the shipyards to fulfill the government’s requests to keep Granddaddy working for the government without being drafted. They were living in “modern” apartments with showers: running water and showers were not a part of their house built in 1867 back in good ol’ Varnell, Georgia. Nanny was telling me the story in her kitchen about a year after my father, her son had died. It was probably the autumn of 1983. We were talking about modern conveniences, and she was telling about how modern the Brunswick apartments felt in 1944. Daddy and his brother were at the ages of like 5 and almost 2 in 1944, and they would play in the shower for fun and entertainment. That day in Nanny’s kitchen she had a flood of memories, and she said, “I can just hear them playing and laughing in the water now.” It had only been a year since the death of her eldest son, and we were all still grieving. She was standing at the stove, stopped, and tears began to fall down her cheeks. Missing my father, I got weepy as well. There was no wailing, but we had a brief cry then continued with our evening.
Last Saturday night, I became “misty-eyed” again thinking about my love for my father and my grandmother and shed a tear of happiness for having my Carter and Ammon. Since their births, their laughter has become my most favorite sound on earth.

Daddy’s Birthday (September 19, 1939)

He was born in Varnell, Georgia on Tuesday September 19,
1939. He was the first of only two children born to Troy and Naomi Caylor. He was
born at his Nanny Alexander’s house (Nanny, Granddaddy, and Daddy lived with
Nanny Alexander until January of 1941). I forgot the name of Daddy’s doctor,
but Nanny Alexander was in the room when Daddy was born. During the whole
pregnancy, Nanny knew in her heart and prayers that she was going to have a
girl. She had grown up with two younger sisters and was surrounded by girly
things for so long, she just knew she was having a girl…God had a surprise!

When Nanny woke up from the anesthesia and learned she had a
boy, she had a split second of disappointment. She even had Daddy’s name picked
out as Hannah Rebekah (both from the Bible); however, when she heard the news,
she, of course, had to give up all of her plans. Knowing Nanny the way my Nanny
Alexander and Granddaddy did, they knew she wouldn’t mind if THEY named him (I’m
serious. They knew she wouldn’t mind, and she didn’t). While Nanny was sleeping and Nanny Alexander and Granddaddy gave Daddy his first bath, they named him Oliver Haven Caylor: Oliver from Nanny’s father, William Oliver Alexander, and Haven from
Granddaddy’s father, Luther Haven Caylor.

I could keep writing and writing about Daddy, but emotionally it’s kind of
difficult, so I will say just one more thing. From 1979 until his death on May
28, 1982, my father and I shared a multiplicity of wonderful times together. My
favorite times that I have stored in my heart were when he and I traveled back
and forth to church together and discussed the Lord, the Bible, school, life in general, and Coonhounds. It was such a wonderful and fulfilling experience having Daddy
as both my earthly father AND brother in Jesus Christ. That precious bond is
something that death and time cannot erase. Happy Birthday in heaven, Daddy.

Granddaddy/Grandmaw Stone

September 10th (yesterday) would have been my
granddaddy’s 94th birthday. Once again, his name was Troy Dewitt
Caylor. He was born on September 10, 1917, and he died on March 29, 1979. He
was one of those grandfathers that could almost be an ideal cliché: He smoked a
pipe, he could do carpentry, was an excellent farmer, loved yard work, could
fix anything that had an engine, could make crafts and holiday sceneries, and
most of all, he loved his family. I was almost 13 when he died, but I have so
many cherished memories of that man. I loved him dearly, and he loved me. As I
have said before, he showed all of his grandchildren so much love. I have
someone else to add to my “Happy Birthday” to Granddaddy message. I simply know
her as Grandmaw Stone.

My granddaddy’s
family was hit hard by the Spanish Flu of 1918. Granddaddy’s parents and four
siblings were gravely ill, and, unfortunately, one of his older sisters, Billie,
died. The family lived in Varnell, Georgia. Granddaddy’s grandparents, the
Caylors, lived there as well. However, afraid of the flu themselves, they did
not enter my grandfather’s house for fear of catching the dreaded disease. They
would bring food and supplies to the house, but simply leave it all on the
porch and return home. Grandmaw Stone did not live in Varnell. She lived in
Chattanooga, Tennessee. She was Granddaddy’s step-grandmother. My great-grandmother Mattie Stone Caylor’s mother had died when she was a young girl, and her father remarried the woman of whom I am writing, Grandmaw Stone. Well, the family was “falling by the way-side”: They were all sick, and Billie had died. Enter Grandmaw Stone: A woman of faith, courage, and love of family.
She had other children and grandchildren
to worry about, but she left her “disease-free” home in Chattanooga, took the
train to Varnell, and walked right through the front door of my Granddaddy’s
house. She took over! She nursed my great-grandparents and Granddaddy’s three
surviving, older siblings, cooked food, cleaned the house, and started the
laundry. When everything had calmed down, she found my Granddaddy who had been “tucked away and forgotten” basically resting peacefully in his crib without, praise be
to God, the flu. She picked him up, changed his soiled clothes, and fed that
boy. She told my Nanny Caylor years later, “That boy was just about starved to death!”

My Nanny and Granddaddy were married in 1938, and I know
Grandmaw Stone was still alive then. My Nanny loved her! Nanny said she was so
kind, loving, and had lots of pep for a lady her age. Nanny said one thing
Grandmaw Stone always said for the years left that she knew her was that when
she saw Granddaddy, she said, “There’s my boy!” She had several other grandsons
and nephews, but no one else was “her boy” but Granddaddy because of that bond
they shared. So, thank you, God, again, for Granddaddy, and thank you for Grandmaw
Stone . Oh, my, the admiration and love I have for Grandmaw Stone, and she died
many, many years before I was born.

Headed to Mamaw’s

Because of major time needed to pack/throw things away, Carter and Ammon are headed to my mother’s house for the day. They LOVE going to Mamaw’s house. Carter especially will ask several times a week while we are playing,  “We go Mamaw’s house?”. I kinda feel the same way. The house is where I grew up in Varnell, Georgia. This June will make Mamaw’s 40th year living there. I could write and write about Mamaw, but all I am going to say today is that she is one of my heroes in life: wonderful wife, devoted daughter to her parents, awesome mother, spectacular grandmother to her four grandchildren and one great-grandchild, breast cancer survivor, and so much more. Mamaw, we love you!

Mamaw, Ammon, Carter, & Sophie July 2010