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 

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).

 

 

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.