Sounds From Grandad's Victrola
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I was born there at Lurton, AR and we moved away in 1944. I am not sure of a date but it was still warm because I can remember no discomfort in the back of the truck from cold. I have found out for sure that we were in the back of Berry Hefley’s truck. We made the trip to Oakland, CA and were there for two years. My mother was working in some kind of defense plant, as it was during the war. My Grandmother Smith tried to take care of us while Mom was working, during this time.
My mother met my stepfather there in Oakland. His sister was married to Mom’s nephew, Jimmy Smith. Jimmy was the son of Jim Martin Smith and Gracie Greenhaw. My mother and Stepfather were married in a double wedding with Lebrisha and Curly Mock. My stepfather was from Fouke, AR, where I now live. We moved to Fouke in the fall of 1946. My stepfather was a first cousin to Austin Davis. Austin, as you probably remember, was married to Juanita Smith. Austin was in the Lurton area because of the CCC camp and he was from Fouke. Floye’s first husband, Amos Green was from Fouke, also in the CCC camp. So, I think it was through Austin and Juanita that my stepfather’s sister met and married Jimmy Smith. Then through all of them, my mother met my stepfather. Small world sometimes.
I made trips to Lurton with my family from time to time. Uncle Andrew Smith and his sons still lived at Lurton. Uncle Mitchell and some of his family were there. Uncle Foy lived over on Kent Mountain at the time. Uncle Harry and Yvonne were there also after their marriage. Granddad and Grandma Sutton was there along with Uncle Irving and Aunt Ruby Sutton. Bobby, Sonny and Halleen were all a part of the visits we made when going back to Lurton.
When I visited my Grandparents there at Lurton, I did not really feel very welcome. I could feel a difference in the way I was treated. They were a little like strangers. I felt a strain and an uneasiness when around the Suttons. My dad, Charles Sutton made me feel the same way. There seemed to be an air of authority around them that made me feel uneasy. Uncle Harry was easier to be around than the rest, to me. He was more like a normal person. They were different from the Smiths. The Smiths were more outgoing and had feelings of compassion…friendliness I guess is the word I am looking for. The Smiths seemed to be more soft hearted than the Suttons. My impression was that the Suttons could not or would not show much feelings. It seemed to be a sigh of weakness for them. I must say at this point, that I have more understanding, now, of my grandparents than I did when I was young. I feel that I know them better now than any time in my life. I understand some of the things that made them who and what they
Things were always a little confusing for me. I never quite understood why things were a little different with me than some of the others. Even in school things were mixed up. I had a different name than my mother. When I got my report card signed, my mother would sign it Mrs. John Combs. The other kids would ask questions as to why her name was different from mine. Remember, back in those days it was not a common thing to have stepparents. I seemed to be the only one with the name differences.
Being young, confused by all the family changes, and a naturally bashful kid, I developed some kind of inferiority complex. I always felt like I was not as smart, as good, or as good looking as everyone else. I hated to meet people, have to compete with other kids or have to deal with the uneasy feelings of being around the Suttons by myself. If I was with Don or William it was not too bad, but by myself was a scary thing for me. As I got older, I gradually grew out of some of these feelings. But I have never gotten over some of the more traumatic things in my childhood.
As I became older, the trips to Lurton were more friendly. I had a chance to spend some time at Granddad’s house with Jeanette, Bobby and others. We spent time upstairs playing with the old Wind up Victrola. There were some old records that we liked to play. One record stands out in my mind. It may be the only one that I really remember. It was titled “Hallelujah I’m A Bum”. I can remember playing that record many times. The tune was the same as the church hymn, “Revive us Again”. At a young age I did not attend church much, as my mother was not going to church…staying home with my stepfather because he would not go to church. Well, when I was at church one time I realized that they were singing the Bum song, or at least the tune. I thought at the time that it was kinda unusual for them to write a church song with the same tune as the Bum song. It was several years later when I decided that it was the other way around. The bum song was written after the church song, revive us again. I have thought of that old song many times.
It is really quite a coincidence, but when I visited with Bob Sutton in May of ’97, he was telling a story of how, after Grandma Sutton had died and before Granddad had remarried, he and Granddad lived in the old house there at Lurton, together for awhile. He said he was separated from his wife and had just gotten back from California. He would get out, run around at night, and get home and in bed late. Early the next morning Granddad would wind up that old Victrola, turn the volume up loud and play “Hallelujah I’m A Bum”. It would make him get up and around. He said he would never forget that song. That was a real coincidence because I had not mentioned that song. And even more of a coincidence, is that while I was at Uncle Harry’s house a few years ago, I had told him about that song and how I remembered it. He went down in the basement, and dug out that very song that all of us kids had played with. He played it on a record player he had, that would play the old 78 rpm record. I recorded it with a small tape recorder that I had. The quality is not real good, but is great to me. I was very proud to have that song. It can bring many memories for me. Memories that are clouded with that hazy, fuzzy picture that can not be brought into sharp focus. We remember it, but not in sharp detail.
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Take Care, Judy Tate