Chapter 4 Harold Brown Memoir – 1948

Babe Ruth died and I didn’t even know who he was, but I knew that my brother Garvis was the man of the house. Never confuse what you think with fact! I don’t know when we got electricity, I just remember the electric wire that hung down from the ceiling. It had a string that when pulled would make the glass ball glow taking away the dark. That light was never left on during the day and certainly turned off when the last person departed the room.

Garvis dug the two foot deep quarter mile long ditch that brought running water to our back porch. We had water to drink and bath all under one tap. When the pan was full or the water was dirty you simply threw it in the back yard and started over again. The dipper was there for family and guests to use, just drink and replace. Could anyone ask for more than running water and electricity! As we raised our expectations our achievements became greater.

The garden in the back yard wasn’t for looks. It was a matter of survival. We had squash two times a day when squash was in season. I loved it, hated it, then loved it again years later. Same with turnip greens. I never remember seeing watermelons in mother’s garden. Nature Boy was a popular song that year. Could they have been talking about me? How far apart can our lives be from our dreams?

Chapter 5 Harold Brown Memoir – 1949

Money was hard to come by, so mother had to take an occasional job. I followed her to the cotton field early one summer morning. I got dressed in the car that came by to pick her up.

There were other boys there my age. That is when I first met Hubert Maxwell. He was a year older and much wiser. We played in the cotton wagons, dug in the cotton rows, and as can sometimes happen we found a pot of gold in the form of a large ripe watermelon. We were not prepared for our great discovery, in that we didn’t have a knife or forks for the feast that we wanted to have. Not wanting to share our bounty with the older workers, we used the best tool we could find. It is amazing what you can do with a pointed stick. Cave men had nothing on us.

Mother never gave me permission to tell anyone about her cotton pick’n days. I guess it could have spoiled our rich and famous status if anyone had ever found out.

Americans were buying television sets at a rate of 100,000 a week and it would be many more years before I saw my first set.

Grandpa and Grandma Walker lived across the road. I found out years later that I also had a Grandpa and Grandma Brown but they died before I was born. My grand parents lived with one of their sons, Ernest, and his family.

My main source of entertainment was my Aunt and Uncle’s oldest son Harry. We spent many days exploring all that existed within two hundred yards of either house.

We sat on the old wooden gate that separated the animals from the main house and waited as the fifth of six daughters were born into the family. We sat on that same gate as the women got together to wash cloths in the big black kettle. Logs would be set on fire to boil the water. A long stick was used to stir the cloths as they soaked in the hot water.

Of course lye soap was the order of the day. The grocery truck that came by at regular intervals must have charged too much for luxuries like soap. Maybe it just wasn’t strong enough to clean those clothes the way they needed to be cleaned. The boys were never asked to help. Smart women! Lucky boys.

Blackberry picking time was another social, or should I say necessary, time for the women to get together. They always started early so they could beat the heat. So many clothes were worn that it was a matter of survival that they get home before the sun got to high. Long sleeve thick shirts. Long pants and boots. A rag tied over the hair. Coal oil soaked cloth strips were tied around the ankles and wrists to prevent the pesky tic from attacking the family providers. The boots were, as I was told, for the feared snakes that lived in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana.

Hog marking was a man’s chore. Uncle Ernest had hogs that lived deep in the swamps. They would grow fat on the acorns and other vegetation that thrived in that part of the country.

I never got to take part in that adventure but he did promise me I could go if I got up early and was ready when he started out one morning. I was ready, but for whatever reason he didn’t stop for me.

I ran out the door calling for him, but he wouldn’t stop. Mother saw how disappointed I was and said, “Just follow the logging road and you will eventually find where they parked the jeep”. I must have been all of three and a half years old. Mother said that I didn’t remember it but I did.

As I ran down the road I suddenly saw the horses and mules the loggers used to haul out logs. These animals had broken out of the makeshift corral the loggers had built to hold them until they returned at the first of the week. Can you imagine the fear that ran through my heart on hearing and seeing those extra large animals running down the middle of that logging road!

I turned and started running back to my mother. I ran on the road. I ran around the tree. I ran wherever I thought I could get rid of those killer monsters. I screamed for my mother and she didn’t let me down. I have extra large lungs because of this adventure. I remember looking up and seeing her running toward me as those animals chased behind me. Her house coat was flapping this way and that. To this day I don’t know why those horses and mules were afraid of that little woman, but they turned and ran back to the hell they came from. Praise Jesus. Is experience our friend or foe?

So many adventures for a youngster, that’s what being a kid is all about. George Orwell’s new book, 1984, didn’t have much in common with us. Big brother wasn’t watching the poor folks in rural southern Arkansas. Our adventures were with things like the old sow that didn’t appreciate my intrusion on her babies’ feeding time.

My cousins said there was no way an intelligent person would go into the pen and pick up one of her little piglets. They were right, I wasn’t intelligent so guess where I went. That sow came after this little red headed boy like I was fresh slop! That’s what I would have been if I hadn’t thrown that squealing baby back in her direction as I scrambled for the top of that five foot wooden fence. Everyone had a big hoot and I learned another valuable lesson about a mother’s love for her children. Love is a welcome warmth, hate is a cold hearth.

Great Uncle Ira was in the timber business. That meant he cut and hauled trees. Uncle Ira often finished the day by visiting his sister, my Grandma Walker. He had two big logging horses that pulled his wagon. The wagon was very large with rubber truck tires. When he stopped in the evening the guide lines were left on the wagon seat. Those horses had done all they wanted to for the day, so running away was the last thing on their minds.

Well, it wasn’t the last thing on my mind. Having a need to impress all those around me was a problem that followed me for years. We climbed on that wagon and I said “getty up” to those four footed giants as I popped their butts with the loose lines. As tired as they were the two of them started moving away from the house. There wasn’t anything to do but scream bloody murder. Uncle Ira wasn’t very happy, but I was sure glad to see him.

My short trip was nothing like the just completed first non-stop flight around the world by U.S. Air Force’s Lucky Lady.

Evening was welcomed by the return of the cows that ranged during the day. The stomp, a small hill near the house, was the gathering place for all of Uncle Ernest’s livestock. Ever day about dusk those cows came home without fail.

Since I was not successful with my horse and wagon exploits why not try something else with four long legs. Like chickens come home to roost, those cows would drink their fill of water and find a place to bed down for the night. When one of those cows got down on all fours we were about the same height. They seemed so docile.

I didn’t ride that cow for very long. At that point, even thought I didn’t know what a rodeo was, I decided that riding wild cows was not what I wanted to do as an occupation. I was good at catching horse flies and tying a string around their necks. The longer the string the better the entertainment. Confidence in yourself is the key to success.

Mother had three sisters and four brothers that visited us regularly. We seemed to always have company of some sort or another. In the end it is about relationships.

The South Africa government had officially adopted the policy of apartheid. I could have been born a black South African. When we feel the wet tears of another, we begin to understand their reason.

Mother wanted to be self sufficient. Money was hard to come by and she needed more to take care of herself and her children. When World War II ended, people were ready to spend their savings. The demand for goods in 1947 was high but the supply was low. Without war time price control, the cost of living rose fifty percent. Life becomes fair when its unfairness is understood.

As 1949 drew to a close mother wanted to change our circumstances. She packed up our bags and off we went. Garvis had just finished his last year of high school so he stayed put. Mother asked him to remain with Miriam and me while she went to Pine Bluff to look for a place for us to live. He agreed to stay and when Mother returned he left with Uncle Ruby and his family for California. He stayed there until he thought it was time to return home before the draft.

Garvis joined the Air Force and although he produced a score on his test that qualified him of O.C.S., he decided to stay in the regular forces because of the high death rate of the officers in the war. The rest of us moved to Pine Bluff so that mother could go to beauty school. They called it cosmetology but I didn’t know that then. It was hard times for us but again I was too young to know.

Chapter 6 Harold Brown Memoir – 1950

The lady’s at the school all thought I was wonderful and that made it unanimous.

It was a place of many firsts. My first hair cut, balloon, doll, toy gun, candy, and movie. It was my first town and I was afraid to cross the street with all those cars. Give me wild horses anytime!

We rented a room in what I know now was a run down hotel. My sister said that we were not able to use the bathroom, there was just one in the hotel, because a family of Mexicans had moved in.

We used a hot plate for cooking even though they were against the rules. We were evacuated one evening because someone fell asleep in bed and their cigarette caught the mattress on fire. Another first was seeing a fire truck with real firemen. The upstairs window was opened and the smoldering mattress was thrown from the upstairs room to the alley that separated the buildings.

Miriam told me many years later that Mother was very depressed about the circumstance that mom found herself in but was encouraged by how happy her baby boy seemed to be.

President Truman ordered U.S. forces to South Korea and General Douglas MacArthur was named the UN Commander in Korea. The United States sent soldiers to aid South Korea in the summer of 1950. The KoreanWar would continue until the summer of 1953. Garvis became part of that conflict. That war claimed 54,246 deaths. Get even with those that help you. Those that love you touch you even in their absence.

The National Council of Churches was formed. We went to church and Sunday School every Sunday. We stayed there long enough for mother to learn what she needed to know about fixing hair. Then we returned to Hamburg. Some Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Truman. We are not going to be special to everyone, but we can be special to someone.

What a great day. A new place and many adventures were surely waiting for me in this place. That night I played so hard and was so thirsty that I drank several swallows of semi cool cooking grease. I was so sick that death would have been welcomed. The low point of my life. Everything got better from that moment on.

I discovered a soon to be friend next door. Glen Riles and I spent many hours playing together. He was about five years older than me but very patient with his new neighbor. He taught me how to catch a baseball. To have a friend you must be a friend. Self image just might be the single most important factor in performance.

Years later I purchased my first glove. It was a four fingered glove but I could catch anything that was hit to the outfield.

It snowed that winter but didn’t do that again for another ten years. We lived in a duplex with a bathroom that we shared with just one other person. It happened to be the woman that owned the house but what the heck, everybody loves a little redheaded boy. Well, most of the time.

Mrs Young was a music teacher that had outlived her husband. I am not sure which one was the luckiest! I thought her yard was a jungle and even though it wasn’t very big I never did explore all of the undergrowth during the four years that we lived there.

My brother joined the Air Force shortly after that. I worried so much about him. He didn’t take his rifle with him and that just compounded the problem. Mother said he would be all right without it. As it turned out she was correct but I just didn’t feel right about him fighting the Koreans without that twenty-two. “What if we don’t win” I would ask her and she would say, “Then they will come over here and rule this country”.

When I thought about that at night, sleep was hard to come by. “Communists were infiltrating the State Department”, Senator Joseph McCarthy warned us. The fear was compounded by the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese communist forces. We even passed laws that restricted communists and communist parties in the U.S. I always thought a party was a good thing.

Fear makes the wolf bigger. If you plant a seed the harvest will come.

Some mornings I would wake up and there my brother would be, sound asleep on the cot in the kitchen-bedroom. I wasn’t allowed to wake him. When I returned home from school he would be gone. Little brother was the last thing on his mind.

Chapter 7 Harold Brown Memoir – 1951

The principal mode of transportation was our own two feet. We walked everywhere until, of course, I received my bike. When Mother and I would walk home from church on Sunday night, I would play a game with her that I called Trust. I would close my eyes and hold her hand. It was her assignment to get me home without letting me fall down the steps or tripping in a hole.

When we got home she would always ask me what I wanted for supper. It was a treat to have warm corn bread and butter- milk. It was Mother’s favorite also. There were times when we would substitute the buttermilk for turnip greens. Life really was uncomplicated.

Miriam was a senior in high school and I was in kindergarten. Mrs. Vera Mae Nolley Barham was my first teacher and friend. In reality, it probably wasn’t an actual certified kindergarten, but it was the closest thing we had to it. Miriam would get me at noon and we would eat in the high school cafeteria. I think my sister was very popular and a very good student. Mother was very proud of her. You have to give your approval for someone to make you feel inferior.

There were two hotels in town. One was named The Elite. John Spivy has his office on that corner now. The other hotel was named The Eureka. Jack Carpenter opened his Furniture Supply store in that building. I became friends with a blind man that lived in the hotel across the street from mother’s beauty shop.

I do not remember the blind man’s name but I do remember how he would take his glass eyes out and show them to me. I tried with little success to take my eyes out the same way. He told me that he had lost his sight when the explosives he was using to blow fish out of water went off in his face.

That year I was the groom in a Tom Thumb wedding and Emily Kay Wells was the bride. Miriam and Emily Kay’s sister were good friends in high school. I made friends wherever I went in Hamburg. Good friends are hard to find, hard to leave, but never forgotten.

The adult business men would come by the beauty shop where mother worked and take me to coffee break. Bill Law and Billy Veazey were two of my special coffee break friends. It was a great place to grow up. Their encouragement is a gift that keeps on giving.

Billy Veazey had a grocery store on the northern corner of the same block that mother’s beauty shop was located. His morning break would begin with him and Bill Law picking me up at mother’s shop and taking me to Golden’s cafe for coffee. I didn’t think much about two grown men taking that much interest in me because I was sure that I was great company for them. Charles Spencer later purchased that store from Mr. Veazey. End of coffee breaks!

The Veazey family has a special place in my heart. Ann, Billy’s wife, was one of my Sunday School directors in junior high. Ann had a son, Bob Hall, by an earlier marriage. He delivered groceries for his step father. He used this big bicycle with an extremely large basket on the front for the deliveries.

Mr. Veazey told him not to let me ride with him when he delivered groceries because he thought it wasn’t safe. Bob took me anyway. I was told never to let his dad know that he was taking me. Bob was an important part of my community experience. What a person says can be forgotten, the things the did will pass away, but how they made you feel will linger forever.

The Presidency has been limited to two terms according the passage of the 22nd Amendment by Congress.

Dr. Barnes, one of three physician that I knew in Hamburg (White, Cammack, and Barnes), stepped out of his office as I was running by. He knew me well because he had been giving me shots in the butt for years.

Every time I had a cold mother would send me to Dr. Barnes and he would say, “lay down here and pull your pants down.” That was when he would pull out that long needle and insert it into the container of Penicillin that he got out of the, I called it an ice box, but it really was a refrigerator.

Then when I would ask him the question that I knew he would lie about, “Dr. Barns, is this going to hurt?” he would say, “it is only going to sting a little.”

But on this particular day, Dr. Barnes had something to ask me. As it turned out he had a rabbit that he wanted to give me, if mother would allow it. I said there would be no problem but he insisted that I go and ask and if it was alright then I could come to his house later an pick up my new friend.

For some reason mother allowed me to accept that rabbit. It was a Dutch breed that was black with white chest and blazed face, we became fast friends. Uncle Robert made Peter a cage. People that I didn’t know would come to town and ask if I was the kid that had the rabbit that followed me on a leash? They always wanted to see my black and white rabbit. Imagination is not limited, knowledge is.

Dad Chapman was the barber next door to mother’s shop and he had the most beautiful wife. Mr. Chapman was many years older than her but there was no doubt in my mind that they were made for each other. I often went to their house for lunch. She taught me many things about politeness and correct use of my spoon, fork, and napkin.

When Dad Chapman died it was very sad. I was allowed to visit him in his home while he was sick. I am thankful for him and his family. They say to touch another is saying you care and trust them.

When his family moved away Maxie Ann Wilcoxin moved in. Her parents had divorced and Maxie and her mother moved into the Chapman house. A Chevy dealership was located there several years later. Maxie Ann was tall and had long pig tails. She could hold her own with anyone and we treated her with the respect that was due.

CBS transmitted the first color broadcast on the newly introduced color television. I am glad that I wasn’t aware that any of this was going on. It was often so hot that mother and I would make a pallet and sleep on the screened in front porch. We had a radio, don’t know where it came from, that I often listen to as we tried to beat the heat.

As I lay there in the dark I would look into that radio and imagine that the voices I heard were people inside that plastic box. There was even a light that showed me which tube their bodies were living in. Amos and Andy was a favorite of mine. They taught us that a sense of humor is something that one can’t afford to lose. What ever happened to Kingfish? Life was so uncomplicated.

Chapter 28 Harold Brown Memoir – Appendix for History Buffs

1632 Jasper County History

Jasper County history is recorded as far back as 1632, when traders listed the Seven Islands Crossing on the Ocmulgee River as the place they first traded with the Creek Indians. After the Indians, the first settler was a deer hunter named Newby, who lived in a cabin near the present community of Hillsboro, as early as 1790.

In 1790, George Washington met in upstate New York with the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi.

Jasper County was split out of Baldwin County by an act of the Legislature in 1807 and originally named Randolph by the General Assembly. Monticello was laid out and made the county seat in December, 1808. Monticello was named after President Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia. In December, 1812, the name of the county was changed to Jasper. This was to honor Sergeant William Jasper, a Revolutionary War hero who risked his life to save his country’s flag from the British. He was killed in the attempt during the seige of Savannah.

John G. Walker married Elizabeth A. Chapman in Jasper County, Georgia, on December 7, 1817. On January 28, 1819, John G. Walker had purchased 163 acres in Dallas County, Alabama, at Section 5, Township 15, Range 9. He paid $326.15 for the purchase.

This property was located near the community of Whites’ Bluff near the Alabama River. On November 29, 1821, he purchased land in Autauga County, Alabama. He settled there and started raising a family. This property located in the Milton Community is still in the Walker family. (Raymond Walker’s farm.)

Dallas County was created by the Alabama Territorial legislature on February 9, 1818 from Montgomery County, a portion of the Creek cession of August 9, 1814. It was named for U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander J. Dallas of Pennsylvania. The County is located in the Black Belt region of the west-central portion of Alabama and is traversed by the Alabama River and bordered by Perry, Chilton, Autauga, Lowndes, Wilcox, and Marengo counties.

Originally, the county seat was at Cahaba, which also served as the state capital for a brief period. In 1865, the county seat was transferred to Selma. Other towns and communities include Marion Junction, Sardis, Orville, and Minter.

(Source: Alabama Department of Archives & History)

1820 Cornelius Walker

John G. Walker’s first son, Rufus Walker, was born in 1820.

Private Rufus Walker, Company H, hailed from Milton, Alabama. Between 1860 to May 4, 1865 he was a POW having been surrendered by Lt. General Richard Taylor to Major E.R.S. Canby. He was paroled in Selma in June 1865.

James C. Walker was the second son born about 1821, followed by Diede, Cornelius M.C. (This is my Great Grand Father), an unknown son, William A., Jasper Newton, and Martha.

Rufus married Eliza Jane Allen on February 27, 1838, and their first son, William S., was one year old. They resided on property owned by their father John G. Walker.

John moved from his home about the same time that this matter was the subject of everyone’s conversations. It can only be assumed that this was the reason for his departure and move further west. We do know, however, that John G. Walker left his land to Rufus, James C. and Diede, who all had families by then. Cornelius M.C. (My Great Grandfather) also stayed behind and settled for the time being in the same area.

In 1850, John G. Walker, 53 years old, and his wife, Elizabeth A., were residing in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Records reflect that John G. was still solemizing marriages as a minister of the gospel. However, records of the Baptist church do not list him. (It is suspected that after the Baptist split, John G. was associated with what is now known as the Primitive Baptists.)

In John G. Walker’s household was William A., Jasper Newton and Martha.1 Although it is not yet verified, John G. Walker must have died between 1857 and 1860, probably in Lauderdale or Kemper County, Mississippi.

1797 John G Walker

It is reported that my Great Great Grandfather, John G. Walker, was birthed around 1797.

The Louisiana Purchase was made by President Thomas Jefferson in 1805 and it is believed that John G. Walker’s family was living in Greene County, Georgia about that time.

The region between the Oconee and Ocmulgce Rivers was opened for settlement after the Creek cession was made. The indian leaders of the Creek, Chickasaw, and Cherokee tribes signed a treaty in 1773 that involved about two million acres of Georgia land.

The Creek Nation was at war against the settlers and there was no peace on the Georgia frontier until the War of 1812 was finished. The indian raids were considered minor but the residents were always on alert.

The Creeks were gone by 1827. Greene County was named after Nathanael Greene. He was a General in the American Revolutionary War. George Washington could not have claimed victory for the young United States without his valued contributions.

I believe that some of the Greene family members also settled in the Nolensville, Tennessee area using their Revolutionary War land grants. John G. Walker’s family was in the middle of this fight for survival in this new settlement that would be Jasper County, Georgia.

General Sherman’s Army passed through Jasper County during the latter part of the Civil War. The Jasper Volunteers and the Glover Guards were major groups that county furnished for the Confederate States.

Elizabeth A. Chapman (could have gone by the name Mary) and John G. Walker were married in Jasper County, Georgia, December 7, 1817. He could have been 20 years old and she could have been 28. Elizabeth Chapman was born in South Carolina, 1789.

Memories, we all have them. The trick is to find the key that unlock what we have stored in our memory bank. I am trying to remember not to forget.

The exact date of my Great Grandfather’s birth is not know but it is generally accepted as 1797. The location was Georgia “the region of the Oconee” in Jasper County. His family settled in Greene County, Georgia in 1805, the same year President Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase. John G. Walker and his family would have had to have been Indian fighters to survive as pioneers in their new territory. Great Grand Paw John G. Walker could have been about 8 years old when they moved.


John G.Walker’s daughter, Martha, married J.F. Blanks in 1857, in Mississippi,19 and they moved shortly thereafter to Hamburg, Arkansas, in Ashley County. John G.’s widow, Elizabeth A. resided with them in 1860. William A. and Jasper N. also came to Hamburg with their mother and sister. Jasper N., however, left the family and traveled with the David Lightsey family to Walker County, Texas. In 1860 Jasper married Martha Lightsey in Hamburg, Arkansas. Jasper’s descendants are still in Walker County, Texas.

In Autauga County, Alabama, Rufus, James C., Diede Walker Hunt, and Cornelius M.C. were all raising families and working cotton farms.

In 1850, Rufus Walker owned 21 slaves, and James C. owned 2 slaves. It is assumed by the ages of the slaves that all were of one family and probably came to Alabama from Georgia originally with father John G. Walker. (John G. owned 2 slaves in 1830.) It is interesting to note that by 1860, Rufus Walker had disposed of his slaves and no longer concentrated on cotton farming. He instead was raising hogs.

Rufus and James C. owned adjoining farms which also joined with sister Diede Hunt’s farm. Cornelius M.C. was farming 80 acres near Autagaville.

Rufus Walker sold his farm in November 1849, to Powhatton Kelly and moved further north, about the line between Chilton and Autauga Counties. The farm that Rufus sold in 1849 now joins the old Bob Walker place. (Now Raymond Walker’s farm). The large pond now known as “Kelly’s Pond” was known back then as “Walker’s Pond.”

As the Civil War approached, it was quite obvious that the Walkers of Autauga, Alabama, and Hamburg, Arkansas, and Walker County, Texas, were all States’ Rights advocates, and cast their fates and fortunes with the Confederacy.