Transcribed By Mary Knight
April 16, 1953
In our last "Colyum" we gave a partial account of our trip to visit the editor's son, "Charlie Boy." We ended our account with some names of families that removed from Virginia to Middle Tennessee and whose descendants still live in Macon and surrounding counties.
Quite a large number of our early Baptist ministers were born in Virginia. We note the following in that group: John Borum, born in Nottoway County; William C. Bransford, but the county we do not know; Joshua Lester, born in Halifax County and we might add that part of our Gregory ancestors were born in this county which is located in Southern Virginia; Josiah Rucks, born in Chesterfield County; William Francis Luck, but the county is not known; Presley Lester, born in Pittsylvania County, where also were born the ancestors of the Gammon, Witcher, Goad, Brawner and other Macon County families; Hugh Willoughby Pickett, Sr., born in Virginia but county not known; Elder John Whitlock, but county not known; and the same applies to William Flowers, although he was ordained in Buckingham County; Elijah W. Haile, born in Mecklenburg County; Elijah Maddox, found on a doorstep in Virginia about 1772, and given that name by those who found him; and, as a youth, virtually enslaved him. We might add that in spite of his lowly advent into the world, he became one of the ablest Baptist ministers of a century and a half ago.
But to continue listing our early Baptist ministers born in the State of Virginia: Elder John Harper, county not known; W. H. Haile, born in Meckenburg County; Deacon William Martin, born in Orange County, Virginia; and many others whose names are not now recalled.
We reached Fort Belvoir, where our son is in training about three thirty o'clock Friday afternoon, after having left Lafayette on Thursday morning before. We made inquiry at the headquarters of his group and learned that he was then drilling at some distance from the headquarters. We were informed that he would return about five in the afternoon and that the group to which he was attached would be given leaves of absence to be good till five o'clock Monday morning, and that these permits or leaves would begin to be issued about six o'clock.
We waited and waited, and we may add that waiting is hard for the editor to do. But at about five fifteen, we saw a group of soldiers coming, perhaps 250 men. They were traveling in "double quick time;" and the writer hurried to stand by the side of the line of their passing. We soon found that it would do no good to look for the son in any way except from a standpoint of his height which is only about five and a half feet, and to strive also to identify him from his facial appearance. At last we saw him, hot and perspiring, cheeks red and his shirt wet with sweat. He recognized his old dad just as we saw him, giving the writer a motion of his right thumb in token of his recognition. The group halted for a few moments and we hurried on toward our car where the women folks were. They also soon saw him and his mother was hurrying toward her son, who had stepped out of line and was rushing up to see his folks. His mother placed her arms around her baby son and his old dad could not hold back tears. Then the son said, "How are you all?" After being told of our state of affairs and we learned that he was well, we next heard the son ask. "Have you got anything to eat with you? I have had nothing for dinner except a small can of pork and beans." We had a boiled ham with us and plenty of loaf bread and lettuce. In a matter of moments, that son was devouring a thick piece of ham, with the remainder of the ingredients of the sandwhich.
Soon another Macon County youth came up to us, Bobbie Massey, and inquired as to how we were. We gave him a sandwich and he then gave the writer some money to bring home to his parents, Mr. and Mrs Eldis Massey, of near Lafayette.
Our own son stayed with us as long as he could and then stated, "I'll be back in about two hours." He then stepped into line with other passing soldiers and was soon lost to sight for the time being. He had to go to his barracks, clean up, take a bath and change from the clothing he had worn on the range or in the hard training. He has said that this would require about two hours, and the time did pass so slowly.
But at last he joined us and we set out toward Baltimore in the car. And was that son glad to see his parents, brother and the others of the party! The look of joy that the writer saw on that son's face at the moment of the first recognition was enough to repay for our long miles of travel, loss of sleep and any expenses that had arisen or would arise on account of the trip.
Naturally, he wanted to talk about the things back home. And we tried to accommodate him. The editor had some business in Baltimore and we drove on toward that place for about 40 miles and put up for the night at a tourist camp. Tommie, the grandson, wanted to sleep with Charles and his request was granted.
Next morning we arrived in Baltimore about nine o'clock and went to a dealer in printing machinery, whose place of business was on Montgomery Street. As Charles and his dad entered this place of business, the son sniffed his nose as he smelled the ink, and said, "It smell like the print shop at home. It smells good." You see those who have worked for years in a print shop find themselves almost irresistably drawn toward such an establishment. The saying that if one ever gets printer's ink on his hand, it will never come off, means that there is some sort of attraction, even though we cannot explain it, about the work of a print shop. We had a sort of pang as we thought of the son who grew up in a print shop and who often perhaps had thought that it was hard and unpleasant work; but who, when many miles from home, turned longingly to the scenes of his childhood when he had stood at a job press to high for him to reach and which he had to reach by standing on a box and feeding in the papers to be printed. He had learned to do this work about as well as anyone we ever knew, the boy being able to feed our old big press in a very efficient manner and to run off job printing at the rate of 3,000 pieces per hour.
We hope our readers will pardon our musings along these lines and forgive us if we have caused any sort of a feeling of to much sentiment or whatever it is. We are, in a way, expressing the sentiments of a heart which longs for the return of his son and to the wonderful fellowship of other years, when our "Charlie Boy" was a light-hearted, untroubled youth who knew nothing of life's hardships and disappointments, its problems and worries and whose early and happy childhood ended all too soon. But still we have to face life with all its stark realities and so will our son, who has already come to understand that he had a wonderful time as a youth and who, all too soon, was forced to leave home and daddy and mother and other loved ones and to face, for himself, life in its raw realities.
We spent some time in Washington, D. C., a wonderful city of a thousand interesting places. We cannot describe them and will pass them by largely. We saw the Capitol, Washington's Monument, the cherry blossoms and a number of other interesting sights. However, we were handicapped by too little time and one can see but little in the hurry and rush of crowding a week into one day.
We spent Saturday night in Fredericksburg, Va., not being able to find a tourist camp whose rates were reasonable until we had reached this old, old Virginia city, some 60 miles south of Washington. Here were so many interesting historical places that we could not visit and we had to leave somewhat disappointed. Then there was the shadow of parting from the son, which loomed closer and closer on Sunday and which we had to meet about noon. We refrain from giving an accout of our goodbyes which can be easily imagined by all who have had to leave their sons far from home and in a measure alone.
Anyway, we left Fort Belvoir under something of a cloud which we carried for a lot of miles. But we had to throw it off, as it did no good and was a drawback to our efforts to meet those obligations that most of us have to meet, in one form or another. After journeying a long, long way, largely in silence, we reached the Shenandoah National Park and stopped for a meal. Here we spread out the remains of what we had started with, ham, pork and beans, canned meat and other eats, and had a very good meal. We were then near the foot of the big hill or mountain on the Rappahannock side of the park. Here the builders of the highway had widened a space between the mountains on either side and placed nice tables for the convenience of travelers. With a rushing mountain stream just below our table and tree-covered mountain sides all around us, we had a sort of feeling of dropping back to the long ago to primitive times. While the women of the party were putting away the "fragments," the writer strolled on up the valley above the bridge that spanned the rushing waters. Here we found indications that a mountain cabin had once stood on the spot. We found a spring that had been piled full of mountain boulders. One pear tree in bloom stood above the rocks that marked the location of a house in the years gone by. One of the flowering shrubs, such as we have here in Lafayette, with its profusion of yellow blossoms, was to be seen. This was a forsythia plant, sometimes called "golden-rain." In fact this was the first thing that attracted the attention of the writer to the scene. There was found an old apple tree, not blooming as yet. There was also a peach tree in full bloom, as well as a few plum trees. There were also other clusters of shrubs later to bloom, the whole scene indicating to us that someone who had loved flowers had once dwelt here in the heart of the mountains that now form part of the Shenandoah National Park.
We looked for land capable of cultivation and found none, not even a quarter of an acre of such ground was to be seen. We wondered how the family who had once lived on the site had made a living, but we did not find the answer. We did see the stumps of some rather large oak trees that once stood on the mountain side above the cabin home, as we judged it to have been. Who of the present generation would be willing to face the task of making a living by the sweat of the brow under such adverse conditions? And yet it was men and women of such force of character who laid the foundation for the great country that is ours today. We thought of the thousands and thousands of brave men and women who were not afraid of the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, who had not thought of failure; but with a determination that conquered every obstacle, who wrested a living from rocky soil, who builded their own homes, who faced life without fear or dread, and later became the earliest settlers in Tennessee and in many other states. We then wondered if our people have lost their former initiative, their resourcefulness, their confidence in America's future, their dependence upon God and their own efforts. Have we become a spineless, whining, defeated people without any confidence in the greatness of the America the pioneers gave us? Has the God who helps those who help themselves vacated His throne? Can we do otherwise than to carry on the work they did so nobly, so enduringly and so enthusiastically? Have we lost our ability to make a living and today must make a god of government and trust not in the Lord God of our fathers, the God who knows no failure and whose we profess to be? These are not pleasant thoughts, but we fear for America's future.
We can make a living if we will. It might not be the abundent life that some crave. But a free people, with confidence in God and willing to work even with their own hands, can have enough of the things of this life and even to spare, IF WE FAINT NOT.