AVOC.info
Quick-Search:    

Advanced Search


8-15-09 Oconee County Remembered # 1 - Childhood & Siblings 40’ & 50’s

My first memory of spring Jonquils or yellow flowers were in the woods between our house and Aunt Becky’s house.

AVOC

.

June 9, 2009

.

Oconee County Remembered- Childhood & Siblings 40’ & 50’s

.

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

.

I was born in a little wood frame house on Daniell’s Bridge Road in Oconee County, Georgia, on October 12, 1940.   This was a small, brown, rental house on the Berry Bishop Farm across Daniell’s Bridge Road from my grandfather’s farm.   The farm abutted Daniell’s Bridge Road and was split by what was later named Cliff Dawson Road.  Later, Aunt Becky and Uncle Milton Barnette lived in that little brown house and later Uncle Ruhl and Aunt Charlotte Dawson lived there.   It was a short walk through the woods to our house and to Mama Hassie’s.

.

Randy Dawson, Cousin, on bike at Little Brown House on Daniells Bridge

.

Nan Dawson, Cousin, at Little Brown House Ca late 1950’s

.

When Aunt Becky lived there, I remember my first strawberry shortcake at her house.  She always grew strawberries and could fix a lot of delicious deserts.  Mama and Daddy would sometime stop by in the car or truck and some of us kids went along too.  We had lots of good memories of that little brown house.  My first memory of spring Jonquils or yellow flowers were in the woods between our house and Aunt Becky’s house.

.

I was the first of eight children to be born to Rayford Turner Dawson and Lois Terry Dawson.   When I was about a year old, we moved into a tenant house, near Hog Mountain Road, on the Cliff-Hassie Dawson farm and lived there until 1954 when we moved into the “big house” further down Cliff Dawson Road.

.

Rayford, Lois, Wendell, Terry and Mama Hassie & Daddy Cliff on porch of Old House Ca 1942 – Cotton on porch out of weather

.

Rayford & Lois Dawson at Old House on Cliff Dawson Road in late 40’s

.

In the house on Cliff Dawson Road, the next Dawson Baby, James Terry Dawson, was born on December 28, 1941.   Only thirteen months difference in age, we were sometimes confused as to identity.Mama dressed us up for a number of pictures as little boys of similar size.

.

Wendell, Lois, Terry ca 1943 – Atlanta West End –Terry Grandparents home

.

Terry, Wendell & Daddy’s old farm truck Ca 1943

.

On July 9, 1944, the third Dawson Baby, Curtis Daniel Dawson, was born.  He was born at the hospital and he and Mama were brought home by ambulance.  I have always remembered that ambulance backing up to the front porch and my Mother being rolled out on a stretcher.  With her was a little basket with a big handle and in the basket was Baby Dan.

.

Terry, Dan, Wendell Ca 1948

.

After Dan, Mama had some health problems and Dan spent some time with Aunt Becky who stayed at home with her incapacitated daughter, Connie Rebecca Barnette, born August 19, 1941 at home.   Some Afro-American ladies from the farm helped “look after” me and Terry.  They also helped with the cooking, washing and ironing.  Some of our meals were eaten down the road at Mama Hassie’s house.   Those were big scrumptious meals with meat, biscuits, cornbread and many vegetables.   I can see Mama Hassie cooking cornbread paddies on top of a little coal burning stove in the old kitchen of the Home House.   I can also see her churning milk for butter and butter milk.

.

Mama Hassie (1884-1955) and Daddy Cliff Dawson (1880-1949)

.

Mama Hassie kept pictures of her children and grandchildren on the living room mantle

My brothers and I are on the left end and Ned Dawson and his brothers on right end Ca 1954

.

While there are other things to talk about in those years, I will skip ahead and complete the Dawson Baby births.  After Dan, Hassie Dianne Dawson (Daniel) was born on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1949.   I remember “Mary” an Afro-American lady greeting us boys that morning and cooking and dressing us and walking us down to Mama Hassie’s House.  We were excited about a little sister and told stories about our anticipation.  Our first cousin, Melba Dickens, was born a few days earlier.  As a newborn, Dianne was taken to the Home House to see my Grandfather (Cliff Dawson) about two weeks before he died in May 9, 1949.  Dianne was placed on the bed by his side and he commented on her size and looks.

.

Backyard of home of Mama Hassie and Daddy Cliff; many Daniell and Dawson children played under this house and have fond memories of it

.

The next Dawson Baby was Margaret Jane Dawson (Hale) born March 7, 1951.  Margaret was born at home on the Cliff Dawson Road.   She and our cousin, Colette Dellinger, were born about a month apart.  The next Dawson Baby was the last boy, Harry David Dawson, born February 28, 1953.  

.

The Home House Ca 1999

.

The next Dawson Baby was Mattie Phyllis Dawson born on August 10, 1954, after we had moved into the Home House in April of that year.  The last Dawson Baby, Barbara Helen Dawson (Garrett) was born on July 20, 1956.   There was almost 16 years difference in the ages of the eldest, Wendell, and the youngest, Barbara.   Later, I described the family as being like two sets of children.   We older ones always felt or at least claimed we had to work harder and were subject to more discipline than the younger set or the “babies”.

.

Dawson Eight Siblings Ca late 1970’s

Front: Margaret D Hale, Dianne D. Daniel, Barbara D. Garrett

Back: Phyllis D. Maddox, David, Terry, Dan, Wendell

.

While we were all different personalities with different talents, shapes and sizes, we generally had a strong sibling bond.   We would “take up” for each other when challenged by non-family members.  Our parents always told us never to start a fight but if we were attacked, then we should help each other.  This guidance got me into several fights at Watkinsville School.   Most involved Terry and I came to his rescue.Both of us were small but were not afraid of bigger boys- especially bullies.

.

On one particular occasion, Terry and I were involved in a fight with a bigger boy who was older than either of us brothers.  It started one day when the bigger boy and I got in an altercation on the ball-field at Watkinsville during recess.  The bigger boy beat the “stew out of me”.   I can still see “stars’ from that experience.   Terry was nowhere to be found!  

.

My “whipping” was such that word got around.   The next day, boys followed us around for a rematch.  We did not tangle but Terry, in retaliation for my beating, hit the arm of the bigger boy as it protruded from the window of the school bus that afternoon.  The next day let to a “big showdown” in front of the Watkinsville High School Building.  We were at the top of the front steps to the left of the office.We were really scuffling.  I remember that a high school boy, Howell Kittle, who was a strong young man who rode our bust, came up during the fight and grabbed the bigger boy by his shirt collar and pushed him against the building wall and said, “…why don’t you pick on somebody your own size?!”.   About that time, the Principal, Mr. A. P. Henderson arrived and restored order.

.

Never again did we have any trouble with the bigger boys involved.I really don’t remember too many more fights after that.  I think the word got around that if you “picked on” one of the Dawson Boys, you would have to deal with others.  That reputation probably protected us from future bullying or aggressive behavior.

.

As siblings close in age, Terry and I had many similarities and common interests but we had very different personalities.  We had many fights with each other growing up.  We would fight with anger and would hit hard.  Once, I remember Mama told us that we needed to be in real fights as were the soldiers in Korea.  She could paint a vivid picture of combat and where we could wind up.  It did not stop the fights but it made an impression.   We were still brothers with much brotherly affection after the fights.

.

Terry Dawson High School Picture Ca 1956-7

.

In 2001-2002, my wife and I would visit Terry in a nursing home after he was ravaged by diabetes.   He was blind and both legs had been amputated.  We only had compassion for him and made weekly trips to visit and often took his eldest grandson, Eric, who had a close relationship.  We were in Boston on Vacation in June 29, 2002, when we got a call and flew back for Terry’s funeral and burial in the family plot at Union Christian Church in Oconee County.   He had a fun life but much sadness in his later years.  He was the first of eight siblings to die.


Quick-Search: