By Nola Ree Tinsley Willeford
My brother, JT, was born in 1914 and grew up in a vastly different environment
from that of today. Now, in his 88th year he often reminisces about ordinary
events of his childhood that seem implausible in today’s fast-paced
world. I like to hear his stories and feel that they should be recorded
for other family members to enjoy.
Our father was an excellent judge of horseflesh. He loved horses and
bought and sold and traded them all of his life. As a child I can remember
attending many a horse show with the family. Daddy wasn’t much interested
in racehorses but loved best to see a horse put through its gaits. We
watched Tennessee Walking Horses, five-gaited American Saddle Horses and
Harness Horses because they kept their gait when racing. We always attended
the horseshow at the Tennessee State Fair and out of a dozen entries in
the ring in a given category Daddy would say, “Watch number blank
and number blank, one of them will win”. He would invariably be
right. I remember vividly the night that Midnight Sun took all honors
in the Walking Horse Class.
The principal horseman that I knew of in Springfield
Tuck on Roy was Robert Moore and Daddy often traded with him. Robert Moore’s
pasture for his horses was where the present day Executive Inn, Shoney’s
Restaurant, and the shopping center beyond them, are located. The horses
and the grass are gone but the land made the family very wealthy.
Daddy bought his first car in 1921 and it was in the early twenties that
while in Springfield he bought a horse and a pony, probably from Robert
Moore. JT and Tuck Jr. were with him and as he had no other way to get
them home, he told them to ride them to Adairville. JT rode the full size
horse and Tuck rode the pony. They started out late in the afternoon.
The road was, of course, unpaved, which made traveling by horse easier,
and the boys had it completely to themselves. They were about half way
home before they saw another human being. Some roadwork was in progress
at that point and a man that they knew whose name was Punch McGoldrich
was spending the night there guarding the big wagons and equipment that
was being used in the roadwork. They stopped and visited for a while with
Punch and then continued on their way. They arrived home at about ten
o’clock that night. They had traveled the twelve miles from Springfield
without meeting a single car or buggy and seeing only one person during
the entire trip. Daddy sold the horse fairly soon after that, but kept
the pony. It was Tuck’s pony and he loved him. He was a little sorrel
named Roy and JT says that he could “blow out the wind with his
Daddy had one brother who never married. His name was Ulysses Gold Tinsley
and we called him Uncle Lys. As a child he had had a bad case of measles
that had settled in his eyes and he was almost blind. He spent most of
his time with his oldest sister, Aunt Roma and her family, but he visited
among the other family members quite often. Once when Daddy had gone down
to Dawson Springs he bought a milk cow and Uncle Lys was to drive it home
to Adairville. Uncle Lys would stop wherever he ended up when the day
was over, and spend the night with people who lived along the way. One
night he stopped at a fellow’s house who was a bachelor and who
liked to tip the jug. They got roaring drunk and the cow wandered off
and was nowhere to be seen the next morning. Uncle Lys lost a whole day
looking for the cow but finally found and retrieved her. He reached Adairville
a couple of days later having been on the road a week.
The boys liked for Uncle Lys to come as he had done quite a bit of traveling
and had tales to tell. Their evening entertainment in those days was to
sit by the fire, pop popcorn and listen to Mama read. They loved to hear
Zane Grey’s books and JT particularly remembers her reading from
a different author, “Slow Train through Arkansas” which was
full of laughs.
Their other entertainment was listening to the victrola. It was an upright,
about five feet tall with a big horn just below the turntable. The records
were about a half an inch thick and were jigs, reels, and popular music
of the time. One of my favorites was called “You’re in Kentucky
as sure as you’re Born”. It was JT and Tuck’s job to
change the records and wind it up. They really disliked this duty. It
was a constant interruption. Stop! Jump up and turn the record over, wind
it up and then all too soon, stop! Jump up and change the record and wind
it up again.
What a relief it was when the radio came along. Their job was much easier
then. Once a week they took it to Mr. Clark Harper who had a battery charger
that kept all the radios in town going. JT and Tuck had ours charged every
Friday. That was so the reception would be nice and strong for the weekend.
Radios were not being run by electric power yet. Cars were still being
cranked. In 1926 Daddy bought our first car that was operated by a battery.
Cranking the car was hazardous duty. When the motor caught the car would
jump toward the one cranking it and he had to jump out of the way. It
was not uncommon for a cranker to end up with a broken arm.
Electricity came to Adairville in the early twenties, right after World
War I. The sub station was near where the water treatment plant is now,
down below our house. Mr. Clark Harper and Mr. Hadley Hampton ran it.
Daddy had the inside of our house wired soon afterwards. At a later date
when Mike Fitzsimmons was visiting us from Paducah he wired our front
porch, the smoke house, and the barn.