RECOLLECTIONS OF MY GRANDFATHER, THOMAS JACKSON MARTIN

BY WILLIAM D. MARTIN, JR.11/21/91.

 

          From my earliest memory until I was sixteen or seventeen years old, my parents, my sister and I visited my Martin grandparents just outside Danville, Virginia several times yearly for a week end.  Many summers during this time my mother, my sister and I spent a week with them.  I well remember going into Danville to bring Granddaddy home from work having just received my license to drive an automobile.

          Granddaddy was named Thomas Jackson after Confederate General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson.  His father, Daniel Livingston Martin was a Confederate veteran (see page 96, "Valentine Martin of Cumberland County Virginia").  I know nothing of his early life except that he lost the fingers on his right hand above the second joint as a young man.  I heard him say that this happened on a tobacco cutter and that there was no doctor anywhere nearby.  He simply treated this major injury with turpentine!  As a consequence, he wrote very poorly and was never comfortable trying to shave himself with a straight razor (No safety razor for him!) .  He visited the barber every week for his shave.

          I recall Granddaddy as a very pleasant and personable man who enjoyed good company and conversation.  One of my last memories is of his attending an oyster roast at the Martin Millwork Company in Raleigh, North Carolina in late 1940.  He thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of roasted oysters and the company of the employees and friends of his son's business.  He was a man of strong convictions and opinions but did not make himself unpleasant with them.

          He was not a "church-going" person but his Christian faith is very evident to me upon reflection.  I vividly remember his walking around humming the old hymn "How Tedious and Tasteless the Hour When Jesus No Longer I See."  I also recall the wall plaques in the hallway of his home  One had the scripture verse "Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only."  The other declared "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

          Granddaddy loved children and was always affectionate toward his grandchildren.  On a summer visit when I was ten or eleven years old, he and I rode his mules through the woods to a fishing spot he knew about.  My catch was quite meager but Grandma cooked it for me anyway.  I remember one day he left for work and forgot to kiss Grandma good-bye.  She pouted the entire day.

          Granddaddy played solitaire frequently and would chat easily while doing so.  I recall one occasion when I worked a crossword puzzle in his presence.  He teased me about wasting my time.  My reply was that playing solitaire really accomplished nothing.  My parents were quite chagrined that I would talk to him in such a fashion but he enjoyed my reply and laughed heartily.

          The only unpleasantness I recall about my grandfather was pertaining to one of his sons who had left his wife and small son for another woman.  Granddaddy never accepted the matter nor the other woman.  He made it quite clear to this son and his entire family that he strongly disapproved of such.

          All of the time I knew Granddaddy he was a construction foreman building houses and apartment buildings.  He built homes for his two daughters and one of his sons.  I remember his talking about his days operating a portable sawmill in southwestern Virginia and parts of North Carolina.  He mentioned riding his horse a considerable distance into town to get a payroll for his mill hands.  He had a pair of pistols that he always wore on such expeditions and which he would show me as a youngster.  I was greatly impressed and enthralled.

          I feel quite fortunate to have these memories of a very loving and caring grandfather.  I just hope my grandchildren remember me as affectionately.

 

RECOLLECTIONS OF MY GRANDMOTHER, CLARA RICHARDSON MARTIN

          My most vivid memory of my grandmother is of her sitting in a rocking chair on her front porch on a summer morning reading the Bible.  Her Christian faith was a very obvious thing to me.  I have a birthday card she sent to me on my eighth (1929) birthday on the back of which she wrote her best wishes and her exhortation to live a Christian life.

          She was a quiet lady with no affectations.  Her appearance and demeanor were the same to me from my first recollection until her death.  I am sure that she never used any kind of cosmetics except maybe a small amount of face powder.  I remember her old-fashioned bonnet which she wore when milking the cow so the cow's tail would not hit her face. She let me try milking one time and the cow kicked over the bucket.  She sent me a bantam rooster once when I was quite small ---- no special occasion.  I guess she thought I would like a colorful chicken in my backyard. Another delightful memory is her five layer chocolate cakes and her hoe-cake corn bread.  My love for her corn bread always amused her and Granddaddy.

          Grandma never talked much about herself.  I do know that she attended Averette College as a young girl.  She had some knowledge of music and played the piano for her own pleasure  As far back as I can recall she maintained a correspondence with my father and me after I learned to write.  This extended through World War II with me.

          Grandma was a "home-body" but was finally persuaded to visit our home in Raleigh in 1940.  Leaving Granddaddy was quite unpleasant to her but he surprised her by arriving the next day.

          I remember a sweet and quiet lady with a shy smile.

 

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