Even though grandpa Wade died a few months before my fifth birthday, I remember him and my step-grandmother Gussie very well. They lived in the big white two-story house at the top of the hill just west of us. Grandpa also owned the place where we lived, but I was not aware of it until after he died.
The thing I remember most about grandpa was riding in the front seat of his car with him, my father driving. I don’t remember ever riding with grandpa driving, and that is probably just as well.
My first cousin, Marjory Hart Pendergrass, related to me a rather harrowing account of her only ride with grandpa, when he took she and her mother for a ride in his newly purchased car. Grandpa’s daughter Ocea married Charlie Hart and they lived on the old John Hart place, which joined grandpa’s place on the south. Marjorie recalled grandpa had not learned how to shift gears, as his new car had a clutch and a three-speed transmission. Marjorie said her head was sore for days from hitting the roof of the car when grandpa ran over the bumps and through the mud holes in high gear.
As we did not own a car, when we went to town we always went in grandpa’s car. My father would walk up the hill and drive grandpa and Gussie down to our place and park across the road from our house in the shade of a very large cedar tree.
My father, grandpa and I always rode in the front, with my mother and Gussie in the back seat. The car was an open Overland touring car, Motor No. 187721 and was made by the Willys-Overland Company of Toledo, Ohio. I do not know the exact year of the car, but the “Operation and Care” manual was copyrighted in 1924. I found the manual in my father’s trunk after he died in 1976 and it today is still in like new condition. The manual will be on the display table at Tranquility May 17.
Grandpa had the only radio in the community and we would sometimes go up to his house on Saturday night and hear a program that could have been the “Grand Ole Opry” from WSM in Nashville, Tennessee. My uncle “Barg” Wattenbarger bought the radio at the sale following Grandpa’s death.
I well remember walking up the hill to Grandpa’s house one night with my father just before Grandpa died. He was about two years younger than I am today and just what he died from I do not know. I also remember a quartet singing “We Are Going Down the Valley One by One” during his funeral at Tranquility where he and his first wife, Nancy Jane Owen Wade are buried.
My dad was only thirty-seven years old when Grandpa died. From reading his Dairy, which is in the Wade trunk, it is evident he and his dad were very close. My grandmother Wattenbarger said my dad was never the same after his father died.
My father and mother bought the eighty acres we still call home from the Wade heirs several years after Grandpa’s death. I believe they gave each of the other seven heirs $125.00 for their part which, when you include my father, placed a value of $1,000.00 on the farm.
Grandpa arranged for Gussie to live in the big white house for the rest of her life, but her stepson Roy bought out her interests about 1943 along with the interests of the other children and Gussie moved down to the old Whitehead place. Roy subsequently moved his family into the big white house. He and wife Neil lived there until their death and then Geraldine continued to live there until she had to enter the nursing home about 2002.
Uncle Roy, with the help of his sons and my father, cut and sold the virgin timber off the place. My father bought a 1927 Fordson tractor (which I still have) to power the sawmill. Johnny Wade, Roy’s youngest son, said my father could tell them each day how many board feet had been sawed that day as he kept a running total in his head. Uncle Roy and Geraldine later operated a dairy and sold milk to Mayfields.
Grandpa also had a steam engine, which sat between our house and the old log barn. A well was dug just to provide water for the steam engine. I remember shortly after Grandpa died, they fired it up and drove it around by Rogers Creek Church and up to where Uncle Roy then lived which was about a mile above Rogers Creek School. What is now known as County Road 186 was not open at that time.
The day before they moved the steam engine, they fired it up to check it out and there was still pressure on the boiler when I came home from school. Johnny Wade held me up and let me blow the whistle as they were letting the boiler pressure die down anyway.
I remember the steam engine passing the school the next day, my father driving. The teacher let us all go outside to watch. My father ran in the ditch just past the school. The monstrosity had two big chains running from the steering wheel to the front axle and must have taken enormous power to turn and my father was not a very big man.
Uncle Roy attempted to power his sawmill with the steam engine but according to Johnny they never could get the governor to satisfactorily respond to the fluctuating load of the sawmill. The steam engine was eventually sold for scrap.