Posts Tagged ‘tucker georgia’

Just read a story in the Lincoln Journal about disappearing sites in Georgia, such as smokehouses. According to Tom Poland, not many smokehouses left. Indeed another disappearing Southern tradition, one likely unknown by the youth of today.

I do remember a smokehouse, impossible to forget. If I walked from my house on Morgan Road in Tucker, Georgia, to our mailbox, look across the street about ten yards, between the road and the Leake’s barn, there sat a small building atop rocks. As Mr. Poland described, the building was dark and if by chance close enough, a hint of a sweet smoke lingered in the planks.

That smokehouse (called the meat house by the owner Mrs. Leake) had not be used in years. But when I was about six years old, I made good use of that oversized “doll’s house,” much to my regret.

I was of a runt of a kid with a curious experimental nature whose mind raced from one thing to another.  By today’s standards I would have been labeled ADD simply because I could not sit still. Taking a nap (much more needed by my mother) was low on my list.

One autumn day during nap time, I slipped out of the house (quietly so Mama could not hear) and found my good friend, Ricky Westbrooks, who lived up one house across the street. As it turned out, Ricky had some firecrackers he “found in Jimmy’s room” and I just happened to have a few matches on me. We quickly put our heads together and came up with a plan. We ran around to the back of the Westbrook’s stand-alone garage, the one his older brother, Jimmy, built as a Tucker High shop project. There we set our plan into action.

We knew what to do, but not who was going to do what. I offered to hold the long string of firecrackers and let Ricky strike the match. His freckled face broke out into a sweat while looking at the matches, so I offered to strike the match and he held the firecrackers. When the flame touched the fuse, just ever so slightly, it raced toward Ricky’s hand. He was not prepared. Startled, he threw the flaming firecrackers up against the garage. They bounced off the wooden garage and landed in a pile of dried leaves which took to flames as soon as the loud popping started.

It was time to split.

Where to go?

With all the noise and screaming going on, no one knows at a time like that. As I ran past the William’s house I spotted the smokehouse. I wanted to cross the street and slip back into my house, but it was like a four alarm (actually it was a two alarm) with neighbors pouring out of their houses and that included Mama. I did not want to run into her so I tugged on the smokehouse door as I had seen Jackie Leake do so often. There I stood in the smokehouse. I shut myself in and turned around and around thinking, what to do, what to do?

The smokehouse was empty save a few yard rakes. In the far right corner was a high up cabinet based from the floor. That’d do. I could get up there and pretend to be stuck. I climbed without success numerous times, but when the fire trucks buzzed by with sirens blazing, the adrenaline kicked in and I made it to the top. There I sat for the duration waiting to be found.

I cannot tell you the torture I endured. It seemed forever before Jackie Leake opened the door and yelled, “She’s in here!”

Almost immediately, I was face to face with Mama. She grabbed me and held me tight. Then she sat me down and made me look into her eyes.

“Diane, what are you doing in here? We’ve been looking for you everywhere! Why didn’t you answer when you heard your name? I thought you burned up in that fire!”

Now, I was old enough to know better than to lie to my mother, but this seemed like an exception.

“I heard a bird crying in here and wanted to rescue it, so I forced open the door. I climbed up on the cabinet and then couldn’t get down.”

“Bird crying?”

“Yes, it was crying and …”

“No such thing as a bird crying, Diane!”

About that time, Tom Story showed up. Thank goodness, a gentle soul who looked for the good in his daughters.

“Well, now Helen, she could of heard a bird in distress and came in to …”

“No such thing Tom! Diane,” she focused her attention back to me, “Young lady, I will snatch a knot in your tail if you lie to me! Where is the bird now?”

“When Jackie opened the door, it flew out.”

Tall Jackie Leake shrugged his shoulder. He hadn’t seen a bird.

“How can you hear a bird cry and not the whole neighborhood calling your name?”

“I did answer. I guess you didn’t hear me.”

I tried to change the subject.

“What’s going on out there? I thought I heard a firetruck.”

Mama’s big brown eyes would not let me go.

“You heard two firetrucks! The Westbrook’s garage burnt down to the ground. Do you know anything about it?”

“Well no, I’ve been in here the whole time. I was stuck up there,” pointing to the cabinet, “Jackie got me down.”

“Young lady, do not lie to me …”

“Now Helen, she could be telling the truth. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt until we know what really happened.”

“Tom, look at her face! You know she’s not telling the truth!”

“Now, now Helen, we don’t know. And you know how she loves birds, always drawing them …”

My father was a lovely man who looked upon his three little girls as precious gems born to be admired. But Mama was the realist in the family and the truth and nothing but the truth was all she wanted, especially today.

So here goes.

“Mama, I’m telling you the truth. A bird was crying …”

“What color was that bird, Diane?”

“Uh, well it was a bluish color.”


“Yes ma’am bluish, and it was crying so bad, I just had to help it. I know I should’ve gone for help but …”

I could go on and on with this story and tell you all the nonsense I said that day, but the truth caught up to me while standing in the middle of that smokehouse, wishing and a praying for a sign of a bird. I studied the rafters looking for an old nest, a feather – anything.

The truth showed up in the form of Jimmy Westbrooks. Ricky came clean.

Mama was true to her words, that is about snatching a knot. She did her best to cure me of lying, just like they cured hams in that smokehouse; she put the heat to me. It was there, while smelling the lingering scent of hams cured from yesteryear, that I learned the most important lesson of my life: Never lie to Mama.


To read more about disappearing Southern traditions: Author Tom Poland, journalist for the Lincoln Journal. Latest book, Georgialina A Southland As We Knew It, the University of South Carolina Press.

The Morgan Road smokehouse was built by Mr. Henry, the original property owner.








Tom BaptismSeveral years back I had the pleasure of sharing my old Pleasant Hill Baptist Church pew with my cousins, Ted Graves, Elizabeth Graves-Dickens and Curtis Sexton. We sat two pews from the front on the right side, near the side entrance door.

After the choir finished singing, Pastor Buster Dockins took over, “I want to welcome each and every one of you to our annual Homecoming. I am anxious to meet the new faces I see today. Please stay for lunch after the service. We have enough food to feed an army, and as you may well know, we have some excellent cooks here. It is my prayer that you will receive a blessing today.”

With that he read a verse from the Bible and started preaching. Just as the congregation was getting into what he was saying, the side entrance door blew open with great force. It startled everyone.

Pastor Dockins did not miss a beat, as he spoke to thin air while walking to the door.

“Come on in, we were expecting you! All is welcome!”

The congregation laughed. As he shut the door, he looked about and said, “I don’t know whodunit, but I will close the door for them.”

We laughed again and Pastor Dockins returned to his message.

Curtis leaned into me and whispered, “Yeah, I wonder whodunit?” Curtis laughed as he teased me. He goosed me and tried to scare me, “Woooooo, wonder where they’re sitting?”

I punched him with my elbow and tried to hide my smile.

I sat there looking at the preacher, not hearing a word he said. My mind left the message as I kicked around a thought. Knowing what I know about my family, based on their personalities, who would have been the invisible guest? My investigation to unravel this puzzle was afoot.


What do I know about the Story family history at this church?

Before this church building, Pleasant Hill Baptist met in a log cabin, where my grandmother, Nancy Elizabeth Bentley-Story, joined the congregation in 1928. Before Pleasant Hill she belonged to Salem Baptist in Lincolnton, Georgia.

While she occupied this Baptist church, her husband, Horace “Lawton” Story, Sr., sat on a pew at the Tucker Methodist. Tucker Methodist had been his church since 1928 when he left Arimathea Methodist in Lincolnton.

They had nine children who were decidedly Baptist or Methodist.

So, whodunit?Frances and Helen Baptism

Could it have been my father, Tom Story?  Tom was a timid man who expressed himself best while playing his Gibson guitar. Back in the early fifties, he volunteered his finely tuned carpenter skills to help build this church as it stands today. Tom was baptized in a cold spring pond used by Pleasant Hill Baptist when he was fourteen years of age. Though he loved to join in singing hymns, he would have quietly eased in whether he arrived at church late or on time.  No, it was not Daddy.

Could it have been my father’s baby sister, Nancy Story-Goss? Nancy was a fun loving person who was always ready for a Rook game, badminton or horse shoes. She was an avid camper. Nancy especially loved church socials where she participated by bringing picnic baskets full of good food. Nancy knew every short cut to Pleasant Hill Baptist. She was our cheerleader at the annual Easter Egg Hunt. As fun loving as she was, when singled out in a crowd, she quieted down much like her brother, Tom. No, it was not Aunt Nancy.

Could it have been my father’s brother, Eugene Story? Gene was a people person. He was well spoken and presented himself well, especially on the golf course or fishing competition. Gene never met a stranger. Everyone was a potential golf buddy. He could very well be the robust spirit who blew that door open, but there was only one thing, when he married, he became a Presbyterian.  No, it was not Uncle Gene.

Could it have been my father’s brother, Caleb Story? Caleb could run faster, swim faster and out play all his siblings in a game of football. He went to Heaven when I was but three years old, and my earthly eyes are limited. I cannot see Uncle Cabe as he was in his youth or how he is now in spirit. I can only see him in my mind’s eye as a young man being pushed up the handicapped ramp and through the double front doors of this church in his wheelchair. I sadly conclude, it was not Uncle Cabe.

Could it have been my father’s sister, Miriam Story-Sexton? Miriam worked in this very church providing cookies and juice at Vacation Bible School. She contributed to every picnic on the grounds. She worked diligently to have perfect attendance, especially during summer revival when she would put away her gardening to praise the Lord.

As she lied confined to her sick bed she spoke to her son Curtis, “Son, don’t worry about me. My brothers are here, and they’ll look after me.”

Looking about the room and seeing no one, Curtis asked, “Where Mama, where are your brothers?”

Miriam pointed to her father’s rocking chair at the foot of her bed, “There, Cabe is sitting in PaPa’s chair, and Tom is sitting on the arm.” Though she suffered with crumbling bones that could not support her body, her smile could not be removed, and soon thereafter, she left this world for the next. And though Miriam spoke with conviction at home, in the church house, her small voice became tiny as a mouse. No, it was not Miriam.

Could it have been my father’s brother, Robert Story? Now that is very likely, since Robert was the spokesman for his brothers and sisters. During the Great Depression , the Story children could not afford to go to the theater. They pooled their money together and sent their brother, Robert. When Robert returned, he gave a fully detailed account of the movie down to the clothes worn. The other children could talk about the movie with friends as though they had seen the movie.

Robert was Gwinnett County’s Man of the Year twice for his committed community service. Yes, it could be Robert. But no, it was not him. Uncle Robert was a staunch Methodist.

Could it have been my father’s sister, Sarah Story-Graves? Very likely it was her. She worked in this church doing whatever needed. She encouraged the congregation to study shape note singing. She cooked meals for the preachers and sent food from her garden to the congregation, and those in need. Sarah was an overachiever, yet she remained quiet as though she did not want to be noticed. When it came to a line, she would step back and let others go first. No, it was not Aunt Sarah.

Could it have been my father’s brother, Lawton Story, Jr.? Lawton rode the horse drawn buggy to Tucker Methodist with his father and brothers. Perhaps being the first son, Lawton had a soft spot for his mother. He occasionally attended her church, always sitting near the back. His sisters teased him by calling him a “back row Baptist.” But “Mother” didn’t care where he sat, as long as he was in the house of the Lord come Sunday morning. It must have warmed her heart to look about and see her son there.

Lawton was a quiet congenial man who was happy to take the spotlight when showing off his little animals when they performed the little tricks he taught them. But he would shy away from a crowd of people when the focus was on him. No, it was not Uncle Lawton.

Could it have been my father’s sister, Grace Story-Graves?  Grace was the first born and most definitely rode in the horse drawn buggy with her mother to this Baptist church as did all the girls, and baby brother, Tom.

Cecil Johnson was her neighbor, friend, and longest serving pastor at Pleasant Hill. When Grace was elderly and unwell, she tied herself to the kitchen cabinet with a rope so that she could stand long enough to prepare a meal to send to the church. She always wanted to do her part.

Grace did have a hard time getting out of the house in a timely manner on Sunday mornings.

Once in the car, Grace would have her husband go back in the house and make sure the radio was unplugged; lightning might strike it and set the house on fire.  When he returned, she asked him to check the tires. He would get out of the car, walk around and kick the tires. When she was satisfied all was well, they headed to Pleasant Hill.

Sometimes service had already started. Did that stop Grace? Being a front row Baptist, Grace opened that door and made her way down the aisle, making no bones about it. She was delighted to be here!

I glanced over at the pew occupied by Aunt Grace all my growing up years. Yes, oh yes, it could have been her!

As the pastor wrapped up his message, he asks young Ted Graves to “get a song.” Tina Graves warms up the organ while Rita Singleton-Young hits the down beat on the baby grand. We stand and sing:

Pre-cious mem-‘ries, un-seen angels, Sent from somewhere to my soul; How they lin-ger, e-ver near me, And the sa-cred past un-fold. Pre-cious fa-ther, lov-ing moth-er, Fly a-cross the lone-ly years; And old home scenes of my child-hood, In fond mem-o- r-y ap-pears. Pre-cious mem-‘ries, how they lin-ger, How they ev-er flood my soul . . .

As we sing, I stand in reverence this Homecoming day, at the very Baptist church my grandmother drove her horse drawn buggy to every Sunday, a buggy filled with the daughters and baby son. I smile as I recall how my grandfather drove his horse drawn buggy to Tucker Methodist, filled with the sons.

I honor her literal view of baptism while I respect my grandfather’s philosophical view of baptism. I am thankful to both of them for paving the way for us, the Story family.

Grandmother Nancy passed away first and PaPa Story honored her wishes by burying her in the Pleasant Hill Baptist Cemetery. He concluded that tombstone which bore her name should bear his name as well. That is how my staunch Methodist grandfather got buried amongst the Baptist, buried just a short walk on the other side of the door that blew open on this Homecoming day.

I regret to say I did not hear the Homecoming message prepared by Pastor Dockins.

But I did receive an awesome Homecoming blessing at his suggestion:


Author’s Notes:

Helen Voyles was a member of Tucker Methodist when she married Tom Story. She became Baptist when she was baptized at Pleasant Hill Baptist during summer revival. Also baptized with Helen was Tom’s niece, Frances Sexton.

Many volunteered labor for Pleasant Hill’s new building in the early 1950s, including Lawton (Jr.), Robert, Gene, and Tom Story. Caleb Story was an invalid and died in 1952. Story brothers-in-law who volunteered labor for the new building were Lester Graves, Dorsey Graves, Chester Sexton and Carl Goss. Along with many others, the Story sisters, Grace, Sarah, Miriam and Nancy provided food and drinks for the workers. Also providing food and drinks for the workers, sisters-in-law Bonnie Cofer-Story, Marie Burruss-Story, Mary Bramblett-Story and Helen Voyles-Story.

Pleasant Hill Baptist is located at the edge of Tucker in Dekalb County, Georgia.

First photo is of Thomas Jonathan Story being baptized in the pond at age fourteen, 1937. He is surrounded by family and congregation of Pleasant Hill Baptist. Right to Left: Grace, Miriam, Sarah in hat. Man? Man? Grandmother Nancy Bentley-Story behind Caleb in wheelchair. Boys R to L: Horace, Gene Graves, Ted, standing behind boys: R to L: Chester, H. Lawton Story (PaPa Story), Robert, Bonnie. Man with two children? Two in background of pool? Tom in pool. Minister? Man in jacket? Man in background? Daniel Singleton? Lawton, Jr., Gene Story. Man? Boy? Man? Man? (Where is twelve year old Nancy Story?) Second photo is of Helen Voyles-Story and Frances Sexton being baptized in the new building; Preacher Cecil Johnson officiating.

If you have a story that you would like to share about Pleasant Hill Baptist, please mail them to the church historian, Vicki Graves-Watkins. She is compiling a book of memoirs about the church of her grandmother, Grace Story-Graves, and great-grandmother, Nancy Elizabeth Bentley-Story.

Pleasant Hill Baptist

4278 Chamblee Tucker Road

Doraville, Georgia 30340

“Precious Memories” Stamps and Baxter, owners/ J. B. F. Wright, author

“All Roads Lead to Tucker Georgia” Copyright © 2012 by H. D. Story

All Rights Reserved

Horace Lawton Story

Young Lawton Story turned over in his bed and buried himself deeper in the linen and quilts, hoping he was dreaming. But the knock on his door returned. He was not dreaming. It was time to wake up.

Life on the Story farm was a huge responsibility for an only son. At the time, Lawton had four sisters who stayed busy learning to sew and sing. The older two girls loved reading the family bible and poetry. All the girls were interested in making hats.

But as the oldest child, the hard work of the farm fell squarely on young Lawton’s shoulders. He dressed quickly in the dark and made his way through the hall and downstairs as quietly as possible. He was a thoughtful brother who did not want to wake his sisters. Downstairs in the kitchen, his mother, cut open hot biscuits and slipped a thick slice of good Lincolnton country ham in them, as she greeted him, “Good morning sleepy head!”

Lawton sat down and downed his breakfast. He had wasted a good part of the morning. It was almost five-thirty.

“Good morning son,” said Rad Story as he entered the room and poured himself another cup of hot coffee. “I’ve already fed the horses, couldn’t wait for you any longer. Better bundle up! It’s brutal out there; one of the coldest mornings yet.”

Lawton finished up breakfast quickly. It was time he headed out to the barn. An hour every morning before going to school, he twist corn.

“Son, if you don’t get with it, we won’t have enough corn seed to plant this spring. How many seed bags do we have now?”

“I’m working on the second one Papa,” answered Lawton.

“That’s not nearly enough. Go on out there and get started. I’ll help you if I can.”

“Thanks, Papa.”

Sallie Story wrapped four more biscuits for her young son to take to school for lunch. “Do like your Papa says and bundle up. It is cold out there.”

It was cold for this part of Georgia and the wind made howling sounds, not to mention, it was dark as night. And the sisters were still snuggled in their beds nice and warm. Truth be known, Lawton really enjoyed the company of his sisters and their reading and singing and creative sewing. Growing up in a household full of “women” made Lawton a natural socializer.

Young Lawton Story was no stranger to responsibility, even on Sundays. The Rad Story family belonged to the Arimathea Methodist. Young Lawton took care of the horses and buggies during the service. He stood by an open window of the church to hear the singing and preaching. Sometimes he watered and cared for as many as sixty horses during the worship service. Lawton loved the social world around and about Lincolnton.

And now here he sat in the dark barn, freezing cold, with a single lantern. He must have wondered, “What is wrong with this picture?” But he did not want to disappoint his father and so Lawton slipped off his gloves that his mother forced on him. No one could twist hard kernels of corn off the dried cob with gloves on.

Being a farmer in the 1890s was a tough job all year round. In the spring-time, it was cultivating the ground with plows harnessed by livestock; then came the planting. Summer-time was weeding and irrigating.  Late summer and fall was harvest time which brought in the fresh crops and started the job of drying, canning and curing. Winter-time was just as busy. It was the time to plow up the fields to make room for the next crop, and replace the seed supply. Without seed, there would be no spring-time planting.

Young Lawton would not let his father down. So, he twisted the corn until his callused hands almost bled.

“How’re you doing in here, son?” asked Rad as he slipped in between the barn doors.

“I’m alright, sir.”

Sallie and Rad Story

“Need some help?”

“Yes sir,” replied Lawton with a big smile on his face.

Rad Story seldom had time to help his son with the seed process, but this cold morning he made an exception.

“My hands are almost frozen!” said Rad Story as he rubbed his hands together. “This might warm my hands up, what do you think?”


“Okay, Lawton, throw me a few of those corn cobs, careful now.”

Lawton would one day grow up to be six feet and five inches tall, just like his father. This morning he was just a tall lanky kid not realizing his own strength. He carelessly threw a corn cob at his father too wild to catch. The cob hit his father’s frozen hand sending horrendous throbs of pain throughout his hand.

With that the tall stout father stood and turned Lawton’s backside around. Rad swatted his son a couple of times. Rad quickly regained his composure and said, “I’m sorry son, but it hurt so bad; I just had to whoop you a little.” Rad Story held his hand close to his chest and went round in circles until the throbbing stopped.

Lawton twisted the corn alone until school time. Lawton was not happy. Never in his life had his father laid a hand on him. But today on this cold and dark morning, Lawton had his first and only “whooping.” More than anything, his heart was broken.

Lawton did not do well at school that day. He did not want to socialize with his friends, not even his special friend, Nancy Bentley. Lawton had a lot of thinking to do. After school, he twisted corn for another hour. Then the tired lad went to bed right after supper. He did not even want to listen to his sisters read that night.

Nor could he sleep. The warmth of his mother’s quilts comforted him, but he could not relax enough to fall asleep. He was hurt, angry and most of all, he felt disconnected from the most important person in his whole life, his father. Yes, this little boy cried.

Then, he got to thinking. He would not be treated that way by his father. Nor would he work for him. Nor would he ever set eyes on him again. Papa could twist his own corn. Papa would be sorry.

Lawton had a plan.

Lawton would rise earlier than his father. That meant he had to get up before four o’clock in the morning. May as well call it night-time. May as well leave now, since it’s a long walk to the Thomson Train Station. Who knows? Maybe he’d get lucky and catch a ride on the back of some buckboard. He would quietly ease through the sleepy house and take a bag full of left over cornbread and biscuits. He would pour all of his hard earned coins into a sock and stuff it into his pocket. He would then set out for the train depot. He would not be here when Eugene and Mr. Goat stopped to pick him up in the goat cart; he would not go to school today. Eugene and Mr. Goat would have to go without him. He would catch a train to where ever and be gone before anyone could find him.

And that is exactly what he did, well maybe not exactly. Lawton did make it to the Thomson Train Station. All the biscuits and cornbread were gone by the time he got there. Just as he was about to purchase a ticket, he spotted the candy jars. Why not? So he purchased a piece of candy, then another, and another. Before long, Lawton was out of money and could not purchase a ticket to anywhere but here.

What was he to do?

Lawton sat down on an old church pew in the depot and stared into space. He watched the movement of the day as his eyes followed the sun up through the cracks of the wall. He knew his father was looking for him, and by now was frantic. Heck, not just his father. His sisters were out of bed, running around and screaming his name. As unpleasant as the situation was, the thoughts of his sisters out in the cold calling his name brought a little smile to his face. But he could not allow himself to think of his precious mother. Funny thing, he had not thought about what Mother would do when she realized her only son was missing. His heart broke as he fought back the bitter tears of regret. And when he thought of his cousin, Eugene, going to school without him, it made him sad. Who would help Eugene out of the cart and hand him his crutches?

Young Lawton sat on the pew. It had been a long day. He was tired and his feet hurt.

But what could he do now? He could not go home. And he still felt anger toward Papa.  He did not know what to do, so he did nothing. Young Lawton sat still as a mouse and hoped to disappear on that church pew in the train station. He sat there all day, and occasionally caught himself drifting into sleep. When awake, he followed the sun through the cracks in the wall as it made its way back down. It was about “eventide” now. Then he got a glimpse of something he would know anywhere, his father’s white stallion.

Lawton froze. His eyes followed the horse through the cracks in the train station wall as it made another circle, then another circle, and another. Twenty minutes passed and he continued to see the white horse circle the train depot, walking very slowly. Then the white horse stopped and did not circle again. Lawton sat there for as long as he could stand it, then stood to his feet. He knew that his father was waiting for him. And anyway, he had missed lunch and supper. It was time to face the music. It was time to face Papa.

Young Lawton slowly walked to the door and opened it. He mustered the courage to lift his head and look up. And there in front of him was his father, Rad Story, sitting atop his white stallion.

And for some reason, the young lad was not angry at his father anymore. In fact, Papa and his white horse was a “welcomed sight for sore eyes.”

Rad sat still and Lawton stood still for a few moments. Lawton knew he had to make the first move. He slowly approached the horse and stopped.

Rad Story made the next move.

“Son, are you ready to go home?”

“Yes, Papa,” whispered young Lawton.

Rad Story lifted himself up and sat down behind the saddle. He leaned down to offer his hand and said, “Here son, you sit here. It’ll be past your bedtime by the time we get home.”

Young Lawton took his father’s hand and was lifted atop the horse. With the movement of the withers, and the darkness of night for a blanket, young Lawton relaxed and lied against his Papa and fell asleep.

He awoke the next morning in his own bed. And he was allowed to sleep late, just this one time. Had the boy been awake last night when he arrived home, he would have known that it was Papa that held him in his arms like a newborn baby and carried him upstairs to bed. He would have known that his little sisters ran breathlessly and opened doors for Papa as they squelched their excited giggles. And that it was Mother who placed an extra quilt on her son as she kissed his head.

Many years later at my Aunt Sarah’s home on Morgan Road in Tucker Georgia, Lawton Story and his sisters, met for a long over due supper and fellowship. Four of his sisters were there. Theo had long since passed away and was buried in Decatur, Georgia along side her mother and Uncle Charlie.  They were all there in spirit for their names were mentioned often.

The elderly ladies were fascinated by the Story family crowd that showed up to greet them. They were proud of their big brother’s nine children and “so many little grands!”

PaPa Story’s sisters were Annie “Maude” (b.1888), Theodosia “Theo” (b.1892), Eddy Gaines (b.1893), Marion Pierce “Reesie” (b.1895) and baby Ruth Radford (b.1901) Story. It was there that my sister, Patricia, heard that Radford Gunn Story and Sallie Elizabeth Gunby-Story’s first born child was a son, stillborn. Their second child was Lawton, our grandfather, and then the five daughters.

The conversation went from the present Storys to the long gone Storys. The sisters laughed as they recalled their millinery shop in Lincolnton, and which sister was the most creative. My grandfather, now our “PaPa Story,” talked about how hard the work was on that Lincolnton farm. He could never get rid of all “those rocks.” He smiled often as he recalled the fun he had with his “little sisters.” He teased them about “getting to sleep late.”

“Oh sure, Lawton, six o’clock was late!” They teased back at their brother, and laughed the night away.

PaPa Story spoke with regret that with all the grandchildren he had, not one was named, “Sallie,” for his precious mother. And of course, they all recalled “Papa’s white horse.” And even Baby Ruth remembered Papa on the white horse, and she was but three years old when Rad Story met an untimely death.

But my grandfather, Lawton Story, Sr., was most touched and could not hide the tears in his eyes when he spoke of his kind and gentle father and the day he ran away from home. The sisters listened with compassion.

“I had nowhere to go since I spent my train ticket money on candy. I stayed there all day. About eventide, I saw Papa’s white horse walk slowly round and round the depot, and then it stopped. I knew Papa was waiting for me. I slowly gained courage to walk out of the train depot. When I looked up and saw Papa sitting atop that white stallion, my heart melted. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Papa sat on his horse looking straight ahead, a perfect profile – looked like a portrait. I wanted to run up and cry out – I’m sorry Papa! Please take me home!”

Then PaPa Story looked about at all of his grandchildren and laughed with pure pleasure. He knew that whenever he mentioned the white horse, he had our attention. That’s when he would say, “And it was a beauty of a horse, a Saddlebred; a horse that could be ridden all day. Papa said that horse was so smooth, he could’ve been sitting on a comfortable chair. I wish you could’ve seen Rad Story sitting on that white stallion…”

Author’s Note:

The portrait of Sallie and Rad Story was damaged when Lawton Story’s young children poked their grandmother’s eye balls out with a pencil. My sister, Patricia Story-Logan, had the eyes replaced.

Horace Lawton Story was born in 1886 on the Mistletoe Farm owned by his grandfather, Henry Allen “Buck” Story. They later moved to a house that Rad Story built in Lincolnton. Both farms are now under water, Clarke’s Hill Lake sometimes called Strom Thurmond Lake. The Buck Story farm was also a part of what is now known as Mistletoe State Park.

Harold R. Turpin

Harold R. Turpin

“Would Diane Story please return to the Home Economics Building? Diane Story – report to Miss Ina Mae Jones in the Home Economics Building! This is an emergency!” asked/demanded Mr. Turpin – as only Mr. Turpin could do. His voice rang out all over Tucker High School.

That was the last thing I ever wanted to hear as an eighth grader at Tucker High; my name blaring over the P-A system – out over the entire school – by Mr. Turpin. What would Sister think?

This was my first year at THS. My sister, Patricia, was two years ahead of me. Pat was a model student and on the THS Drill Team. I was just recovering from a long illness and was not interested in anything much but socializing. I had a few years of conversing to make up, and I enjoyed every moment of it with friends. I didn’t even care if I knew the person I was talking to, I just loved talking. And I knew to avoid the perfectionist principal of Tucker High, Mr. Turpin.

Mr. Turpin was known for his no nonsense attitude, and refused to accept anything less than the best effort from his students. No matter what was going on when Mr. Turpin walked down the halls, disguised male voices from seemingly out of nowhere announced his approach, “Chief, chief, the chief!” Everyone knew to straighten up and walk a bit taller.

Harold Turpin met Mildred Newton at Hiltonia where she was a teacher and he a principal/coach. They married and moved to Tucker Georgia where they were well known by all; the Turpins were educators. Mrs. Turpin taught fourth grade at Tucker Elementary, while Mr. Turpin took charge of Tucker High. In the presence of the Turpins, a student was compelled to put forth their very best – behavior and otherwise.

The truth be known, as I learned years later, Mr. Turpin did everything he could for a student – including breaking the rules – if it was to better a student’s education or station in life. He was all about improvement and moving upward and onward.

But here today in the eighth grade, I was facing the very situation I hoped to avoid. I was being summoned by Mr. Turpin over the P-A System. There was no sweeping this one under the carpet.

As I left class and headed for the Home Ec Building, I recalled my first real visit with Mr. Turpin back in the fall. Coach Terry Sparks, who was my Georgia Civics teacher, sent me to the front office to “help out.” When I learned to stop talking so much, I could stop “helping out” and return to class.

My one hour job in the front office was to take permission slips into Mr. Turpin for his approval. One by one, the football players of THS filed in. It was like they had a schedule going.  It was always one football player at a time. One jock would come in and say, “Hey, get Mr. Turpin to sign this,” as he handed me a note.

“Okay, I’ll ask him,” I said after I read the note and asked a few questions.

Ida Mae Jones

Ina Mae Jones

I really didn’t want to disturb such a busy man, but I swallowed hard and tapped on his door. I did my job.

“Mr. Turpin, could you sign this for…?”

“What is it now?”

“It seems that so and so forgot to shave his legs, and he needs his legs shaved so that the tape will stick to his legs. He needs to check out of school and go home to shave his legs — sir.”

“What?” barked Mr. Turpin as he leapt from his desk downing an antacid on the way to the front-office, barreling toward the hunk of an athlete like a freight train.

“Let me take a look at that ankle. Weren’t you in here just last week? Asking to go home to shave your legs?”

“Yes sir, but the hair’s grown back out. If I play ball tonight, I need to go now to be ready. Coach Hodges sent me over.”
With a grimace and a lecture, Mr. Turpin finally agreed and hastily signed the permission slip.

Coach Terry Hodges

Coach Terry Hodges

Not five minutes later, another football player came in with the same story. Each time Mr. Turpin jumped from his desk, and went through the same routine. Each time acting as though he was going to refuse the request, but always Mr. Turpin gave in and signed the slip – after his lecture was heard. And each time, he turned suddenly to return to his office, downing an antacid shaking his head in disbelief.

I thought it strange; it was almost like Mr. Turpin was hiding his face with his hand as he downed his antacid. This went on for the entire hour that I was on duty, with one football player after another approaching Mr. Turpin with the same story. I just knew at any moment, Mr. Turpin would blow up like a volcano, but he never did.

As I left my class and very slowly walked down the hall toward the Home Economics building, I hoped Mr. Turpin would have the same forgiveness in his heart for me, but who was I?

I certainly was not a football player, nor a cheerleader, nor was I on the drill team. I was not even in a club, and couldn’t play a musical instrument if my life depended on it.  I was just an eighth grader finding my way through the halls of Tucker High School. My heart pounded a little harder with each step closer to the Home Ec Building. This was my third audience with Mr. Turpin.

The second time I was summoned by Mr. Turpin, he tracked me down in my art class.

I especially enjoyed my art class, because it put me in the same class with upper class-men – even seniors. What fun that was; especially when the class was asked to decorate the halls to market the Junior-Senior Prom. The theme was Hawaii.

I created a very sensual Hawaiian girl dancing the hula. Her grass skirt was made of long yellow strips of paper that hung loose from her body. She was attached to the poster paper with a spring and would wiggle as the students passed her. She was a hit, especially with the upper class-men. I wowed them with my talent.

But our smiles left us the day Mr. Turpin knocked on the art classroom door. He stuck his head in as he cracked open the door. Everyone froze as his gaze circled the room. His intense eyes landed on me. He nodded at me and pointed – silently demanding me to follow him.

I took a deep breath as all the art students stared at me. I stood and did the only thing I could, I followed Mr. Turpin. He did not speak all the way to the front office door. There he stopped at the hula girl.

I knew they should not have placed her next to that door, but the art class upper class-men insisted. And, there she was – wiggling all over herself.

Mr. Turpin stopped and stared at the hula girl as he downed an antacid. “What do you think she needs, Diane?”

“Uhhhhh, nothing sir.”

“Nothing sir? Look again.”

“Where sir?”

Mr. Turpin paced the floor for a moment and then approached me again. “Do you have any more of that red paint?”

I looked closely at the red paint on the hula girl and realized Mr. Turpin was speaking of the hula girl’s halter top. “I don’t think so…”

“You don’t think so!”

Realizing that was the wrong answer, I tried to make amends, “Well, I suppose I could mix up some more, but sir – it’s supposed to be a bikini and a bikini…”

“I know what a bikini is Diane!” He turned suddenly as I had seen him do when he really comes down on someone, almost like he was hiding his face.

“I’ll do it. I’ll mix some more red paint sir, but I can’t cover her up too much, it’ll ruin the whole…”

“A little will do,” he snapped.

The bell rang for classes to change.

“I’ll do it tomorrow…”

“No ma’am, you’ll do it now.”

“But sir, I’ll be late for my next class.”

“I’ll take care of that. Let’s go.”

Mr. Turpin escorted me back to my art class. It was quite an ordeal. As the students flooded the halls, all eyes were on me and the “Chief” – as the disguised voices of the male students announced our approach. When we got to the art class, Mr. Turpin walked in and went straight to the paint.

“Red? Where is it?”

“I’ll mix it, sir, here it is.”

Mr. Turpin carried the cup of red paint back to the hula girl. He stood there and was my assistant holding my paint. As I painted over her cleavage, he nodded with approval and then walked me to my next class. He did not speak as we walked. His silence was worse than his bark.

I promised myself to steer clear of Mr. Turpin.  And now, here I was being summoned to the Home Economics Building. What in the world could be wrong? And why the PA system? Before, he found me in class. Could it be that he could not find me, since I changed my schedule while working in Mr. Turpin’s office that day? My locker was too far away from my classes. I just could not carry so many books at one time, so I took full advantage of the front office files while there. Mr. Turpin is going to kill me today, I just know it!

I left the Home Ec building this morning after first period. I was the captain of the cooking team; eight of us including me in my group. We spent the whole class reading and preparing: how to bake a carrot cake. The class time was up and Miss Ina Mae Jones, our teacher, told us to leave the cake in the oven and she would remove it when done. I gave her the time to remove the three layers of cake. We had the frosting mixed together and would frost the carrot cake first thing tomorrow morning. We were to serve the cake at a tea for an invited teacher. Our tea time guest was Coach Terry Hodges.

Even though I needed to make quick tracks to get to the Home Economics Building, I made a mad dash for the girl’s restroom. I had to get some of this make-up off my face. Miss Ina Mae Jones did not approve of the “over done look,” and I did not want to disappoint her. Miss Jones was my mother’s Home Economics teacher and Mama told me – repeatedly – to listen to Miss Jones and obey her. Mama said she never wanted to hear of me being anything but “the perfect young lady” in the presence of Miss Ina Mae Jones. So, you see, I had no choice but to delay my summons.

Some of this mascara and eye shadow had to go.  I had recently recovered from rheumatic fever and found myself five foot seven and weighed only eighty-nine pounds. My saving grace was to fix myself up to look as much like the skinny London high fashion model, Twiggy, as possible.  Of course, I made up my face quickly after Miss Jones’ first period class. And I washed my face before going home. As I washed my face clean, my sister, Patricia, Rena Jones and Sheila Kirkman found me in the restroom.



“I figured I’d find you here. Do you know Mr. Turpin is looking for you?” asked Sister.  But before I could answer she said, “Oh my, let me help you get those eye lashes off. You can’t go to the Home Ec Building looking like this. Miss Jones might call Mom.”

“Jimmy (Cofer) said Mr. Turpin is already at the Home Ec Building waiting for you,” said Rena. “Diane, what happened to the cake?”


“Mr. Turpin just came on the speaker again,  and said that you needed to get to the Home Ec Building, because you blew up a cake,” added Sheila. “How in the world did that happen?”

“Oh no,” I said, not believing my ears.

“Hurry Diane, you poor baby,” said Sheila, “You’ve got to get over there now.”

“I’d go with you if I could,” added Sister.

“No, I’ll go. I’ll go now and get this over with,” I said as I wiped my face with a paper towel.

“Be brave,” said Rena.

“Yes, be brave,” encouraged Sister and Sheila.

Blew up a cake! Not the carrot cake! I hurried to get there although a knot balled up my stomach the closer I came to the building. And, then there it was – just what I had dreaded most, the steep steps to the front door of the Home Economics Building, and there stood holding the door open – Mr. Turpin.

“Captain Story, so nice of you to join us,” said Mr. Turpin, “Come on in.”

I followed him to the kitchen area and there stood Miss Jones with a concerned look on her face.  “Diane, look at this. What do you think happened? You may need to form an investigative team to analyze this one.”

I looked into the oven and could not believe my eyes. The three cake layers had exploded! And the cake batter had dried on the top, sides, door, and racks of the oven. Not to mention what little was left in the pans. I didn’t know what to think or say.

I would later form an investigation committee and realize that there were nine ingredients for the carrot cake recipe. Each girl on the team would add her assigned ingredient. Since one ingredient was not assigned, I took care of that one; so did all seven of the other girls. The ninth and unassigned ingredient was baking powder. So you see, baking powder was added eight times to the carrot cake batter. But today, right now, I did not have a clue. I just knew that tomorrow Coach Hodges would not have any cake with his tea.

I stood there looking at the mess without an answer. I turned and looked at both of them. They looked at me. Miss Jones handed me a bucket and a sponge.

Mr. Turpin placed his hand on his face and turned quickly – just as I had seen him do when the football players wanted to go home to shave their legs, just as I had seen him do as he helped me paint the hula girl’s bosom. And today, I saw it – without a doubt – I saw what he tried so hard to hide – a smile!


All photos from 1963 THS Yearbook except Twiggy. Twiggy Google Image.










Horace Lawton Story sat on his front porch watching his grandchildren play with a puppy. Though he was a giant of a man, six foot – five inches tall, he had a gentle soul, and always interested in the well being of his grandchildren. He was lovingly known as PaPa Story.

Today, in this story, he had nine grandchildren with seventeen more to come. PaPa had a problem with asthma and had given up farming on Old Norcross and the Britt Road area. He now lived in a smaller home on Adrian Street.

“Frances, come over here for a minute. I want to talk to you,” said PaPa Story. “Here, sit here on my lap,” he said as he picked her up. “You can go back and play with the puppy in just a minute.”

“Okay, PaPa,” answered little Frances Sexton.

“You know, Princess, school is very important. At school you can learn how to read and write, learn arithmetic. And do enjoyable things like reading maps. I can sit right here on my front porch in this rocking chair on Adrian in Tucker Georgia, and study places all over the world – see how to get from here to there. That’s what I can do, because I can read. Look here, see this map? I’ve been studying it all day.”

“Yes, PaPa, I see it.”

“Look there, that’s Great Britain – London. The King and Queen of England live there,” PaPa Story said as he pointed to the map.

Horace Lawton Story’s other grandchildren took note of the conversation. They stopped petting the puppy, and focused on PaPa’s rocking chair. They surrounded him as they jockeyed for a position to eye the map.

“Real kings and queens live there, don’t they PaPa?” asked Ann.

“Yes they do,” answered PaPa Story.

“And real princesses?” asked Elizabeth.

“Yes, real princesses, Pheobe,” said PaPa Story.

“One day I’m gonna fly over there on a plane,” added Wayne.

“How far away is London PaPa?” asked Elizabeth.

“Well let’s see, here with this scale, we can figure it out,” said PaPa, happy to have stirred the intellectual interests of his grandchildren. “Pheobe, if I figured it right, about forty-two hundred miles.”

“Yes, you’d have to go by plane for sure!” added Junior.

“You could go by boat,” suggested Ted as he pointed to the Atlantic Ocean.

“But it’d take a long time!” said Gene, “Forty two hundred miles!”

“Yeah, that’d be a lonnng boatride!” said Ted.

“I’d go by plane,” said Junior, “even then, it would take a long time to get there.”

“A plane is the only good way to go – now a days,” said Wayne.

“You’re exactly right, boys,” laughed Papa, “that’s a long way from Tucker Georgia!”

Wayne, Gene, Horace, Junior, “Uncle Tom” Story, Rachel, Ann, Frances, Elizabeth and Ted

“And see there,” PaPa pointed north of England, “there’s Scotland. That’s where the Story’s are from. If you’re a Story – you’re Scottish!”

“But my last name is Graves,” said Junior.

“Mine too,” said Ted.

“And my last name is Sexton,” added Frances.

“No matter, your mothers are Storys – that make you Scottish! Any grandchild of mine is Scottish! Don’t ever forget that. Know who you are. The Storys are from Umberland, Scotland. Your grandmother’s family was from Bentleyville, England.”

“Did you meet her there?” asked little Rachel.

“No, Rachel, I met your grandmother while we were in school in Lincolnton Georgia. Nancy Elizabeth Bentley and I were childhood sweethearts. Our families had long left Scotland and England when we met. Your grandmother was a blue blood…”

Nancy Elizabeth Bentley 1886 – 1938

“Is that why you call us your blue bird specials?” asked Ann.

PaPa laughed and said, “Something like that, Blondie.”

“Frances, do you see how important it is to go to school? You can learn about other countries and figure out how many miles away they are. You may want to travel one day…”

“I can read, but I don’t know how to read maps yet,” answered Frances.

“Well, a good education is important.”
“I know PaPa…”

PaPa Story looked about at his other grandchildren and said, “Why don’t you all go play with that puppy. He’s lonesome.” As they scattered about, he focused on Frances.

“Well, what’s this I hear about you crying every morning when you go to school?”

I can’t help it PaPa…”

“Are you afraid of someone at school?”

“No sir, I’m not afraid.”

“Is your teacher too hard on you?”

“No PaPa.”

“Is your school work too hard?”

“No PaPa.”

Horace Lawton Story 1886 – 1963

“Well, Princess, you need to get up every morning, and be happy to go to school.”

“I know PaPa, but I can’t help it…”

Horace left the puppy with the other children and walked back over to Frances and PaPa Story. PaPa acknowledged his grandson.

“Horace, what’s this I hear about Frances crying all the way to school? I understand you walk with her to her classroom.”

“Yes sir, PaPa, I don’t mind. I just hate to leave her crying.”

“Horace Story, you’re a good man!” Papa Story encouraged his grandchildren to look out for each other, and was proud of Horace. Then PaPa focused on his little princess again, “Frances, you must tell me why you cry every day. Is it because y’ Uncle Tom gives you  notes to give to Helen Voyles? And maybe you don’t want to do that?”

“No sir, PaPa, I like to take notes to Helen from Uncle Tom. Helen is very nice and I like her. I look forward to seeing her. She’s very pretty and she always gives me a hug. Her friends are nice to me too.”

“Well, Frances, do some of the older kids tease you? Tucker School can be a big place for such a little girl.”

My parents courting days, Tom Story and Helen Voyles

“No, PaPa. I like all the people at school.”

“What do the notes say? You know, the notes y’ Uncle Tom sends to Helen…”

“I don’t know, PaPa. The notes are addressed to Helen and not me. I would never read someone else’s mail.”

“I see. You have integrity. That’s honorable.” PaPa thought hard for a moment, “Well, do you do your homework?”

“Yes, PaPa, I do all of my homework. I’m a good student. I make good grades.”

“Well, my goodness! Why in the world do you cry every morning? From what I understand, you cry from your house to the bus stop, you cry all the way to school on the bus, and you cry all the way from the bus to your classroom. Princess, tell PaPa why you cry.”

“I can’t help it PaPa,” said Frances, “I don’t want to cry…”

Tears ran down Frances’ cheeks just thinking about it.

“It’s okay Frances,” said Horace as he quickly jumped to his cousin’s rescue, “Please don’t cry, Frances. I’ll walk you to your class every day. It’ll be okay, PaPa, I don’t mind. I can take care of Frances.”

PaPa hugged Frances and said, “I don’t want Frances to cry either. But for the life of me, Princess, I cannot figure out why you cry going to school every day…”

“B-Because,” snubbed little Frances, “I – I – I don’t want to leave —– Rachel. I don’t want my sister to be left alone.”

“She’s not alone. Miriam — your mother — is with her. Princess, is that why you cry every day? You don’t want to leave your little sister?”

“Yes, Papa, it breaks my heart to leave Rachel. She has no one to play with…”

PaPa hugged Frances and gave her a kiss on the head, “Frances, you just may very well be – a real princess!”


Surname STORY Notes:

The surname STORY is an Old Norse “Stori” word which means “big” or “strong,” and “water.” The earliest known Norse settlement in which the first Storys can be found, took place in the 9th Century north of Carlisle near the Solway Firth in Scotland.

Later the Storys can be traced to Northern England, particularly Yorkshire.  The Storys were a sect of the Scottish Clan Ogilvy. The Storys own coat of arms was given to them by Richard II of England.

A bloody feud in the 16th Century, forced the Storys to migrate from Carlisle to Northumberland, “Umberland,” as Papa Story always stated. That region is in north west England on the Scottish border and is now known as the Lake District.

Well known “Peter Rabbit” author, Helen Beatrix Potter, purchased the Lake District little by little, with the sale of her books. Christmas day 1943, Beatrix Potter’s husband, Willie Heelis handed a container filled with his wife’s ashes to her lead shepherd, Tom Story. Tom Story later spoke of that day. “I’d promise her I’d scatter them. Nobody else knows of the place, not even her husband. We’d discussed it several times. I spoke to her the night before she died. So I got up from my dinner and went off to scatter them in a place she’d chosen.”


The Clan

The Storys were a sept of the Ogilvy Clan. The Ogilvy motto is “A Fin” which means “To the End.”

Early 15th Century, Sir Patrick Ogilvy commanded a Scottish regiment fighting with Joan of Arc.

Lord Ogilvy joined the 1715 Jacobite Uprising and raised a regiment in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) in 1745.

Clementine Ogilvy Hozier, wife of Winston Churhill, was a descendant through the female line of David, 6th Earl of Ogilvy.

The present Chief served as Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth II. Angus Ogilvy, the Chief’s brother, married Princess Alexandra.



Edward Story died 1503, English Bishop

John Story 1504 – 1571, English martyr

Elias Story came to America on the Mayflower in the care of Edward Winslow

Joseph Story 1779 – 1845, American lawyer and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1811 – 1845) nominated by James Madison

Liz Story born 1956, American pianist

Ralph Story 1920 – 2006, American radio and television personality

Riz Story born 1973, American composer

Samuel Story 1752 – 1811, Dutch naval commander

Thomas Waldo Story 1855 – 1915, English/American sculptor

Thomas Story 1670 – 1742 English Quaker convert and close friend of William Penn, 1706 elected mayor of Philadelphia, but paid 20 pound fine for declining to serve, preached 16 years in America, returned to Great Britain 1714

George Warter Story 1664 – 1721 Older brother of Thomas Story the Quaker, served as chaplain to William of Orange and the Countess-dowager of Carlisle at Castle Howard, England, grew up in Justice Town near Carlisle, Cumberland

Tim Story, film director

Walter Scott Story 1879 – 1955, American author

William Wetmore Story 1819 – 1895, American sculptor

Horace Lawton Story, Sr. 1886 – 1963, Awesome grandfather


Historical information came from Wikipedia and Family