Reflections

Hired-Hands Provide Papa Badley Hard Lesson In Life

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.  I saw an error in the last Boyd Street column in which Buddy Peacock’s wife’s name was wrong. Her name was Hazel and she was the daughter of Watt Adams. Hazel, my apologies for not doing a careful spell check.

I read about the death of Anne Brown Riley and because she and Dorothy were much older, I didn’t remember them. I did know Ruth and George, Jr. and of course Dr. George and Mrs. Brown.  When I was working at Newman-Gardner Ruth worked in the front office part time.

At that time the staff consisted of Dr. George, Ms Foshee, Lottie Johnsey, and Mrs. Champion.  Later Catherine Lewis worked there for a couple of years. Dr. George always called Hamric one time and us the next. It seemed to me that when it was our turn we had to struggle with a gurney down the stairs, although Hamric told me he did his share of those difficult cases.      In any event none of us made enough to pay the fuel bill for ambulance trips. They were considered to be good public relations.  We only had one vehicle that made a good funeral coach/ambulance and that was made by the Miller coach works in Ohio.

It was called the Miller Duplex and the floors were reversible from rollers to flat floor. It was usually mounted on a Cadillac chassis but Newman, always eager to cut corners, found one on an Oldsmobile chassis.

I was thinking about some incidents that happened to Papa Badley over the years. Once this man owed him some money and he kept dodging him until Papa had enough, so he borrowed a pistol from a friend and went out looking for him. He said he met this man in the  dark and asked him if he was the man he was looking for and the man replied that he was his cousin. Papa said he always believed the man he was looking for was the man he that he had been talking to. So, he turned around and went back home and returned the pistol to his friend. He told me, “since that time I’ve never carried a gun.”

He always had tenant farmers on his farm and in addition he kept a hired-hand who lived on the premises. During WW1 Uncle Charlie was in France and all the able bodied men were in the Army and he desperately needed someone to work on the farm.  He was in town and asked if they knew anyone who needed work and they pointed him to a man and told him as best as they could determine from his broken English he was from Russia.          

Papa talked to him and from what he could understand the man had left Russia to keep from been drafted in the Czarist Army.  Papa hired him and took him home and said it was the biggest mistake he ever made. He sent the man out to harness up the mules and he was gone so long Papa went to check on him and found he had put the collars on upside down and still hadn’t got the harness on the mules.

He put up with it for a little longer until one morning the man wanted money to buy a pair of shoes. Papa gave him the money he had coming and the man said it wasn’t enough to buy the shoes. Papa told him that was all he would pay him as that was all he had earned.

The man got mad and left and they never saw him again. Papa said he was never so glad to see someone leave. If the man had been a better worker, Papa would have bought him a pair of shoes, as he always gave his workers a fair shake.  

Another time he learned that he could pay the fine of a prisoner and he could work it off with Papa. Then one night he slipped in and stole forty dollars out of Papa’s pants and that ended that experiment. He lucked out in the mid thirties when Mother found Howard Herron working on Hugh Hill’s milk truck and hired him and he stayed for over eight years until he was drafted in WWII.  The longer I keep writing this column the more forgotten memories I dredge up and I hope you don’t mind me sharing them with you.  Let us hear from you at my email address charlescooper3616@sbcglobal.net or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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