I loved this man! He and his wife visited us in Winnetka and Woodstock in the early 1950’s. As with my great aunt’s name, I have the faintest of memories of them then. In the Spring of 1954, the whole family climbed aboard the City of New Orleans heading for Thomasville, Georgia. I clearly remember Cynthia and I sleeping in the upper bunk with little Wendy at our feet while Mom and Dad snuggled in the bunk below. We were in a Compartment. It was an adventure equaling the trip on the City of Denver the year before.
Reciting the week we spent down South would take pages. The simplest expression is that we returned to the old south where folks worked for shelter, food, and a set of clothing. Where they might be sold at a moments notice being sent on to another farm. Sinkola Plantation had changed little in its century or more of operation. Sylvia and Sarah were the house maids living in the old quarters. Cotton, Peanuts, and White Pine were the staples for sale. There was the organized hunt using dogs to track whatever came to mind. Mules pulled the wagons.
Uncle Stern had been the manager since the 1920’s when he came south from Ohio never to return. He was the Black Sheep with whom I can relate deeply. Heading for new pastures far away from the ones where you were raised can be the result of an emotional push as well as a pull towards adventures.
We visited again in 1957 as a family. Linda and I visited twice more in 1966 and 1967. She loved the experience so much, she brought her best friend in the world, Shari, to be immersed on that old plantation. That visit was again in 1966 while the two of them were completing their externships in Greenville, South Carolina and Warm Springs, Georgia. Time travel was real. You could step into the lifestyle of the past with illegal liquor, dog races, racism, and the old south alive and temporarily well.