The Black Sheep

Great Uncle Stern Tittle

Great Uncle Stern Tittle

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.

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3 thoughts on “The Black Sheep

  1. After I moved to Florida, I visited our loved Uncle Stern until he died. He died on May 2, which mother informed me was Buzzy’s Birthday. Her comment was he got her! She hated the man.

    When Uncle Stern was hospitalized, I went to see him. On the way to the hospital Dot spotted Sarah walking on the sidewalk. I parked the car, and ran to her open arms. I was in my 30’s, and hadn’t seen her for 20 some years. How I loved her. It must have been a strange sight, to see me running across the street, with her calling my name!

  2. Happily stumbled across your blog yesterday while doing some research on my favorite man on Earth, the proverbial Black Sheep…Stern. This is Ricky Sanders, son of Dot & Earl Sanders, Thomasville, GA. To say Stern was a major part of my life would be the grossest understatement ever uttered. I think you already know that.
    Moved back to Thomasville 12 years ago to be with my mother in her last years (she died 2 years ago at 90) and have been uncovering previously unknown precious pieces of Stern’s life buried in Dot’s belongings-she was a pack rat extraordinaire.
    A little tidbit for you: Stern’s only wife’s name was Helen Baker. Her parents owned a plantation outside of Savannah, but both died when she was only 5. Her aunt, who married into the Hopkins family in Thomasville, adopted her and she moved to Thomasville, where she met Stern.
    I greatly enjoyed reading your blog. Please tell Linda I said hello.
    Maybe we can exchange memories and I can give you more details about his life if you are interested.

    • Rick, I lost track of your Mother after Uncle Stern died, then tried to locate you. I thought you were still in Valdosta. I remember us playing together at Uncle Sterns.

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