Roots in Bristol
By: Juanita Garner Grimes
Before I begin my story of my roots in Bristol, Florida, I would like to thank all of you for putting Bristol on the internet. It was great to see my hometown on-line. To all the editors, writers, and technical crew thanks for a job well done.
My story is a unique one. I am honored for being born in this great city. I was born in 1951 to the parents of J.C. and Matilda Garner. I am the youngest of three children. We lived on Highway 12, just around the curve that everyone calls Bundy’s Curve. We lived eight miles from Bristol and eight miles from Greensboro. Mother and Daddy had homestead property there. My roots in Bristol run deep and so does my faith in God. Without my parents having faith in God, I would not be here today. You see, I had many health problems as a child. Through the grace of God and the many prayers that my parents prayed, for me, God pulled me through. We were members of the Rock Bluff Assembly of God Church. Daddy was one of the deacons of the church and mother did some of the cleaning and decorating. She sewed curtains made of deep green velvet and she trimmed it with gold roping. They looked great for our Christmas plays. We all became very active in our church and our church became our second home.
My father worked at Neal Lumber Company in Blountstown. Later, when Neal Lumber Company sold out, my father worked for C. C. Corbin also from Blountstown. I remember Neal Lumber Company like it was yesterday. Located beside the river where the train came through, daddy had a big building of nothing but lumber. Lumber of all types of lengths, widths, and oh that sweet smell of the cedar, pine and oak. The sawdust rows felt so good to my bare feet. While daddy was working there, mother worked at the Cigar Factory in Quincy. She worked for a while but had to quit. Before she quit I had the opportunity to see how the tobacco leaves were placed on the machine and rolled into cigars. I thought it was fascinating to see those leaves on that machine! Due to mother’s health, she quit her job at the Cigar Factory and became a seamstress for just about everyone around. Mother would make all of our clothes. My clothes were gathered skirts and long sleeve blouses made from bright color fabric, daddy’s choice not mothers. Some of my clothes were dresses with an apron on it.
When I was between the ages of eight and twelve I began to work my summer vacations in the tobacco fields in Greensboro. Bill Matthews from Greensboro, would pick us up real early in the morning and head toward the barns. When we got there, we had a tractor with a barge full of fresh tobacco on it that needed to be strung and then hung up to cure. As I got older I operated one of those machines and it was a blast. Being a machine operator was hard work and at lunchtime we were hungry. Mother had packed us a lunch of potted meat sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly with a thermos of milk or tea. Boy did it hit the spot! When summer was over and the tobacco was harvested, my cousin, Thomas Layton would have a great big cook out. He bought RC drinks and hamburgers for everyone to enjoy. We also worked for my other cousin Tom Vanlandingham from Greensboro.
A way of life in Bristol meant keeping the garden clean of all those grass weeds, with hoeing the peas, corn, okra and squash, it made a long day. But at the close of the day we were thankful to God for the food he had provided. Harvest time came and it was quite an experience to learn how to shell those peas and beans. Mother would set us down on the front porch and all of us would grab a boiler and sit there until that number two wash tub of those peas were shelled. Shucking corn, was harder for me to do, but I learned how with daddy’s help. Snapping beans was fun and my sister and I had a race to see who could snap the most. She would also win but that was all right for she was older than I was. Daddy also raised hogs, chickens, cows, goats, and rabbits. This kept daddy every busy especially in the evening when feeding time was near. I would help daddy with all the feeding of the animals. I even had a chance to milk the cow. What an experience!
Sewing was a big thing in our family. Both my mother and my sister can do this professionally, but for myself, I will stick to making the simple things. We made patchwork quilt tops and then all of us would quilt them. Mother knows how to do all of those patterns. Seated around mother sewing bright colored cloth together to make quilt tops and listening to daddy tell stories about his war days were interesting to me. Other stories that were told were how the Indians lived just a few miles down the road. I didn’t realize it at the time but it has become one of the fascinating interests in my genealogy search for my family.
So many memories still left untold of this place named
Bristol. It is truly a very calm, peaceful and warm place to
live. So if you are looking for a get a way come to
Bristol. Your nerves would be better for it.
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