Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grandpa's House

There is a small town called Lyons just this side of Alston. In Lyons, on Highway 280, there is a big white house known to most natives of the area as the Garbutt House. When I tell you "big," it's almost of mansion proportions to us.

The reason I tell you that it's known as such to MOST natives is because it's known as something totally different to the family of Ed Crabb.

The first time Ed brought Angela home to meet his family (while they were courting) and they drove into Lyons, he pointed at the Garbutt House and said, "That's Grandpa's house." Now, if somebody pointed it out to me as "Grandpa's House" I'd think, "Wow. Never dreamed I'd get tied up with money..."

Ed drove up in the driveway and got out the car. He walked up the front steps and knocked on the front door. No one answered, and the duo continued their journey to Alston.

In the meantime, Angela's imagination is running wild. "If this is his grandpa's house, oh my!" She expected to see maids and lots of fine things at Ed's parents' home.

Instead, she found an old farm house with a chicken coop in the back and a dog lying on the front porch. Talk about a major let-down!

But the story continues...

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Sour Taste...

While they were dating, Edsel (who had by this time become "Ed" to those NOT from home) was visiting Angela's home. He requested that she get him a glass of vinegar to drink. Now, we all know that the vernacular in varies parts of the country differ, but how different could it be between neighboring states? Well, just keep reading. Angela brought Ed back a glass of vinegar. He took a good, long swig of it and realized that his definition of vinegar and Angela's definition of vinegar were insanely different! It's an odd request, a glass of vinegar. What Ed REALLY wanted was pickle juice. That's what he grew up calling it. I believe from that point forward he differentiated between pickle vinegar (which is still disgusting, in my opinion) and white, malt, or apple vinegar.

Addendum to Teenage Years...

This is a message received from Edsel's daughter to his granddaughter (me)...

Your Doodle helped land the Marines in Lebanon this way: The electric door went out on the troop carrier. They helioed him to the ship. They could not get the motor on the door repaired so they had to do it manually. He turned the crank to let the door up and down.

How cool is THAT?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teenage and Early Adult Years

So let's fast forward to Edsel's teenage years. Again, I know very little of these "wonder" years, as Ma Crabb is no longer with us and I don't get to talk with Aunt Winona very often. To hear Edsel tell it, you'd think that his life has been a Charles Dickens novel. (But who of us doesn't have a sob story? My personal one is that my siblings weren't disciplined as much as I was...)
I figure that Edsel was a boy's version of sassy. I don't KNOW this; it's purely speculation. I imagine he was respectful to his mama and daddy, as all southerners are taught to be.

Somewhere along the line he played football for Montgomery County High School. I know this because I've seen a picture of Edsel as a young man decked out in football garb hunched over a ball. From this, I gather that he was center, but I don't know that for a fact. After this he got a job in Vidalia, about 15 miles from home, at a grocery store. I don't know the logistics of it all, but he worked during the day and went to school in Baxley at night. He graduated in 1957. I'm not sure how much his grandson is like him in regards to school work, but if they're identical, then his diploma belonged to Ma Crabb, too.

After graduating, Edsel began to look for a job. However, everywhere he applied asked if he had served his time yet. This, of course, did not mean prison, but serving our country in the military. He realized that in order for him to get a decent job, he must serve. There is no shame in that, so he went to do his civic duty.

He and three other boys from home, one of them being Jesse Lollis (with whose granddaughter I am friends) went to the recruiting offices. The Navy could only take two that night; the other two would have to wait on the Marines. Edsel, in his typical fashion, told the other three boys, "I'm going TONIGHT. The rest of you can decide who else is going." Years later, Jesse Lollis told Edsel that he cursed him every night for four years for his having to join the Marines.

Shortly after his service began, Edsel was stationed aboard a minesweeper. He became an electrician, and knowing him, I think he was probably quite good at his job. There is a part of American history is not often thought about, but it was brought to my attention because of who I am. When the US invaded Lebanon, Edsel helped land Marines in Beruit. I'm not sure how, exactly, this worked, as Edsel was an electrician, but let's give him credit anyway. Could have been that his ship hauled Marines, so the whole crew took credit. I'm just proud that he served.

Later on in his naval journey he was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina. (Can there be a more lovely city?) One of his buddies was dating a girl from Orangeburg, a town in the central part of the state. This buddy's best girl had a friend who had a not-quite-steady boyfriend. Edsel and the girl set up a blind date with the buddy and his girlfriend. I believe the date was to see a movie, but I'm not quite certain. What I am certain of, is that Edsel had to wait for his date to get off work at the 5 and Dime in downtown Orangeburg. I am also certain of the date: October 31, 1959.

I can't say if there was an immediate spark, although I feel safe to say there was. His date's name was Angela Christopher, a lovely young lady who was a senior at Orangeburg High School. Edsel insisted that Angela get rid of her other boyfriend. She did, as she was head over heels for the dapper Mr. Edsel Crabb from Alston, Georgia.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Beginning

It all started on a hot May day near Uvalda, Georgia. (No, I wasn't there. How do I know it was hot, you ask? What authority do I have? Well, I spent 24 Mays IN south Georgia, so I would consider myself an expert in heat and humidity.) Anyhow, a bouncy baby boy was added to the family of Kesley and Henrietta Crabb. They'd already had to bury one son (Eschol Mervin Crabb) who died from diphtheria. While Mrs. Crabb (let's call her "Ma Crabb" from this point forward) was burying one son, another was on the way. His name was Kesley "Lanier" Crabb. But back to the story at hand... Ma Crabb gave birth to Edsel. His name was supposed to be Edsel Delacey Crabb, but the doctor neglected to put the baby's middle name on his birth certificate. To this day Edsel denies his middle name being "Delacey." I, however, tend to lean more on Ma Crabb's word. (And if you wonder about the name Delacey for a boy, it's a family name. Ma Crabb had a brother named Delacey, nicknamed "Lacey" for short.) I'm not exactly sure how Lanier felt about having a little brother. It never occurred to me to ask him while he was living. Almost three years later, a little sister, Lillian "Winona" Crabb, was born. Seeing as how Edsel was so young when Winona was born, I don't rightly reckon he had much of an opinion on having a little sister. Unless you count the normal jealous middle children have when they aren't the youngest anymore...
I don't know too terribly much about Edsel's formative years. I do know, however, that Edsel was born with a brown birthmark on his chest. Ma Crabb called it his "chocolate candy," seeing as how she craved chocolate candy when she was expecting him. Makes sense to me.
When Edsel was about 10 years old his daddy bought a piece of property, about 50 acres, that is today known as Doodle Hill. They farmed this land, and Edsel went to school in a little town called Alston. As a child Edsel did pretty much as Edsel pleased. One day he was given the chore of sweeping up under the two oak trees that sat right in front of the house. Ma Crabb's youngest sister, Frankie, known to her nieces and nephews as "Auntie" (southernized as "Annie") was visiting at the time. She found Edsel off by himself squalling like somebody had beaten him so badly he couldn't sit down. (This was not, in fact, the case.) "What's the matter, honey?" she asked. (This has little, if any, embellishment.) "I," sniff sniff, "I have to," sniff sniff, "sweep the yard." Honestly? At least his work was in the shade! Regardless, Auntie told him not to worry, that she would help him. What this REALLY meant was that Auntie would do the work for him.