A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.
Long ago when I was a child I was often allowed to stay with my grandparents, my father’s parents. Whether it was just overnight or for a weekend or possibly longer, that was a wonderful treat. Most of the time it would be just me and them, no sister or brother or cousin to divert their attention. Looking back I wish I had paid more attention to some of the things we talked about. But that time is over and I must rely on my memories, such as they are.
My Grandmother Barbee was one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever met. Everyone that knew her loved her. She never gossiped about people or said anything unkind. Her and Grandpa had eleven children and all were of the same loving kind nature. My father was the third child born and the first male. That put me in the “older” group of cousins. Now I hate to say it to my younger cousins, but I am sorry you missed out on some to the wonders of our grandparents.
If any of you that may read this have children, you know it is not what you do that impresses the child, but just being with the child. Example … Summer afternoon and rain was coming to the piedmont area of North Carolina. You could hear thunder and see lightning, a little scary for a child under 10 years of age. My Grandpa sat down with me on the front porch swing and talked to me. First he laughed every time it thundered. At the time I thought he might be a bit nuts, if you know what I mean, but he said not to worry that was the corn wagon coming. Ok, I had heard a wagon loaded with corn, traveling over a rough road or field and I can see where he got that expression. So why was he laughing? He said a load of corn was a sign of a good harvest of the crop and if the wagon had come back empty, that was not good. He also told me about the Dutchmen playing ninepins, but every small child had heard of that story, so it didn’t impress me much, but the corn wagon has always been with me.
Back to Grandmother. If you were staying over a weekend you would go to church with her and Grandpa. She always wore the same style of clothing, simple black or black skirt and white blouse and the same small cameo brooch. Her Bible was well read and studied every day. She always reminded me to be on my good behavior at church and I could sit with one of my cousins. She always sat with a group of little ladies, about her age and dressed just like she was. On the way home I would ask who they were and she would give me a brief rundown. Berea Baptist Church was a small church and Barbee’s had been in attendance since the church was built. In fact some of them helped build that structure. If I had realized how many of those people I was directly related to I might have stayed more in tune with what she said. Sorry Grandma, some of what you said stuck, but not all the names and places.
It was on one of those trips to visit, that something she said, did stick with me, but it seems it was while we were in a field doing something, that she told me about Reuben Barbee. I remember thinking “Holy cow, a real bad man in our family!!!” Grandpa always listened to the radio and his favorite story was “The Lone Ranger.” So I knew bad men and the Lone Ranger always won the day. Hi Ho Silver Away!!! Grandmother told how Reuben would get “liquored up on the weekend and ride through town shooting off his gun.” She said how it was thought that he killed a man and did not go to jail. (Where was the Lone Ranger?) She said she didn’t know if he did or did not, but he was not a nice man and we should not be talking about him. Any way he came from another side of the family and we did not talk or have anything to do with them. She left it up to Grandpa to shut me up from asking about Reuben Barbee (The Bad Guy). Grandpa turned my attention about telling me about other Barbees who moved west and lived in Texas. He thought that one of them had become a lawman out west somewhere. (Did he know the Lone Ranger?) Grandpa said he didn’t think so, but he might have known Billy the Kid. He wasn’t sure. You gotta love Grandpa, he tried to give me a hero, to get my mind off the bad guy. And I guess it worked I don’t remember any other talks about Reuben and his dirty deeds.
Today, so many years later, if the old Lone Ranger radio show is mentioned, I flash back to those days of my visits to my Grandparents.
Here is what I found about Reuben Barbee.
Who is Reuben Barbee?
My Family Tree is at this site Searching For Family