John Hamilton Shows
Some early memories by Myrtice Louise Shows Gorum:
Dad was approx. 5'8" tall. He was an ash blond. He always wore his hair neatly cut. He took pride in his appearance, especially when he dressed to go out. I remember seeing him, when I was very young, admiring himself in the mirror. He had new clothes and he was turning to see if his pants fit and placing his new hat at a rakish angle. He looked self assured that he looked well.
In stature Dad was more like his mother's family but in temperament and personality he was a true Shows, strong opinions and quick temper. He always had dreams and plans of a better life but with only a 5th grade education and 7 children to support, and that during the "Great Depression", he was only able to make a modest living.
Dad loved his family. He worked hard. He was very close with his brothers and sister and his parents. They were almost clannish.
Dad was a millwright in the lumber industry. He worked many years with Jackson Lumber Company in Lockhart, AL. He felt pride in working in the planer mill. That was where the finishing of the lumber demanded some skill. Molding was specialty. He made his own bits and knives for special patterns in the finishing process. He enjoyed telling us that he ran the molding that was used in the new Baptist Hospital when it was first built in Pensacola in 1950.
Dad gave to me love, protection, determination and pride.
Mom gave to me these same traits with guidance, discipline, care, moral values and a spiritual foundation.
This is the cohesion that lent to my life a firm belief in God, a long happy marriage, 2 children and their families that I love dearly.
Dad seldom appeared relaxed. He did like a good joke, he laughed a lot, he made friends easily but he always seemed to do things the hard way and to be somewhat accident prone. I'm sure this had something to do with him getting his fingers cut while at work.
In 1930 his fingers on his right hand were mangled. In surgery he was left with a useable stub for a thumb, a pinky finger and enough palm for prehension, which he utilized well.
His first couple of cars were Model "T" Fords both used, and the type that had a crank out front on the outside that someone had to crank & crank to start the car. There were open sides to the car that had leather curtains...In case of rain they were put on with snaps to keep the wind and rain out. There was no heat or air & no radio.
In 1932 Dad taught me to drive a Model "T" Ford truck. That fall we lived at Littman, a small mill town near Quincy, Fla.. There was not a school bus to carry us to school. The county would provide expenses to anyone to use their own transportation to carry the kids in the neighborhood to school.
Dad traded for a family car. We called it a touring car. He took the family for a ride one Sunday afternoon. He told me to drive. When we returned, Dad said, "You can drive, now, tomorrow morning take the kids, drive straight to school, park the car. When school is out, come straight home and be careful. If you get in trouble call me and I'll come to you." We had our problems, nothing major. Dad always came to us. He never made a fuss or discouraged me at that time I was 13 years old. A license was not required.
Dad continued to work until about 2 wks. before he died. Jan. 19, 1978. He was brought to my house in Milton after having been hospitalized. He died the following afternoon.
Dad had a series of mini-strokes late in life and he had emphysema and a heart condition. His last stroke left him unable to talk.
Dad was not an athlete but he was an avid baseball fan. He liked boxing, pitching horseshoes and silver dollars. He liked to play dominoes & checkers. He talked about playing "townball" when he was a small boy, using a ball made from an old knitted sock and a stick for a bat.
In 1925-'30, we did not have electricity in our home. We only had kerosene lamps and firelight in the winter. We did not have refrigeration. If we had ice it was gotten from the ice house. This was a small insulated building where big blocks of ice were stored for sale to the public. Dad would go there, the man in charge would open the big door, crack the block into a smaller piece, use tongs to lift it into a burlap bag. Dad would quickly take it home and put it into our icebox. It was shaped like our refrigerator now, with space for ice up top and food below. We had wood burning stoves. We had irons that we used to iron our clothes. They were heated on the fireplace or the stove. We washed our clothes in a metal tub, scrubbed them on a "scrub board", boiled them in an iron pot over an open fire in the yard. This was to sterilize them as well as clean them. We beat them on a block of wood to further clean them. We then rinsed them 2 or 3 times in clean water that we carried from an outside faucet or was drawn from a deep well. The clothes were then hung on a line outside in the sun and fresh air. We made our own starch, starched the long sleeved white shirts and ironed everything.
We had battery radios, no FM or Stereo, no television or computers or telephone (in our home). We got our first TV. in 1953. Mom raised her own chickens for meat and eggs. She always kept a cow for milk and butter for her children. She always had a garden and fruit trees. In season she canned vegetables and fruit to supplement Dad's income. She made our clothes, quilted covers for our beds and taught us right from wrong.----