He was described as a tall man of medium build with dark hair and light blue eyes, he farmed the majority of his life in the Hurricane Township of Pickens County, South Carolina and married at the age of nineteen years old to the woman he would live out his life with on the 18th of November in 1914, a couple years later he filled out his World War I Draft registration and went on to be the Father of ten children with his wife, he took a job driving a truck for Bivins Lumber Company in Pickens South Carolina and died of lung cancer at the age of 55 just after Christmas in 1950, he was of the Baptist faith and was buried at the cemetery of the church he attended.
I never knew this man as he had passed away before I was born, I remember him being spoken of as Orr, I always thought of a boat oar when his name was mentioned but later found out that Orr was actually his middle name. Orr was my Great Grandfather and although I don’t remember him I do remember his wife who we called Grandma Simmons, Orr and Grandma lived between the towns of Pickens and Pumpkintown and as I mentioned before they had ten children, one Daughter Lucy died at 12 days old back in December 1930, and a son Clarence was killed in action in France in 1944 at the age of 22, the rest of the children lived long healthy lives.
My Dad tells me that Orr was known to “take a drink” now and then, He would come home late at night and sing loudly as he staggered his way up the long path to their house. One late night Grandma waited up for him, she was hiding in the woods next to the path with a white sheet over her head, as he staggered up the path she jumped out in front of him and screamed. As I understand it didn’t take him long to get on up the path to home that night.
After Orr died Grandma Simmons went to live with their daughter Leila who was my Dad’s Mom. I remember Grandma Simmons as being a quiet woman, she wore her hair up in a bun and every night her Daughter would bring out a kitchen chair for her to sit in, she would take down her Mom’s hair and brush it out for her, this seemed to take hours, her hair was white and hung down to the floor across the back of the chair, it was beautiful and this was a nightly ritual they had, it was kind of peaceful sitting back and watching them as they chatted and went through the routine they kept that not only got Grandma Simmons ready for bed but also showed the love of a Mother and Daughter, I watched this routine many times and always felt like it was a blessing to be able to look in on their time together. Grandma Simmons was a diabetic so the bowl of applesauce and graham cracker snack at bedtime was also a nightly ritual for her, Cindy gives me this same snack sometimes and I always think back to those days when Grandma told me about “Sugar” as Diabetes was called back then and shared her snack with me that I have grown to love.
My Dad took me for a ride to show me where Orr and Grandma lived last time I went back home, it was kind of sad to see the place all run down with windows and doors missing, kudzu has all but taken over the property and I can’t help but smile when I wonder to myself about which song Orr could have been singing when Grandma jumped out and made him get on up the path to home.