By Eileen Babb McAdams
When my youngest brother Jeff Babb was 12, he taped my father's oral history for a school project. Using an antiquated tape recorder (by today's standards), an inexpensive cassette tape and with my mother, Rosa Mae Bloodworth Babb, in the background my father was asked simple, basic questions about his life. 12 years after sitting in a drawer, gathering dust, Mama loaned me the tape. I heard my father's voice 12 years after he died. I made copies for my 6 brothers and sisters so we can share the richness of the experience. Listening to our parents tell their story is a way of validating their life. One can learn things about you parents and maybe see why things turned out the way they did. My father, William Lawrence Babb (Billy) was born in 1920, the oldest of 10 children born to Cliff and Nancie Bentley Babb. Daddy came from a long line of  hardworking farmers who moved into East Baldwin County Georgia in the early 1800’s when this area of Georgia was first settled.  William Babb of Wake County, NC, a Revolutionary solider was also a Soldier of the War of 1812. My father was only one on the many William Babbs who lived in Baldwin County. In addition to farming, my father worked at Griffin Pipe Co. in Milledgeville, GA from which he was retired.. Daddy was a good father, husband, brother, son, friend and neighbor. He was a hard worker, generous to a fault and had a great sense of humor. The following narrative contains only a small portion of my father's life- from his childhood until World War II. After World War II, he raised his 7 children in Wilkinson and Baldwin Counties, settling in the Coopers community in 1961, where he died in 1982.

      I, William L. Babb, was born in 1920 near the Ga. Railroad and Whitfield Wholesale Co. in Milledgeville. My father, at the time, was employed with he Georgia Railroad. Then we moved out to the farm near Black Springs Church. At the age of 3, I was stricken with diphtheria which developed into polio. Dr. Moran said I would never walk again, by with determination I over came it, and at the age of 5 I was on the go. We lived in Baldwin County until the fall of 1928.
    We moved to Wilkinson County. Then the Great Depression hit. In the same year, I broke my arm. My elbow got fixed but it never worked right again. Well, I was raised on a farm and kept going until the age of 16. At that time the CC Camps were in operation. I lied about my age. I was supposed to be 17 and went to New York where I spent the winter in 1936 and the early part of 1937. I came home and stayed 6 more months, then I went to Forestry CC Camp in North Carolina here I spent 8 months and at that time we got a CC Camp in Steven's Pottery. I transferred down here where I finished out my time.
   At the time I was in CC Camps I started driving trucks, ‘33 and ‘34 models in the CC Camps. I also worked in the kitchen a good bit. I learned how to cook pretty good when I have to. But after the CC Camps, I started driving trucks regular. Hauling logs, lumber, pulpwood or whatever. I left that and went to driving a dump truck. I helped build that overhead bridge in McIntyre. I helped moved the first piece of equipment into Warner Robins to start the air base. That was in ‘42 right after your mother and I got married. In May of 1942, I was drafted into the army. I was put in the air force which later became the army/air force. I spent 12 months training in the United States and 28 months and some few days overseas. I came out with 5 battle participation stars and I came out with all or anything I could get and I am a honorable discharge.
JEFF: What were some of the things you liked or didn't like when you were in the army?
BILLY: The main thing I didn't like was being away from home. My main object then was to help win the war and I think I play a great part in it which I am paying for now.
JEFF: What were some of you degrees when you were in the army?
BILLY: Well I started out the first 5 weeks as a Private First Class, then Corporal, Sergeant, Staff Sergeant and then Tech Sergeant. That is as far as I could go with the education I had.
JEFF: What are or were your best abilities? In service or out of service?
BILLY: In service I was originally a mechanic. After I came out I went to school for 4 years to learn farming and it is still paying off.
JEFF: How did your job affect the family after service?
BILLY: It kept food on the table and shelter over the head
JEFF: What were some home cures and remedies like for colds?
BILLY: Well for colds, now of course we had that good ole bottle of castor oil. Ha, Ha. And we had for croup kerosene, sugar and honey, which you can't use now. A lot of times for colds we used quinine with a little honey or syrup in it. It was really good! Take a teaspoon of that and you could taste it for 2 days. And for croup we used a poultice . (to my mother) What was that poultice made out of?
ROSA: Kerosene, turpentine, tallow. Well, we got the tallow from cows-dried up. We put it in a pan and put it beside the fireplace to soften and warm up. Our mama would get a cloth, put the mixture on our chest, put the cloth on it and we would go to bed.
BILLY: Back then there weren't any doctors like there are now. When my arm was broke they had to put chicken wire on it. We called it hard burnt cloth with a piece of cotton around it and then a piece of tape around it. There is a scar right there. See that brown scar?
JEFF: What about warts?
BILLY: Warts? Well there is a lot of superstitions about warts. Ill tell you, but its a virus. I've known people who would talk them off-they would disappear! Terrell Smith, out here, claimed to take them off Betty Rose and Eileen. He looked at them, rubbed them with his finger and they disappeared within a few weeks. How that happened I don't know whether it's superstition. The warts went away anyway. I can remember when I was little I had 147 warts on both hands. This old colored lady talked them off and I've still got marks there. They claim it's a virus.
JEFF: What about hiccups? How did you cure hiccups?
BILLY: Well, I don't know. It is a bad situation. There are a lot of different ways. Back then it was superstition. I had them 3 days one time and it liked to kill me. My brother down in McIntyre gave me some cough syrup which cured it. Charlie Daniels had them one time, near about two weeks wasn't it? I think cough medicine will cure anything. Now we used that same stuff in the army. It tasted like lemons. I haven't seen any of it in years.
JEFF: Do ya’ll have any legends or tall tales common to the area where you grew up?
BILLY: Yeah, back...I can't remember if it was ‘26, ‘27, it may have been ‘29, we lived in Wilkinson County. They had a little fair over in Milledgeville. My father and Mr. Ennis took 2 men to Sparta in a Model T Ford and we were walking back home that night which was about a half mile or three quarters. It was probably after 12 o'clock. It seemed like the whole sky was falling out. I don't know what it was, stars or what but they would fall around you but they would burn. I still don't but I can remember it happened won't never forget it.
   Then the year I was home in 1937 we lived in what was called the Snow place then, down in Wilkinson County. One night Daddy and I went over to Mrs. Pearl Parker. We had a Model A Ford and a light got on the radiator and I had to stop. I couldn't even see how to drive. I want to jump out and run, but Daddy wouldn't let me. Ha, Ha. It finally drifted on off and went on down to where we were living and we could see the light down there at our house. One night the preacher was down there, and the well was out in the front yard. Oh, I would say a couple hundred feet from the house. Back then we used well water, you see, we had to draw the water. Mother hollered the water was out and Preacher Farmer started down to the well to get a bucket of water. He ate with us a lot back then, he didn't have anybody and he lived out there by himself. The light was on the well and he was to go to the well and he was supposed to be a preacher. Which he was a fine man, don't get me wrong on that, but he wouldn't go to that well But the light drifted over to the neighbor's house. We could see it over there and we never have been able to figure that out. I mean a lot of people saw it but we never did know what it was.
JEFF: What about a haunted house?
BILLY: Oh Lord, that is what I was going to tell you about. I've got my brothers to tell you about it because they were big enough to remember. They had gotten up to a pretty big size by then. We moved down to the Smith place. It had an upstairs and the lady had died by but her husband was still living. So far as I know his boy is living now. But it had an old spinning wheel and a bunch of old books and stuff upstairs, rocking chairs and things like that. My mother and I would go upstairs (I was about 9 years old then) and we would look at that spinning wheel and she would talk about one day trying it out. Your mother has an old cotton card in there which is very antique. It used to work cotton to put on the spinning wheel back then. We were talking about the spinning wheel. Mother was going to try it one day to see if it worked cause it was in good shape at that time. We were sitting there one day, she and I, cause I had my arm broke and my elbow couldn't bend. We could hear the spinning wheel start up and start running. It sounded like it was spinning thread. Mrs. Smith had left an old rocking chair there. It sounded like she would be sitting in her rocking chair, just a rocking. The main part of the old house had a porch and then a room at each end of porch. Well, the old man lived with his son in Milledgeville and he had a furnished room on the front out there and he would come out and stay 2 or 3 weeks at a time. The night before he'd come, you could hear somebody come up the steps. We kept that room locked upstairs all the time. You could hear the oak door open and close and in a few minutes open and close again. Somebody would go out. My mother-in-law would said "Old Man Joe will be here in the morning," and the next day he would be there, by golly, he would be there the next day.
    One night Carl Bentley was up there walking, staying with Grandpa Bentley who lived about 1/2 mile away. Well, one night he offered Daddy $50 to walk home with him. Ha! Ha! One night Uncle Carl stayed with us. We had a fireplace in the bedroom. Mother had a sewing machine like we got back in the he back room, just like that sewing machine. Daddy shaved that night. It was in the winter and cold. We had a big old black cat. Back then everybody had a cat hole in the door. Well one night everything quieted down and we heard the durn wash pan turn over. This is no lie! I was sleeping in the back room. We all heard it rolling across the floor. The old man got up, cussing the cat and lit the kerosene lamp. (There was not any electric lights back then.) There was the washpan...sitting there..full. That was some of the funniest things that happened I have ever seen in my life. I was little by I remember then.
The end

Copyright Eileen Babb McAdams 2002 -2005