Sunday, March 1, 2009

Black Sheep Squadron

This was the name of a TV show in the 70s about a group of WWII fighter pilots who stayed in trouble. Their leader, Robert Conrad had a much longer run in the Wild Wild West show in the 1960s.

In genealogy, black sheep show up in every family and usually there isn't a lot of information about them. Probably embarrassment kept them in the background but like the saying, hide in plain sight, they are well known to all at the time.
The census takers in the 1870 and 1880 census listed them as "idiot" or "insane" under occupation. That was a short lived category but a lot of people were shown with it. Today we are usually more PC.
They battled one demon or another, alcohol, drugs or just laziness sentenced them to the black sheep squadron of their day. They never worked for very long and would not have survived if not for the handouts they received from family.

My cousin, Doris Adams Green wrote about "Uncle Henry" in her book, Fogs Comin In, and said he lived in a shed in back of my great grandparent's house in Cortez, Florida. He never had a family and never really had a job. He made enough money to survive hauling firewood in a wheelbarrow. He ended up in the Manatee County old folk's home and died at age 88 in 1935. Doris never knew why they called him uncle but I found he was the brother of Hope Foreman and therefore the uncle of Sallie Adams Fulford. I guess she made sure he had a place to live.

My uncle, Floyd Green worked as a house painter but battled alcohol most of his life and never did anything for long without succumbing to the bottle. I can remember going to the Taylor County Jail with my Dad and waiting outside as he visited Floyd. He had been arrested for public drunkenness. My grandfather didn't have a lot of patience with his escapades and would let him serve his time. He came to live with us once in Tallahassee but it didn't last long so I suppose he fell off the wagon.

Japer Guy "Bunks" Fulford was another member of the club in Cortez, Florida. He would sleep where he landed and ride around the village on a bicycle looking for just enough work to buy a bottle. As a kid he would entertain us with his talk, rambling on with crazy stories, and strong smell of alcohol on his breath. I never knew how he was related but figured he was somehow because my uncle Ralph would look after him.

Today there are just as many, maybe more, as there were in the past generations. They come in all sizes and their demons are the same as those who came before.

4 comments:

share10000 said...

Hi, Mark. I always enjoy reading your blog. In case you haven't found this out in the 2 years since this post, "Bunks" Fulford was the half-brother of my in-law Uncle Grey Fulford (husband of Virginia Pringle) and the only child of Grey's mother Mamie Fulford by her second husband, Guy Fulford (son of Nathan Fulford), whom she married after her first husband, Grey's father Clyde Fulford (son of Capt. Billy Fulford), died in the 1918 flu epidemic and whom she divorced in 1930 when Bunks was 7. Bunks was named Jasper Guy for his father Guy and for Mamie's father, (Isaac) Jasper Giddens. I hope that clarifies his relationship to you and your Uncle Ralph.
Fondly,
Sharon

Mark Green said...

Thanks for the comment.

Yes, after I did this post I spent some time researching Bunks. I have since added a memorial to him on findagrave at

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSsr=81&GRid=19474064&&df=all&

Steve Fulford said...

What else can you tell me about this Brother of hope Foreman?

Mark Green said...

Henry was born in 1846 and died in 1935. As far as i could tell he never married.He probably moved to Fl with his brother who was one of the first to come from Carteret county.

The following is a quote about him from Sidney Guthrie.

He carried the mail every day. He would get up at daylight and it would be sometimes after dark when he would get in. He had a wonderful memory. Before he died, the last year, he would tell you the date right to the day that every child here was born. If he was born while he was here. From an interview with Sidney Guthrie by Doris Green on April 18, 1974