Thursday, May 16, 2013

Birthday Cards

I've written about my other three grandparents this year on their birthdays. Today would have been my grandfather Millard Fillmore Green's 133rd.  

He was born May 16, 1880 and died on July 8, 1973. He was the oldest of twelve in the family of Andrew Jackson and Rebecca Oliff Hogan Green of Taylor County Florida.

I try to send birthday cards to everyone in my family but sometimes it gets difficult to remember to get them in the mail.

This is the card my grandfather received on birthday number seventeen in 1897.

"Dear Fillmore

Many Glad Birthdays is the wish of your teacher.
Eddie L. Morres"
"Your birthdays are milestones and you never know how many more are to be passed. Be sure that each one is on the right road to Eternity." 

I tried to locate information about his teacher but haven't been able to find him listed on any of the census or lists of Taylor County teachers. My grandfather kept the card for 76 years. 

May 16, 1935 card

He liked to celebrate the day and was unique in that he often sent cards or photos to other people on his birthday. He quoted or made up poems for the occasion.

He sent this card to my Dad in 1935 while he was living in Gainesville, Florida. 

The photo is one he had taken on his 58th birthday in 1938. He sent copies of it to his sons who had all left Taylor County by then.

MF Green May 16, 1938

He lived all his life in Taylor County. I didn't come around until he was an old man so I never knew him as anything else.

From records and other folk's memory, I've found he held a wide variety of jobs. He was the County Census Enumerator from around 1905 to 1915 but it was just part time. He did both the Federal and State census. Florida conducted a state census in 1915 but all the individual family records have been lost.

He lived in the Shady Grove area after he got married and bought a 160 acre farm in 1907 but then moved the family to Perry in 1910.

He owned a General Store in Perry for several years but got in an argument with his partner and sold his share. He was listed as a clerk for Faulkner Brother's Store in Perry on his 1918 WWI draft registration card. On the 1920 census he was listed as the County School Attendance Officer. Raising five boys after his wife died in 1915 and making sure they all stayed in school, he was qualified for that job.

He had a Singer Sewing machine business in the late teens and early twenties and travelled around North Florida selling them out of the back of a horse drawn wagon. He would leave his five boys with one their uncles, Gene or Auley Rowell in Shady Grove when he was gone overnight.

On the 1930 census at age 50 he was listed without any occupation but on the 1935 census was listed as a gardener. He had a empty lot next to his house where he grew vegetables for the local grocery store. On his Social Security application in 1939 he said he was working at the City Billiard Parlor. From 1940 on he was shown as retired.

When they first moved to Perry the family lived on Green street. That house burned sometime around 1920 and he moved several times before he bought half a dozen lots and built rental houses on Sparrow and Robin Street.

He bought farm land when he was young that he rented out, so between them and the rental houses he always had money. He rarely spent any of it. He didn't have a car and heated his house with an old wood stove. He cut the wood for it himself even at age 90. He put a small kerosene heater in the living room a couple years before he died and it's amazing he didn't have a fire or get sick from carbon monoxide poisoning. He had a 20 year old wringer washing machine on the back porch.

He loved to quote bible verses, at least those that fit with whatever he thought important. He had strong opinions about politics and the issues of the day. I can still hear him saying: "Woe unto you lawyers! For you've laden men with burdens grievous to bear."

He wasn't shy about letting folks know how he felt. My cousin said Grandpa once told the wife of the Buckeye Paper Mill manager, who was wearing a mini skirt in the grocery store "lady looks to me like you jumped too far through that skirt."

He didn't trust banks, for good reason. In 1930 when the depression hit and banks started going bust the manager of the bank in Perry tipped him off that they were going to close the next day. My dad said Grandpa found him at Taylor County High School and had him withdraw his college savings. Doing so meant Daddy was able to start college at the University of Florida in the fall. Grandpa took out all his money that day too and wasn't quick to put it back in.

In the 1960s he and a friend of my Grandpa Fulford's, Albert "Gator" Mora had a running feud about which one of them owed the other money. They both claimed the other one had their money buried in coffee cans in the yard. I was the conduit of several of their extended conversations, each one telling me to be sure to tell the other that they wanted their money and they were going to come dig up the cans. It wouldn't surprise me to hear someone finds a couple of those cans in Grandpa's yard one day. If so I bet they find a birthday card in them too.

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