Cousin Neal Remembers W.L. and Opla

by Neal Rucker Poteete Thomason

From the mid-1950s until her death in the summer of 1957, my Grandmother Rucker (Emma Alma Cox Rucker) was ill after having surgery for cancer of the colon. I believe it was in 1956 (DOLOP Generation 1's will know the exact year), Aunt Opla and Uncle Lowery came to Georgia for a visit. I just thought Aunt Opla was the greatest. She was so pretty and so sweet to my sister, Martha, and me. Anyway, Uncle Lowery was like most of the Poteete men I knew - - pleasant to the children, but just a little distant. I never knew Uncle Lowery well enough to know how he really was, but my faint recollection of his personality was this way. That is, until they both came for their visit. I loved his little grin. I see it in my great-nephew, Isaac, as it also resembles my dad's, Robert, smile.

So, my parents were busy traveling the 15 miles or so to my Rucker grandparents' home in Crabapple (a community south of Alpharetta, Georgia) on the weekends and my Mother kept a constant vigil during the week and my sister and my father and I were alone quite a bit during the period of time my grandmother slowly slipped away from us. My mother was very devoted to her parents and was a great inspiration to me and Martha.  I was so upset with my Grandmother Rucker being ill. My parents had told me she would not make it and by this time, she was totally bedridden. I loved Grandma Poteete, but Grandmother Rucker just loved us so and showed it in every way possible. I had missed her the last two years since she had gotten so weak and ill and my Granddaddy Rucker had been so concerned with his wife being ill that I had not had much grandparent time.

So, when Uncle Lowery and Aunt Opla visited, we were allowed to go spend some time with them and with Lake and Lemma Poteete. Lake was my Daddy's brother. During their visit, the Southeastern Fair was scheduled in Atlanta. So, that is where we spent the evening. For those DOLOPs who only remember Disneyland- and Six Flags-type rides, the carnival-type rides were not always the safest. I was the youngest one of the children on the trip. I have always been hesitant about those carnival rides, so I didn't want to ride anything except the merry-go-round.

So, when we arrived at the merry-go-round I knew that was the ONLY ride I wanted to ride. I don't know how this happened, but Uncle Lowery got on one of the horses and rode the merry-go-round with me. Just the two of us. I remember looking up at him and thinking he must be a very important person to take the time to involve himself with something a child would want to do. He was close to 70 and I was only 12. I can see him now with his little hat on which he kept on during the ride. He was so cool. That is my fondest memory of him. I will NEVER forget that he really made me feel special that night. He never brought the subject up on subsequent visits. I'm not even sure he remembered the incident or that I was the child involved, but nothing will erase that event from my mind. I can still see him grinning. I somehow remember he had some gold caps or something like that on his teeth. I would have to have someone verify that as it has been over 40 years since this happened.

On another visits, Uncle Lowery came to Georgia by himself in the 1960s. He attended church (First Methodist of Marietta) with us. He wore his little string tie. He was so cute. We had a good time. The pastor chatted with him after the service. It was a much smaller church then and the pastor knew where all the visitors were and with whom they were visiting. As I have gotten older, I realize that no matter the education of the persons involved, if there is no pretense or false bravado, one CAN do the Kipling thing and walk with kings and talk with the man in the street. I was impressed with Uncle Lowery and how he conducted himself that day. He and the pastor got along famously. So, I suppose you could say Uncle Lowery and Aunt Opla were examples for me to follow too as I grow older in this life.

Robert and Neal

Hope I have not bored you with all this. It is mostly about me and my feelings at the times they visited. It is meant though to show how sweet and nice they both were. We always enjoyed their visits. I loved having our California family visit us here in Georgia. My dad never got enough visits from any of you. I enjoyed my visit there in 1984. Mostly on our visit, we saw Gordon and Bethenia's children and grand-children. We saw all of Uncle Tac and Aunt Glamer's children and some of their grandchildren and, of course, Uncle Lowing. We visited Reinette and Tim. I absolutely loved their home. They were great hosts for my dad and me. We saw Nola, June, Willa Mae and J. G.