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EDDIE LAMBERT’S MEMORIES

As Told To Lois Barefoot Mays

Fannie and King Lambert lived in Traders Hill, one of the most historic areas of Charlton County, Georgia, in the tract just south of the cemetery where they could watch funerals taking place while standing in their yard. They owned a farm which included pigs and cows and the children had farm jobs to do when they came home from school, such as feeding the farm animals.

Mrs. Lambert died when Eddie was nine years old and her mother, Mrs. Amy Maxwell lived with the family and helped raise her grandchildren until they were grown. Then she helped raise the children of the youngest son.

The family, like many others, attended two churches – Adam’s Grove Baptist Church and Spatcher’s Chapel Methodist Church at Traders Hill. Each church had a separate Sunday for worship. The church that was having services on Sunday is where they, and other families, went for worship. Eddie is now a member of Bethlehem Holiness Church in Folkston and his pastor is Bobby Roberson.

The Lambert children were: Kado, Pearlie, Nora, Carbert, Sammie, Eddie, Virginia, Mary and Leroy who were twins, and Martha, a baby who died when very young.

Eddie Lambert was born November 10, 1914.

The young people of Traders Hill made their spending money by helping area farmers gather their crops. Eddie, among others, picked cotton for Mr. Henry Gibson and also cropped tobacco for Mr. Alex Dasher who was Eddie’s future wife, Blanche’s, grandfather.

King Lambert worked in turpentine for Walter Hopkins at Toledo, a small community about seven miles south of Traders Hill. The family bought their groceries and clothes at the Hopkins commissary at Toledo. On Saturdays one or two of the children, and sometimes their daddy, made the trip over the dirt road to Toledo, by horse and wagon, taking with them a list of items needed for the next week. The commissary was a very big store that had three sections full of groceries, or clothing goods and shoes, or feed for farm animals. Eddie’s mother bought material to make dresses for the girls or bought overalls and overall suits for the boys. The commissary was heated by a gas heater and also a wood stove. Miss Eva Mattox helped run the commissary. She later married Noah Stokes who was Walter Hopkins’ partner in the turpentine business. Mr. Stokes’ first wife had died. Miss Eva and Mr. Stokes had one child, a girl.

Everyone at Traders Hill got along very good with one another, almost as if they all belonged to the same family. For example, when Eddie’s father killed a hog or cow, he shared the fresh meat with his neighbors, and the neighbors did the same thing on their butchering day. King Lambert was a person that neighbors consulted when illness occurred as he knew old-time remedies. For instance, there is a small bush in the woods with a tiny white bloom known as Wild Quinine. This was gathered and dried and when a person had a fever, it was crumbled and steamed in hot water, making a light yellow liquid. The sick person drank this and was soon feeling better. Also, a Trumpet Bush could be dug up and the jointed roots pulled apart, washed and steamed and the resulting liquid was a remedy for stomach trouble. Eddie was given this medicine as a child and it made him feel lots better. When Carl Jones, a nearby neighbor came to Mr. Lambert one day, telling how sick his wife was, Mr. Lambert said, “Your wife is pregnant!” This indeed was what was wrong. Several months later she had a little girl, who we know as LaFayne Jones who married Junior Thomas. Dr. Fleming was the family doctor for serious illnesses.

The school the children attended faced on the Tracy Ferry Road leading to the river. It was a one-room building and some of the teachers were Australia Smith of Waycross, Miss Lottie L. Fisher of Brunswick, and Miss Marie Wallace. The school was divided into two sections, girls on one side and boys on the other, and graduated students after the eighth or ninth grades.

When Eddie lived in Traders Hill there were two parallel roads leading to the river. About middle-ways, near an enormous Magnolia tree (which at one time was the largest Magnolia in Georgia) was the school where he got his education. The large building had many windows but only on one side however there was plenty of light. It was heated in the winter with a long, low wood heater and used oak wood that produced plenty of heat.

In the spring when the magnolias bloom, the children picked the large fragrant flowers and took them home. It quickly made their house smell wonderful and even after a day or two when the petals had turned brown, they smelled sweeter still. Some prolonged the beauty of these blooms by putting them in the refrigerator at night and taking them out each day.

One day Eddie made up his mind that he really liked a cute girl in his class. He picked up a rock before going in the building and while his teacher Miss Wallace wasn’t looking, wrote a note to this pretty girl, wrapped it tightly around the rock and threw it at her. Miss Wallace didn’t see this happen, but the little girl just picked up the rock, leaned over and dropped it through a crack in the floor. That didn’t stop Eddie from trying this again, so the next day he did the same thing, wrapped a note around the rock and threw it at the little girl. She again dropped it, without reading it, in the crack in the floor.

At recess that day Eddie approached cute little Blanche Dasher and asked her why she didn’t read his notes. She told him her parents wouldn’t let her talk to boys unless they came to her house and asked for permission. So that’s what he did. He visited the Dasher home and talked to Blanche’s mother who gave her permission. Then it was all right for Blanche and Eddie to talk to one another at school. They had no way of knowing when they were children that they would eventually marry each other.

Eddie was employed by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad as a cook. He prepared meals for the crews who worked on the railroad. His car was on a sidetrack and stayed parked there for months, until that job was finished. His stove used coal instead of wood and he prepared meals for the railroad men. His kitchen car was parked at Augusta for about six months, then Florence, S.C. and Peedee, S.C. He returned home on the weekends, leaving again on Sunday evening by catching a train at Nahunta. He made many friends in his work and one he especially remembers was a high official of the railroad who would visit Eddie while he was working, and drink coffee and eat pie with him. They had lively conversations, many concerning what the official would do when he retired. His friend was anxious about retirement as he had always been a very active man. Eddie reassured him, but soon his friend was back for more pie and coffee and talk of his concern for his future.

Eddie’s railroad kitchen car was divided into three sections. An outside door opened into his bedroom, which opened into the kitchen and that opened into the dining room, which had another outside door. Eddie prepared three meals a day, five days a week and like the rest of the railroad workers, went home for the weekend. He didn’t have a big supply of food in the refrigerator. He went shopping each morning for meat, such as roasts or chicken, etc, potatoes for potato salad or mashed potatoes, beans, bananas for banana pudding. Some times he made jelly cake for desert. He used fresh food for each meal. He bought, cooked and served fresh food each day. When the kitchen car was in Folkston, he bought the food a few blocks away at the Folkston Grain and Grocery on West Main Street.

The workers lived in “camp cars”, railroad cars also on the siding, which were their bedrooms during the week, and ate in the “kitchen car” for their meals. The men ate everything Eddie cooked and he usually did not have anything left over for the next day. He started from scratch for each meal except Fridays, usually a half-day, and fixed sandwiches for the workers then. The camp cars on the inside held two rows of single beds with a walkway down the middle, sometimes there would be a bunk bed near one end. A bath room was at the end of the car. These camp cars were kept neat and clean and some even had pretty wallpaper. The workers made their beds before they went to work. Since the kitchen car and camp cars were parked on sidings, they were very, very close to the many trains that came and went during the night when they slept. They soon got used to the noise and would sleep right through it. At times long freight trains would actually make the cars full of men rock with its vibrations.

After his work on the railroad, he got a job as a cook at the Hilton Hotel in Jacksonville and worked there twelve years.

Eddie didn’t marry until he was 25 years old. His grandmother, Mrs. Amy Maxwell, anxious for him to fall in love and get married, kept telling him it looked like he was going to wait to marry until she died. Actually she did die first, in August 1939, and he married the next month. He was the last of the Lambert children to get married.

His wife was Blanche Dasher, daughter of Lonnie and Maybelle Dasher also of Traders Hill. It cost $5.00 for the license to marry and Colonel McQueen married them on his front porch. Colonel was living in the Clifton Gowen house at the corner of Sixth Street and Burnt Fort Highway at that time, September 30, 1939. They had three children, all boys: Freddie, born in Miami, helped by midwife Idella Simmons; George and Eddie Jr. both born at home in Charlton County. Ella Lambert, Eddie’s sister-in-law, was a midwife and helped get the two younger ones born. Eddie and Blanche also raised their first two grandchildren, Frederick who works for Winn Dixie and Gayle, who lives in Jacksonville. They also have several other grandchildren.

Both worked as teachers for a while. Blanche taught at Winokur and at Nahunta until the babies were born. Then she stayed home to take care of them, When they were old enough, she went to work as a cook for Mrs. Lois Dinkins. Eddie went to college for a year in Albany, majoring in English and taught for a while the fourth grade class at a school in Jacksonville.

The reason Freddie was born in Miami was because Eddie and Blanche had gone to south Florida to work in the gathering of vegetables. Several members of the Traders Hill Bryant family including Robin Bryant, had big truck farms and Eddie and Blanche worked there for a season, gathering a variety of field crops. They were back in Folkston when the younger sons were born.

Eddie’s parents let him have a part of the farm so he built a home there. In the winter it was heated by fireplaces throughout the house. His parents had a big year-round garden, something good growing there all through the year, and Eddie and his family enjoyed these fresh vegetables. This was where the family lived until August 1943, when they bought a home in Folkston from Berry Lowther, and he has lived there ever since.

Blanche Lambert had heart trouble and died December 15, 1983. She is buried in the Neely Cemetery near the Paxton Road in the western part of Charlton County. She was buried there because her grandparents, uncles, aunts and other family members are buried there. Eddie’s parents are buried in the Traders Hill Cemetery.

While living at Traders Hill he worked for J.V. Gowen, Sr. dipping turpentine. He got up at 5:00 each morning and walked to the Swamp where he dipped rosin from the pine trees. When his bucket was full he emptied it into a barrel. It took 7 or 8 trips with a full heavy bucket to fill up a barrel. He was paid 33 1/3 cents per barrel. The men quit about 4:00 o’clock so they could walk home before dark. When asked if he saw many snakes during that time in the woods, he said once he was walking down a woods trail and heard a hiss. He stopped just in time to keep from stepping on a rattler, who had hissed at him. A dead pine sapling lay nearby and he grabbed it and killed the snake with that.

Some of the men who were his boss during turpentining days were Willie Chesser, Carl Jones and Tom Brock. Some of his friends who worked with him included Emanuel Sims, Isaac Sims, Neal Spatcher, Owen Spatcher, Edmund Spatcher, Tommy Maxwell, Herman Dasher, Lucius Dasher and Lonnie Dasher.

Some times he drove the two-mule wagon which carried four full turpentine barrels. The barrels were in the woods and had been filled with buckets full of rosin. He put a wooden top on each one and rolled them around to the back of the wagon. There were two poles, seasoned pine saplings hanging off the back of the wagon. This was the ramp the barrel went up to get into the wagon. Eddie carefully placed the barrel on its side and pushed it, by himself, up the poles until the barrel reached the wagon floor. Then Eddie jumped into the back of the wagon, put the barrel upright, then went through the woods looking for the other barrels. When he had four full barrels he drove the wagon to the still which was in Traders Hill, across the road from his home. He unloaded the barrels and then took the mules about two blocks away to the mule lot and barn and walked on back home for supper.

He also worked at a sawmill in south Folkston near the railroad. It was run by Jimmie Lee McKendree and Theo Dinkins. His main job there was stacking lumber.

After the War he worked at Wade’s mill in north Folkston. He worked there until it burned down. His job there was pulling boards off the moving conveyor and stacking them. Different size boards would come down the conveyor and he pulled off only 2x4s or 1x6s, whichever board the foreman told him to look for.

Eddie is a veteran of World War Two, serving in the Army in the South Pacific. The draft board told him to go to Waycross on the bus on April 6, 1944 and meet with others at the Waycross bus station who were also going into the service. He was the only one going from Folkston that day and met a Mr. Medlock and others and they traveled on to Camp Blanding. They were sent from there to Fort Dix, New Jersey for training and then shipped out for overseas duty. He served at Guam, Camilla Island, and Saipan. The soldiers were given tests to find out where they could best serve and since Eddie knew how to cook, that’s what he did. He was chief cook for the first shift, which was breakfast and dinner, the other shift was the supper meal.

His best pal was George McMillar from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is still in touch with his army buddy as they keep up with one another’s lives.

He had to order the food and keep up with the inventory which was a big job. He knew how many soldiers in his unit he had to feed, but never knew how many other people his soldiers would bring as guests to the meals. He had to anticipate this so there would be plenty of food. The favorite food of his soldiers were yeast rolls, roast beef and mashed potatoes, beef stew, broiled chicken and beans.

His boss was Lt. Malloy, whose girlfriend from the states called the kitchen every morning. When Lt. Malloy wasn’t there, Eddie took her message and relayed it on to his boss. Once he told his boss that his girl was breaking up with him and it upset him. Eddie had a good relationship with his officer and could get by with teasing him.

He was released from the Army after the war on January 7, 1946.

[Charlton County, Ga. Historical Notes, 1972, page 166 and 173: “The following names are taken from the Discharge Records in the office of the clerk of the Superior Court of Charlton County of those who served in World War Two: Lambert, Eddie. Army. From 4-6-44 to 1-7-46. Asiatic Pacific.]

At one point in his life, Eddie could not find work. He was in Jacksonville and boarding at 6062 Zinnia Street, near Edgewood, and went for a walk. He found a friend Eddie Smith from Hazelhurst, who was boarding with Rosa Lee Stevenson on Ashley Street. Her manner of keeping the two Eddies separate was calling Eddie Lambert “Big Eddie” and calling Eddie Smith “Little Eddie”. The two Eddies went into a bar where Eddie Lambert picked up a newspaper and began looking for “help wanted” ads. He found an ad stating that the Hilton Hotel needed kitchen help. An elderly man sitting next to the two Eddies said “That’s where I work! You go now and apply for that!” Eddie immediately went to the hotel, applied for the job, got it and went to work the next day. He stayed there about twelve years.

There were two head cooks in the hotel kitchen, Eddie and Miss Beatrice Miller. He still keeps up with Miss Miller, who is still working. She is the cook for First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Eddie’s job for several years was cooking breakfast in “the horseshoe” at the hotel, a U-shaped counter that included a stove, refrigerator, freezer, etc. The customers could watch Eddie make their breakfast and most ordered his plate of hotcakes. They were not ordinary hotcakes but a special blend of ingredients that made very delicious pancakes. Eddie’s manager had friends that came in only because of those good hotcakes. Special ingredients Eddie added to the commercial hotcake mix were syrup and vanilla flavoring. As he stirred up a new bowl of mix, he added two small individual containers of syrup and a spoonful of vanilla. This made a very special-tasting sweet hotcake that appealed to nearly every customer.

Eddie lived at the boarding house during the week and came back to Folkston on weekends.

Eddie had his 90th birthday this year, 2004, and has decided to take life easier. He enjoys growing a small vegetable garden and even in cold weather has rows of flourishing collard plants. His good humor and gentle disposition has made him many friends and he spends most weekday mornings at the Senior Center among those he has known for many years.

 

11-24-04

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