West Asheville. Hank Williams, Jr., David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

John Jolly Espy, Jr. (Bud John)

(L-R) Bud John (on pony), workers, Emma Carroll Espy (in car), JJ Espy, Sr. (next to car), Major

JJ Espy, Sr. and Emma w/ their kids (L-R), Major, Sarah Frances and John, Jr. (Bud John)
Missing is Josephine, who died at a very young age

Major, Bud John, Sarah Frances
in NYC
Far Right - Bud John and Major playing with one another.
(L-R) Sarah Frances, Major, Emma (Granny Espy), Bud John and Major
(L-R) Major, Emma (Granny Espy), Sarah Frances, Bud John



w/ daughter, Beverly

w/ mother Emma Carroll and daughter Beverly

Bud John, Sarah Lena Poole (Espy) and Beverly

Bud John and Beverly, downtown Atlanta
Bud John holding his granddaughter, Amy
Bud John with daughter Beverly and granddaughter Amy

(L-R) Major, Bud John, Sarah Frances

 My Father - John Jolly Espy, Jr.
By Beverly Espy Dayries 

Born – June 11, 1904

Second child, first son of John Jolly Espy, Sr. and Penelope Emma Carroll Espy (or Emma Penelope Carroll Espy).  First of their children to be born at the then newly built house at 304 East Church St., Headland, Alabama. 

John J. Espy, Jr. was known to everyone as “Bud John.” 

The Espy family belonged to the Headland First Baptist Church, which was an influence throughout the lives of each family member.  The Espy house was across the street from the church.  JJE, Jr. belonged to the church as a child and returned there when he moved back to Headland in his later years. 

During his days as a student, he attended the Gulfport Military Academy, a report card showing him there in 1918.  Later he attended the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) (approximately 1921 – 1924) and Sanford in DeLand, Florida, where he studied for the ministry.   

From 1924 until 1929 John Espy, Jr. worked at the First National Bank of Headland, Alabama, first as teller and bookkeeper, and next as Assistant Cashier.  (In 1933 this bank merged with the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Headland to become The Headland National Bank.)  It was said that Daddy was very trustworthy and kept very accurate and easily read records at his places of employment. 

As a young man he made several big trips, taking a rail tour of the West and sailing to Europe, where he spent some time in Germany.  In about 1930 he also visited his sister Sarah Frances at her homes in New York City and later, Newark, N.J.  He lived with his sister and her first husband, Charles Watson Sidney, in Newark, N.J., for a period (1930 census) while working at the Port Newark National Bank of Newark, New Jersey.  As many other banks in this period of depression were closing, so did the Port Newark bank. 

On April 18, 1931 JJE, Jr. enlisted as a Private in The Army of the United States.  He was stationed at Fort McDowell, California, and spent a period at Ft. Kamehameha, Honolulu, H.T.  On February 19, 1932 he received an Honorable discharge. The discharge document shows that JJE had blue eyes, light brown hair, a fair complexion, and was 5 feet 9-1/2 inches in height.  To this I add that his ethnic geographical background was British Isles.  While he did not receive a Medical Discharge, he did leave the Army for health reasons. His discharge shows that his physical condition was Poor.  However, his character was reported as Excellent. 

I should include in his physical appearance, that J.J.E., Jr. at some point in his life acquired a tattoo.  He likely got it before I was born.  It was a very large multi-colored tattoo of the head of Jesus.  It was on his left inner arm – below the elbow, and above the wrist. 

J.J.E., Jr. suffered various serious health problems throughout his life.  The problems greatly affected his work and his personal life.

On May 29. 1932, he married Sara Lena Poole, a native of Lee County, Georgia, who had moved to Headland, Alabama, to teach in the school there.  Among other subjects, she taught music in the school.  She also gave private piano and voice lessons.  She gave much time to the Headland Baptist Church while there, playing the piano for many functions.
In 1933 Espy, Jr. was working at the Headland Ice and Storage Company. 

In this time period JJE, Jr. and his wife moved to Atlanta, Georgia.  I was born November 12, 1934, and not long after my parents moved us into a home in Decatur, GA.  This was Daddy’s home for as long as he lived in Decatur.  Daddy worked for the Cotton Loan Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta on a temporary job, which ended before the end of the year. A few years later, in 1942, The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta contacted him about another temporary job, which he accepted and which ended after several months. 

The United States was not out of The Great Depression at this time.  With his temporary jobs at an end, he found himself without regular employment.  He purchased a couple of houses in walking distance of his own home and rented them out.  He also built a house three lots down from his own, and in addition, he built a garage apartment in the back of his house.  He rented these out.  During WWII he purchased five acres in walking distance of his house and farmed a huge Victory Garden on part of the land.  He was incredibly generous and shared the many vegetables and fruits with neighbors.   

We belonged to Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, GA.  I have fond memories of us going to the church services and to revival meetings.  Church was always a big part of my daddy’s life.  Letters and notes I have from him after he left Decatur show he continued to belong to Baptist churches wherever he lived and that he often taught Sunday School or served as treasurer of church groups.  Over the years he became a Biblical "scholar."  I heard several people say that he likely knew as much or more about the Bible as any pastor or priest. 

He was excellent at keeping accounting records and continued to do so throughout his life.  Journal notes show he fretted for days until he could account for even a couple of unaccounted-for pennies.  His journals noted that he loved to pick up coins he found on sidewalks.  He wrote that he accumulated the coins in a jar and gave them to the needy. 

No one could have had a more fun daddy than I – when his health problems weren't plaguing him.  I remember him singing “Jesus Loves Me,” Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” “Playmate,” “Oh, You Beautiful Doll,” “Pretty Baby,” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”  I remember piggyback rides and the two of us galloping around the house while he played a 1920’s phonograph record “Horses.”  Children flocked to our yard to play since little ones loved being around him.  Sometimes he would sit out on the brick wall in front of the house, whittling.   A little boy next door would come over, and Daddy would start out, “Hello, Joe – What d’ya know?”   He built a playhouse for us, a swing set, many pairs of stilts, (so each of my visiting friends could have her own pair) and later a basketball goal with a huge screen backup so we wouldn’t disturb our backyard neighbor.  He often gave rides to neighborhood children and my friends either going to or from a fruit stand, school, the movies, or, when I was older, even the orthodontist.    

I especially remember his laugh.  He had a wonderful sense of humor, and the laugh just kept building up………..Sometimes he would do something distressing to the family.  I still smile when I remember Granny Espy visiting us at such a time.  She picked up a broom and chased him through the house, round and round, her low-heeled shoes going clomp, clomp, clomp, she waving the broom back and forth up in the air, occasionally trying to hit him with it.  Granny was very annoyed, and he was gleefully laughing and laughing, staying barely out of her reach. 

When I was very young, there were occasions when Daddy would dress in his best clothes and groom himself immaculately.  I remember he would stand before a mirror, step back, and admire himself.  Then he would announce to himself in the mirror, “Now there is a fine looking man!”   

During that time period, Daddy had several medical issues.  While testing a wooden swing set he had just built for me, he sat in the swing and started swinging.  The chain snapped, wrapping itself around his ankle and breaking it.  Then, in 1943 he was hospitalized with appendicitis.   

I can recall three trips JJE, Jr. made when I was a small child and before WWII.  Two were made to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Mother and I went with him on the train.  Granny Espy went on at least one of these trips with us.  I also recall that Daddy attended the 1939/40 New York World’s Fair – World of Tomorrow.  I would guess that he stayed with his sister and her husband at that time since they were still living in either New Jersey or New York.   

In about 1946 my cousin Watty Espy came to metro Atlanta to attend Georgia Military Academy.  Daddy brought Watty to our house for the weekends during that time, and I think they were great friends from then on. 

A couple of renters of his houses eventually purchased their homes from Daddy. He continued to rent out the garage apartment.  But the OPA (Office of Price Administration) had put a ceiling on the rent he could get from that rental property, and as prices climbed, it became too costly to rent out the apartment for several years.  During that time Mother held her piano lessons in the garage apartment instead of in our house.

JJE Jr. suffered various serious health problems throughout his life.  They affected his work and his personal life.  He thought it best for the family for him to be on his own.  He left Decatur for several brief to extended periods, living in Jacksonville, Florida; Marianna, Florida; and Hot springs, Arkansas.  In May 1950 his move from Decatur became permanent.  Legal papers previously drawn up in the event he did not return, were filed, and my parents’ divorce became final. 

In 1960 Daddy was living in an apartment in Galveston, Texas.  According to letters, his physical health began deteriorating noticeably that year. He wrote of problems with his eyesight and his left foot.  He had been receiving medical care for his foot.  In November of that year he fell down some steps, and an ambulance was called.

He was living in Galveston when Hurricane Carla hit in September 1961. There was an evacuation order, and 500,000 people were evacuated.  At the time it was the largest evacuation in U.S. history. However, Daddy later wrote that he had no way to leave.  With landfall and the subsequent flooding, his feet were in the water for a very prolonged period.  Most thankfully, he was not one of the 46 persons who were killed in the storm. Carla was a Category 4. According to the Internet site Hurricanes: Science and Society, at the time this was the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin.  According to the hurricane center located in New Orleans, Carla of 1961 was one of the largest, most intense and destructive hurricanes ever to strike the United States Gulf Coast.

He moved to a different apartment in Galveston, but his condition greatly worsened.  He next moved to Houston, Texas.   In 1961 he learned he had diabetes and continued treatment for his foot, knowing now that he had a diabetic sore on it. 
For the most part he lived in inexpensive hotels or apartments after leaving his Decatur home, but then lived in public housing in Houston.  In December 1964 he had surgery for prostate cancer.  
Over time, Daddy’s health continued to deteriorate.  His brother Major and sister Sarah Frances urged him to return to Headland to live.  On March 21, 1967,  I received a letter from my daddy that he planned to move to Headland.  He arrived there on March 30.  On April 6 Bud and I drove to Headland, and I saw my daddy for the first time since 1950.  Recalling how when I was a child, Daddy would pace up and down the sidewalk when we were looking for anyone to come visit, I told Bud that I bet my first sight of him at Headland would be for him to be pacing up and down the sidewalk in front of the Espy house, where he was staying.  Indeed, that is how we saw him upon our arrival. 
So, in 1967 Daddy returned to Headland, Alabama, the place of his birth.  He had his own room in the Espy house where he was born.  By now the house had belonged to his sister Sarah Frances for many years, and at this time she lived there with her second husband Roby J. Lee. (Charles Watson Sidney had died June 27, 1952.)  After awhile Bud John felt he would be more comfortable in his own place and moved to a small house nearby at 2 Boynton Street.  On March 25, 1969 he married Emma.  Her name as given to me at that time was Emma Bullock.  I believe Bullock was the name of a previous husband.  An obituary found in my daddy’s belongings seemed to be of Emma’s mother, whose married name was Brooks.  So I believe Emma’s name had been Emma Brooks Bullock. I have also seen the spelling Bulloch.  The marriage did not last the year, and a divorce was finalized in 1970.  In the clipping Emma’s last name was spelled Epsy.   

Of course, most of what I know about my daddy first hand was up until I was about fourteen years old.  After that time most of my knowledge came through letters. For years Daddy wrote me almost every day after he left.  Later he still wrote perhaps a couple of times a week.  However, after his leg was amputated in 1975, he ceased writing to me.  After Daddy left in May 1950, I didn’t see him for seventeen years.  He was absent when I graduated from high school and college, and also when I married.  After he returned to Headland, he visited my family in Atlanta a couple of times, and we visited him in Headland several times and in hospitals later.  My parents never saw one another again after Daddy left Decatur in 1950.
In 1975 a diabetic sore worsened.  Gangrene set in, requiring amputation of a leg.  He spent months at the Veterans Hospital in Montgomery, AL, and later moved to the Veterans Hospital at Tuskegee, AL.  He was fitted with a prosthesis but was never comfortable with it. During this period we visited him several times.  By now he had two little granddaughters, and we felt it gave him great satisfaction having them visit.  On January 5, 1977 at 7:30 p.m. he passed away after developing severe edema and pneumonia.  The death certificate showed the immediate cause of death was pneumonia – that the condition which gave rise to the immediate cause was chronic obstruction lung disease, and that other significant conditions were diabetes and cirrhosis.  His funeral was held at the Headland Funeral Home on January 7.   He is buried alongside other family members at the Headland Baptist Church Cemetery, Headland, Alabama.
I don’t know anyone who tried harder to be a good person.  I don’t know anyone who was more generous and helped people.  I don’t know of anything he ever did that was dishonest, and I am not aware that he ever knowingly took advantage of another person.

It might seem a little strange to some for me to include here a comment of my first visit to Daddy’s grave after his slab had been placed.  I had been told that when he was able, Daddy had taken long walks, with the neighborhood dogs following him, like he was a Pied Piper.  Expense notations showed that in 1973 he purchased dog food on a regular basis, although he had no dog to my knowledge.  He must have fed stray dogs.  At his slab there was evidence that dogs of various sizes had recently visited Daddy’s resting place and had left their calling cards.  I found it remarkable and very touching to believe they still remembered Daddy.
Found in Daddy’s possessions was a clipping I had sent him. The words to “Playmate” had been included in an article by journalist Celestine Sibley in “The Atlanta Constitution.”  It had been our song.
To see descendants of Bud John and Sarah Lena Poole today, click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the postcard of Daddy, probably when a student at Gulfport Academy, is interesting. I had written a comment beneath the postcard. I tried to remove the postcard from the mounting in order to scan the other side. But it is glued tight, and I was afraid I would damage it. If you can't read it, my comment was that it was mailed to Mrs. T.A. West, Headland, AL from Lt. S.J. Carroll, Aucon, Panama c/o Dept. G.M. Postmarked New Orleans, Nov. 15 (I think) 1918. WWI was over 11 Nov 1918. They must have had the news by then. You probably readily know the IDs of the people, but if not - Lt. S. J. Carroll would have been Granny Espy's youngest brother - married Maureen Peacock, and father of Florence, Kells, and Sam Jr.
Mrs. T. A. West would have been Granny's sister Sallie. (I think these are the correct names, but I'm doing it from memory. If you don't already know and want to be sure, let me know, and I'll check.)

The boy in the picture with Daddy - taken at a fair - is Mother's youngest brother Marshall. He was with her much of the time when she lived in Headland. The next youngest brother, Keith, was with her some of the time also. ( Keith not pictured here.) Marshall is now in his 90's and lives with one of my cousins, Marlin,and his mother and family in Lee County. Marshall's son died a few years ago. He knew your Uncle Bumps.

A couple of the photos look like they were taken on a college campus - Auburn? Stetson?

The letterhead - First National Bank of Headland, AL - upper right hand corner - shows JJEspy Sr. as cashier and JJEspy Jr. as Assistant Cashier.

I don't know where those taken in Army uniform were taken. However, Daddy was stationed in California and Hawaii in the short time (about a year) he was in the Army.