It was a chilly day in March 1969, and I was hanging clothes to dry.
My little boy, David DeLoach, 2, was in the backyard with me. Paula, 9 months, was napping inside in her playpen. We lived in Glennville, the other side of Reese’s Drive-In Café just off Highway 301. My husband worked in Hinesville.
David wanted to go to the other side of the big house and visit with Granny DeLoach. She was not his granny. We called her that because we rented half of her home. David loved to visit her. She always gave him sliced beets from a glass dish in her refrigerator. He loved them.
I listened, but didn’t hear the creaking steps as David mounted the porch. I sprinted around the house, but didn’t see him until glancing toward the road. He was running as fast as his little legs could go. I hollered and hollered. His coat had a hood, and he could not hear me.
I ran as fast as I could. He got to the busy highway. Cars were blowing their horns and stopping. I saw an 18-wheeler coming. I was terrified! He was across the center line heading when I reached out, grabbed him by the hood and did the splits on that hard pavement. The big truck had stopped, as had traffic in both directions. I thought I would never manage to get up, but finally did. I noticed an old man opening his car door to help.
When I got David back to the house, I broke down and cried. He said he was going to the store for milk. Mrs. Mildred DeLoach had heard the horns, looked out and saw what was happening. She said she couldn’t move.
She came over to see if I was OK. Yes, but I was still terrified. It would take a couple of years for my tailbone to quit hurting when sitting on a church pew. I had decided not to tell Harlon, but his Aunt Pearl Walker happened to be in the traffic lineup and saw it all. I knew I had to tell him first. I knew then that I never wanted to live by a busy highway again.
Floating the river
We fished and camped often at the Beards Bluff Campground when the children were young. One summer day in 1972, we had a boat tied to the edge of the hill.
Everyone was messing around the camp. The kids were playing with other kids. There were a couple of inner tubes tied to the boat. While I was busy frying fish, the kids had walked to the boat, crawled across the inner tubes and were floating around the end of the boat.
I did not know this even though the boat was within my sight. David, 6, ran up and said Paula, 4, was going down the river! I ran. He had untied the rope and let Paula float away. She did not even realize it was happening.
I can’t swim. She was moving down the Altamaha River, happy as she could be. Someone had to go into the water and rescue her! It had tickled David to see his little sister having fun. You just can’t turn your backs on a kid for a second!
Fire in bedroom
We lived in Walthourville in a small Jim Walters Home that we had moved onto our land in 1971. It was around Thanksgiving 1974 that we had just finished remodeling our bedroom.
Harlon was working the night shift on the Hinesville Police Department and I was washing dishes. It was already dark. David and Paula were in their pajamas and playing in another bedroom. Bruce, a little over 2, was plundering around as usual when I heard him scream. I ran to see what had happened. My heart almost stopped.
A fire was blazing in the bedroom. I got Bruce out of the way, ran to the sink filled with dishwater, grabbed a pot and ran to the fire, back and forth, filling and splashing it on the flames.
My brand new curtains were blazing up half way! Finally, I got the fire out. But, I was covered with soot. The whole house was full of black smoke. I had to open all the windows and turn on the fans. I didn’t know the Fire Department had something that could have helped me.
I looked at the new white ceiling that was now black. I could have cried if it would have done any good.
I asked Bruce what had happened. He said, “The ‘debil’ done it and he threw the matches under the bed.” I found the box under the bed. Bruce, not the “debil,” had struck a match and dropped it into a trash can.