Uncle Oris


Uncle Oris was full of fun and tricks and he liked to share them with his nephews Robert Smith and myself. He had frequent opportunity when we visited Grandpa Waller or stayed for a week in the summer.


Once after a summer shower he called us out to look up in a small tree. As we stared up trying to see something he pushed the tree with his hands and quickly stepped back while a sudden rain shower, shaken from the wet leaves, caught us. Years later I used that surprise on my children.


Once when we stayed a week we were walking back to the house from our camp after dark. We realized the potential for a prank at our expense and as we neared the house we congratulated ourselves that we were almost out of danger. At that moment a sudden shower of water washed us. Uncle Oris had heard us coming and had hid in the woods beside the trail with a bucket of water in hand.


We liked to challenge him to contests because we thought any boy could beat a grown man. But we found that he could run faster and chin up more often than we. Then there was the tree-climbing contest. A young sycamore tree stood beside his tobacco barn, it had lots of limbs conveniently placed and we could reach the lowest ones. Well, we lost the contest going up; and as we all rested atop the tree we decided maybe we could get down faster. But he just sort of fell down that tree, grasping at every other limb to slow has fall and he was on the ground before we had started good. You understand how he always won; he surprised us with the suddenness and determination of his efforts. These were good lessons that boys need to learn.


Uncle Oris never did anything but farm, as far as I know. He raised tobacco all his life and saved his money. I remember when he had saved enough to quit horse farming. He bought a Farmall Cub Tractor and a 1949 Ford all at once. Aunt Iva remembered in spring 2001 how Oris had watched after his money. It is a necessary thing for a farmer to know how to do.


I was allowed to drive the tractor when spending the summer and working in the tobacco. And I would sit in the car driverís seat on a Sunday if I could sneak out of preaching. On Saturday nights Juanita and Joyce were allowed to listen to the radio in the car for half an hour. The only other radio around was the one in grandpa Wallerís sitting room.


Juanita Waller Barbour

About 1975 a young woman named Traci came to live in the neighborhood. She was a social worker that liked to take photographs. I remember that she would say hello to my son Lewis when he stayed with his grandmother. Traci took the photograph of Oris and Irene standing in their dining, room I think.


Juanita Waller Barbour

The horse is Prince. The family used heavy workhorses to work the farm. Other relatives used mules to work a tobacco farm.