AMY ETHEL WOOD

Amy Ethel
She was born 10 Aug 1890. She went by her middle name.  She married William N. Kinsey. They had Mildred Amy, Bethye, William N.,  Ethel Leone, Hazel, Doris Lucille, Laverne, and John Edward. Ethel's husband died 1 Jun 1927 at the age of 49.

Aunt Ethel—actually my great-aunt—was the first living saint my young eyes ever beheld. She lived at the corner of Danese and 7th, diagonally across from Ola and Will’s house and next door to the house we lived in when Daddy took sick and soon died in the hospital. Many a morning when my brother and I were out in the yard playing, she came out and got us and sat us at the breakfast table with her family, and her a widow with four still at home. I can still see the grits into which she stirred sunny-side-up eggs, and I can still taste the sliced and fried left over sweet potatoes tinged with syrup from the fat pancakes she sometimes had for breakfast. Her yard, her porch, her house were safe-havens for us from the grief and heartache that was unfolding in our little world. From what I saw of them, her children were all like her.

She died 21 Dec 1942 at the age of 52.

William and Ethel

Ethel as I remember her

Children of William N. Kinsey and Amy Ethel Wood

Mildred Amy
Mildred was born 6 Aug 1910. She married Marvin Cecil Harden 6 Jun 1926 in Madison County, Florida. They had M. C., Edward Earl "Buddy," and Betty Ruth.

Like her mother Ethel, Mildred was caring. So was her husband Marvin. Many times, when my brother and I were at their house playing with Buddy when mealtime came, they invited us to the table. They never had to ask twice. Mildred died 19 Jun 1987.

 

Children of Mildred Amy Kinsey and Marvin Cecil Harden

  Marvin Cecil Jr. "M. C."
M. C. was born 18 Sep 1927 in Greenville, Florida. He married Edith Tyler Burnett 27 Feb 1948 in Jacksonville, Florida. They had Paul Michael, Marvin Cecil III, Donna Sue, and Stephen Leslie.

As a young kid in Jacksonville, I never traveled in the same circles as M. C. as he was older and much bigger. However, one exploit involving him when I was about six left a lasting impression on my brother and me. Late one afternoon, he invited my brother and me to join in on a “snipe hunt” on which he and some of the older boys were having. Honored by the invitation, we followed them through the think jungle of Happy Hunting Ground, a large, undeveloped area behind the Harden house on 9th, to a small clearing in the very center. He handed us a bag, then told us he and the others were going out and run the snipes into the clearing and for us to hold the bag open to catch them. He and his cronies fanned out in several directions into the thicket. In a little while we heard them yelling and beating the bushes. Anxiously, we held the bag open, wondering how in the world the snipes would know to run into it. Soon, darkness came, and the yelling and beating sounds suddenly ceased. Still, we continued in readiness. After a long while, we both decided M. C. and the others weren’t coming back. Without saying a word, we took off running. Within two minutes, we stood on the Harden’s back porch with a new, straight-as-an-arrow path blazed behind us from the center of happy Hunting Ground to the Harden’s yard. Once you’ve been left holding the bag on a snipe hunt, you are qualified for the rest of your life to teach others the fine are of snipe hunting, which I have done on many occasions since.

Know as "Hardrock Harden," M. C. was a standout football player at Andrew Jackson High School. He served in the U. S. Navy 1946 - 1948..

M. C. died unexpectedly 8 May 1980.

  Edward Earl "Buddy"
Buddy was born 30 Jul 1930 in Greenville, Florida. He married Sybil Smith 12 Aug 1949 in Kingsland, Georgia. Sybil provided much of the information on this web site. They had Edward Earl Jr. and twins Sharon Ann and Karen Ann.

Buddy, who I never remember seeing angry or unhappy, played a major part in most, if not all, the exploits my brother and I were involved in with two other cousins, Booster Kinsey and Charles Mainor, from the time I was five until I was nine. Our Huckleberry Finn-like escapades took place mostly in the thick underbrush of the large expanse of woods south of the railroad tracks along 7th St. and in the St. Johns River. 

If anything, Buddy was loyal to his kinfolks. In 1938, my brother and I were placed in an orphanage in Loretto, below Jacksonville. In reality, the orphanage was a man's farm and citrus orchard. We and the several other boys there were little more than slaves. One day, while picking fruit, we heard familiar voices calling our names. We looked up to see Buddy and Charlie Mainor riding up on a bicycle. They had pedaled almost 20 miles, one way, alternating towing each other just to see their cousins. They were the most welcome sight we saw the year and a half we were in the orphanage. 

After becoming a young teenager, my brother and I, now living in Charleston, visited Uncle Eddie several times. While  in Jacksonvilles we spent most of our time at Buddy’s house on 19th Street, where the Harden’s had moved. Almost every morning, we walked 6 miles from Eddie’s out on Lem Turner Road to Buddy’s, played until dark, then walked 6 miles back.

Inevitably, my brother and  and I got into arguments that quickly escalated into all-out warfare. Our knockdown drag-outs usually took place outdoors. One day, we lit into each other in the living room of Buddy's house. My brother, older than me by eleven months, was getting the best of me, mostly with his taunts. He got me so angry that, before I realized what I was doing, I ripped the arm off a living room chair and whacked him with it. Fortunately, I hit him in the head, so he wasn’t hurt. But the chair-arm suffered some.

Pear trees behind a fence across the street from Buddy's house constantly beckoned to us, and we periodically succumbed to the temptation and climbed across the fence and helped ourselves.

A lot of our activities took place at Kooker Park, a playground just down the street from Buddy's. We played a lot of cork-ball, the Jacksonville version of half-rubber. One of the most exciting things that happened while I was at the playground was watching a hair-pulling, name-calling, roll-around-in-the-dirt fight between two girls, one of them named Jean Dukes.

Once, when I visited right after the end of the war, Buddy and some of his friends had surplus yellow one-man rafts. I went with them to a swampy area somewhere between 19th Street and the river where we spent several hours horsing around in the rafts. When we came out we were all coated with some kind of black looking oil that someone had apparently sprayed in the water.

Buddy served in the U. S. Marine Corp 1951 - 1953. He retired from the Jacksonville Fire Department.

I still get to see Buddy and kick around our childhood escapades when I visit Jacksonville. He and I are about the only ones left of that era.

Buddy in back row, middle.
I am in front row right.c1945

 

 

  Betty Ruth
Called by both her names, "Betty Ruth," she was born 10 Jan 1933 in Greenville, Florida.
She married Herman Joseph Hoover 27 Oct 1951 in Kingsland, Georgia. They had Linda Ann and Sandra Jo.

Being a girl and several years younger than us, Betty Ruth didn’t get involved in our escapades. However, I remember her well from the early days.


Betty Ruth and her mother, Mildred.

Bethye
I vaguely remember spending the night at Bethye’s house when I was a little fellow. I remember her saying, when I woke up, that I had laughed in my sleep. I still occasionally laugh in my sleep. She married Dwight Merritt.

William N. Jr. "Bill"
Bill was born 29 Jul 1917 in Greenville. Florida. Some called him "Red" because of the color of his hair. He married Winifred Green. They had Janice Gale, Ethel Rosetta, Beatrice LaNell, and William N. III "Pepper."

My first memories of Bill are while he was still at home with his mother. He was red headed—red, red—tall, but not skinny, and always smiling and laughing. He rode a big bicycle almost everywhere he went. I know it was big because I managed to pull it over on me on Ethel’s back porch, and Bill had to lift it off me.

He periodically came by to see how his Aunt Ola and Aunt Will were doing when my brother and I lived with them. Never in a hurry, he would sit around and talk to them. They loved to see him come. Ola always commented on how nice and mannerly he was. One day, however, he fell from her grace. He worked at the King Edward cigar factory, as did several other Wood relatives, and brought with him two cigars that day. He gave one to my brother and one to me and told us he would give each of us a nickel if we could smoke them. To us, a nickel was big money. He lit them for us and we started puffing away. A puff and a half later I threw mine down. Somehow, I managed to crawl from the porch into the bedroom and under Ola’s bed where I quickly disgorged what I had for breakfast, and probably some of what I had from supper the night before. Ola took a broom to him and told him never to come back. He came the next day with an apology and was immediately returned to her good graces. My brother reminded me many times afterward that he had finished his cigar without any ill effects.

Along this time he married Winnie and they lived on Buckman St. in the house behind Mann’s store. My brother and I used to hang around his house in the evenings just to hear his radio. His first child was born in that house. I can vividly remember several of us asking how the baby got to the house. Bill told us the doctor brought her in his black bag

Bill was one of the star players on the Glyn Myra Methodist baseball team coached by his cousin Claude Mainor..

Bill died 27 Jan 1985.

Bill sitting, Booster in front, Hank in back.

Bill and Winifred

 

Ethel Leona
She married J. D. McKenzie. They had Duane and Ronnie. She married Dell Kilby. They  had William H.

I have a few vague memories of Leona when I was a child. Her name sounded to me like "Loney." After I was grown and married, Uncle Eddie took my family and I to visit her in Jacksonville one evening. Although she was in a wheelchair, we had a rip-roaring time talking about the good old days out east 8th Street and telling jokes.

Hazel "Hank"
Hank was born 12 Jan 1920 in Greenville, Florida. He married Myrl Koon. They had no children.

Hank was about 15 in my first memories of him. He was tall and lanky with dark hair and, being reserved, of a marked difference in demeanor than his brothers Bill and Booster. My only memories of substance of him are of him playing baseball on the Glen Myra Methodist Church team.  I saw him next almost fifty years later at Uncle Eddie’s funeral.

 

Doris Lucille
She was born 1 Aug 1923 in Greenville, Florida. She died 24 Dec 1924 in Greenville, Florida.
Laverne "Booster"
Booster was born 31 Jan 1926. He married Iona Louise "Boots " Edenfield. They had Patricia Louise, Hazel, Lutricia Laverne, Booster Laverne, Gerri Lynn, Bobby Ladean, and Jody Lagene.

Booster, being the oldest of the small pack of cousins daring enough to follow him around—Buddy Harden, Charles Mainor, my brother, and me—was the “ringleader” in every sense of the word. My first remembrance of him was when we lived next door on Danese. He told me to pet the kittens he had in a cardboard box, neglecting to mention they were a litter of wild ones he found in the woods until after they had mauled my hand to a frazzle.

Every evening we played under the streetlight in front of his house. He taught us how to tie at strip of cloth around a rock, throw it up near the streetlight, then swat the bats with a pole when they chased the falling rock to the ground.

The first black person I recall seeing was an older teenager named Tunk who sometimes walked along the track beside 7th Street , going from wherever he came from to Tallyrand. One of us would see him from far off and would yell. “Here comes Tunk.” Immediately, Booster began marshaling forces for an attack on the approaching invader. He would send us scurrying around gathering citrons—a small, round, watermelon-like melon that grew like weeds around the neighborhood—and piling them up. He then had each of us armed and ready when Tunk drew in range. He would yell “FIRE!” and citrons—those that reached the track—rained down all around Tunk as he expertly dodged each one—I don’t remember his ever taking a direct hit. By the time we reloaded to throw our next round, he had gathered up an armful and was making us dodge incoming missiles. After a couple of rounds, we turned back to whatever had our attention before he came along, and he continued on his way to Tallyrand as if nothing had happened.

Booster also introduced us to the thrill of bamboo diving. Ambrosia Bakery had a large stand of tall bamboo across the fence from Claude Mainor’s garage. We would leap from the top of the garage onto the bamboo and ride its stalks almost to the ground.

Someone built a “clubhouse” in the narrow space between the back of Claude’s garage and the fence. The roof was so low we had to crawl into it on hands and knees; however it had a doorway and window. I remember being in it only once, but once was enough. One night we sat with our backs to the door, listening to Booster tell a ghost story called the “The 13th Step”—I think he made it up as he went along—while eerie shadows cast by the kerosene lamp danced all around us. Every few sentences, he paused, a frightened look came on his face, and he said in hushed tones, “Did y’all hear that?” “What, Booster? What?” “Footsteps.” “We didn’t hear nothin’” Still, with eyes wide, we began looking around uneasily.  The look of sheer terror that froze on Booster’s face another sentence later would have been sufficient for us to say, “Feet, help the body!” However, when he looked past us through the door and yelled, “He’s at the door!!” the instinct of survival propelled the four of us, as one body through the door. My next remembrance is standing on Claude’s front porch, holding on to my brother and him holding on to me.

Some evenings, Booster held court under the streetlight at the corner of Danese and 8th, just outside the fence around Mr. Colby, Ambrosia Bakery’s owner’s, yard. No more than twelve, Booster had already mastered the fine art of cigarette smoking. Before he began weaving the night’s tale of adventure, he would send one of us to the little store on 8th Street at the far end of Mr. Colby’s fence to buy a penny cigarette the store sold loose. The store carried several brands unknown today, Twenty Grand, Avalon, Spud, but Booster preferred a brand that I can’t remember because it was at least twice as long as today’s king-sized ones and would last much longer into the evening. Someone showed up one evening with several spike-like nails at least a foot long. Booster said they would be ideal for poking in the ground to find buried treasure. This prompted him to start telling a story of buried treasure. He soon had us convinced that Mr. Colby, being a rich man, had to have money buried in his yard. He led the way over the chain-link fence and we proceeded to jab holes in Mr. Colby’s beautiful lawn.

Although Pepsi and Coca Cola were the main sodas back then, Pop Cola proved to be the popular seller in our neighborhood. Taste was not the reason, nor price—all soft drinks cost five cents. Greed drove our preference. Numbers were printed in red under the cork in the bottom of each cap. A 7 or 11 entitled you to a free Pop Cola. Booster, more than once altered a 1 or a 17 into a 7 or an 11 with nail polish artistically enough to fool a proprietor.

We often played in and on the St. Johns River . Like the others, I learned to swim by being thrown from the potato docks off Tallyrand. It’s surprising what one can master when staring sure death square in the face. In addition to the potato docks, we swam off the end of a nearby live sewer pipe and between the parallel docks of Wilson and Toomer Fertilizer Company. Miraculously, a raft fashioned of two oil drums framed in wood showed up in our midst. We used it for jaunting up and down the river and as a diving platform. We all ran around in nothing more than a pair of short pants back then, and we always laid them in a high and dry spot before going swimming. One memorable day, as we floated around on the raft at Wilson and Toomers, Booster decided we would play king of the hill. The raft was the hill. We threw our pants in a pile on the raft and proceeded with the game. The raft, being the same on both sides, and not very stable, turned over numerous times as one person after another reigned as king of the hill. When time came to go home, we had to fish around in the water for our pants. All were found except one pair—I walked several blocks up 8th Street in broad daylight wrapped in a fertilizer sack, then had to explain what happened to my pants without revealing that playing in the mighty St. Johns was an almost every day occurrence.

One of our gang “found” a rowboat. The story was that it had been at a dock further up the river and, while a couple of others steadied the raft under the edge of the dock, Buddy yanked on the boat’s rope, pulling the anchor on the end of it off the dock and down on his head. Anytime we were in the boat, Booster was the admiral, shouting orders. One day, we rowed almost all the way across to Arlington . On the way back, as we neared a tower buoy, he commanded that we “sail over to yon island and claim it for the king!” He bestowed upon my brother and me the honor of climbing up the ladder and onto the platform to stake the claim. As we stepped onto the platform, he yelled up to us that they would come back and get us tomorrow as the boat pulled away. We started crying. I’ll never forget what my brother, the one who always palmed off on his little brother the chopping of kindling: “I’ve got to get home and chop firewood!” Thankfully, before they got too far, Booster commanded that they come back and get us.

If someone should ask the closet I ever came to death, not counting the time the shrimp boat on which I worked at the age of 19 blew up, I would have to say the day I was on an outing in the boat with Booster and company when I was six. An enormous freighter cruised past us as we paddled along. As its stern passed and we could see its gigantic and awesome looking propellers churning away so close we could almost reach out and touch them, Booster casually commented that he heard that ship propellers could suck a small boat like ours into them and grind it into pieces. Without a second thought, I dived overboard and began swimming for shore. I reached a point where I thought the water was shallow enough for me to stand up. I reached with my feet for the bottom. Down and down I went until I realized the water was way over my head. By now, my breath was running out, and I frantically struggled for the surface. I hit it flailing away. Fortunately, I made it to a piling close to shore and held on to it until the tide went out far enough for me to walk to shore.

I’ve cited just a few of the many Booster stories that have taken up memory cells in my head longer than many people’s lifetimes. 

I heard that when Booster married Boots, he became the epitome of gentility.

I also heard a few years ago that he had died, but I don't know the date

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boots and Booster

John Edward
He was born 13 Apr 1927 in Greenville, Florida and died 19 April 1928 in Greenville, Florida.

 

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