What is your earliest childhood memory?
At four years old, I would wait for Ms. Sally Sullivan, a teacher, and run to meet her after school. I was too young to go to school.
Describe the personalities of your parents and life in their household.
Dad was a businessman. His business was farming. Smart dresser. Wore tailor-made suits. He was strict. Mom was the sweetest woman in the world. She was called Missie. She would bake mudhoe pies just for me. On Sunday mornings, we went through the Bible before eating, then we’d pray. Everyone had to go to church. Mama was quiet (and) nice. If other boys had money and I didn’t, she’d call me over and give it to me.
What kinds of games did you play growing up? What was your favorite thing to do for fun?
Playing baseball and rabbit hunting. We played baseball with other children from nearby churches.
What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up?
In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed a law that changed how we were paid. Before that I had been working from the time the sun rose to the time it went down for one dollar a day. After Roosevelt’s policy changes, I started making twenty-five cents an hour and working eight hours.
How was Christmas celebrated in your family?
Christmas was celebrated for a whole week. We would go house hopping. There was always plenty of food. We spent Christmas in church. There was always a church program.
When and how did you meet your spouse?
I met my spouse at church. Everyone from the neighborhood went to church. Our first date was in a church.
How would you describe your spouse? What did you admire most about her?
She was very quiet. Loved to cook and loved family, hers and her in-laws.
Having been married for 67 years, what do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
Commitment to God and family.
Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
I admired my Mama for her kindness. I learned from her to deal justly and love mercifully. She taught me to do the right thing even when things are not happening the way you want and it pays off. I learned to help others too.
What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?
If anyone needed help and I didn’t help, I didn’t know they needed help and if I hurt anyone, I didn’t mean to.
*Interview by Thomas Weldon Garrett Jr.
*Photography by Precious Garrett
Photographed and compiled by the wife of a great-great-grandson of Wister Lee Garrett.