As I have said more dead Tingles reside in Georgia than living. But the living population just increased by 1 since my arrival in Atlanta yesterday. We, my wife and I—she is a Tingle neither by blood—thank god—or by name—are taking my father’s ashes to be deposited in the grave yard of the Ora ARP church in South Carolina.
The old man didn’t talk much about anything, but when he did talk he tended to tell incoherent stories about his childhood. In a futile attempt to bond with him, I sent him a tape recorder and asked him to talk some of his stories into the machine. But even on tape they were mostly incoherent hopping from one name or place to another and sliding up and down in time. But from the tapes clearly life for the old man and his family had not been easy in Georgia.
After the War—the one and only—the Tingles had a considerable establishment near Blount Georgia on the way down to Macon. Indeed they had a road named after them. The road now is just red dirt heading into the piney woods. Back in the woods if you dare go in with all the ticks seven smokestacks can be located, all that’s left of the old place, that served in the late 19th century as home and, if rumors are true, the site for a country store.
But over the years, the law of primogenitor having been set aside, the family land was progressively divided among the males until by the time my Grandfather came along there wasn’t any left to go around. Consequently, Grandfather Tingle rented land and a house. I don’t know that he was a sharecropper or if he hired himself out. But they moved around a lot; one of the places they lived, near Indian Springs, is now under water. At another, the old man recollects, to keep the rain, wind and cold out, they had to plaster the walls with newspaper stuck up with a mix of flour and water. One of the places they lived, though, the Asbery House, was preserved, picked up, and moved to a park near Atlanta. I walked through that house and it was funny to see it just as my father had described.
I don’t know why but at one point they decided go to live in South Carolina after having lived in and around Blount and Woodville Georgia for over a 100 years. By that time, Grandpa Tingle had acquired a mobile saw mill. Maybe he just liked the stands of pine he saw in SC. He would go up to the owner of the pines and say he would cut them down and sell them for such and such a percentage, and if the owner was amenable he would do it.
Grandpa must have made some money from saw milling because he was able to buy a few acres. He threw up a house fast, but out of green, uncured wood, so that when the wood did dry out cracks and gaps appeared in the walls and flooring, the latter being particularly useful for cleaning since all you had to do was to sweep the dirt and dust into one of the cracks where over the years it piled up into a fine whitish powder. Little bugs lived in that powder. They made little holes like a volcano crater or vortex and other bugs would come along and slide down the sides and the little bug would be waiting right down at the bottom to eat them up. Folks in Georgia call them “ant lions,” though I don’t know if that is what they are called in SC in the dust under the crumbling remains of Grandpa’s house.