September 8, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 55

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Mildred had cooked some turnip greens, cornbread and sweet potatoes.  I went over and picked up Emily Cooper to come eat with us.  John Gary came by while we were visiting and brought us some more sweet potatoes. 
We had a good visit and some good conversations.  We must have talked for about two hours.  John will be seventy-six on June 19, 1992.  Emily will be seventy on January 2, 1992.  I’ll be sixty-five on June 3, 1992 and Mildred will be sixty-six on July 22, 1992.  We are all about the same age. 
John Gary cooked for the Peck family.  He had been going to the Peck home since he was just a little boy with his mother and grandmother, Aunt Jo.  I remember John’s grandmother, Aunt Jo.  
Peck Home where John Gary cooked for the family

I reckon he cooked for the Peck family for over 50 years.  He could have gone down to New Orleans or to some other city and been a chef in one of those big, fancy restaurants.  He was a wonderful cook and was known far and wide for his talents in the kitchen.  I asked him why he never left and pursued a chef’s job and he said he was happy right here on the Island.
John told me something I didn’t know about Aunt Hester Robinson who I had mentioned on an earlier tape.  Aunt Monk and Uncle Truman Hunter lived over in the ‘Ville’ for years and years.  Aunt Monk and Aunt Hester were sisters. 
Aunt Monk raised the Saulsberry children.  I believe they were her nieces and nephews.  Their names were Sadie, President, Alec and Walter.  The house they all lived in has been gone for years. 
John Gary asked me if I remembered when one of Uncle Buddy and Elizabeth Fair’s daughters was killed.  She was married to old man Wes Hence.  They were all in the field working when a colored man named Jim Butler pulled a pistol and shot and killed her.   I remembered hearing about it but I don’t know if it was before or after I was born.  
I did remember when Brady Skinner killed Wes Hence some years after this shooting.  Wes was supposed to be bad and a lot of people were scared of him.  He had been threatening what he was going to do to Brady who was just a young man.  
Brady hid in some bushes down the lane that ran behind the Peck place near where John Gary now lives.  He had a club of some kind and waited for Wes to walk by.   He jumped out and hit him with the club and killed him.  
John said the strange thing was that where Wes was killed was no more than 75 yards from where Jim Butler had killed Wes’ wife. 
John asked what kin Dorse Kent was to Rose.  I told him they were brother and sister.  He didn’t know that.  It just goes to show that when a few people sit around and visit we get more information.  
We talked about Bill McGuire who worked for the Pecks.   Old Bill was part Indian.  He lived with Liddie Ann Thomas who was the daughter of Otilla and Buck Thomas.  Bill stayed around the club camp on the lake.  He rented out boats, cabins, and ran the camp for the Peck family.  He did all the cooking for the big picnics and political rallies that were once held at the camp. 
Bill McGuire came to Sicily Island from Oklahoma with Zack Miller and his family.  Zack Miller came here after buying land and building the 101 Ranch in the early 1900s.  He was good friends with old man Peck. 
Zack’s son, Little Zack, is still living and comes to visit Marvin Nolen every year.  As long as Bill McGuire was living, Little Zack would go see him on the Peck place.  He called him Uncle Bill.
I believe Little Zack and his sister, Blevins, came down here and stayed with the Peck family one summer a long time ago.

John Gary passed away on April 4, 1999 and is buried alongside his wife, Velma, and his son, John, Jr. in Pilgrim Cemetery, Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

Note:  Parts 1-54 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.


  1. Thank you for sharing this conversation. It was Mam-ma's house, but it was Johnny's kitchen. Mr. John Gary was an amazing chef. Anyone who ever tasted his corn pudding, cakes, ice cream, chicken pot pie, should count themselves lucky. His caramel cake was always a special birthday treat. He was my Pap-pa's age (nearly exactly). I was told that the "Jo" in my name was after his grandmother, "Aunt Jo".

    1. Thank you for sharing, GGG. I was never lucky enough to have tasted any of his wonderful dishes but I often heard others brag about his talents. Mr. Johnny was always so friendly and pleasant. I also never knew the story about part of your first name. Of course that second name is shared by my sister and my daughter. With no sons to carry on the name, I believe Grandpa S. would be proud to know that the girls are carrying it forward.