Tom Linder


Tom Linder was Emma Crane and Oscar James Linder's second son. He was born April 21, 1903 and died August 9, 1989. He was technically my first cousin three times removed, but everyone called him Uncle Tom, and so did I. Uncle Tom, his wife Claudie Lee Johnson and most of their children all lived next door to us in Barrytown, Alabama when I was a child.

Two of Uncle Tomís grandsons lived across the road from him with their mother and father. One was a couple of years younger than I and the other was a couple of years older. The former and I hunted and travel the woods together as boys. He's now an Alabama State Trooper. The latter is about three years older than me. He and I later became really good friends when I reached high school, and then later while working construction at the local mill.

One summer day when I was about ten years old, I was over in Uncle Tomís yard. There were four or five grown men there plus the two grandsons.

On this day there was a dark, black thunderstorm forming in the sky to the northwest. I assume I was trying to impress the others with how smart I was, so I pointed to the northwest and piped up, "Uncle Tom, when it rains, don't it usually come from that direction?"

He looked at me, grinning, then pointed straight up and said, "Naw son, when it rains it comes from that direction!"

The whole bunch just fell out laughing. I was embarrassed, but I had to laugh too. He had nailed me.

The Linders had a fair amount of farmland and they planted it every year. Aunt Claudie Lee used to cook peas from the garden just about every day. The younger grandson and I would spend the entire day from sunrise to sunset in the woods bird hunting and exploring. Around lunch we'd emerge long enough to eat a plate piled high with nothing but peas, cornbread, and hot pepper sauce. To this day I believe they were the best peas Iíve ever eaten.

After Aunt Claudie Lee died, Uncle Tomís health began to deteriorate. He became confined to a wheelchair, and one of his sons who lived with him would wheel him out into the yard every day it was pretty and let him set.

There were two pear trees and a big magnolia tree in the front yard. I used to go over there and sit on the ground near him and whittle with my little knife while he told me stories of how it was when he was growing up.

He would tell stories of logging with mules, planting fields, and fishing and hunting. He told me many, many stories during those days sitting under that magnolia tree. Some days he would talk for a couple of hours, and some days he wouldnít talk but fifteen minutes. I was enthralled, but being just a kid, I never wrote any of it down and I now regret it.

I wish now that while I was young I would have carried a pencil and paper around everywhere I went and recorded the little snippets of history that were told to me here and there by the older folks. Now that Iím older with a family and job of my own, it seems thereís never time to just sit under a shade tree and listen to history as told by those who lived it. I now feel itís important to write down the things I remember for my children.


Submitted by Steven Randall Mason, June 15, 2003