Commentary | The view from the mountains: Introducing Uncle Judge
Published 1:25 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018
There was a man who lived in Naylor, Georgia, right near Granny and Granddaddy Pete.
To the best of my recollection, he was Granddaddy Pete’s brother and his name was Uncle Judge.
I don’t remember his real name but all I ever heard was Uncle Judge and I never really questioned it.
Email newsletter signup
He actually was my great uncle but the questionable thing was the judge part.
One day, I asked my dad about that. Here’s how he portrayed Uncle Judge.
Well, he wasn’t an actual judge with the robes and sitting in a seat higher than the rest of the men.
I don’t know how smart he was, book learning-wise but the community thought he was a fair man and one who could decide stuff.
So, he was called, “Judge.”
Every time someone committed something wrong, the town men would call a meeting and they would congregate in Uncle Judge’s store. It was the town courtroom.
Now, about the store. I remember pretty much what it looked like. The floors were made of rough wood. There were shelves holding work supplies and then another shelf for donuts and such.
The best part of the store was the pot-bellied stove. It was the only close heat around and by noon, most of the men had made an appearance in Uncle Judge’s store.
There were rough chairs here and there and soft drinks and beer in a big barrel with ice in it.
On one wall was a Coca-Cola sign. It always bothered me because it hung a little “wankyjawed.”
When they had to have a court day, they would bring over the culprit and all the men sat on chairs and Uncle Judge would sit on a stool by the potbellied stove.
Then they’d listened to the bad guy talk and sometimes even another person would talk who might have been a real lawyer from another town a little bigger.
Everybody listened and talked, then Uncle Judge would pronounce a punishment depending upon the seriousness of the crime. I guess you could say Naylor, Georgia, ran it’s own town so as not to bother the city lawyers.
Of course, I guess if it were something really serious he would be turned over to a real courtroom, with a real judge, in a robe, sitting higher than anybody else.
You know, I don’t even know if Uncle Judge had a wife. I never met one and I pretty much thought he lived in his store with his cat.
I never knew much more about that side of the family. They were poor, uneducated people and very patriotic.
Most able-bodied men either enlisted during the World War, or those older moved to Brunswick, Georgia, to work in the shipyard. Granny and Granddaddy Pete did just that, and one of their boys, Tom, went to war.
Another of their boys was my daddy. He left Naylor and became extremely successful.
Our lives were very different than Granny and Granddaddy Pete and Uncle Judge, but I loved them dearly.
Something about them rubbed off on me at a young age. They were honest, worked hard and said what they thought.
My purpose in writing these last three columns was to introduce some people in my family to my kids and grandkids of today. Maybe I remember the funny stuff about them, but I assure you, they were real people, with real lives, real loves and real hardships.
In their own way, they had dignity by doing the best they could with what they had and I, for one, am proud to have known them.
The view from the mountain is wondrous.
Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.