By Cindy Wiggins Tapia
After the divorce in 1960, Daddy went to live with his mommy on S Alexander, and Mama moved us in with her hillbilly folks on Hill St.
Papa Dorsey’s ancestors were French people who anglicized their name once they reached the New World. That family may have been the D’Orseys who fled Orsay in Seine-et-Orme, France, in the 17th Century, for religious freedom.
Papa grew up with a gaggle of siblings in a little farm in the mountains. The girls slept in the loft year-round. In summer, the boys slept in the barn. Come winter, they slept inside on pallets thrown around the hearth.
Mama Dorsey’s parents were railroad people. Her ancestors were Irish folk who bucked propriety and married up with the loin-clout set. William Sullivan immigrated to Virginia in the 17th Century. A grandson, Daniel, fought with Gen. George Washington during the American Revolution. Mary Tapscott Dailey married Brigadier Gen. George Crook, who fought Crazy Horse at Rosebud Creek, in 1776, days before he laid some karma on Yellow Hair and the 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn. Mama Dorsey’s father was a hunter- fisherman, who loved buttered coffee. He sprang from the warrior, Stand Ridge, of the Cherokee Nation.
My grandparents were childhood sweethearts who walked over Walker’s Mountain to and from school every day. They eloped at sixteen, on Christmas Eve 1932, and stayed together through hell and high cotton until his death in 1987.
They moved from White County to Buford around 1951. He was a saddlemaker for Bona Allen. She was a housewife for some time before she too went to work for Old Bony. They were so poor that she had to borrow a pair of shoes until her first paycheck.
He slept under seven or nine blankets year-round and made a supper of cornbread and milk all the days I knew him. She was famous for her “frash” coconut cake and baked the bestest biscuits in fifty states. She thought Gladys Wiggins Doster was odd, or as she put it “quare.” If it hadn’t been for my grandparents, we girls would never have been aboard that iron horse that day when the Indians attacked the train at Stone Mountain or enjoyed the rapture of riding a half-dead Shetland Pony Merry-Go-Round on the Blue Ridge.
Kat Allgood taught Mama Dorsey how to drive. Her good friend Sheriff JW Dodd issued her a license with nary a pesky written exam or driving test, just “Here ya go!” Having a car came in handy for running up the guide wire on Bona Allen Curve and stopping on a dime at the edge of the drop off on S Harris St. behind the old Buford High School gym, when we weren’t visiting her folks in Lula and going to the Buford Drive-in on Hwy 20 in Sugar Hill for an evening of bingo, popcorn, CocaColers, and Elvis.
She was little, but she was mighty. She slapped a Neanderthal across the face for threatening Aunt Pam and faced off Mama for the way Mama treated us. She saved my sanity.
They were Eastman Reggie “ER” and Aline Standridge Dorsey. They were my Mama and my Papa. In a perfect world they would have been my parents.