I’ll never forget the many Christmas gatherings in the 1970s at Uncle J.B. and Aunt Rosemary Jackson’s stately southern-style home near downtown Tulsa.
Every year, about a week or so before Christmas, the Jacksons would open their home for a large Christmas celebration. No one was a stranger as the door was always open.
There was always plenty of conversation as folks connected to the Jackson family spent an hour or two catching up since they last met. The large dining room table and nearby buffet was filled to the brim with tasty food. At times, the food spilled over onto the kitchen counters.
Once everyone got caught up and enjoyed a meal, it was time to settle in for some Christmas Carols from a small book of Carols kept in the Jackson’s grand piano bench, only to be used once a year.
Then Santa would stop by and everyone from young to old went home with a gift and a round of hugs.
Uncle J.B. was my grandmother’s brother on my mom’s side of the family.
He was raised in Alabama and came to Missouri when the Jackson family moved to New Madrid in the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri in 1932.
It was in New Madrid that my grandparents married on Oct. 29, 1932. My grandpa’s family, the Hortons, had migrated to New Madrid from Alabama eight years earlier.
Uncle J.B. was stationed at Pearl Harbor during World War II. After the war, thanks to the GI Bill, he attended Freed Hardeman College in Henderson, Tenn. It was there in 1946 that Uncle J.B. met Rosemary Adams, who was from Tulsa. They married on June 15, 1947 and raised four beautiful daughters, Mary Gail, Kay, Jan and June.
After moving to Tulsa, Uncle J.B. joined his father-in-law, Ben Adams Sr., at Home Furniture, the family-owned furniture store in downtown Tulsa. Ben opened the store in the late 1920s.
“Granddaddy sold new and used furniture that he received as a trade in,” said Kay. “He kept his own books and took payments weekly on the notes he carried for people. He had some customers that kept coming back for 40 years.”
Kay said some of the customers thought home was Uncle J.B.’s name and they would call him, “Mr. Home.”
Having known Uncle J.B., I’m sure being called Mr. Home was never a concern of his. I always remember him as a gentle, compassionate man with lots of love to give.
Uncle J.B. worked at the furniture store during the days and attended Tulsa Business School at night, where he earned a business degree. He then joined the business school staff as an employee and I believe went on to run the school.
“After he (Uncle J.B.) received a promotion at the school, he started working during the day there but continued to work on Saturdays at the furniture store,” recalled Kay. “Daddy would make deliveries of furniture to people’s homes and also did upholstery and refinishing of some of the old furniture traded in.”
“And he was very good at it,” Kay went on to say. “Our home was filled with antiques and many of those were acquired through the furniture store as old furniture that people had traded in for new. My dad could make them look new. He was very talented in that way.”
Kay, who is nearly six years older than me, remembers spending every Friday night with her grandparents, the Adams.
“Many Saturday mornings I would go with granddaddy to the store and he would give me a quarter to dust the furniture,” Kay recalled. “I have so many good memories of the store.”
My mom loved Uncle J.B. and Aunt Rosemary and if my memory serves me right, after her junior year in high school in Van Buren, Mo., she came to Tulsa to spend time with the Jacksons. After she graduated in 1955, she moved to Tulsa and it was there that my mom met my dad, who grew up east of Tulsa in the Verdigris River bottoms, or the sticks, as I call it. They met through a mutual friend. And ironically, were married on June 15, 1957, the same day 10-years after Uncle J.B. and Aunt Rosemary were married.
My mom said Uncle J.B. and Aunt Rosemary were the reason she came to Tulsa.
She carried a $2 bill in her purse and when Mom needed money, she’d stop at the furniture store and Uncle J.B. would give her two $1 bills in exchange. When she earned enough money, she’d buy her $2 bill back. I now have the $2 bill among my many family treasurers.
Urban renewal led to the closing of Home Furniture in 1964 to make way for the Williams (now Magellan) tower, which was built in the 1970s.
Life is full of treasures. I encourage you to take time to find the many treasures life has offered you and keep the memories fresh in your own heart.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.