My visit with Dorris Preston Tucker
By Sara Hope
I drove through the beautiful green hills, between Lynchburg and Flat Creek, and I was looking forward to my visit with Mrs. Tucker. She welcomed me into her beautiful home like I was kinfolk. I knew we were going to have a sweet visit.
She told me her given name was Dorris Preston Tucker, she said with a grin,
“With 2 R’s, my Momma put 2 R’s in my name.” “I was born at Tucker’s Creek in Lincoln County, on Sept 3, 1921. I was the middle girl of 3 girls and I had 3 brothers.” She said, “I can’t believe I’ve lived this long.” Her Family lived in Lois and Short Creek. She grew up in and around Lynchburg. She remembered living through the depression. “We always had plenty to eat because we raised our own food. We never went to stores. We worked hard and came out of it.” She attended school at Champ and completed her schooling at Mulberry. “I came from a happy, loving home. We all helped each other; I had a good Mother and Daddy.”
She said, “We moved around a lot, seems something would always happen, that we had to move.”
I asked what young people did for fun when she was growing up? She smiled and said “On Saturday night we went to Lynchburg and met at the Coffee Cup. J.B. Huskey ran it.” “There was a jukebox that took nickels, and we would dance.” I asked if she remembered any of the songs on the jukebox. She smiled and there was a little twinkle in her eye, she said, I’m walking the floor over you, by Ernest Tubb, was one I remember.” She remembered going to Square dances at neighbors’ homes. “All our friends and family would visit and square dance.” Then she laughed and shook her head and said “Lord, there were some good dancers in Moore County.” She said “Herby Fanning was one of them and Bobby Harrison too. We had so much fun.”
After High School, she went to work for Ada Matlock at the Lois Store. “I was 18 years old and pumped gas and worked in the country store. “Ada was so good to me, she took care of me and helped me so much” “I would start work at 3:00 in the morning. Folks were coming out of Edde Bend, on their way to work at Camp Forrest, and needed gas.” I asked if she washed windshields too, and she said with a laugh, “No, but I did a lot of other things, at that store.” She shared the memory of how she met Mr. Tucker. “Auburn Tucker came in the store to buy his little brother a pair of little red boots. I sold them to him, and after that, he came in the store a lot.” She smiled a sweet smile, and I could tell she was remembering those times.
Auburn and Dorris courted until Auburn went into the Army and was stationed at Camp Lee, Virginia. Dorris went to work at Miss Owens Bedspread factory in Tullahoma. In 1945, Auburn had a 3-day pass, “Mother and Daddy, said I could not go by myself, so Auburn’s sister went with me. We boarded a train at Cowen, and met Auburn in Virginia, then went to South Carolina where we got married.” Dorris stayed in Virginia until Auburn was discharged a few months later. They came back to Tennessee and settled here.
As I sat across the table from Mrs. Tucker, I was amazed at her quick wit and she had so many sweet memories. I had to keep reminding myself that she was 100 years old. She said, “I’ve had a good life, but some troubles too.”
To most people, some of the things she endured would have made the strongest person, give up. They lost their home to a tornado in 1952. She said “we came out of it alive. I broke my hand, we lost everything, but with the help of our dear friends Lee and Sue Gray, and Kate Osborn and our wonderful neighbors, we made it.” They had a farm in the Awalt community in 1968 when the TVA required that they sell their farm and relocate. “There were so many families that were sad that they had to give up their farms.” In 1974 Dorris and Auburn lost their youngest son, Paul, in a car accident. “How I lived through that, I don’t know. Our son, Wayne, moved back from Huntsville and bought a farm close by. He has been so good to us, I don’t know what I would have done without him.” Her husband passed away in 1986, “I took care of him, here at home. He was a good husband, and he took care of me and the boys, so we took care of him.” “In 2009, I was helping in the barn, with two big bulls that got loose. I was hurt pretty bad, but I came back from that and then in 2014 I had a heart attack.” She smiled and said, “My Preacher told me that the more you go through, the stronger you get. I guess that’s true.”
As much as I wanted to stay, we had to finish our interview. I was in awe of this amazing woman. She has lived 100 years. That in itself is a huge accomplishment, but to still be so strong and smart and witty, and have the outlook she has, she is an inspiration to us all. She has 2 Grandchildren and 2 Great granddaughters and in her exact words “I have a whole grove of nieces and nephews, and they are all so good to me.”
I asked for some words of encouragement for the young people of today.
After a few moments to think, she said “I taught my children to be nice to each other, be kind to people, be good to old people. Get your education.”
She sat back in her chair and then she said, “If I have an enemy, I don’t know it.” Those few words took my breath. What a wonderful accomplishment, if you can say that about your life.
As I drove back to Hope Street, I smiled and thought, I want to be just like Dorris Tucker, when I am 100 years old.