Aunt Nancy and her Ford (Community Correspondent)
Nancy Yates was born in the Cooper community in 1887 to Samuel and Martha Webb Yates. Her Yates, Webb and Vinson ancestors had been pioneering families in the area, and these pioneer genes served her well in the almost 100 years of her life.
In 1905, Nancy married Joseph Thomas, and they began farming.
They were fortunate to own enough land to make a living and to rent out to others on shares. Never blessed with children, they worked side by side in their fields.
In the 1930s, Joe fell victim to tuberculosis, a common ailment of that day.
He became unable to work and passed away in 1935.
For the next 50 years, Nancy Thomas carried on, living alone but surrounded by two of her brothers, a sister, their families, and many friends.
There was no life insurance to help out, so she farmed her land alone.
She and Joe had been active in their church, and this part of her life didn’t change.
As the years went on, she had my father, a relative on her husband’s side, tear down her larger old house and build a small one just the right size for a little single woman.
She lived there without electricity, heating with a coal heater and cooking on a wood stove. Finally, in her later years she gave in and got electricity but kept her heater and never got indoor plumbing. She’d sit and talk for hours with any visitors.
Everyone knew “Aunt Nancy,” and we all knew about her car.
When Joe died, Nancy decided to keep his Ford Model A and learn to drive.
Her neighbor taught her, and soon she was on the road. Year after year, this same car carried her, her family members, and neighbors to church and town. She frequently came chugging down the road to visit even older folks, to sit and piece quilts, and talk.
Myrtis Thomas Mims grew up living near Aunt Nancy, riding to church with her as a child, and being taken to Clanton to the doctor with her sick child when she was a young mother.
“Aunt Nancy always parked in the lot behind the Yellow Front Store in Clanton, and that’s where she bought her groceries,” Mims said.
Mims also remembers that Aunt Nancy whistled while she worked in her garden. She was well known for her strawberries, small things no larger than the last joint of your thumb but sweeter than most of our mega-berries today. And, she was equally well known for her sweet smile. Her gardening, driving, church-going, visiting, and smiling went on year after year ending only when she fell, broke her hip and had to go to a nursing home where she died in August 1985.
Kenneth Boswell, who collects and restores old autos, recalls that Aunt Nancy’s Model A was bought by a collector and “went north somewhere.” However carefully it was detailed, let’s hope it still has some of the dust from those dirt roads.
–Ola Taylor is a Community Correspondent for The Clanton Advertiser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.