Gloucester, NC -- Community Leaders

"Plenty of Room - I Remember Daddy"

Eloise Nelson Pigott

(Reprinted from "Straits United Methodist Church Newsletter," June 1982)

"Daddy, give me $10.00 and the car keys: I want to go to a movie ..." a request that is familiar and routine to today's youth. However, in the later 30's and early 40's, this wasn't the sound we heard on the Gloucester shore. The sound was more often than not, "Capt. Charlie, may we go to the show with you tonight?" The answer was always the same: "Yes, you may go, come on I have 'plenty of room.'" This was in response to the numerous neighborhood kids who made the request. When we returned on Saturday night we were tired, sleepy and happy. The same question was asked over and over again, and the same response in Daddy's soft voice that always held a trace of a chuckle, "I have plenty of room."

An explanation is probably due, because I can hear you say that must have been some car to have held such a crowd! Well, we walked from our home in Gloucester to Marshallberg to the show on Saturday night. This was in the days when we still went to the "show" -- movies came much later. Our path took us through the woods, along the banks of Sleep Creek, over a dusty, unpaved road, until finally we arrived at the theater. Singing birds, squirrels, and rabbits accompanied us on our trip. I am sure there were snakes watching our progress as well, but we chose not to think about them. You will have to remember that these were the days before the miracle spray "Off" and mosquitoes and redbugs were in abundance. When our group arrived, we ate deliciously hot, fresh popcorn and settled down for the entertainment. Looking back, I can see that Daddy probably thought the show owner, Mr. Charlie Willis, was in cahoots with us children because the feature always ended with the car hanging over the cliff or the damsel fleeing for her life with a broad caption on the screen .... CONTINUED NEXT WEEK. Each Saturday night the same question was asked, "May we go with you next week?" Always he had the same response -- he had room for all. He probably resembled the Pied Piper with children of all ages and sizes following behind, and on the return trip, Jerry, the baby, was usually asleep in his arms.

In attempting to write this article, I have been struck by the fact that "plenty of room" is probably as great a tribute as any I could offer my daddy. He had plenty of room for love, laughter, and happiness. What do you say that a widowed man left with four young children, ranging in ages from nine years to twenty-five months, had to be happy about? What did he know about "plenty of room"? While he never had much money or many of the material things of life, we knew we were loved.

Eric, Ellen, and I can remember well-meaning relatives and friends counseling and urging Daddy to put us in an orphanage. "You can't look after four young children and work too" was heard time and time again. We have repeated the story so many times that even Jerry, who was a baby at this time, can relate Daddy's final word on the subject. I too, can hear his soft but firm voice, "There will be no orphanage for the Nelson kids. I am keeping them all together and at home. There's 'plenty of room.'" Thanks to a dear Aunt Nellie who loved and cared for Jerry during school time, Daddy was able to manage very well. How we looked forward eagerly to the weekend and summertime when the baby was home with us! Also, Cousin Charlie and Cousin Fannie and their sons stayed with us one summer. We stayed together and there was always room for all of us.

Daddy was a good Christian man who practiced his religion and served his Lord on a daily basis. Whenever I hear the words of the hymns, "Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me" and "The Rock that is Higher than I," Daddy is a little bit closer in my thoughts and memories.

My hope and prayer would be that my own children and grandchildren could remember me as always having "plenty of room" for family, friends, love, happiness and a place for the Lord in my heart.

Reprinted from the MAILBOAT, Winter 1991, Vol. 1, No. 4

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