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Remembering Uncle Jay Ransom

by N. Ray Maxie

Uncle Jay once told me, "A person may not remember your name. They may not remember your face. But they will forever remember how you treated them."
N. Ray Maxie

The best reasons I can think of for remembering Uncle Jay Ransom is that he attained an advanced age few of us will ever live to see. As far back as I can remember, he was always a friendly, fun guy to be around, jovial and kindhearted. He never uttered a discouraging word; was always upbeat and positive with great wit and a very pleasing sense of humor. From what I have read recently, experts agree that people with his type of personality stand a great chance of living longer and enjoying life all the while. Uncle Jay was very fond of frequently getting in the kitchen and baking a cake. He often spoke of joining the Centurion Club and we were all cheering him on. Sadly, he never made it. Everyone wishes he had.

Jay Arthur Ransom was born October 25, 1890, and died at the age of 96 on November 10, 1986. He spent most of his adult years living in Cass County with his latter long years in Atlanta. I have visited Uncle Jay many times after he retired on Tipton Street just off Louise St. (the Bivins highway). He always seemed to project an abiding interest in me and my family.

My earliest recollection of "Uncle Jay" was when I was about 6 or 7 years old. He and "Auntie", also known as Aunt Leona, (Dora Leona Maxie Ransom) herself attaining 88 years of age, lived on the "old" Maxie place. It was about 2 to 2 1/2 miles north of McLeod just off of the deep rutted sand road known as the Old McLeod - Atlanta Road. Their house was only about two hundred yards up the hill from Moss's Millpond. The front of their little gray and green trimmed frame house faced east and had some very large sweetgum trees standing out front near the dirt road. "Auntie" was my father's oldest sister. She and Uncle Jay had met and married in Little Rock, AR., during the time "Auntie" lived there and later they moved to the Maxie place near McLeod. They eventually left the rural life and moved to Atlanta.

As I recall, while on the Maxie place they lived with their one and only son, my first cousin, Jay David Ransom. Jay David was born March 18, 1943 and died in Atlanta a few days short of his 60th birthday, on March 10, 2003, ironically the same day on which my father died in 1981. Probably many Atlanta Rabbit Alumni can remember going to school with Jay David. And after graduating from The University of Texas, he practiced law in Atlanta and was also known locally simply as Jay Ransom. He was the Atlanta City Judge for a time. His parents named him after his father, "Jay", as well as his grandfather, "David" Alfred Maxie. I was a little more than four years older than Jay David. I can remember he and I playing, up until his family moved to Atlanta, along with our several other cousins living there on the Maxie place. We ran about the place playing kid games like "hide and seek", "cowboys and Indians", "king of the mountain", etc., etc., in some old cars and along the dirt road embankment. The old sandbag swing hanging from one of the giant sweetgum trees was a most enjoyable place to spend hours and hours, just a swinging. Often, our families would visit and work together on various family projects our grandfather might have going on. Like, for a while he had a mattress-refurbishing machine, where he would rebuild old mattresses for people.

My Uncle Jay worked for many years as a traveling salesman. He worked out of an old panel truck and would peddle his merchandise to various country stores and house to house, as well as to individuals. He worked mostly in northeast Texas and northwest Louisiana. He sold a variety of small merchandise items and if he didn't have what you wanted, he could get it for you, and gladly so. He was a people person and thus a good salesman. Uncle Jay once told me, "A person may not remember your name. They may not remember your face. But they will forever remember how you treated them." Throughout life, I have found that "word of wisdom" to be ever so true. He kept a small storage garage for his merchandise. It was located about a mile east of McLeod near a sharp curve in the road. It seems like we called it Petty's Curve. I can remember going there with him on occasion to pickup merchandise to stock his truck.

Now some Atlanta Rabbit Alumni from the late 1950's and the 1960's might best remember "Auntie" Leona Ransom. Her job back then was Food Service Manager at the high school cafeteria. Some of the students worked for her. She fed a multitude of students and faculty, while really enjoying her work there. She made many friends around Atlanta and the AHS.

Uncle Jay Ransom, in my humble opinion, was a man of courage, a patriarch and a goodwill ambassador. We all wished he had lived to be a hundred. I will forever miss him and "Auntie". They are both buried at the Watson Cemetery, near Huffines, along with several other of my family ancestors dating back to the 1870's.

N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray"
June 1, 2006 Column
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