Roberts Family Home


This week's featured home is located at 506 East University Street, Livingston. It is presently owned by Marla Kay Etheredge. It was once the home of Hack and Marie Roberts and their children, Carole and John. Carole Roberts Winningham shares her memories of growing up in that home.

My Home of Sixty-Five Years Ago

Growing up at what was then 304 University Street (now 506 East University) here in Livingston was a wonderful experience for a child. Sixty-five years ago this was a very quiet, slow moving little town. Living within the city limits then was a lot like living on a farm at some homes. Lots of people had barns and out houses. That was an outdoor bathroom. There were pigs, chickens, and cows, and huge gardens everywhere. My parents were Hack and Marie Roberts. There were only two children in the family, me, Carole, and my brother, John.

The house we lived in was built in 1922 by Mr. Horace Speck. It was built on what was once the apple orchard of Governor A.H. Roberts whose home had been nearby in the early 1900's. We had lots of his apple trees in our front and back yards when I was a child. My family lived in the house over fifty years, longer than any other family who has lived there. Some of our closest neighbors were the H.H. Pattersons, the Alpheus and Bill Bussell families, the Dr. Capps family, and the Jim Allred family.

Before we moved to University Street, we had lived in some other places. My first home was in a mining company house up Cub Mountain in Davidson of Fentress County. My Daddy ran the commissary store for the mining company. We moved off the mountain and back to Daddy and Mother's hometown herein Livingston in 1938. My Daddy had bought a hardware store with Mr. H.H. Patterson. We lived very briefly in four houses until we moved to University Street in the spring of 1940. My Daddy died in that house in 1989 after my mother had died in 1987. My daughter, "Lindy", and her family lived in the house for two or three years.

World War II was a very big part of my childhood. I well remember the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, Sunday, December 7, 1941. I was six years old. My brother, John, was to be five years old the next day, December 8. Our Aunt Helen had brought him his birthday gifts, and we were down in the living room floor playing and making lots of noise. Poor Daddy was shaking the old radio, trying to get the Pearl Harbor news. He, Mother, and Aunt Helen looked so serious and sad. John and I only knew something bad had happened. It was several months before our concept of war would kinda begin in our young minds. The next day, December 8, President Roosevelt declared war. Again, we heard it on the old radio. Daddy wanted to go, but at age thirty-six, he was already too old. My Mother cried about everyday during World War II. She had two brothers in it, one in Europe, and one in the South Pacific. God brought both of them home. I well remember the Normandy invasion in France, June 6, 1944. My Mother and I were washing dishes in the kitchen and she was crying as Psalm 95 was being read on the radio. We said a little prayer for her brother, Bill Stonecipher, who was somewhere in Europe. Another World War II date I remember was April 12, 1945 when President Roosevelt died. Mother and I were standing in our yard smelling our lilac bush when Mrs. Ellen Allred came across the street to tell us the news. Some of the children who played in our yard in our early years were Steve Smith, Tom Davis, Betty Capps, Sara Bowmer, John Kelly Wright, Barbara Wright, Sid Mathis, Bill Winningham, Matilda and Mary Lee Bussell, Carlene Allred, and our cousins, Tim and Janie Louise Stephens.

For the rest of my story, I'm going to try not to elaborate so much due to space. It will be very hard because I have thousands of memories of my thousands of hours in that house. I remember when John hid behind the upright piano because he didn't want to go to a "cute kid" contest. He was four years old. I had to go in his place. Joan Speck won. I remember our twin beds in the back bedroom in our very early years and our small amount of clothes in our little closet. Children back then didn't have near what they have now. I remember Daddy playing the piano to entertain us. He couldn't really play, but it sounded so pretty! I remember skating in the streets and all of us kids making a clover chain to reach down to main street. We lived within walking distance of our schools for twelve years. In grade school, I would run home at recess and make peanut butter sandwiches for my friends. I remember standing in line with my Mother at the school for ration stamps during the war. I remember Mother carrying wood up the back steps for our cook stove. I remember Mother wringing chicken necks. We were afraid of that! I remember our big barn out back and helping Daddy feed his fat pigs. I remember Daddy smoking hams in our smoke house. I remember eating lots of our own yard apples that we stored in the basement in the winter. I remember eating lots of quail that Daddy shot. I remember lots of preachers coming to dinner. I remember the tree house that Daddy built. I remember waiting by John's upstairs bedroom window for Willard Winningham to take me to the football banquet in 1949. I remember getting our first T.V. when I was sixteen. Our Christmas tree stood in the same place over fifty years. For the Christmas of 1944, I got a Bible and some stilts Daddy made and a shined up used bicycle for me and John to share. The war was going on and things were hard to get. We always got a few store bought things and some stocking candy, but not anywhere near what children get now. I remember our first Christmas in the house in 1940. Tom Davis, age four, and his mother brought us some gifts. Lastly, I remember my future husband sending me Christmas gifts from Korea in 1951 when I was sixteen.

When I think of Daddy, I think of his love for us, his hard work, lot of fun and laughs and him hunting with his dogs. When I think of Mother, I think of love and always doing good things for all of us, delicious food, and a nice clean home and manners.Marla Kay Etheredge now owns the house. I'm so glad she does because I know I can "go home" for a few minutes whenever I wish. I would make absolutely no changes in the good childhood that I had in that house.