Charles Otis Tebeau was the son of Robert and Sybil Genella “Sybie” (Hinely) Tebeau. They reared their family on the 57-acre farm deeded to the heirs of grandfather Charles Watson Tebeau’s family. Their large home was situated on the south side of what is now Highway 119 South toward Guyton.
Mr. Robert was a fine carpenter and noted builder in the area. Like his father and grandfather before him, Otis was said to be easy going, full of funny stories and quite a likable fellow. Otis was one of nine siblings, eight of whom survived to adulthood. Born Aug. 21, 1916, and passing away on Aug. 3, 2008, he died a few days short of his 92nd birthday.
Otis learned carpentry from his father and worked with him for a while.
From Sept. 14, 1940, through Oct. 5, 1945, Otis served our country in the Army overseas during World War II as a mechanic. His brother Ernie was over there at the same time, but he says they never saw each other.
Otis married Frances Dutton, daughter of George W. and Tyra (Pevey) Dutton. They reared their children: George Richard, Christine (Kocher), Beatrice “Bea” (Watts), Linda and Marcia (Sherrod). Another child, Mary, died at age 4 in 1959 from an illness.
In the early 1950s, Otis took over the Standard Service Station in Springfield. He and brother-in-law Herman “Shorty” Colson ran the business for a while, with Shorty doing mechanical work and Mr. “Otie,” as he was affectionately known, running the gasoline service end.
Sometime later, Shorty left and Mr. Otie continued to run the station and service center. He was very good to many people and quite benevolent over the years.
Otis helped many, and was especially attentive to widows with flat tires, dead batteries, etc. He retired July 1, 1984, at age 67. Arthritis had taken a crippling toll on him and he left to further enjoy his passion — fishing.
Brother Ernie says that Otie’s philosophy was that at the least, you should either be coming or going from fishing every day. He knew the great fishing holes and Ebenezer landing was as familiar to him as home. Whether by trotlines or pole from his boat, he sure caught a lot of fish. He shared fish of all kinds with people and loved it better than anyone I recall.
Billy Dasher remembers when he was age 14, already working for the grocery store as a bag boy, his motor was in the shop. Mr. Otie offered him the use of a motor he had at the station, and Billy took him up on the offer. Billy’s dad was not so sure about this at first, but Billy convinced him that Mr. Otie had the confidence to loan it to him and he used it carefully for a few weeks before returning it when his motor was repaired.
You see, fishing was a serious business and loaning out a motor was somewhat like loaning out a wife. This kind deed made a lasting impression upon Billy Dasher and attests to the kind generous nature of Mr. Otie. Mr. Otie enjoyed the young people and Billy remembers fondly the cold drinks shared at the station.
The Standard Station was always hospitable. Everyone gathered there, every day. Otis was always a great host and lots of cold drinks and fine stories were shared there. Men in business who went to the bank came by, the Jaudon brothers came to tell of there luck at hunting, the Hinely men ducked in on the way to laying block or bricks or Mr. Mac Marchman came over to shoot the breeze from the bank. It was a natural gathering place for over 30 years.
Billy Dasher remembers that he questioned Mr. Otie on how he set gas prices. As we see the rise today at the pump, we can appreciate the fair way he came to set his prices. He always changed the price at the pump when he received an invoice from the distributer, keeping the amount charged at that cost plus a set margin for profit.
It was a known fact that his girls recall that their dad had a key hidden for members of Georgia State Patrol Post 42 and probably local law enforcement so they could go in after hours and pump gas. They would leave a ticket, turn the pump back off, lock up and be on their way. Of course, in these days there were no 24-hour service stations. He extended the same courtesy to his customers when in a bind.
As a child, I remember being taken to the station by my dad or Granddaddy Bruce and being allowed to get a “cold drink.” The drink box was metal with a divided lid that opened. The glass bottled drinks were as cold as ice and tasted so good. The Orange Crush and Nehi grape tasted far superior to anything we have now and a plain Coca Cola was the real thing.
Each year Mrs. Esther Pruitt saw to it that we had drinks for the Holy Trinity Lutheran Egg Hunt at the Legion Hall. Mr. Otie faithfully fixed us up with big galvanized tubs, full of hand picked ice from the ice plant, brimming over with a big variety of very cold soft drinks. These were great with the sweet Vienna Sandwich crème cookies and Easter eggs with lots of salt.
One of his best friends, Mr. George Freyermuth, was a great fishing buddy. He and wife Mrs. Clara recall after their home burned and they lost everything, he gave them a large sum of money (for the time). They are sure he gave all he had and would have given more if he could have done so. It was in his nature to be benevolent. They recall his appreciative nature always thankful despite his circumstances and never complaining or speaking ill.
Their last times together were unfortunately not on the boat fishing, but visiting in his nursing home room as the arthritis and vagaries of old age including blindness took their toll. By then he had lost his wife Frances, who had a long extended period of infirmity herself, dying in the local nursing home.
I am sure that in Mr. Otie’s heaven the fish are always biting, he is always smiling and he is surely entertaining someone with a few good tales of the ones that got away. Meanwhile here on earth, an honest, good, hard-working generous man is sadly missed by his family, friends and those who were lucky enough to have known him.
This article was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have questions, comments or photos to share, please call her at 754-6681 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.