A month or so ago I was asked by Cathy Rahn Berryhill from Texas if I knew anything about a house that appeared in a photo on the Forgotten Georgia website that a friend had inquired about so I took a look and asked a few questions. The good news is the house is no longer forgotten. It is occupied and is surviving well.
I do not know who built the home or all who lived there I but can tell you about a couple who occupied the home on Reedsville Road according to the Federal census in 1935 and ran a boarding house for several decades.
Amelia Berry Morgan, born in 1900, grew up in Clyo, Georgia. She was one of the children of John Richmond Morgan and Adda Wilson Morgan. Her family affectionately called her “Deal”. She married Frederick Lester Dekle in 1918 and they moved to Savannah and later Florida. The house was in the Dekle ownership in the 1930s.
It was common for the teachers at Clyo School which was nearby to live in the Boarding House. The census of 1940 lists Mrs. Dekle as proprietress of the boarding house. It lists a school superintendent and three teachers as residing there.
My 86 year old father, Arthur Exley, recalls that one of his teachers named Millie Weitman lived there. Female teachers had to be single up until World War II when male teachers were called to the military and it became acceptable to have married female teachers. According to my father she had been secretly married in South Carolina at Ridgeland to Ransley Mallory, Jr., the son of Clyo’s Mallory’s Store’s owner. They kept it to themselves for a long time.
Mrs. Dekle’s nieces and nephews visited there and fondly remember a week or two at the time and many family reunions there through their childhood. All agree they, “loved that big porch.” Big rockers occupied the porch and their elders all seemed to sit in a certain place designated by age and place in the family. The kids were relegated to play on the end by the wisteria bush where the mosquitoes were plentiful. They waited there for the trains and waved to family members who worked for the railroad as the tracks were just across the road. They slept on the floor when they visited. One recalls being in college before she slept in a bed in that house.
Reba Mallory was a frequent visitor who shared many family stories and gossip. She worked at the Post Office at one time, wore a big hat and was always “fanning and scratching.” She wrote a column about Clyo in the Springfield for many years.
The kitchen was a great place and usually had a pot of peanuts boiling on the stove. Two of the cousins remember Pearlie who worked there and helped tend to the boarders and meals. They had great biscuits. In the pantry right off the kitchen was a large wooden bowl that Claudia Christensen remembers. The flour was stored in a “metal barrel” (likely a lard can) and the secret to the delicious biscuits was that the bowl was never washed. It was years before the word got out that Pearlie was the one making Mrs. Amelia’s biscuits. Pearlie was always busy cooking good meals in that kitchen to feed all at the boarding house table.
All remember that there were, “old aunties in dresses with slips and wearing comfortable black shoes with a hankie stuck in their matching belt or bosom…”
There were some nearby neighbors who had a son who sometimes came home at night drunk and provided something funny for them to watch along with lightning bugs out on the porch at night.
Across the road “Uncle Rance” ran the general store. He always has a white starched shirt and sat on the porch of the store. They watched a young fellow follow him around a fan him.
The young visitors were required to take an afternoon rest in the upper front bedroom. That bedroom was very hot and they described it as a “napping oven chamber.” The children had to be quiet so everyone could rest after lunch.
The rules of the house included reminders of expected behavior. “Don’t run in the house. Don’t touch the knick knacks in the house. You might break something. Don’t run on the porch. Don’t stand on the rocking chair rockers. Don’t swing on the gate. Don’t swing too high. You might fall out. Don’t stand too close to the goldfish pond in the yard. You might fall in.” The little pond was surrounded by shrubbery and flowers, “kind of like a Victorian garden,” according to one cousin.
Mr. Dekle died in 1951 and Mrs. Dekle ran the boarding house for a while longer. The cousins all loved that place and had memories of family and fun. The saddest day was when they were told the house was to be sold. Some wished that they were old enough to “pool our pitiful resources and keep it in the family.”
Mrs. Dekle moved on to reside with her her sister Johnnie in a small house in Springfield. A Lutheran who had been a member of Wingard Memorial in Clyo, Mrs. Amelia attended Holy Trinity Lutheran in Springfield. She passed away in 1969 and was laid to rest in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Clyo by her husband Fred.
Although the Dekles never had children, her sister Maggie Bell Blackburn named a son Fred Dekle Blackburn and he has a son who is Fred Jr. and a grandson who is F. D. Blackburn III and is known as Deke. The descendants of the Mallory Store across the street left the contents and it decayed to the point of rotting down and is no longer there. The boarding house lives on as a residence and those trains pass through Clyo much faster today. If only those walls could talk. This house will not be forgotten as long as the Morgan cousins survive.
Thanks to Kristin B. Everson and her family for sharing their memories.
This was written by Susan Exley from Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos or historical information to share contact her at 912-754-6681 or email email@example.com.