MEDICINE MAN - Writing Notes #2

A TMT II memoir excerpt

Margaret Jenkins Tice (Granny, when she was young and a stunner)

Writing Notes #2

By MENASHE DAVID ISRAEL

A few years after Poppa died, mom sent me some excerpts from his emails and notes. There is a whole MacBook full of them, which I’m hoping we can reboot one of these days and explore. For now, we have this much from the book he was beginning to write:

“I was born February 21, 1945 in the last few months of WWII in Kokomo, Indiana where my father, Commander Thornton Massie Tice Sr, was stationed at Bunker Hill. Dad was a flight instructor for the US Navy. I slept in a dresser drawer my first three months as there was a wood shortage and no baby beds were available.

My father was a genius and we moved around quite a bit as newspapers would out bid each other for his skills in writing and editing. He had a photographic memory. He would flip through books at night and send me across the room to pick at random any page number, and Dad would tell me what every word was on any and every page without looking back at the book. In my very young years as he went to who ever could pay him the most for his skills, we lived in Baltimore, Pulaski, VA, Newport News, VA, Norfolk, VA, Roanoke, VA and he was Editor for the Baltimore Sun for awhile. He also started a newspaper in Narrows, VA and sold it before we moved to Abingdon, VA and from there we moved to Ashland, KY. Where he ran the Chamber of Commerce and my mom managed the credit bureau. When we lived in Pulaski my mom managed the Sears and Robuck store. When we had lived in Baltimore she worked for Montgomery Wards. She was always in Management. Mom was brilliant, beautiful and very outgoing.

When we lived in Pulaski my dad’s mother, I called her Gay, lived with us until she died. I saw my father weep bitterly. It was a very sad day when we lost Gay. She was an incredible woman, who before, lived in her own apartment in a very nice apartment building. Being a southern aristocrat daughter of Thomas Jefferson she was a very dignified and beautiful woman who lived in a house of antique treasures.

Somehow her apartment building had a huge rat that moved in and no one could catch it. The rat was so bold that he would chew holes through tenants doors in order to get to their kitchens. Gay decided to deal with the rat who was too smart for the traps that the tenants had set for him. So Gay wrote a note to the rat stating, “Mister Rat, You have enjoyed my hospitality long enough, take this cheese and leave and do not return.” Next morning the cheese was gone and the rat never returned and Gay had the door repaired.

Gay taught me about our family being descended from our grandfather of some greats, Thomas Jefferson. The more I read about him as a child the more his words of brilliance took root in my heart and mind and I felt that I had written them myself. They are part of who I am today.

Roanoke.. swimmer butchie, TV, oraraborialis, National geographics, Cabell, school, house on Fleetwood Ave, Reagan ,Shena Queen of the Jungle, Ester Williams (olympic winner swimmer) Johnny Williams, dad wooden leg, drug store sales and lunches.”

I don’t have the heart to correct these genealogical claims today, I haven’t been able to corroborate them. I know we were told our whole lives that we were descended from Thomas Jefferson. And indeed, Aunt Anne does have one of Thomas Jefferson’s two drafting tables among her things; and Poppa did take the portrait—and family heirloom—of Thomas Jefferson Randolph, the grandson of Thomas Jefferson, to the Smithsonian at one point to be catalogued—so there is undoubtedly a connection. But when I have looked through the family tree I can only trace us back to Randolph Jefferson, who was Thomas Jefferson’s brother.

It appears for now that as far as the bloodlines go, Grandpa Tom was actually Uncle Tom. In any case, you will be seeing more on these things in coming chapters and posts.

Below is a copy of the portrait of Thomas Jefferson Randolph that Poppa took to the Smithsonian.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson Randolph, eldest grandson of the third US president, Thomas Jefferson, painted by Charles Wilson Peale.

Born September 12, 1792, Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.

Died October 8, 1875 (aged 83), Albemarle County, Virginia.

Resting place Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia.


Menashe David Israel is the first son of Thornton Massie Tice II. He lives in Houston, TX, where he is writing his late father’s biography in dedication to his mother, four brothers, and six sisters. He is searching for his long lost sister, Roxanne.


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