Nezzie Geneva Jordan Rollings
July 3, 1908-February 8, 1982 (73)
My (young boy) recollection of Nezzie was that she was always very warm and frequently wiping her brow–especially in the summertime. Mother and I would stop by her house when Nezzie was getting ready for work on the second shift in Cannon Mills and she would be rushing about the house in her slip getting her makeup in place. Based on the way she dressed, you wouldn’t guess she was going to work in a cotton mill. She took a lot of pride in her appearance (she had her own rouge compact as a teen) and always looked good. Both she and Doyle worked second shift in Plant 4, Cannon Mills and usually rode together to work.
Nezzie and Doyle never had children but they always had a dog in the house, usually an overweight dog which seemed to share their shortness of breath. They took good care of my brother and sisters and me when we were growing up. They were always there with gifts for us at Christmas, usually jeans and shirts and socks and underwear–all of which were very needed and welcome. I remember one Christmas totaling in my head that my box of clothing cost at least $50 which seemed like an enormous sum to me.
I spent lots of time with Doyle and Nezzie at their house on Ridge Avenue in Kannapolis. In the summertime. I would work in the “worm bed” with Doyle and would accompany him on his routes where he would sell red wiggler worms in round boxes with pictures on the lids of a huge fish striking a hook. We would stop at every small store and bait or tackle shop and Doyle would take in a tray of fresh worms and retrieve “stales” that had not sold.
He had a small white Ford Falcon pickup with a covered bed with a thermometer in it and I enjoyed jumping into the truck to help him unload the boxes of worms. Sometimes my siblings, as well as cousin Joye Jordan, would join me working in the worm beds, digging our fingers into the soft soil of peat moss and cotton gin waste and counting worms into boxes. Many times I would take worms home with me just for the fascination of it only to find that they died because I neglected to keep them watered and fed. (I was amazed that a little bit of corn meal would keep them alive.)
On Sunday nights, Doyle and Nezzie would come to our house to visit and watch television. Doyle was always dressed up even though he was headed nowhere. Most of the time I remember him wearing a coat and tie, or at least a tie. The gray and white Oldsmobile that he enjoyed driving was a powerful car and most impressive. I remember seeing him leave from the reunion in a cloud of dust making a statement that he was leaving Black Creek behind.
My mother missed Nezzie a lot when she died. I was always curious as to why they did not have children since they seemed to enjoy being with the children in my family. They were good to me and they brought a lot of humor to our house. I remember Nezzie literally laughing all over when she would get tickled. Doyle always struggled with heartburn and indigestion even as he smoked a cigar or a pipe which could not have helped. (Notice the pipe and can of Half & Half pipe tobacco in the living room photo.)
Doyle always had stories. He could tell a story that would last 10 or 15 minutes about an interaction with a merchant regarding a television set or a pair of cuff links, or a doctor about a bill–it did not matter–but he gave you every detail and he would always wind up the victor in the story. Perhaps the grown-ups were bored listening to the story but I was fascinated and listened dutifully to every word.
Nezzie eloped to marry Doyle when she was 18 years old (1926). This was a strategically planned exit since she was sleeping with Ester and Ester was to help her escape. Ester says she loved Nezzie—despite their difference in age (15 years) and would go to bed when Nezzie did to get to be with her. When Nezzie awoke to make her exit, she found that Ester had wet the bed—and her! She was very upset with Ester, saying, “Here I am, supposed to get married and you’ve peed on me!”
Next morning, Lon came in and asked Ester where Nezzie was. When he learned the truth, he began to cry—as did the other children.
Doyle used to tell me about working for my father plowing all day for 50 cents. I’m not sure how he felt about leaving the sand of Black Creek; however, I recall hearing some of the Jordan brothers, notably Leonard, saying they would never come to that area again except for the reunions. As jobs came available in Cannon Mills in Kannapolis, Ester, Blease and Leonard moved there, staying with my mom or other relatives until they got established.
Nezzie never learned to drive but asked Ester frequently to take her to Rose’s (5 & 10 cent store) while Ester was working in Kannapolis. Ester says Nezzie was as happy at Rose’s as if she had gone to Radio City Music Hall in New York!