Leonard Horace Jordan

Nannie Mae’s Sunday School lessons are now online! Free Bible Teachings

April 10-1915 –September 27, 1983 (68)

I enjoyed my visits to Uncle Leonard’s house and the chance to see Joyce, Mendall and Judy.  Mendall was older than me and frequently I was the recipient of his hand-me-downs, which were always nice clothes.  He also had very nice toys to play with–I specifically remember the push car/airplane which we played with in his yard.  I think there are pictures of this in my family album.


There were close connections between this family and my own–my sister Darlene worked for a number of years in Leonard’s curb market on Cannon Boulevard in Kannapolis.  There she deepened her relationship with Judy and the two of them were inseparable during the summer, taking trips together and spending time away from work together as well.  The two of them developed “he-man” muscles unloading produce trucks to the amazement of the drivers. This is especially interesting since Darlene was skinny as Olive Oyl. (Judy says Darlene’s “muscles” were pimples on her arm.)


Much has been said about the Jordan work ethic and certainly Leonard modeled this as well as any.  Once he established a business of his own, he was very committed to it and involved the entire family in making it a success.  He worked long, hard hours and the fruit of that labor was a superb education for his three children which was one of his main life goals.  You might get the impression that Leonard was one-dimensional, focusing only on work.  That would be wrong.  He had a uniquely human side to him, and a good sense of humor.  He teased Judy and Darlene a lot when they worked for him, sometimes appearing to be gruff and tough.  However they could see through that and typically just shook their heads and continued doing their job as usual.


Leonard was also a devoutly religious person, insisting on family devotions and prayers in his family.  He had a big heart and was frequently known to give cash to my mom.


I remember standing around with many of the brothers at the old home place during one of the reunions as they talked about the days back on the farm.  Leonard made it very clear to the others that when he left the farm he never intended to come back except for family reunions or Christmas gatherings.  I think he was painfully aware of the hard work that had been required to raise 13 children on a backwoods farm in Chesterfield County, SC and was determined that his family would do better.  When he first came to Kannapolis looking for work at the age of 19, he stayed with my mom and dad for a while until he could get settled.  But this was an ambitious man and was soon independent and starting his own family, marrying Nannie Mae Tilley (raised in Kannapolis) January 27, 1940.


Black Creek Stories

Mom says in the “interview” of 1969 “What Do You Know” that Leonard always seemed to have business in the woods when cotton picking time came (they went to the woods to use the bathroom). But when they checked on him, he was relaxing.


Blease also tells the story about picking cotton, noting that the children were putting the cotton that they picked on the same sheet and it wasn’t growing very rapidly.  Grandpa made them start putting the cotton that they had picked on their own sheets resulting in about three times the amount of cotton, to which Leonard said “Now you can see who’s doing all the work.”  Ester says (and Aline corroborated) that Leonard would put his cotton up wet and walk on it to pack it and make it weigh more. Grandpa said, “Son, it won’t dry that way.” And he put a stop to that shenanigan.

Blease said that Leonard was always “threatening” to leave the farm and go to Florida, but he never did.


Joyce Carter


Joyce Helen Jordan Carter is the oldest child and one of two daughters of Leonard and Nannie Mae Jordan.  She was born at home on  August 7, 1940.  She is one of three children born to Leonard and Nannie Mae; the other two being Mendall and Judy.


Joyce grew up on Patterson Avenue in Kannapolis and graduated from A.L. Brown High School in 1958.  She received a degree in Secondary Education from Appalachian State Teachers College, now Appalachian State University, in 1961.  She also received the additional degree of Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1966.


Joyce married Joey Carter in 1961 on December 23.  Joey was a Plastic Surgeon and died April 15, 1992 .  The Carters have one daughter, Marshéle, born November 18, 1962 who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia and is married to Navy SEAL Commander Mark Daniel Waddell.  Joyce and Joey have three grandchildren:  Joshua Carter Waddell, Jordan Mae Waddell and Jenna Lynn Waddell.


Joyce continues to live in Phoenix, Arizona and returns home frequently to her family in Kannapolis.

Mendall Jordan, MD

Mendall is the second oldest child and the only son of Leonard Jordan.  He was raised on Patterson Avenue in Kannapolis and attended A.L. Brown High School, graduating in 1960.  He finished his undergraduate work at NCSU and his medical degree at Wake Forest Medical Center in 1968.  He operated his own dermatology clinic in Raleigh from 1976 until 2002 when he retired.  He has two children, Carrie  and Tom (deceased). Mendall died in 2018.


Mendall’s recollections from “The Old Home Place”


I remember the extremely long trips from Kannapolis to the old home place and asking my parents on numerous occasions “Where are we?” The answer always was “We are in the country.” I’m sure I asked the question 10 times on each leg of the trip.


The old home place was sitting amongst trees, was never painted, and had a drab appearance.  It seemed like a large house with hallways and numerous rooms when I was a child, but as I grew older the house became much smaller.  Ruby and Newsom were the only children still living at home when I was visiting.  I enjoyed talking to them about their chores, would frequently accompany them while they would milk their cows, drove to the top of the hill to get the mail, and round up the cattle using their dog.  Occasionally in the summertime, we would go to the Black Creek and take a refreshing and chilling dip.  That creek always felt cold, even in July and August.


I remember Grandpa Lonnie as a stern disciplinarian, a quality I never appreciated until later.  I remember Tincie working in the kitchen with Ruby, preparing the meals.  There was an old well at the edge of the back porch where water was drawn as needed.


As I grew older, I enjoyed the reunions at the old home place.  It seemed unusual to have an unpainted house with 30 well-kept cars, some of which were new, parked on the grounds.  Anybody with a new car was more than willing to show you their new purchase.  These cars were also parked near old farm equipment, disks and plows, sitting unused nearby.


I also remember various sharecroppers living in the house at the top of the hill with the adjacent barns where the mules were kept.  I was always glad that I did not have to work with those animals as they looked dangerous, stubborn and unpredictable.  I do remember when they were injured beyond repair when the tornado hit Grandpa’s property and barns.


It seems strange while writing this having one’s past emanating from that isolated old home place while at the same time working with computers, cell phones, pagers, etc..  That’s quite a contrast, an era lost.  However, I have found that computers can be dangerous, stubborn, and unpredictable just like mules.


Mendall Jordan, July, 2001


Judy Jordan, MD




Judy’s recollections: My dad, Leonard, moved from South Carolina to Kannapolis, NC for employment in Cannon Mills and for what was then considered “good money.”   Initially he lived and boarded with an aunt. One job never seemed to be enough for him or for his drive to provide for his family.  He always wanted “a better life for you than what I had.”  During the summer he sold produce; in the winter, he worked the third shift in the mill.  About 1945-46, he was hired as the store manager of the Dixie Home Store in downtown Kannapolis; he also served as a meat cutter.  (Dixie Home Store later became the Winn Dixie Store.)  When Dixie Home wanted to transfer him to South Carolina, he refused to go. South Carolina represented a hard, difficult part of life he wished to forget.  That began his days of sole proprietorship and self-employment.


Over the years, he rented and operated curb markets in Salisbury. My brother, Mendall and our Mom worked there too.  Around 1952-53 and for 2 years, he owned and operated the G & W Grocery Store (current address 652 Cannon Blvd.) and served as a meat cutter.  (Joyce and Mom also worked there.)  Around 1960 he purchased a large tract of land on South Cannon Blvd. (at the time was 100 S. Cannon Blvd. now 280 S. Cannon Blvd.) and over several months filled in the property.  While the earth was settling, he sold produce by the roadside.  He built an open-air produce market with limited groceries, likely the first of its kind in the area.  Built of cinder blocks, all the doors were garage-type doors.  Mom, Mendall, and Judy also worked there.  Cousin Darlene Hancock would also later work with Dad for several years.  Leonard was known for the high quality of produce he carried.  This operation continued until around the early to mid 1970s when he “shuttered” the produce business.  (The family was grown and gone; where was one to find “good help?”)  Noticing a changing trend in society’s needs, he converted the building into storage units and added self-service gas pumps, an automated car wash, and several self-service car wash bays.


Those are the highlights, the traditional parts of work.  But for Daddy, life and work were not that simple.  As one of his sons-in-law would later state, “It’s amazing.  Your Dad always knew how to make a buck.”  And that he did.  As did all the Jordans.  Throughout his adult years and in addition to his market/store days, he supplemented the family’s income with many hard labored, long days.  A workday did not have 8 hours.  It had 14, 17, and 19 hours.  And they were all used.


He hauled and peddled produce in a 2-ton truck which held about 7000 cantaloupes or 400 watermelons and 1000 cantaloupes. Produce grown in South Carolina, Georgia, the North Carolina mountains, or Florida (Ft. Pierce, Omacalee, and Miami) was trucked to as far north as Virginia.  There were no interstates.  They had to travel through all the towns between here and there at 20-30 mph.  Usually at least once every year, he was on the road and away from his family for a full month (June).


One cannot relate Dad’s work history without telling of his family’s work history, especially Mendall’s.  Mendall began working with Dad at a very early age and began driving Dad’s pick-up truck as well as his 2-ton truck.  (Although kids in North Carolina had to be 16 to obtain a driver’s license, kids in South Carolina only had to be 14.  Besides, there was work to be done.  Everyone pitched in.)  Since Mendall’s growth spurt did not occur until his college days, at 13 years of age Mendall had to sit on pillows in order to see over the steering wheel.  His feet would barely reach the pedals.  At 13 years of age (7th grade), he drove the pickup truck to Columbia, South Carolina, alone on a Friday.  (Mom picked up his report card at school the following Monday.)  At 14, he was driving the 2-ton truck.  At 15, he was spending nights in the truck with a shotgun to protect the produce from theft.  (In all the years of sleeping with a shotgun, he only had to use it once; that was on Cannon Blvd. in Kannapolis.  A shot over the culprits’ heads sufficed.)


Dad bought watermelon patches in Rockingham, N.C., Wilmington, N.C. (25 acres), and Pageland, S.C. (15-20 acres); he and Mendall would work them from early July through August, taking all summer to ripen the watermelons.  To harvest the watermelons, he would take his truck and haul his own tractor to the field.  Dad, Mendall, and hired local workers would hand pick and place the watermelons on a trailer then transfer them to the truck.  The entire load would be destined for Roanoke, Virginia.  They would load the truck on Monday and Tuesday, spend Tuesday night in Kannapolis, leave Wednesday morning around 2:30 AM for Roanoke and would be set up to sell by the roadside by 8 AM that same morning.  They would sell out on Saturday afternoon, be home by Saturday evening, go to church on Sunday, and return to the watermelon patch on Monday to repeat the whole routine all over again.  Occasionally, the entire load was bought by Kroger in Roanoke.  (Entrepreneurs like Dad could sell fresher produce at a lower price than the local supermarkets.  Later the local supermarkets lobbied the Virginia legislature and passed laws to prevent truckers from parking within Roanoke city limits.)  They would also set up near cattle sale areas held in Christiansburg, VA on Thursdays and Blacksburg, VA on Fridays; the same locations were still used as such 50 years later.


Other trips to Virginia would find Mendall (still a child) and Dad working 2 different locations at the same time in order to sell their haul of watermelons and cantaloupes within a week.  Mendall would stay in Clifton, Virginia and Dad drove on to Covington, Virginia.  Dad would pay the local owner of the land to set up shop on his land.  Mendall would shower at the nearby train station.  On her own volition, the owner’s wife would prepare lunch for Mendall every day.  (Mendall was grateful but said it was not his type of food.)  Sometimes Dad spent the nights in Covington and sometimes he returned to spend the nights with Mendall.  At the end of the week, the lady’s payment would be in the form of produce.


Dad and Mendall also worked Uncle Bo’s watermelon patch that had one-mile-long rows of melons.  They frequented Farmer’s Markets in Pageland and in Columbia, S.C., as well as other states.  Tifton and Moultrie, Georgia were also sources for cantaloupes.  (Initially the markets could not check the sugar content of cantaloupes.  Around 1955, this changed.  The testers took the greenest one, cut it, placed the juices onto a flat glass surface, and lifted it to the sun to read the sugar content.)  It generally required a full day to buy and load the 2-ton truck.  Sometimes they would buy and sell wholesale, e.g., Columbia, S.C., within the confines of the market itself.  They would sell by the hundreds or thousands or the whole load, e.g., buy cantaloupes for 7-8 cents each and sell them for 13 cents each.  Dad was always a shrewd buyer.  In Georgia, he used a bean hopper to settle on a price for the produce and then used regular bushels to measure the amount of the produce he just purchased.  This was to Dad’s advantage.


Sleep was where you found it.  During these trips, Dad and Mendall slept with their produce, sometimes on a cot underneath the truck.  Or Dad in the car seat and Mendall in the floor board.  In Roanoke, Mendall slept on the sidewalk and Dad in the truck.  Other times, they literally slept on the produce, removing a watermelon for the hips and another one for the shoulders.  Regardless of the weather—hot, humid, summertime–Mendall always covered himself up to his chin with a blanket. Once after sleeping outside in the truck in Georgia, he awoke one morning with at least 50 mosquito bites on his face and ears.


While no horrible things ever happened during these trips, excitement was not lacking either.  During one of their many nights sleeping on top of the produce, someone attempted to enter the back of the truck in Columbia; Dad hit the man’s knuckles with the metal bar used to stabilize the wooden sides of the truck.  Around 14 years of age, Mendall was alone one night awaiting the opening of the Columbia Farmer’s Market when he was accosted by a man; he informed a policeman and the man left.  The next morning, Mendall pulled the truck onto the market grounds.  On another day, Mendall (12 years old) sold all of Uncle Bo’s truckload by himself while Dad and Bo had gone to grab some lunch.  (At the time, Bo was not too happy since he had to wait around all day for the man to return and pick it up.)  Once when the truck was loaded with 210 boxes of tomatoes (one box holds more than one bushel), Dad had a flat tire while on a sandy back road.  When the truck was jacked up, it began to sink into the sand.  Eventually the loaded truck fell over onto its side.


Dad also used other means to supplement our living.  He bought and rented out several homes.  In the 1960s he owned the rights to a private water well that serviced about 30 homes.  (Monthly collection was made door-to-door, commonly by Judy since she was not afraid of the dogs.)  For several years, he owned and operated a fresh fish market on Cannon Blvd.  For many years, he plowed private gardens and graded yards for landscaping with tractor equipment purchased in 1949.  The cost was $4/hour to plow and disc.  Frequently a job required two trips to the site since different equipment was used for different stages of the job.  Later in Mendall’s teen years, when Dad was unavailable for the job, he allowed Mendall to make his own schedule with the customers and keep half of the money earned, thereby teaching and handing off responsibility.


Dad did not serve in the military secondary to his having flat feet.  Instead, he (and Maro Hancock) worked for 2 years in a government program in Wilmington, N.C., detailing and finishing homes for GIs returning from World War II.  He would leave Kannapolis on Sunday nights and return on Friday nights.  Although work was a major part of Dad’s life, it was not everything.  His family was very important to him.




Nannie Mae Tilley was born in Iredell County (Statesville) at her parents’ home.  Mom was named after her mother (Mae) and her grandmother (Nannie).  She was delivered by her paternal grandmother who worked as a midwife.  (The paternal grandmother delivered all of Mom’s siblings.  This grandmother lived to 101 years old and was remembered for always using her bare hands to check the hog slop for bones before feeding them.) The maternal grandmother was a Brotherton and lived with them.  Mom rode covered wagons to revivals and religious camp meetings.  All of Mom’s family members could read and write.  Mom was the second of seven children.  Her dad worked for the railroad and later for the mill.  Her mom earned money by ironing, doing other people’s laundry, and sewing.  (The charge for a homemade dress was $1.00.)  Later, Mom and her family lived in Concord on Peachtree Street then moved to a mill house on North Walnut Street in Kannapolis.  Her last home with them was at 604 Grove Street (now 605 Forest Avenue).  Her parents, with our Dad’s financial help, acquired property around 1960 and built a new home on Woodside Street, now owned/occupied by Jeffrey Tilley, a grandson.


Mom attended Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and J.W .Cannon High School, completing the 9th grade.  She quit school after the ninth grade because she “didn’t have the clothes the uptown girls did.  I had chicken feed sacks as dresses and flour sacks as underwear.  I wanted better.”  (She later earned her GED at age 58, audited a couple of college courses, and worked as a reading tutor for first through sixth grades at Aycock Elementary School for 15.5 years.  She has taught Bible Studies at her church for more than 45 years, children through adult, and is currently teaching at age 87.  She retired at age 74 and has recently begun volunteering at NW Medical Center as a reader to children.)


During her teens, she earned money by fixing hair (20 heads daily at 0.15/head).  She later worked at Woolworth Dime Store, then Belk’s Bargain Store (where she was high sales person), then Belk’s store.  She, as with most of Kannapolis, eventually worked at Cannon Mills so that she could have the same hours as Dad.  Her work at Cannon Mills was on the first shift, towel set department at $1.80 daily; generally, during the children’s school year she worked on the second shift, over edge department for $2.40 daily.


Leonard and Nannie Mae were introduced by her cousin, Rev. Marvin Tilley.  Mom broke a date to date our Dad whom she describes as the “most handsome man I’d ever looked at; still is.  It was great.”  Their first date was after Sunday night’s church service at the Elm Street Church of God.  They were married on January 27, 1940 after 1.5 years of courtship.  Dad was 23 years old; Mom, 21 years old.  Uncle Gib Jordan, a Justice of the Peace, performed the ceremony in his own home (located on Gib Jordan Road in Mt. Croghan, S. C.).  After their marriage, Mom’s first visit to the Jordan’s old home place was for lunch.


Their first home was a rented apartment duplex at 802 Jackson Street in Kannapolis.  The bathroom was on the back porch and was shared with the occupants of the other apartment.  They furnished the 2-room apartment on Friday with Montgomery Ward furniture, got married on Saturday, went to church on Sunday, and went to work in Cannon Mills on Monday.  That was the day they began saving for their children’s future education.




Joyce was born at this home.  Mom had a dry birth since her water broke 3 days before delivery.  Mom said she “had no knowledge, didn’t know anything about having a baby; didn’t know what was happening to me.  You just didn’t talk about those things back then.”  At birth, Joyce did not have any hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, or fingernails.  She was so small, 4.5 lbs. at birth, her diaper was a man’s handkerchief folded twice.  The fact that neither Joyce nor Mom died from the complications is a testament to their determination, still experienced in today’s times.  During this difficult time, Aunt Ester stayed with Mom for 10 days.  Uncle Burris courted Aunt Ester at their home every night, staying up late, talking in the kitchen.


When Joyce was 6 months old, Dad purchased 524 Patterson Avenue principally for the land that accompanied it.  Mendall, who was named after a lawyer Dad knew, was born in this home.  Maro Hancock helped Dad build the car sheds that still stand today; later Dad added/built a cinder block tomato house behind them.  Initially we had an outhouse; the bathroom was added around 1951 and was the first indoor bath on our street.  A wood/coal stove heated the home; later oil heat was added.  In 1963, the home was remodeled.  Every year we had a huge garden.  The whole family worked this too.  Mom would can and freeze until 2:30 AM then arise at 5:30 AM to start all over again.  If you visited, you did not sit and talk.  You worked along side of us.  We raised chickens.  (Once when Dad was planning to arise at 1:30 AM, he retired to bed before dark.  Mom went out to feed the chickens.  Of course, the chickens did what chickens do.  They clucked loudly.  Alarmed, knowing Dad needed quiet, Mom started shushing the chickens before realizing the absurdity of her actions.)  At Christmas, Grandpa Jordan would give each grandkid a silver dollar; he gave each of his own children a baby pig.  We raised ours at Grandma Tilley’s home and slaughtered it when grown.




Although Leonard had no formal education beyond the 6th grade, he had an unwavering belief in education for his children.  His life style was modest; if he could not pay cash, he did not buy it yet he shared his money with others, giving interest-free loans to my maternal Grandparents and an interest-free loan to Joey Carter for his first year of medical school.  He and Mom financed their children’s undergraduate education.  At the time of Mendall’s marriage in 1967, they gave Mendall $1,500.  They financed Mendall’s medical education at Bowman Gray Medical School.  When Mendall moved to St. Louis, MO, Dad prepaid 9 months of rent.  Dad gave lots to his and Mom’s church.




His goals for himself and his family were high; I knew in elementary school I would be going to college.  Education was an incredibly high priority for both of my parents.  Joyce earned a double major from Appalachian State Teachers College (now Appalachian State University at Boone, N.C.) in Spanish and English and a Master’s in Secondary Education with a minor in Spanish from UNC Chapel Hill.  Mendall earned an applied mathematics degree from N.C. State University and a medical degree from Bowman Gray School of Medicine (now called Wake Forest Medical Center).  Judy, valedictorian of her high school class, earned a pharmacy degree in 1971 and a medical degree in 1979 from UNC Chapel Hill.  Although Dad’s dream to be a doctor himself was never realized, his children’s were.  While we might not have gotten all we wanted, we never lacked for anything.  Personally, I always knew he would provide whatever we needed.  During the children’s lifetime of working for their Dad, he never paid them a salary but he gave them much more.  His children’s successes were his successes.




He was a Mason, attended church regularly, was known to play the harmonica.  He never smoked but got drunk once at 19, fell in a ditch, stayed there all night, and never drank again.  His brothers and sisters often asked him for advice.  He worked hard to provide more for his children than he had and expected all those around him to work hard too.  His love and hopes for his family were obvious.  While every child remembers a parent differently, personally speaking, our Dad was loving and nurturing; I believe he attempted to be the parent in some ways that he wished he had had.  As far back as we three children can remember, our parents told us nearly every day, “I love you.”   He was a multi-talented self-made, practical, successful, and respected businessman and a loving father.  He was grounded because he had touched the ground.  He had dirt beneath his nails.  For me, he was truly the wind beneath my wings.


 [From Carrie Freeman, Mendall’s daughter and Leonard’s granddaughter.]


I am one of the newer-generation Jordans, but like my father, I have horrible, unbelievably bad handwriting, so I am typing this information. My father is a doctor, so he has an excuse, but I have none (other than to say that it must be genetic.)


I am happy that you are doing the history-I would love to hear about more of the family. However, I don’t have a lot of the older memories that a lot of you must have had. I remember JB’s place, but I think I had to have been about 10 years old the last time I went there for a family reunion. But as with all the family reunions, there was lots of food, lots of older ladies who told me that they could remember me when I was “that big,” and just a generally good time all around.


My father is Horace Mendall Jordan, the son of Nannie Mae Jordan and Leonard Jordan of Kannapolis. My mother is Suzanne Britt (no middle name), the daughter of Suzanne Bagnal Britt and Donald Elmore Britt (who recently passed away). I was born on June 16, 1969, and my given name is Susan Caroline Jordan, although I have always gone by Carrie. I have one brother, Thomas Mendall Jordan, who was born on October 20, 1970 and goes by Tom.


I was married on October 21, 2000 to my boyfriend of six years. We were living together for most of those years, so marriage is pretty much the same as living together-great. I did change my name, although growing up, I never thought I would. I figured I was so bossy on everything else (hmm-now that’s a Jordan trait if I ever heard one) that the least I could do was to change my name. However, I didn’t think it was right to drop a name in the process-what name would I drop? All names were specially given to me-so I kept them all! I am now officially Susan Caroline Jordan Freeman, and I go by Carrie Freeman. My husband is John Jeffrey Freeman, and he goes by Jeff. Jeff and I now live in San Francisco, California.


My father has two sisters, Joyce Carter and Judy Jordan. We have kept in touch on most Thanksgivings because we all generally fly to San Antonio where Judy lives.


Grandmother (Nannie Mae) is about the sweetest person in the world. A hard worker too. I warned Grandmother before she and Jeff met. I said, “now Grandmother, Jeff has long hair in a ponytail and he has earrings.” She laughed good naturedly, but that’s a lot to swallow for a grandmother who had Tom and me pressed and cleaned when we were little. I survived the lacy underwear (boy, do those itch!), the frilly dresses (don’t you look precious-pronounced “pracious” in the south), and the drench of hair spray (at age 9). Tom suffered a similarly sweet fate with the brown leisure suit at age 6. Thank goodness they hadn’t created men’s hairspray at that age!


I would say that my dad and Judy are more similar-take charge, get things done, be efficient. Joyce and Grandmother are fairly different from daddy and Judy, but mainly in attitude. It’s not as if they don’t take charge, get things done and aren’t efficient. It’s just the tone in which they do it is more of a laid back approach, usually with a lot of giggling. For example, you wouldn’t be surprised to see Joyce (is she 60 now??!!) jumping up and down on a bed with one of her grandchildren.


My father’s a dermatologist, and his sister Judy eventually became a dermatologist (she was previously a pharmacist). Although he has his own practice, Judy (before she retired) was a roaming dermatologist.

When doctors wanted to take a two- or three-week vacation, she would step into their practice to take over. She also did this for my father every year for several years. I always thought it would be strange calling in as a patient for an appointment and be told that Dr. Jordan was on vacation, “but his sister Judy Jordan can see you.” Talk about the Beverly Hillbillies. But it worked, and patients enjoyed seeing Judy as well as my dad.


Joyce used to be a school teacher, and she now is heavily involved in the church along with Grandmother. And she does the aforementioned jumping on mattresses from time to time.

1 wish I could tell you something about PawPaw, but all I know is that he worked hard all the time and slept the other half of the time. I think I was maybe 13 or 14 when he died. I get the impression from my grandmother that he was just learning to take it easy when he died. At least I think that made an impression on my dad because I think he’s starting to take it easy, finally, after working so hard all these years. Who would have thought that my father would ever have the patience to play golf, but he loves it now.


Finally, my mom is a writer and an English professor at Meredith College in Raleigh. She has many speaking engagements, and she writes for several and various publications.

Carrie Jordan Freeman




September 28th, 1983



For PawPaw Jordan:


Tuesday was a special day, For you and for me.


You left a world of darkness,

entered eternity’s light, saw face-to-face

the King you claimed,


and sang your first stanza to His never ending chorus of praise.


I’m sure you must be smiling,

in awe of what He prepared for you, revering His golden majesty in silence.


I sit here and wonder

if you see me down here …

if you see the tears of grief

the lonely moments, feeling forsaken, yet peaceful,

For I know you are healed.


If by chance you see my tears fall, or the anger your exit brought, or the numbness that seems to have overtaken me,


Please look past this,

for in my heart, there is peace,

a new beginning.

Because your death gave birth

to my new commitment to Him, A new love and reverence for life was born.

Your life has just begun.


So, Tuesday holds my heart,

for you have earned your rest.

Now with the commitment you instilled,

I have the power to earn mine.


Marshéle Jordan Waddell


Marshele Carter Waddell, granddaughter of Leonard and Nannie Mae Jordan, daughter of Joyce and Joey Carter, married to Navy SEAL Commander Mark Waddell, presently living in Virginia Beach, VA. Here is a heartfelt “burst of memory” she shared with us….


Today, Mark took me for tea at a new Starbucks a little further from home,  then to the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. We strolled the little booths and vendor areas that feature locally grown produce and honey and jams, etc. The scent of the produce stands did a sneak attack on my memory bank.

I stood there and inhaled the fragrance, a sweet mix of cantaloupes, peaches and tomatoes ripening in the hot humid summer air. Tears flooded my eyes as the scent carried me back to Jordan’s Produce on Cannon Blvd. I was surprised by my tears. It happened in more than one produce booth! I didn’t want to leave. At one booth, there was a circle of black women of several generations shelling peas. I stood there and stared and remembered a plastic tub of the same peas on my lap, surrounded by several generations of aunts and cousins, in Grandmother’s family room or out in the side yard, whichever was the cooler spot to shell peas at the time. There was honey with columns of honeycomb from local apiaries. I pictured my PawPaw Jordan digging out a waxy spoonful of golden comb for his chewy and sweet afternoon treat.

I wanted to apply for a job!! Crazy, isn’t it! I wanted to pull up a chair with the women shelling peas, introduce myself and grab a tub of unshelled crowders. Anyone who saw my tears must have concluded that I was suffering from allergies or reeling from an unspoken, unresolved morning heartache.

But it wasn’t that complicated. It was simply the scent of a simpler time, a time when my biggest thoughts were shucking a mountain of corn side by side with PawPaw or sitting and shelling bushels of peas in the company of the salt of the earth.

Marshéle Jordan Waddell