Thursday, October 06, 2016

Uncle Hoppy

I have three uncles on my Mother's side of the family. (the Toler Clan).  The oldest was Marvin, followed by my Mom, Wilma, then there is Robert and the youngest brother Orville.  I know Robert as Uncle Melvin, Orville as Uncle Hoppy and Marvin, well he was just Uncle Marvin.  Growing up my Mom, Wilma, was called Cricket and when she got married, Dad called her Paulene. My Toler Grandmother, Oma Freelove Carpenter Toler, was Mama Toe.  To add to the confusion Robert, my Uncle Melvin, referrs to everyone in the family by both their first and middle names.  He would never call me Jay.  I was always Jay Kent, my brother Leon Don, Uncle Melvin's son was Ken Ray. When the Toler's got together you needed a Playbill to know who the characters were.  It is easy to see why I thought the Toler side of my family tree was double the size it is. When we got together it was constant laughter, stories and music being played. It was a lively, loving crowd filled with two name cousins. 
Uncle Hoppy was the youngest and was always the baby of the family. Because my maternal grandfather died when my Mom was 12 and Hoppy around two years old my Mom became more than just a sister to her younger brothers, she was the nanny, babysitter and caretaker while Mama Toe had to work to support the four of them.  Until I was 14 we lived in the same town as all my Toler Uncles and Mama Toe.  

I was old enough to  participate in my Uncle Hoppy's wedding to Mona Struve.  Today that memory is replaying itself in my mind.
Hoppy came down with Pneumonia the week before the wedding.  There was some talk about rescheduling the ceremony but it became easier to cure disease than change wedding plans.  Since Hoppy was living with Moma Toe, when he got sick, Mom brought Hoppy to our house so she could take care of him personally.  My brother and I gave up our  bedroom gladly for the ailing Hoppy, and our house became Wedding central for a couple of weeks.

Hoppy's buddy from the Army came to be best man for the wedding.  Thackeray was a Mormon from Salt Lake City, Utah.  I didn't even know what that was nor what it meant.  But I got to watch this guy, who was always in a white shirt and tie, very politely refuse the ubiquitous sweet Iced Tea that my family guzzled, as well as the coffee that was alway brewing. He said he had religious reasons.  Thackeray stayed with us for a few days and he could not have been a more charming guy.  I wondered if I were to give up my childhood addiction to that "crack" Ice Tea, would I become as nice as this guy.  Since I still drink iced tea and before I started to write this I had three cups of Expresso, you can see where all that wondering ended up.  
Hoppy recovered enough to attend his own wedding although my brother was the stand in groom for the rehearsal.  At that rehearsal when the Methodist minister was going over the ceremony my Uncle Marvin  (who had a very wicked sense of humor) said, "Listen Reverand, when you get to the part about 'in sickness and in health' you can leave that out cause they already passed that test."  

Hoppy stayed in Abernathy and when my family moved to Dallas, Hoppy and Mona bought the house I grew up in.  They added on to the house so much that I never recognized it as my house anymore.  To take care of his family Hoppy took over the General Hardware store that serviced the farming community of Abernathy. It was a store that offered not only the hardware but ready to wear dry goods. His property on Main street in Abernathy was the virtual heart of Abernathy.  After Walmart and True Hardware moved in to Lubbock, only a 20 drive from Abernathy the store began to lose customers.  Eventually the store front was turned into an antique shop museum and Music Hall serving pizza and offering the latest country western performers on tour.  Hoppy went from retail store owner to show promoter and presenter in his years before retirement.  
I took my first plane ride and did my first "road gig" ever in my career for Hoppy.  After we moved away Uncle Hoppy hired me to fly back to Abernathy and perform for the ladies night of the civil club he had become President of.  It is hard to believe looking at the 3 million miles racked up on American Airlines, that I was 14 years old before I took my first plane ride.  Hoppy did not know what he started.  We lost Mama Toe in 1985.  Marvin the oldest, passed several years ago followed by his wife Hazel a few years later.  
After losing two people in my life this week, my sister called to tell me Uncle Hoppy passed away.  Walking in Rudosa, NM he had a fatal heart attack.  He had no history of any sort of health issues that I was aware of.  But like my friend Paul Osborne he did not linger he died instantly, and as I get closer to it, that is exactly the way I would like to make an exit.  
Hoppy remained in the town he was born, becoming the exfacto historian of Abernathy.  He knew everyone and everyone knew him.  To know Hoppy was to love him.  He was a wonderful man with a kind heart and gentle presence. He leaves his wife, three daughters, three son-in-laws and a number of grandkids I can't even count.  
Rest well Hoppy. 
Jay
 

10 comments:

P. Grecian said...

That was lovely.
Rest well, Hoppy.

Lloyd Lebow said...

"He knew everyone and everyone knew him. To know Hoppy was to love him." - and I did. Huge loss for Abernathians.

Susan Page said...

Sorry to hear this news. Love to the Noel Johnsons and Tolars and Struves. I saw a segment on news a few years ago when I was visiting Lubbock. Hoppy was being interviewed about Abernathy history. His eyes twinkled.

Kathy Hawkins said...

Yes, it is very sad day. Daddy cried more today than I have seen him cry in a lot of years. Losing his little brother has been a large hit to him. He said today "he hurts" he is not in the best health and he always thought he would go before Uncle Hoppy. After we told him of Hoppy passing, Russ and I spent the afternoon with him trying to console him. He has a blank look and does not understand why. Prayers to all, rest in peace Uncle Hoppy. ❤

Kathy Hawkins said...

Yes, it is very sad day. Daddy cried more today than I have seen him cry in a lot of years. Losing his little brother has been a large hit to him. He said today "he hurts" he is not in the best health and he always thought he would go before Uncle Hoppy. After we told him of Hoppy passing, Russ and I spent the afternoon with him trying to console him. He has a blank look and does not understand why. Prayers to all, rest in peace Uncle Hoppy. ❤

Paulette Lebow Glenn said...

Hoppy will definitely be missed by the
Lebow's. Dad has always thought well of Hoppy.

Roy said...

All of us should have someone like Hoppy in their family. Jay, you really gave me a good picture. Sad for you but glad you have the real memory.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words! Dad was so proud of you and all your accomplishments. He talked of you often and you were included in many of his stories.

LZ Florence said...

Thank you Jay for sharing these memories. So many of us loved Hoppy and Mona, even those of us that moved away. RIP Hoppy and condolences to Mona and all his family.
Larry Zack Florence, AHS Class of '62.

Micki J said...

Thank you for the beautiful tribute. He is also my Uncle Hoppy (Struve side) and he was always so proud of you. He followed your career and was so proud to tell people you were his nephew.