When lawyer Burns was asked how long they had lived on the Tucker land, he answered in the typical southern drawl, “The only reason he hav’nt lived here longer, is because we did’nt arrive on earth earlier.”

— NorSouth: The Burns House

In order to help NorSouth receive a warm welcome from the tight knit city of Tucker, we immersed ourselves in the community. Through walking around town to interviewing historical figures, the result brought us more than we could even believe.

 

Interview: 

(All sock footed in a second floor model room overlooking the left side of the house)

Contractor: We’re going to try and match the red tile (front porch) the best we can, the porch is going to come straight out and come down the side of the house

Chip: Thats the way is was originally built, we’ve got pictures. It was a wrap around porch, not all the way around but just about the way you’ve got it now

Sanford: They remodeled it in 62, thats when they did away with the side porch. What’s behind that window opening? {left side of house first window}

Contractor: The floors were bad so we had to take all of it out, let me think, thats where the fire place is, the small little places that were in the house, the coal burning fireplaces

Sanford: yeah, well wood sometimes, whatever the old colored fella used to bring up to the house and build the fires

Emma: Are these going to be doors coming out to the porch?

Contractor: Yes Ma’am

Emma: Why did they take the porch off?

Chip: They added on, put a kitchen and everything, my grandparents in 62

Sanford: 62 remodeled it, my sister had it remodeled and all,

Chip: see originally, well go back, there was a house here that Uncle Pierce and your (pointing to Sanford) Grandmother lived it

Sanford: and it burned

Chip: My dad and my aunt, and his parents, my grandparents, they lived out on the ball field which is where we walked up {between methodist church and dog park/garden beds} there was a house there thats where they lived. This house here burned in 1936 they moved out with my grandparents and my dad. Then that house burned and they moved in to a house over by where the post office is and they rebuilt this one back on the original foundation of the very first house

Sanford: Yeah this one burned about one or two o’clock in the morning and my uncle was in the bed asleep when plaster fell and hit him in the face and woke him up well he went running in there to get his mother, my grandmother, and she had to come spend the night with us {in the other house}. So he picked up a trunk from under the bed, threw it out the window and jumped out behind it.

Chip: Had a stradivarius violin in there burnt up

Sanford: Some man over on main st. he came over here to see about it and my uncle was out there in his shorts so he had to go get him some pants

Chip: They rebuilt it on the original foundation in like 36-37 in that timeframe and it was during the Depression, right after the depression something like that so Uncle Pierce whenever he could get a window he would put in a window and thats why all the windows were different sizes. Thats why, because whenever he came across a window, he’d buy it. And we couldn’t ever find screens or anything to fit the windows

Sanford: And the rock came off a farm they had down on Hugh Howell Rd. off lawrenceville hwy near fitzgerald field.

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Emma: So when as the original house built?

Chip: That was probably built in the late 1800s, their original land plot was down here at hugh howell where the sears buildings are and all that

Sanford: 200 acres on the right and 200 acres on the left and Mr. Pitter was the one that sold all that off

Chip: all this was cotton fields, main street and all that was cotton fields and thats what they farmed and of course they had the syrup makers and all that kind of stuff all here

Sanford: Whats that eatin place down there? (Chip: Five Guys) Yeah, thats where the syrup mill was

Chip: My great-grand mother lived downstairs, my dad and my aunt they both had bed rooms upstairs and my grandparents and uncle piece stayed downstairs and then when she passed they would start renting rooms — everybody in tucker i think has lived in that house. Everyone knew they could get food here, at the big white house they called it, the hobos would jump off the train when the trains would slow down because were on the highest peak right here in Tucker and so the trains slowed way down and the hobos would jump off and they knew they could always eat up here at the big white house so they would come up here and my grandmother would fix them stuff and food to eat and things like that

Sanford: there was a cellar in that house and my mother she milked about 4 cows every morning and night, all the canning goods and

Lisa: So a lot of people in Tucker actually lived here?

Chip: Yeah, upstairs

Lisa: So the people would be in their 70s & 80s now?

Sanford: Mrs. Need

Chip: Well Mrs Need, she’s passed now. Mrs. Can, her and her first husband. When they first got married they lived in that small room

Sanford: Where Trey lived?

Chip: Where trey lived.

Sanford: Roy Hannard and his wife, Kate lived there first. Just got married and moved in.

Mrs Naull she lived upstairs for a while, Mrs Snead, missionary

Chip: She took over my grandmothers spot

Sanford: She was a prisoner of war for several years and the paratroopers rescued her and carried her out and they lived in that place for about a year

Chip: Missionary from our church

Lisa: Where was she a missionary?

Chip: Over in the Phillipines. My grandmother passed in about 80 and she moved in about 82/83 and she lived her until she passed away

Sanford: and did you (pointing to Chip) and her daughter help carry her to the car?

Chip: yeah, it does have a lot of history here

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Emma: Who was the last resident and when?

Chip: Hes living right down the street, y’all booted him out (all laugh) Stanley Chadwick, he was the last one, he lived upstairs. We have all the houses down the street here so we moved him in down there to one of the rental houses. Trey Hurst he lived down in the back room, he works at Kofer brothers. So yeah, its been a lot of people in and out of there.

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Emma: When was the old post office built?

Chip: Two brothers from Catersville, wasn’t it? (Charlie: Mhm) Yeah I don’t know when that was

Sanford: Yeah we owned the land but we sold it to the two brothers who built it and leased it to the postal department

Chip: yeah it was a post office for a long time and then it started changing and now the church has bought it

Emma: What was the downtown then?

Men in unison: Main Street

Sanford: yeah its always been Main Street

Chip: but wasn’t the cotton fields all down through there and the gin house?

Sanford: oh yeah yeah from len burns drive over to lariats road and then they sold the land to the builder and then I started buying the houses back (the houses down Len burns drive). Bought the first one for $10,000 and bought the last one for $150,000

Chip: But the old gin house its right down on railroad avenue, Uncle Pierce had that house

——————-

Emma: So is this house over here, the tucker house, is there a relationship with the Burns house?

Chip: No, that was the Brits. They lived there.

Sanford: Jenny Kofer

Chip: Jenny Kofer, one of the Kofer girls bought it and opened it up for a store and its changed hands a couple of times

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Emma: What is the history of how the family first bought the land?

(All men giggle)

Chip: The original land plot was hugh howell rd where all the sears and all that is and then they just started buying land. My great uncle and my grandfather started the bank of tucker in 1919. And they just bought when they were buying property. And they don’t really say how this started.

Sanford: Well when Patillo got started he bought the 400 acres on Hugh Howell Rd., Patillo Construction Company but that was after we moved here

Chip: This was all just farming land and cattle all around here.

Sanford: and cotton fields.

——————-

Emma: So your family was originally from here?

Chip: Yeah, original land here. When your grandmother, Alice Kelley, (talking to Sanford) was a little girl she could see the burning of Atlanta, the glow from atlanta, when she loved out on Hugh Highway.

Sanford: There were three sisters. One married a Burns, one married a Kofer, and one married an Offord, from Lawrenceville.

Chip: They all got in to building supply and country store. Thats what Kofer had but like i said Burns started the bank.

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Emma: How much land was here originally?

Chip: I don’t know, I’m not sure we ever got that.

Sanford: Oh god, yeah.

Chip: My grandfather was the banker so if somebody was on hard times he would buy them out.

Thats how we got a lot of property on Jimmy Carter, the gold course and all that stuff. Some of the arms that hit hard times.

Sanford: Yeah they kind of fell out with them because my daddy wouldn’t let anybody have any money unless they put up a cow or something. If you wanted $40 you better go in asking for $80 ’cause he would cut you down to half.

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Chip: You all can have this paper. {document: Profession, Business, Farming: Interesting Mixture}

Sandford: He may have stretched some stuff in there (all laugh)

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Chip: I was told that Henry Ford came down to look at the Stradivarius violin, he wanted to purchase it, and he liked it and offered the money and Uncle Pierce said, “Well if its good enough for the Fords its got to be good enough for the Burns.” And he kept it.

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Emma: What did the original owners think of Tucker?

Sanford: Always been Tucker.

Chip: There are several stories about how Tucker got its name. One of the stories was that one of the captains on the train was last name Tucker, but I don’t know the real story.

Sanford: Its the highest point on the seaboard railroad.

Chip: Another thing uncle pierce wrote was, “Tucker was under 7 lucky stars,” and it tells you all about the 7 streams. Uncle Pierce came up with all that sevens and elevens, that of Tucker.

 

Emma: Did you envision Tucker being as big as it is now?

Chip: I tell everybody Atlanta is a suburb of Tucker.

Emma: Can you tell me any more about the fires and reconstructions?

Chip: All I was ever told was the original house burned. And the other house was electrical, wasn’t it?

Sanford: Yeah, Mama was cooking lunch for the people out working in the fields. My daddy was in the bank and he wrote insurance on the side. He dropped his insurance where he could do work. We had wooden shingles. I think some sparks got to the wooden shingles, the new shingles were all out in the yard. The one out here {the original house} happened in the night like I said a while ago. My uncle had plaster drop on his face. He thought his mother was in the house. But she was in the other house with us because she would stay with us in the other house when he was late coming in.

Chip: This house thats here now, all the fireplaces they burned coal now or records (all laugh). Whenever my grandfather bought something he would buy it by the trainload and so they bought these Edison records and they bought a trainload. They stacked them all out in these houses, some of the houses around the property

Sanford: They built special houses about 3 stories high.

Chip: and they would burn the records in the fireplaces. {all laugh} And we still have, what,  2,000 in one of the houses

Charlie: And that was their source of heat?

Chip: Well they had so many of them

Charlie: Why did they buy the records?

Chip: Who knows?

Lisa: I’m going to ask a stupid question… but like records?

Chip: They look like a 78 record but they’re thick and they played on an Edison

Emma: Sounds like it would be a mess

Charlie: Well, you think they’d burn completely

Lisa: Great stories!

Chip: “His chief hobby was collecting Victor and Edison recording records. He now possesses over 100,000. From mathematical figures he has proven that if a person started playing the records at the age of 3, playing 8 hours a day he would finish when he was 75 years old, not playing the same record twice.”

Sanford: He might be right, i don’t know

Chip: “The cost of the records estimated to be about $75,000 yet they are not for sale”

Lisa: And no telling how many he burned.

Chip: Yeah, and like daddy said they had an old house that just held those records. In fact, when your dad died (looking toward Sanford), my grandmother gave it away to goodwill, they just brought out trucks and filled them out and took as many as they could get out of there.

—————

Emma: Tell me about the renovations throughout the years.

Chip: Well, like I said, in 1962 my aunt added on the kitchen area.

Sanford: Don’t you have some pictures of that?

Chip: All I’ve got is the old kitchen, the original kitchen. My aunt, Mary Alice, got the house because she didn’t marry until she was in her 40’s and Uncle Pierce wanted to make sure she had a home to live in so the house was deeded to my aunt.

Emma: Since?

Chip: Well, he died in ’70 so since then.

Charlie: Princess Grace of Monaco, she could double for her.

Chip: My dad’s sister, and she died in 2009 at 88. Daddy’s 89. So this house was really hers. And then when we started doing the estate stuff we ended up putting it in to a P. K. B. investments and that’s why its called P. K., Uncle Pierce, because they owned this.

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Emma: Tell me about the indigenous trees on the property.

Chip: Well, that was one of their big things was fruit trees and stuff like that. They would graft trees together to make another kind of fruit, and pecan trees, any kind of nut and fruit trees they really got in to and they would cross pollinate.

Sanford: Locus trees…

Chip: Yeah locus trees, persimmons.

Emma: Are any of them being preserved?

Chip: All the trees there now are staying here. The one here closest us is an original tree. They’re all water oaks. Pecan trees were all out on the back but they took them down but there are a few left in the back property.

—————

Chip: Mary Alice’s bedroom was connected to the screened in porch upstairs

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Emma: What do you think of all the stuff over there… the Walmart, Kroger, etc.

Chip: Its progress. It started off with the Walmart. We used to have an acre over there. It used to be a pond.

Sanford: There was an underpass that went under the highway 29

Chip: A lot of people don’t know there used to be a path, the cows would walk under and get their water, about where the shell station is now.

Charlie: The Kofers owned all that land. The pond was in just a wedge of it. Then the Kofers sold all their property and it got turned in to all that.

Chip: Yeah they had all these big houses that got torn down. Thats why I wanted to preserve this one. We’ve turned many a people down on this piece of land because #1 they said the house had to go and everyone wanted to buy it not lease it. And we were happy when NorSouth came in and wanted to save the house.

Charlie: Thats what did the deal. Everybody won.

Sanford: I lost! They took two of my houses down.

Chip: Yeah, $600/ a month. Ha! No more crawling underneath the houses.

Sanford: The house out on LaVista Rd. was my first one. I raised 5 boys in that house.

Chip: When we did the deal with the Starbucks and Walgreens, they wanted to come over here and make it bigger but there again the house had to be torn down, so that wasn’t going to work. The day that Brendan, Dave, Charles, and I met to talk about the deal… Brendan backed out of the driveway leaving and popped two tires and he pulled in to one of the little house and walked back up here and he said “Chip, I just popped two tires, do you know of a tire store around here?” and I said, “Yeah, lets go get them. Wilkerson, up here on the corner. Lets go get them.” We got up there and Wilkerson said, ” You go do your business and I’ll take care of your car.” Brendan said he walked to the bank, did his banking, dropped off some mail, walked over to Starbucks, and then walked somewhere else and he said, “That sealed the deal for me, I’ll called Dave, and said we have to do it. People can walk everywhere. I did my business, just walking all right here.”

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Chip: Uncle Pierce put in the ceilings, different designs, like in the great room had a star.

Sanford: The breakfast room has a moon and 4 stars.

Chip: Uncle Pierce didn’t have a middle name and he wanted one like everyone else and he chose K for Kelley and thats how it became P.K.

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Chip: The Burns’ don’t have any pictures because every thing burned. People would find pictures and send them to us so thats why we don’t have much.

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Sanford: My mother, we had two pianos, a baby grand and an upright. She got the upright out on the front porch by herself and tried to get the baby grand but got hung in some doors. It was about lunch time and the hands came up and they’d pull the doors right off the hinges.