Dec 3, 2006

Remembering Grandpa Atwill

On my maternal side is William Evert Atwill who I had to call PeePaw. I had an uncle that was only 6 years my elder and cried when I called his mother grandma. So we had to call them meemaw and peepaw. I always hated that! All my friends had “grandparents”. I was stuck with mees and pees. But now I am old enough and have broken away somewhat from that side of the family, I will take the well deserved liberty to call Bill Atwill: Grandpa. To say Grandpa was mischievous when he was a kid is a gross understatement! He was a onery cuss. I like to think I take after him. He was Scottish. Story goes that when the first two Atwill brothers came to America, the authorities miss-spelled the last name of one brother. Being true to the Scottish tradition, he was too tight to spend the fifty-cents to correct the mistake, therefore a whole clan of Atwells sprang up. But as I understand it, we are all cousins.

Grandpa and his family grew up in Iberia, Missouri, a little town north of Waynesville/Fort Leonard Wood area. Great Grandpa Atwill was the town blacksmith and all of his sons learned the trade. Later, when the new contraption called Model T became popular, great-grandpap Atwill started the first Ford Agency in that town. It is still in operation today, or at least was the last time I was there. The Atwills sold out to the Eads family and then it became Eads Ford Agency. However, one of Grandpa’s brothers (Oral) married the Eads daughter, so the dealership is back in the Atwill family. I always wondered, did he love the daughter and got the agency in the deal, or did he love the agency and was stuck with the daughter? I’ll never know.

In addition to Grandpa Bill, some of the names of the Atwill boys were Oral, Earl, Floyd and Spurgeon. Teri has posted more info on her blog. Check on the link. Grandpa had a million stories of his youth. I’ll try to remember a few and pass them on. So I better do Grandpa’s blog in several parts.

The Principal’s Model T.

All the Atwill boys hated school and everybody associated with it - especially the principal. They burned down 3 schools, and those are just the ones they admitted to. Halloween appeared to be their favorite time of the year. They never had time for the treats, just the tricks. Since they were all crack mechanics, on several Halloweens they would dismantle the principal’s Model T Ford. Then tote it to the roof of the school and re-assemble it. The principal, of course, knew who the guilty parties were but was never able to prove it. He refused to hire Atwill Ford to get the car down. Instead, he got a crane and military personal from Fort Leonard Wood to lift it off. The whole town always turned out for the occasion. I can just imagine the school yard filled with people sipping their hot mulled cider, spiked coffee or ‘shine from a Mason fruit jar and eating fresh gingerbread while watching the troops on the school roof. They were probably making bets on whether they would drop the car and would it start after it was safely on the ground. What a wonderful time to be alive!


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