The following are reminiscences of the Cloverdale, GA community by Brody Hawkins, who was born there in 1927 (d. 1998) and lived there all his life. These are his memories of the families who lived in Cloverdale when he was a child.
When I got here, we had three doctors in the community, Dr. Middleton, Dr. Gardner and Dr. Bunk Payne. We used Dr. Middleton. Middleton and Gardner were jealous and would run most doctors out. They let Payne stay because he treated venereal diseases. He doctored them with mercury compounds. The treatment was as bad as the disease, but that was all there was to treat it with. Also, Payne would doctor our livestock. Back then all the doctors did that.
Dr. Spencer Middleton and I go back a long ways. I’m known to most people as Brody, but my real name is Ernest Middleton Hawkins. I was delivered by Dr. Middleton, who told my daddy that the delivery was free if he would name me after him.
When I was young, Dr. Middleton came by our house on his way to see Ben Hogan’s wife. She was having her eighth child. He lived on the place now owned by Charles Morgan. Ben lived about a mile off the main road. The branch was up and Daddy told me to go with Dr. Middleton and carry his bag. When we got to the house, we could see old Ben sitting back in the house. He chewed tobacco, dipped snuff and smoked a pipe all at the same time. Hound dogs came bailing out from under the house and started biting us. Doc said, “Son, hand me that pistol grip shotgun out of my bag.
I handed it to him and he started shooting dogs. Ben came out on the porch and said, “Doc, would you just kill all of a man’s dogs?”
Doc said, “If you don’t get these dogs off of us; I will shoot you, too.”
He shot dogs as long as he saw them. He had a 410 over and under 14″ barrel gun. That family later left here and I have never heard of them again.
At that time, over half the people couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the doctors. Dr. Middleton said he never sent a bill. They paid if they could. Dr. Gardner, however, would go to see people about paying. He would say, “Hey, fella, could you help me a little on your bill?” If they said, no, he would ask them about giving him a calf or a hog or something. He once took ten gallons of sorghum for a baby case. Dr. Gardner delivered six babies for one family I know and they never paid him a penny.
I remember going to get Dr. Gardner at two in the morning to deliver Buddy Howell’s baby. Doc lived in the house where the Coopers live on Cloverdale Road. He told me to put my mule in the barn and I rode with him in his car. I remember going to the post office and seeing Doc Gardner pulling someone’s teeth while they were sitting on the fender of his car. Doc would come by the post office and get his mail and he would throw the junk mail in the old pot-belly stove unopened.
Dr. Gardner got killed when a train hit his car at the railroad crossing just below our house. He lived alone and they had a hard time finding any relatives. When a committee went in to inventory his property, they found $57,000 in the house behind the piano.