Writings of Thomas Jesse Robinson

Thomas Jesse Robinson was my grandfather. Many of my siblings and cousins have wonderful memories of sitting in Papaw’s lap and learning to read using the phonics-based reader he developed in a small-format loose-leaf notebook. Perhaps because I was younger or less disciplined or too strong-willed or just unlucky, I do not; I learned to read from Dick and Jane. My main memories of Papaw are of the ingenious popguns he made from pipe, dowels, and rubber handles. Papaw’s popguns wouldn’t last five minutes on the US consumer market today; they could put an eye out at 40 feet. But I remember spending hours in fierce popgun battles with my cousins, battles that inevitably resulted in a pattern of bruises on our skin that we proudly displayed to our friends and family.

I also remember Papaw’s sitting in a big pink chair in the corner of the living room at the house on Park Place in Montgomery where he and Mamaw lived (you’ll find Jackson Surgery Center there now). Papaw loved detective magazines and could read them for hours while a cacophony of children and grandchildren swirled about him.

Our cousin Marvin and his wife Karla recently bumped into the musty notebooks containing these Christian essays in his attic. Our best guess is that Papaw wrote them in the 1950s and early 60s. We suspect Marvin’s mother Elsie Mae (Mamaw’s and Papaw’s firstborn child) proudly saved them and then forgot she had them.

As you read these you’ll discover a well-read man of letters. I’m proud to become reacquainted with him after so many decades. I list these essays not in page-number order nor in chronological order (they’re undated, and no one remembers the chronology). Rather, I’ve tried to preserve the order Papaw himself used, thinking he must have had his reasons. That’s why “Simple Bible Essays,” styled as a preface or introduction to what Papaw may have intended to be a book, appears well down in the list rather than at the beginning. I’ve also retained his spelling of “sacrements” and “pentacost” even though we would spell them differently today. The term “Volume” is mine, not Papaw’s. His notebooks are unlabeled.

Volume 1

Volume 2

These are in a separate binder and appear along with some of Papaw’s homework assignments and typing exercises. I have elected not to scan the homework or typing exercises.

Volume 3

These are in a third notebook. Both the notebook and the paper appear to be newer and in better condition than Volumes 1 and 2.


1 thought on “Writings of Thomas Jesse Robinson”

  1. Lee, Marvin, Karla, thank you for reproducing Papaw’s writings.

    I remember him as “my good grandfather”, as opposed to the “bad” one on the other side of the family. In fact, the bad one hated the good one, every bit as much as evil hates righteousness. And, Papaw did try to be as righteous as he could.

    For several years, when I was between the ages of 7 and 10, I lived across the street from the back gate of Mamaw’s and Papaw’s house. It was my duty to go and tune their TV several times every day, switching among four stations, to the appropriate channel-of-the-moment.

    Many days, after tuning the TV, I would be sneaky, and creep down the wide hall to the Living Room and peek at the visitors with my grandfather. Men from the church often came to him for advice. Sometimes I could hear them asking questions about church issues, or marriage troubles, issues with children, or other problems of life. Sometimes they cried. Sometimes they hollered. Sometimes they threatened to kill the one who seemed to be the root of their trouble. Papaw sat in his pale tan chair, and listened.

    He never leaned forward in his chair, but always sat back, relaxed, with his elbows propped straight out on the overstuffed chair arms, with his hands positioned just beneath his chin and almost touching his chest, with his fingers interlaced; and he was completely still. As he listened, the only change evident was in his expression, and that change was slight. He would’ve been great at Poker, because he never let his face show what he was thinking, while men unloaded their anger and woes. But if a moment came when anger subsided, he would smile with the corners of his lips and his eyes. If the testimony took a positive turn, he would offer a full grin. But, if the anger returned, his expression resumed a state of perfect calm.

    Though he might’ve had a good Poker face, he did have one “tell.” When he was listening he was perfectly still. But, when he was thinking, processing the story he was hearing, he twiddled his thumbs. His hands never left their under-the-chin position, but he would rotate his thumbs about one another at a medium speed that never seemed to change, whether the topic was joy, heartache, religion, rage, or potential murder. Then, when he’d heard enough, the thumb-twiddling continued as he finally offered his opinion.

    I didn’t see and hear every visitor, but every opinion I heard my grandfather offer had an immediate calming effect. Everyone left in better spirits than when they arrived. Sadly, I don’t know what the opinions were. Remember, I was only a child who was being sneaky. But what I do remember is that Papaw’s wisdom was sought after. Reading his essays I can understand why. The man speaking in those essays IS the man I saw everyday. I will always be grateful that Thomas Jesse Robinson was my Papaw – my “good” grandfather.

    Andy Bozeman

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