I am T. J. Ramey. I am Kathryn’s youngest son. And the T. J. stands for Taylor Jules. Of course Taylor was after my grandfather Taylor A. Duncan. Jules was a compromise between my mother and my father. I didn’t think too much of it, but anyway I got stuck with it. K?
Victoria, my wife, and I, we’re living at San Antonio, Texas. I retired from Montsanto Company after 29 years. I kick around a little bit on the piano when I have an opportunity, which I haven’t in the last year, just about.
For some time I was building Appalachian Mountain dulcimers. I was taught by a master dulcimer-maker by the name of Robert Mize. At the time of his death, he had instruments in 35 foreign countries and one in the Smithsonian Institute. I have just about retired from building dulcimers. In fact I’m going to be selling the equipment that I have in my shop because I have my house in Canyon Lake up for sale right now.
I’ll let Victoria tell you about herself except I will say Victoria lost her husband of 46 years marriage very suddenly. And that was approximately six months before I lost Rene very suddenly. Neither one of us thought we would ever marry again. We both became involved in a grief-share program at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. John Hagee is the minister. We firmly believe that the Lord Jesus Christ brought us together. We have no doubt whatsoever of that fact. We’ve been married now for a year and three months [Jan 2014], is that right?
We are very, very happy. We have a very good time. I don’t know Spanish. Sometimes she doesn’t know English. But she does much better at English than I do at Spanish. So sometime we have a little miscommunication. We have to stop and figure out what we’re talking about.
Sister Patty. Brother Jim passed away in ‘95. He was 66 years of age. Walter—James Walter but everybody called him Jim. He was the smart one in the family. He had the PhDs, several, from Columbia. He was 66. He was born in ’28, I know that, but I don’t know the month or the day. Patty is February 17th and she was born, what, six years before me or five years after Jim because there’s 11 years difference between the two of us. And she’s 80 now. Well, I say she’s 80. She’ll turn 80 next month. She’s married to Butch Levien, has been for 25 years. No, more than that.
[Victoria]: She’s a lovely person and she said that she’d like to be here, but because of the condition of her husband, she cannot do it. He’s 89. They are always happy. You can see their smile in their face all the time. He is adorable and she is an angel.
Butch is a World War II veteran. He marched, at one time when the Third Army and his outfit joined Patton on the assault, on the attack on Germany, he was with Patton then. He said he was quite a guy.
J. A. [stood for] Jewel Atwood. He was J-e-w-e-l and he did not want Mother to give me that name. He said he never did like it. That’s where they compromised and came up with Jules. I thought that was worse.
I have a son Douglas and he is 49. And I have a daughter Pamala who is 53. Pamela has two kids. The boy is Tony and the girl is Lori Beth. Tony has two and Lori Beth has three. They’re in Houston. I don’t see them that often.
I do not remember meeting Birdie [Taylor’s first wife; T. J.’s grandmother], but I’m sure that I did. I was, I know, very small at the time. I remember going out and spending a couple of days with Will Reader, who I think was her second or third husband. She was married to a Fisher after Grandpa and I don’t know which one was second and which one was third. But I remember going out there as a kid and spending a couple of days with Grandpa Reader. I remember that I slept in a big ole bed in the same room with him. And I woke up in the middle of the night. He had taken off a white dress shirt and he hung it on the bedpost. I woke up in the middle of the night and it scared me to death. I thought it was a ghost. That’s funny how you remember things like that. I do not remember being around Birdie. I’m sure I was. I just don’t remember it.
That was somewhere out in the area of Fern Creek. Out in the country. Out in the sticks. Fern Creek, Kentucky. [Speaking to Victoria]: By listening to me, they know I was born and raised in Kentucky.
story told by T. J. Ramey to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]
Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).
- Do you recall other stories of Birdie with Taylor, Fisher, or Reader? Do you remember other visits to her/them?
- Do you recall other stories of Kathryn and J. A.?
- Can you share other stories of Kathryn interacting with her mother and/or father?
- Can you tell us other stories of Kathryn’s brother Paul?
- What else can you recall of Fern Creek, Kentucky?