Uncle Tom’s Books

T.R. Sweatman

Thomas R. Sweatman as a young man

My maternal grandmother’s aunt, Maudine Sweatman was kind of our family’s version “Auntie Mame,” always traveling to exotic places and doing interesting things. I have pictures of her in the courtyard of Versailles, riding a camel in Egypt and on a Soviet Visa she was given for a trip to the USSR in the 1970s, among many others. She married later in life than most women of her era and her husband, Thomas was a good bit older than she. Though I knew Aunt Maudine well, I never knew her husband. He passed away when I was 8 years old. From family stories I know he was a real estate investor and did quite well and that he loved Maudine a great deal, calling her “shugga” (Sugar). He and Maudine never had children of their own but were generous supporters of the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home.

When Maudine died in 1983, I received three of Uncle Tom’s books, all volumes of poetry:
  • Departmental Ditties, Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Early Poems of James Russell Lowell, published in 1900
  • Longfellow’s Poems, published in 1884.

Inside the front cover of the Kipling he wrote: “Began at 7:30 A.M., Tuesday, August 19,1912.” The inside the back cover: “Finished at 6:30 P.M., Wednesday, August 21, 1912.”

Inside the front cover of the Longfellow: “Bought, May 12, 1906.” The inside back cover: “Don’t you reckon the Heavenly Father sheds many a grievous tear! When he sees a soul sink into torment that to Him was once so dear?” He seemed to have liked Longfellow the best judging by the annotations, especially “The Spanish Student.”

I’m happy to have these books, not only because they are interesting and old but because they give a glimpse into the mind of Uncle Tom.

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