Gardner Clifford Tobitt
Clifford and Zula Mae tobitt Raised a family of 5 during the depression in America. They had
Three girls and two Boys.
Gardner Clifford Tobitt was known as Cliff, Toby, Poncho, but to all his grandchildren he was
known as PaPa.
Cliff was a son of a Harold Sidney,which was in the Timber business. Cliff worked in the
sawmill at a young age. At 10 years old, in the mountains near Monteagle, he had an
accident and sawed of several of his fingers. Being in the early 1900's he was far from a
doctor. However they were able to sew his hand in a way that he was always able to use it
better than a man with all five fingers. He told me a story of how the men at the saw mill
made a small wooden coffin and they had a service for his fingers. He laughed as he
recalled how nice the men had been to him.
Zula Mae too had a few nicknames, Duce, Granny and to all the rest Nanny.
Cliff and Zula Mae lived in Tullahoma. Cliff told me the story of when he met Zula. He was in
town with his father. And he passed by her house. She was on the front porch and he stopped
to talk to her. He told me that he knew right then that he would marry her. Their first date was
at the Carnival. On that date he won her a Spanish doll, which she always kept.
Clifford went from Timber to being a Taxi driver during WWII. Later in life he became a
Preacher. He traveled all over the US to preach.
Zula Mae made all of her children's clothes, canned food and put in a full garden each year.
She had a habit of writing down in a journal the weather information of the day and who
came to see her. Her journals went for years.
Clifford loved Animals and he had just about every kind as a pet. He did wood working, in
spite of his hands and made beautiful furniture, lamps and all types of small objects.
Clifford and his family did not have an easy life. By most standards they would be classified
as poor and yet they had a very rich life. There was always food on the table and they always
found away to purchase the things their children needed. The radio was a main form of
entertainment and then there were the stories.
I am unsure if scientists have mapped the gene of the story teller, but if they had studied this
family, they would have a wealth subjects to study. Story telling was a major pastime for the
children and if only half were recorded we would have a small library of tales.
Clifford was a diabetic. He took insulin most if not all of his adult life. In his 70's he started to
contract Altzheimers. Though he mainly knew who everyone was, he was very unclear of time.
There was a time he entered the house and asked Zula, "where are the babies?"
Being in their 70's there were no 'babies'. but after some conversation she found out he was
looking for June and Ginger. And he was under the impression that they were still children.
He seemed at times to be locked in a time in the past.
All in all Clifford was gentle, however there were times where he overpowered Zula and his
oldest Son Wayne and was confrontational. Then hours later Wayne would observe his father
patting the air. When Wayne would ask, "Daddy, what are you doing?" Pa Pa would answer "I
am petting my dog Knick-Knack." Or Wayne would see him cupping his hand. PaPa would
answer "I found this little bird and he is just sitting in my hand."
Though fully imagining the animals, I am convinced that again he was locked into a time in
his mind. PaPa was petting a real dog or taking care of the little bird.
Knowing this, I was always content that he was locked in a happy time.
Zula was a smoker. But in basic good health up to the last two years of her life.
Though Clifford and Zula died years apart, both died the day before they were to go to the
Nursing home. Wayne had always promised them that he would take care of them and he
kept that promise. He took care of each of them until it was physically impossible to do. In
both cases, they became ill and needed medical care and both stayed in the hospital until
the doctors had to release them. Still not able to go home, they required professional help. In
both cases, Wayne was in the process of signing the paperwork to admit them and they both
died before he signed the final paper.
Wayne though heartbroken at loosing them, always considered himself blessed. Blessed that
he had them for as long as he did and that he didn't have to go back on his promise.
Wife Zula Mae
Wayne, Loretta, Ginger, June, Johnny
Gardner Clifford Tobitt Family
|Zula Mae Jones or Tree|
|John Elliott Tobitt Story or Tree|
|James Tobitt Story or Tree|
|Thomas Tobitt Story or Tree|
|Clifford and Zula Mae Tobitt