It was 30 years ago, but it seems like yesterday when Lee Allyson Thompson was rescued from nursery school one afternoon.
Her mom's car had flooded out during a Lowcountry rainstorm. The gully washer, it seemed, would prevent Thompson from getting home. Then, a man she knew appeared. He stood more than 6 feet tall and the flood waters were up to his knees.
It was her great-uncle, but that day, he seemed something like a giant.
Jacob S. Scott Jr. had sensed he was needed at the Charleston Early Childhood Development Center to pick her up.
“He came in and scooped me up and off we went in his old white Cougar,” says Thompson, a program manager with the city of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. “We went and picked mommy up and got back to (his house on) Sumter Street safely.”
Scott, or “Pop Pop Jake,” as Thompson called him, was born Dec. 25, 1925, and died May 29. His strong sense of duty, shown that day, will live in her memory and that of her mother, Patricia Brown Kindred, a niece Scott raised.
The women retell the story along with ones Scott relayed of his days as a Korean War POW and as a city of Charleston police officer.
“It wasn't until I was a teen that I really knew who he was,” Thompson says. “He would not just say 'I am this and I am that.'
When people, especially young people, sat on the front porch with him, he would talk about their lives, their families and more, Thompson says.
“He'd ask: 'What are you doing? Where are you going in life?' He always wanted to see young people do well.”
Scott was a product of his old-fashioned rural upbringing, says Kindred.
“He came from Sheldon. His father was a minister at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church. His daddy baptized him. He was educated at Paige Point Elementary School and Voorhees Vocational School in Denmark.
Scott was not shy about showing children the value of hard work, says Kindred, who began learning that at 10.
“When he was a police officer, he would look good in his uniform,” she says. “His shirts had to be starched and nice. He used to send them to the cleaners, but he told me he would pay me 15 cents each to do them. I would have to wash them in the bathtub on a washboard.
“One day I got 75 cents and I was rich! I went to the store and got some two-for-a-penny cookies and ate them up!”
When Kindred was older, Scott worked security at some of the concerts at County Hall that she attended.
“He would always station me upstairs and come back and check on me. My first time seeing James Brown was at County Hall. It was fun. He took me backstage to meet James Brown.
“My uncle was an encourager, and he liked to make you feel good,” Kindred says.
Still, he was a realist, who taught children that life would include situations they could not anticipate, but would have to deal with. They were situations such as his 21/2 years as a prisoner of war.
“He would tell stories about how he had to eat everything they gave him and that sometimes the food had worms in it,” Kindred says. “Sometimes his duty was to bury his fellow comrades, up to six a day.”
At 87, he continued to be a great example, both women say.
One of the last times Thompson saw Scott was for her birthday dinner in March. When he arrived at her home with other family members, she was standing at the door.
Scott addressed her as the responsible adult he perceived her to be.
“ 'Oh Miss Lee Lee, how nice you are to be here to greet us,'” Scott said.
Later, during their celebration at a restaurant, he talked to the younger ones at the table about who the singer Nat King Cole was.
When it was time to leave, he spoke: “Well, Miss Lee Lee, I have had my dinner. I have had my dessert. Now, it's time to go back to the Lowcountry.”
It was special, says Thompson.
“He enjoyed that dinner so much. I had to keep reminding him that it was just the Outback on Two Notch.”
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.