Tuesday, November 20, 2012



Okay, Thanksgiving might not be the best time to stalk and attack strangers, but I'm giving it serious thought!

This past month, I re-caulked my shower.

Don't EVER do that!

Oh, you'll see ads and U-tube videos showing how "easy and fun!" it is to do.  Don't fall for it!  Don't do it!

Here's my story (and I'm sticking to it).

Our shower was leaking.  It got so bad that we had a puddle in the basement.  I kept smelling mold or mildew and eventually Ray (my husband)  reported dampness in the basement.  We could turn on the water in the shower all day long with no leaks.  But if we took a shower, it leaked!!

What's up with that!

I patched a little spot in the shower and thought the problem was solved.  But, NOOOO.  Next shower, drips in the basement.

So I watched a video about re-caulking the shower.  Ah!  That didn't look too hard.  Easy, if not fun, right?

I sat cross-legged in the shower floor for HOURS each day (I am not exaggerating) digging out every particle of the silicone caulk.
I cut and dug and pulled out caulk with needle-nosed pliers.  I rubbed and wiped with alcohol.  I scraped the tiny bits that clung to the shower.  Whoever built this house should be shot! I discovered that the sloppy builder left big cracks between the bottom and side of the shower (in some places) and put gobs of caulk in there.  All the instructions on the caulk and videos say silicone caulk WILL NOT STICK TO ITSELF - YOU MUST REMOVE EVERY VESTIGE OF THE OLD CAULK!
You could have performed surgery on the shower floor by the time I finished.  Except I wouldn't have let you mess up my clean field of operation!
Then I let that rascal dry for days!  We put a heater and fan in there and waited.  And waited.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the alcohol has WATER in it and it stayed damp inside the cracks forever. I check by sticking a Q-tip in there every few hours. Finally I began to caulk.

I put painter's tape down, c a r e f u l l y drew my caulk along the seams, s m o o t h e d the caulk and removed the tape.  It looked great!

Then I waited several days for the caulk to "cure".  No way was I going to jump the gun and wet my caulking prematurely.

I checked my caulk daily.  I got down on my knees with a flashlight and examined every inch.  To my horror, I discovered what could be a couple of tiny, microscopic lesions in the caulk!  Oh No!  I felt dizzy and sick.  What could be done?  What could be done?  My mind echoed with threats of silicone caulk NOT STICKING TO ITSELF!  "It will stick to everything, except itself," the video guru intoned somberly.

The little cracks might not leak, might not go all the way through, but how would I know?  Back to the computer - trying to find some way to fix things without suffering through all the agony again.  No help.

I called a friend who was socializing with friends who were plumbers.  He passed on my questions and concerns to his friends.

"Just go ahead a lay another bead of caulk down," the nice man said.  "If it's totally clean, it will stick."

Yea!!!  "Okay, I told my friend, I'll take his advice, but get his address before he leaves, because if this doesn't work, I'm hiring someone to take him out!"

My friend passed on this threat and added, "Isn't she sweet!?"

Well, it worked!  So far as I can tell there is no leak from the bottom of the shower and the caulk is sticking perfectly.  BUT - - -

There is still a leak!  After the shower is over, water is pooling on the floor in front of the shower!  About a quarter of a cup of water comes out, apparently from under the shower!  What the heck!

I'll keep you posted on the repair.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

And if you know how to hunt down the makers of the "fun" videos, let me know -- I'll take care of THAT little project.  "Do it yourself" - my motto. 

Monday, March 12, 2012


We have the hit TV series, "The Walking Dead" and the follow-up show, "The Talking Dead." Now we have . . . .


Just for fun -- and it WAS fun, I began thinking of a dancing zombie and spent a while picking out a song and deciding which dances from the zombie's youth would be best. I used "The Zombie Walk" for each chorus. Then we have the Twist, The Skate, The Swim, The Pony, The Monkey, and the Shimmy. There's a little surprise at the end.

Thanks so much to all the people listed in the credits who took a Sunday afternoon and worked, helped, and laughed their way through the ordeal -- I mean fun.

Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!

Nicole did such a great job of makeup, I wanted to show a few stills from the video that Misha was able to get.

Below is the raw footage, if you want to see it. Holly cut a little of the video, as well as making it black and white for the "Security Tape" look. She did a great job of making it work.

Thanks to all who helped bring this zombie to life! Love you all!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"O Holy Night"

I admit that I laugh out loud at "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and love "The Hannuka Song" by Adam Sandler. But one of my favorite Christmas carols is "O Holy Night."

To hear Celine Dion sing "O Holy Night" please click the link below:

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
Noël, Noël,
O Night, O Night Divine.

The soaring musical composition is by Adolphe Charles Adams (1803-1856), a successful composer and friend of Cappeau's .

I love most of the Christmas songs, but "O Holy Night" touches my heart in a totally different way from most of the others.

Last week, I was listening to the song while I drove down a country road to work, and I think we all listen closer to our music when we are isolated in our cars on lonely highways. I realized that this song PRAISES God and Christ's birth in a whole-hearted, breath-stopping way that makes you really feel it.

Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was a wine "Commissionaire" in a small French village in 1847, when the parish priest approached him to ask for a poem for Christmas mass. Though not known for rigorous church attendance, Cappeau said he imagined what it would have been like to be in Bethlehem for the birth of Christ.

He pictured the humble worship of the shepherds and the soaring praise of the heavenly angels. I, too, could imagine people and angels dropping to their knees and lifting their arms as the words "Noel, noel" bursts from their mouths in praise and gratitude for this wonderful gift. I believe that the writer, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, experienced worship while writing these lyrics. I envy him that exquisite spiritual moment.

Later in his life, Cappeau drifted from the church. I don't know, of course, whether Cappeau turned from God or only from organized religion. But I wonder about a man who could imagine and write such thrilling lyrics about the birth of Christ. Obviously, just like all the rest of us, he wasn't perfect.

I often feel inadequate as a Christian. I'm willing to work myself nearly to death in high temperatures and humidity when I'm involved in Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief, yet am tongue-tied in the face of grief and loss. As a vessel, do you sometimes feel shallow, inept, broken? So do I.

Maybe we should ponder Cappeau's story. Surely he struggled with the same questions and fears that we do. He was not perfect. Yet, when we listen to the awe-inspiring lyrics that this fragile vessel left for us, words that take us back to the very beginning of our faith, we may be comforted by thoughts that we, too, can serve our God.

(All art by Holly Harbin Simpson, my daughter.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Five-Year-Olds' Party


At the nature center party for 5-year-olds I saw . . .
12 children wiggling,
11 mommies talking,
10 siblings fighting,
9 babies screaming,
8 grannies dozing,
7 dads on cell phones,
6 flies a-buzzing,

5 rem - i - nesc - ing gramps!

4 nursing babes,
3 wet pants,
2 naked kids,


Thursday, November 24, 2011


Olive will land on my arm and take food from my hand. LOVE IT!

As a nation and as individuals, we have had some struggles this year. But, as the old song goes, "I still think the good things outweigh the bad."

I am thankful to have my two part-time jobs. I love working with children and animals and that's just what I do. I also have friends at both workplaces - Cochran Mill Nature Center and Central High School in Carroll County, GA., who make going to work each day a pleasure.

Below are some photos of the things I give thanks to God for each day.


We had two "Circle of Life" events this week at Cochran Mill Nature Center. Sadly, our Great Horned Owl, Kenda, left us on Wednesday. Kenda enriched the lives of thousands of children (and adults) who viewed her up close and heard her story. Rescued from a barbed-wire fence, Kenda lost one eye, but lived at CMNC for years in comfort and dignity. When I worked in her enclosure, it was thrilling to feel the whoosh of her great, silent wings as she flew over me. We miss you, Kenda.


On a happier "Circle of Life" moment, our Emperor Scorpions are having babies! Lots of babies! They average one to two dozen per event. In the photo you can see the white babies on their mother's back. They sort of come out of her chest and crawl up. She defends them until they become independent. Even scorpions are cute when they are babies!



I give thanks for all the baby animals that I helped feed, who survived and were released. My little buddy is (as far as I know) still living on the CMNC property, maybe married by now with a family.



Pearl visited my school and the students loved her! This is one of my favorite photos, showing the first tentative touch. This student became so enthralled with Pearl that I had to hide her!


As you might know, we lost our little Silvie this summer. She was a tiny poodle who was 17 years old. Still miss her. But I am grateful for Michelle, who is 13 years old. She is loving and, though she seems to miss Silvie, we believe she is enjoying being an only child (the cat doesn't count!).


Lastly, but mostly, I am so grateful for my family. My husband is doing pretty well, healthwise. My daughter, Holly, is happily married and working. My Aunt Helen is 88 and doing very well. Above is a photo at Helen's home from this summer.

I am grateful for my three step-children -- Danny, Steve, and Darla -- and their families, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I am thankful for my "Russian son" Misha and his lovely wife and 2 children. Also for my "Texas daughter" Heather and her husband and 3 children, and the several kids who lived with us at times throughout our lives and blessed our home.

I am also thankful for my entire extended family, especially my nieces, Angie and April, and their families.

I am also most grateful for living in the United States. I pray for our nation daily.

I hope all of you have many things to be thankful for this year and in the years to come. I wish you health and contentment, safety and peace. May God bless you.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Here is another story from my collection for the book of memories of girls growing up in the South. Although she is 83, Jan's, mind, unlike her body, is active and agile. She is the sweetest lady in the world, gentle and funny, and an admirable Christian.

(Recorded on 2/3/05)

I grew up on a farm in south Alabama. The country was coming out of the worldwide Great Depression. We’re talking about 1928 – 32 & 33. I was born in 1928; six months later, in summer, I had polio.

As I remember, my parents said I cried for 3 days and nights and I don’t know why they didn’t throw me away. But when I stopped crying, they noticed that when they put me down, I would play with my hands, but my feet wouldn’t move. I couldn’t kick. They took me to the doctor, a pediatrician. I’m surprised back then they had a specialist. Dr. Kannady, in Dothan, Al.

We lived 18 miles from Dothan, in the country, and Dr Kannady, my father said, took a match and pocket knife and trimmed the match off sharp. He tickled my right foot with it and my foot wouldn’t move. And he said, “ This child has polio and she will never walk.” This is what my father told me, years later. He told them some things to do that might help me.

One was to give me sun baths every day. They would put me on a pallet outside in the sun after my mother took the oil from peanut butter and rubbed my foot and leg. Agnes, my sister, was 10 years older than I was. She would have to take me and put me on the blanket or pallet outside. She said I was so slippery one day from the oil that she dropped me. We had a family hound dog and he would lay out there in the sunshine with me. He was protective and stayed with me.

Agnes said I would have to stay ½ hour. She would watch me as I flailed my hands and they would time it. When it was time to come in, I must have been really slippery. She said we had the driest peanut butter she ever saw. Back then peanut oil would come to the top in the jar. You were supposed to stir that oil into the peanut butter, “but all that oil went on you,” Agnes said.

I didn’t walk until I was 2 ½ or 3 years old. Mother told me I was holding onto a stool one day, and I pulled up and my mother told my father, “Coleman, that child is going to walk someday.” It was a prophetic statement because when I was around 4 years old, my daddy and mother took me to Warm Springs, GA, from south Alabama.

That was a long trip back then. We did not have a car, but my uncle, Phillip Killingsworth (mother’s brother), was a contractor and we thought he had money. Well, he could own a car. He and his wife, Aunt Cora, took my daddy and mommy, their little boy, and my smaller brother, Bobby and me to Warm Springs. There were eight of us in a Model A Ford. We were sardines!

My family took me to Warm Springs for help. It was so expensive! I am told my parents were very discouraged because the only thing they could afford was a short leg brace with an ugly brown high-top shoe for the right leg. That didn’t seem to help much. But my father never gave up. He was a determined man and my mother had a lot of good common sense. She was the educator in our family, too.

When I got to be five years old, she said, “We knew we couldn’t send you to school if you didn’t have more help. Because my foot was so deformed I walked on the side of my foot. And falling! I tried to walk so I could go outside and play. I always wanted to be where the action was. Mama would beg me not to go outside because I had permanent scabs on my knees. I remember falling and seeing the blood run down my legs (I was around 5 years old).

By this time, the March of Dimes must have been established (established by Franklin D. Roosevelt as "National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis in 1938). My father found a children’s hospital in Mobile, Alabama that would take me and help me. I don’t know how he found this out. The first time I went there, a lady named Ms. Collins took three children to the Mobile Infirmary in her car. She had a lot of energy; her hair was pulled back in a neat, stylish bun. She always carried a dish pan because often we children would get car sick. Bless her heart. I don’t remember ever vomiting, but I remember helping her hold the pan for other children. It was traumatizing for me because I had never spent one night away from home.

Did I mention that I was number five in a family of seven children? I had a sister, Jeanette, who was 14 months old when I was born. As we went through childhood, we were the same size and people thought we were twins. Of course, I never went far from home; we had no car. Mobile is 200 miles from Dothan. The first time I went to Mobile, I thought we were going around the world! That 200 miles is a long way when you don’t have any of your family with you. The first time Ms. Collins took me and that night we got to the hospital. I remember about 5 beds in my room. We were in a ward, and I remember homesickness. I sucked my thumb on my right hand and that was my salvation – that and sleeping.

Next day, Ms. Collins left and didn’t take any of the children with her. I don’t remember how long I stayed the first time, maybe the whole summer. It seems like I always went in the summer. That was the first of 15 trips I made to Mobile. The other times I went alone on a Greyhound Bus. My father would take me to Dothan to catch the bus and mother would pack my little cardboard suitcase.

The first time I went to Mobile, they didn’t operate on me. The anesthesia they used then was ether. It’s not used any more. They didn’t put me to sleep the first time, but several people held me on a surgical table. They pulled my foot around and erect. It was called a dropped foot and a curvature. Of course, it was so painful they had to hold me and they put a cast on it. Back then they were experimenting. They left my foot, which was very painful, in the cast with it pulled around straight. When they took the cast off, it went back to its old deformity.

They would send me in a taxi from the hospital to the bus station and I would always sit on the front seat because the driver was responsible for me. The next time I went to Mobile, I went on the Greyhound Bus. Each time I would go my father would console me. He didn’t mean to lie, he meant it, saying, “The next time you come home Honey, you are going to wear shoes like Jeanette.” That was the incentive I had. I would go with the hope that one day I would have feet and legs like Jeanette, because she always had the prettiest feet and legs. She is an old lady now and still has pretty feet and legs. But that never happened to me.

The second time I went to the hospital in Mobile, the doctors performed an amazing surgery. My heel string was shortened by polio – my heel would never go down on the floor and I walked on my tippy toes on that foot. The first surgery I had, was a heel string graft (hamstring) They took sheep tendon and cut my heel string and grafted the sheep’s heel string so my heel would extend to floor when I stood. It was amazing, remarkable, the most successful surgery I had. It worked wonderfully.

Many times, I would go to the hospital for evaluation or observation or wondering what they could do for me. One time they operated on my ankle and braced it with sheep bone. That time they sent me home with a cast on and evidentially they sent me home too early because I remember the cast bleeding through. When I got home, my foot started swelling and my toes began to turn purple. My daddy got to a phone (we didn’t have a phone back then) and he called the hospital in Mobile. They told him to get me back as soon as possible. That was the only time that my mother went with me. She said she could not let me go alone on that bus in pain. I was so elated that I had somebody to go with me that it didn’t matter if I hurt. I wanted the world to see that I had my mama.

But I didn’t know what was ahead of me. I thought she could see my friends there and I would show them that I had a mama! When I got there, they brought a container with vinegar and eye dropper and cut a trench down my long leg cast .They let me drop the vinegar down that trench to soften the cast. I guess they thought that occupy me and keep me out of trouble. I thought that mama would stay or that she and I would go home together. But the next morning mama left and I had to stay so the doctors could take the cast off, check the incision for infection, then put on a new cast. Then I would go home. I don’t know how long I stayed, but I must have stayed another two weeks. They seemed to send me to Mobile every summer so I wouldn’t miss school.

I started to school on time. I remember my daddy buying a little red wagon. The hospital would send me home without any crutches. Even though I had a cast or brace, I never had any crutches. My sister, Jeanette, would put me on her back (I was as big as she was) and take me outside so I could see my brothers and sisters play. I never knew why I didn’t have crutches when I was a little girl.

We had to walk a distance for the school bus; it didn’t come to our house. My brothers and sisters, Jeanette, maybe Ed, they would pull me in that red wagon to meet the school bus. I guess I didn’t do much walking after I was at school. I don’t remember that much.

But they helped me in Mobile. After surgery, I had a short leg brace and a hightop shoe. I never knew why I had a long leg cast and short leg brace. I think the worst problem I had at that age was my foot that was turned over or deformed from having polio.

In all those visits, I never had one visitor; I was so far from home. One day a class of elderly Sunday school ladies came to visit the hospital. They looked old to me. I don’t know how old they were. One lady came over to my bed and said, “Little girl, is there anything you want? Can I send you something?” And I said, “Yes, ma’am, I want a coloring book and some crayons.” To this day I love to color. She said, “I’ll send you some”. Made my day! I would wake up and say, “The coloring book is coming today.” I had told my mom not to write to me, “If I see your handwriting, I’ll cry.” I thought it was better not to read any letters to make me cry. So I didn’t expect any letters from home. I turned home off, and turned my thoughts to what was happening in the hospital.

If didn’t have surgery, I would help the nurses. I could work pretty well. I was not confined some of the times that I was in the hospital. Every day nurses would take us out under the large oak trees with Spanish moss hanging in them. The ice cream truck would come by, and each child would eat an ice cream (there were wheel chairs for those who couldn’t walk).

Now I looked for the postman. I was waiting for my coloring book and crayons. The postman was happy guy, came in whistling. He would throw the mail onto the beds and we would catch it. He came and I got no coloring book. I kept thinking, “Maybe she’ll send the coloring book tomorrow.”

Then one day the postman came in and threw a brown paper-covered package on my bed and I tore into that package and it was crayons and coloring book! I opened the first page and it was already colored! I thought, “She has sent me a used coloring book, second-hand!” Then I looked down at that page and started crying because somebody had signed it and it was Nette (my sister, Jeanette). Then I grabbed package and saw it was addressed in Mama’s handwriting. And it was God. My mama sent the coloring book and crayons and I had mixed emotions. I was so proud of that coloring book and angry with that lady who didn’t come through. I really learned right then, at an early age, you never promise a child something without following through. I never have forgotten that lady who promised me a coloring book. She probably forgot it and never thought of it again.

Other things happened there that God did even though I didn’t know the Lord. One time I was so homesick and I told the other children. A girl said, “I heard that if you hold a Bible and let it open randomly and if you make a wish and hold your hand on the verse “And it came to pass,” it will happen. I got a Bible and opened it. It seems like I had to open it several times before I found “And it came to pass.” I said, "I wish to go home on Tuesday." It must have been Wednesday or Thursday of that week and I was going to give it several days to happen. I sort of forgot about it, but Monday morning, somebody ran into the girls’ ward shouting, “Needham Hunt has company! His daddy is over there.” Boys stayed on one side of the hall and girls on the other side. Needham was a teenager and I was a little girl, but I think I had a crush on him. We got in trouble together sometimes. We got in our wheelchairs and raced down the hall. It was a semi- basement – I could look out the window and see feet walking by, but couldn’t see the whole person. The hall had a decline -- we could go down fast. But we were not supposed to do that. But we would slip around. I raced with Needham and I knew that Needham’s home was not far from mine. I wanted to meet that man. I was forward (I have never been shy anyway). “How long are you going to stay?” I asked Needham’s father. ”I have to leave tomorrow.” he replied. “I could go home if someone could take me, I hinted. ”Would you take me home with you, I live in Headland.” Needham stayed, but there I was available, hitch-hiking, never seen the man before. He took me home and as we rode, I thought about that wish several days ago on the Bible. I didn’t pray, I wished, but don’t you know God was in that? He knew the desire of a little crippled girl’s heart. And it says in the Bible, “God knows the desires of our hearts.” Tuesday night, a car pulled up in front of my house. They weren’t expecting Jan but I was home. It was night when we got there. A full day’s journey – a long drive. Wasn’t that something? I really believe that my faith in God started way back then, when somebody told me to find a Bible. I know that it’s not true, wishing on the Bible – but that’s what happened anyway.

I don’t know how many surgeries I had but the ether was taking its toll on me. One time in the recovery room I woke up screaming for my father. (He was my friend. See I have memories of him swinging me in a swing on the front porch. He would put his feet up in the swing and hold me in his lap. I loved to smell him – he smelt like Prince Albert smoking tobacco. He rolled his own cigarettes. He would let me hold his can of smoking tobacco -- a tin can -- and I would put my nose in the can and smell the tobacco. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn out to be a smoker, but I didn’t.)

I thought I was hollering, but my diaphragm had collapsed. That’s why I have a speech problem today. Recently - -2 yrs ago, I had an appointment with an orthopedist. He and I talked and I asked him, “Dr. Edwards, why don’t they ever use ether now?” He said it is too dangerous. I told him about the time I had my 3 or 4 surgeries and was screaming with no sound. He said my diaphragm collapsed –“you almost died”. Well, the ether was so terrible I felt like I was smothering. He said ether cut off a patient’s oxygen for a time then eased up on it once we were asleep. He stated, “It is so dangerous you won’t smell it in a hospital again.’

One time I came home and my nerves were shot. I had nightmares and, even in daytime, mama said I would cry out. I would see an old woman who would “yah yah yah” at me. I guess I was hallucinating. My mother told daddy, “She’s had all she can take. She’s not going back to the hospital.” I needed another surgery to stabilize my ankle, to bring my toes up and stabilize it. Mother had common sense. “This is it. Fifteen times she has had surgery. We are not going to send her off.’’

I had to wear such an ugly shoe! When I was almost in high school, I came home from school one afternoon, and said, “I am tired of this ugly shoe. I’m never going to wear it again.” I took off the shoe and threw it hard on a pile of corn and it made corn start falling down. I guess I walked into our house barefoot.

So Daddy bought me some penny loafers. He had to buy two pairs, because my right foot was two sizes smaller than my left one. I wore size 6 on the left and 4 on the right. I would take white gauze and strap my ankle up and put on socks. That’s how I went through high school. I believe it was good for me because I used no corrective shoes, stick, or crutch. I had the best time in high school.

. In 11th grade I went out for cheerleading. I liked to perform and was not shy. Before my diaphragm collapsed, I was in every play in school. The teachers had me singing, acting, and everything, because, I think I was good. After my diaphragm trouble, I started stuttering and hesitating and having speech problems. I went to speech school. At high school try outs we had to perform for the student body and they voted on us.

Jan's story ends here, but she went on to live a life filled with love and accomplishment. She had no children of her own, but "took in" an Asian boy and she and her husband raised him with such love that they not only have him as their son, but his wife and children who loved her husband, T.W., and love "GranJan" immensely.

Note: From T.W. Snider (Rev. Snider, now deceased, was Jan's husband. He lived -- in excellent health until the very end -- until 1 day past his 100th birthday) on Jan’s condition:

Jan is in a wheelchair at all times, except when in bed. However, she has a “lift” on the rear of the car which carries the chair. The chair is electric. Polio finally got her back and legs and is now working on her arms.

When one has polio and the germs do their job, the go to sleep in the spine. Then, 60% of the time, they awaken long later and do much harm. Now they are after Jan’s arms. I can’t cook because of ignorance. She can’t because of inability. So we sit and wait and the food comes to us!

Monday, August 1, 2011


This is another chapter in the book I am compiling about girls growing up in the South. Ella was my mother's aunt, half-sister to mother's mother, Elizabeth, who is mentioned in the story. Aunt Ella is gone now, but lives on in the love and memories of her children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren as well as her other family members. She had a remarkably clear head when she wrote this and I wish I had more of her memories. Ella was born in 1909.


Dear Niece,

Thanks for writing and the pretty card. Hope your cold is better. I haven’t had one so far this year and am so grateful.

Of course, I don’t get out any more unless someone is with me to keep me from falling as I don’t have any balance and I can’t hardly hear. I don’t even talk on the phone as I can’t hear. I am now 92 years old (written in 2001), have been lots of places, seen lots of things. I am proud of that and have my memories of them.

I will try to answer your questions as best I remember them.

I grew up mostly in Belmont (N.C.). Our house was made of wood painted white with 3 bedrooms, a living room, and a sitting room, a kitchen and dining room in one end of the kitchen. No inside bathroom. Took our baths in a big washing tub. Like we did our clothes. Used a wash board. Boiled them in a big black boiler. Used 3 tubs of Ranch Water (rinse water). My mother was not well. So a black woman did the work. Most times, all 6 of my sisters and 1 brother worked at the mill. Dad worked at Union Store. We always had plenty of food and Mom was a good cook and a loving mother. I never heard Mom and Dad talk mean to each other. And all of us got along good together.

We all had good friends, which was at our house lots. There was some kind of entertainment in the park on Saturday night. If it was raining, Dad would make a big oyster stew and the older sisters had their friends at our house. I didn’t eat oysters, so we had ice cream, too. Them was the good old days.

Well, I was nervous as a child, so I didn’t do too many bad things those days. Only got 2 spankings from Mom. One of them was calling Marry (sp) and Lula a devil. They caused me to get the spanking in the first time. They was always fighting each other over something little. People thought they were twins and they didn’t like that.

In the first grade at school, I did not like my teacher. She was a old maid and very hateful. I got sent to the principal’s office several times. I did not get a spanking from him. He would say, “Honey, you can dust my desk and straighten it up for me.” He knew how my teacher was. He was a young crippled man and so good. We walked to school just a short distance from our house. So was the town of Belmont.

When I was young, I had lots of friends – a happy childhood. A loving Mom and Dad, 5 sisters and 3 brothers and we loved each other. My home was happy.

Well, I played basket ball and we were called the Bloomer Girls as our bloomers was black satin. Took 3 yards of cloth to make them. White blouse. And I liked to play Hop Scotch. Hide and Seek.

I had a nice boy friend when I was 14 and loved him very much. And almost married him. But just too young.

When I grew up, I had nice boy friends. My Dad said, “Do your dating at home.” And we had a nice living room to entertain them. We had a Victrola, so we listened to music or just talked. We had a big fireplace in it which burned logs. Dad always built a fire in it and said, “When the logs burn up, it’s bed time.” So we would slip out and get another log. Couldn’t leave a fire going as it might set the carpet on fire.

If I did go anywhere in a car, my brother, Bill, and his girl friend was with me and they got married one week after I did. I was just 16 when I married. He was a good looking you man, but he liked (lacked) 3 months of being 18, so both of our Dads had to sign for us to get married so young. Was married on Valentine’s Day – 16 on January 9, married February 14. That’s just too young. But lived together as long as he lived. O, we had our ups and downs, but stayed together. Had one son Stan Baker. Have 4 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-granddaughter. There is 5 generations in my family.

When I lived in Belmont, I had lots of girl friends to play with and we was so happy. And, of course, I claimed some little boys as sweethearts. So did the other girls. I never forgot my friends there. The ones I loved there are all dead now. And most of the ones I had in Lenoir (N.C.) are, too. I never forget a friend.

One time my older sisters went on a train to Edgemont and stayed in a hotel there. Well, I wanted to go, too. But I could not. I cried but I didn’t get to go anyway. It made me so sad, I wished I was older. Now I would like to be younger, but I can’t get that, either.

We had a 5-piece living (room) set, a center table, plenty of room and gas lights. Carbide gas, which was made at home when we moved to Lenoir from Belmont. Dad built a 7-room house.

I was took to church when small. The Lutheran church and joined at12 years old. My Mom always went to the Lutheran church and Dad was raised a Lutheran.

I cannot tell you much about your grandmother, Elizabeth. She was grown up when I was small. She was a very pretty young girl. I did know her in later days and I loved her. Went to see her as often as I could. And all the rest of my sisters and brother – I loved them all.

Had a good home, plenty to eat, a loving Mom and Dad, sisters and brothers. One brother I’ve never seen. He died before I was born and a little sister died. She was the baby of our family. She was so pretty. I was 6 years old when she died. She was 3 years old.

When Grandma Wise died, I was 4 years old and Clyde was 2. But I remember how she looked. Mom took Rosamay, Clyde and Cathern (sp) to Lincolnton (N.C.) to Aunt Jesse to see her. It was pouring rain and we went to the grave in buggies. It was cold, too.

I was named after the only sister Dad had. Her name was Ella and Mom’s sister’s name was Jane. So my name is Ella Jane. I have a coffee cup an old lady gave me when I was 6 years old and the cup was old when she gave it to me. It’s over 100 years old now. It’s precious to me. That’s the most I remember about things.

It was sweet of you to write me.

Write me again. Tell Holly (Beth’s daughter) hi for me. I like the pictures she draws. She is a pretty girl. Tell all hi for me. I love you.

Hope you can read this mess. I can’t hardly read it.

Old in years and looks,

But young at heart

At 92 Love, Ella

P.S. I do not remember too much about what I done in those days. Am sure I wasn’t a little angel.

Best I can do.