Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Joan on November 24, 2008


Joan is second of our seven children born to my husband and me while I was still in my teens and he only 4 years older. I had a lot to learn. But no parents of any age could have welcomed a more beautiful baby into the world nor cherished a child more.
Words and /or pictures are inadequate to tell how much each of our children fills my heart to overflow with love and how much Joan has a special place in my heart as she did in her Daddy's heart. She calls her blog, Daddy's Roses. There are all kinds of stories to tell about Joan as a child and as such an beautiful and outstanding adult.

Joan was a rising senior in High School when we uprooted her from Griffin High School, a small city school where her friends, including a “boy friend” lived. We moved to Ellijay, a small mountain town in North Georgia. If you have ever had to move a teen away from friends you know Joan was not a happy camper.

Ellijay was a town we had never heard of in 1958 when my husband, an ordained Itinerant Elder in the Methodist Church was sent to pastor a church there. The word, “itinerant“ in the Methodist Church then as now means “traveling” and pastors then even more than now were ask to “travel” to any place where the Bishop and Cabinet thought would best serve the overall church. Without much notice, but with committment to Christ and the church we were assigned to The Church in Ellijay.

As an aside, an old friend from Charles home town was a quaint never married nurse who was the epitomy of the Hollywood stereotype of “Old Maid. When our wonderful "Miss Weaver" heard we were moving to Ellijay she remarked, “I've heard they sure mash a lot of corn up there.”
The Annual North Georgia Conference moving day was a "fruit basket turn over" day. One pastor family moved out of a Methodist Parsonage and another moved in, sometimes just minutes apart. So with our moving van (actually a truck) following, we were finally on our way to a town we had never seen.

We had lived in Griffin four happy years so we had a week of sad good byes and “ going away parties” and packing and cleaning. Moving out of a parsonage and getting it ready for another family to move in immediately is work, work, work!

So Charles and I, committed to the Itinerancy, were happy to finally be on our way. The younger children were excited about “moving to the mountains and kept saying things like, “Mama, are those our mountains” as we drove nearer and nearer to a place which did finally become "our mountains and our home town."

Finally we got to the Ellijay city limits. Charles, in his own exuberant way said, “The population of Ellijay has now increased by nine.“ Joan, who had been very quiet finally spoke, “It has probably doubled.”

But Joan adjusted great to her last year of High School there, was elected treasurer of her Senior Class and even had the fun being on the Homecoming Court and a cheer leader for Gilmer High. She , along with all of us made life long friends with some of the finest people this world ever produced.

Monday, November 19, 2007

You Could Have Heard a Pin Drop

The stories belwo, whether factual or not, bears repeating. God bless America.

When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of 'empire building' by George Bush. He answered by saying, 'Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.' You could have heard a pin drop.

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part,including French and American. During a break one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?'

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: 'Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?' You could have heard a pin drop.

A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, 'whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.' He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'

The American Admiral replied 'Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Ameri cans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.' You could have heard a pin drop.

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on. 'You have been to France before, monsieur?' the customs officer asked sarcastically. Mr. Whiting admitted that he h ad been to France previously .. 'Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.'

The American said, 'The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it.' 'Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France !' The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look.
Then he quietly explained. 'Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in '44 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passpor t to.' You could have heard a pin drop.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

College Girls in 1904

Wesleyan College, at
Macon, Georgia
was the first college
ever that was chartered
to award degrees to
It was a Methodist
school chartered
in 1836 as the Georgia
Female College.

The present name of Wesleyan College was adopted in 1919.

As a lifelong Methodist, I knew much of the history of Wesleyan College.
But only recently (2008)
was given the photo of the college graduates
in 1904, which includes
one of our Chambers family
cousins, Blanch Burch Harp.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour
(posted at 12:58 am on November 11, 2009 by Doctor Zero )
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, the terrible slaughter of the First World War came to a formal conclusion.

The day we now commemorate as Veterans Day is the quintessential heartland holiday, growing to honor all of America’s veterans at the urging of a shoe store owner in Kansas, in the early Fifties.

Over the century since a Serbian assassin’s bullet ignited a global conflagration that blasted and burned fifteen million casualties, the West has learned it is very good at war, but still having trouble dealing with peace. One of the reasons is that we often forget to render proper honor and respect to our soldiers.

American soldiers are not just the guardians of peace… they are its architects. They build it with the invisible bricks of atrocities that did not occur, because the murderers were sensibly afraid of tangling with them. They add the mortar of countless acts of kindness and mercy, performed in war zones and disaster areas. The elites of the Third World learn about America by watching CNN. Many of their people see their first American flag riding on the shoulder of a uniformed man or woman carrying relief supplies, or a medical kit. Some of those poor people have taken bullets from their countrymen, and been dragged to safety by United States soldiers who don’t hesitate to do the right thing, even when that American flag becomes a target. No wonder the people of the world generally like us more than their elites.

It is possible to achieve the peace that pacifists dream of, through disarmament and capitulation. This is the peace of subjugation, the peace of the grave. It secures the comfort of the elite, by allowing aggressors to make endless war on their citizens. It is a peace that burns hot and rancid in the bowels of a nation, leaving it unable to meet the gaze of those it abandoned to tyranny.
Soldiers are the only reason you can have peace and freedom.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of 2009, the wounded of Fort Hood will remember their fallen friends, and wonder how a man wrapped in enough red flags to turn him into a bloody mummy was allowed to infiltrate their base. Those wounded and dead rely upon us to ask the questions their superiors in the chain of command cannot comfortably answer. Calling the injured and dead of Fort Hood “victims” perpetuates the blindness that compelled those men and women to face the enemy unarmed. They are casualties of war… and as far as I’m concerned,
Sergeant Kimberly Munley, who took their cowardly attacker down, is a veteran today.

The terrorist enemy doesn’t have a formal chain of command that can sign an armistice, they don’t muster on clearly defined battlefields, and they’re quite happy to benefit from the efforts of deranged fanboys. If we don’t stand behind our professional soldiers, and give them the tools to do their jobs now, we will all become soldiers before this enemy is defeated.

Somewhere in the world tomorrow, an American soldier will ring in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day with gunfire. Another will arrive home after an honorable tour of duty, perhaps passing brothers and sisters in arms saying farewell to their families. A mother’s tears will fall on a letter from the far side of the world. Old veterans will spend a beautiful afternoon watching children play beneath the flag they raised at Anzio, Guadalcanal, Incheon, or Khe Sanh. Young veterans will put their lives on the line, to give the children of Iraq and Afghanistan a chance at a future free from murderous evil. A little girl will playfully salute a uniform she will one day grow up to wear. A pilot will land a machine that was impossible in his grandfather’s day on the heaving deck of an aircraft carrier. The USS New York will
ride at anchor, close to the site of the fallen buildings whose bones became her steel.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Living on Hazel Street.

My cousin Aubrey Simmss told me he remembered, as a boy of six, the very night in 1922 when my father told his father about his decision to sell his farm and move to town. My father learned he could get a job in one of the Porterdale Mills and move his family to Porterdale, a mill town near Covington in Newton County Georgia.

Aubrey said his Dad replied, "Uncle Wilson, I will go to share cropping before I will move my family to a Mill town." Aubrey told about his father's continued refusal to move his family and have his children raised in a mill town when cotton farmers all over the South during the Great Depression and the Boll weevil epidemic were giving up on trying to make a living in farming.
Apparently my father, a hard working and intelligent Christian man, was in failing health and thought this his only option. I am told he worked in the Old Porterdale mill until he became completely disabled. He was bedridden for over a year and died when I was nine.

(The Old Porterdale Mill) Cousin Jason Simms (the son of my father's sister, Margaret "Maggie" Baird Simms) did somehow manage to send most of his children to college. BTW, I called him and his wife "Cousin Jay" and "Cousin Annie." they were nearly as old as my mother.

Aubrey and I both grew up proud of the same grandfather. Colonel William Baird was a confederate Army Officer. If I recall correctly, William Baird was a lieutenant in the Confederate Army. In the devastated South the few returning wounded soldiers were proudly called "Colonel."

In retrospect, I think the reluctance to live in a mill town was a "Baird" thing. I do not know whether or not it was a good move, but it was the only one available to my family and many others in the southern states. The textile industry moved South looking for less expensive labor and found it in the war-torn southland part of the United States.
My mother told me one day she felt she had arrived at "the jumping off place" when they moved into one of the mill houses "behind the mill."

Mama often reminded me I came from "good stock, " meaning our ancestors had been owners of their own housing. Her well educated cousin, Opal Ficquit, was the wife of the Newton county school superintendent and drove her car out to visit Mama often. Mama never drove a car and neither we, nor most of our neighbors owned a car. By the time i became a teenager, more cars were on our roads.

Opal Lee(college educated)and Ieula Dick (my mother) two of the granddaughters of Rev. Bogan Mask, a properous farmer (for the times) and a Methodist preacher, had been raised on neighboring farms in Fayette County. My mother and her siblings were the poorer family, raised by a widowed mother, Elizabeth Mask Dick. Mama's father, Charles Dick, had died of pneumonia as a young man when Ieula was only 18 months old and her mother was pregnant with her eight child, a son.

I was interested a few years ago when Ferrell Sams, a well known Georgia writer and medical doctor from Fayette County, published his book, Epiphany. In the book he has Bogan Mask as a preacher who bought a slave for the purpose of granting freedom to him. This had been a family story.

Mama was well aware that the country and the world at that time, not only discriminated against people of different races but classes as well. In our egalitarian society, we would do well to try to put these years in the context of widespread illiteracy and worldwide serfdom. People born into a world of class and race divisions accept it as a part of life. (I will write later about how Charles and I began to take some licks for our approval of integration and our work for the breakdown of segregation between the races before it became a politically correct posture.)

When I was a child, we were taught in our civics classes in school about the three economic classes: Upper, Middle Class and Lower Class. I remember one day when this unit came up. One little boy raised his hand and said to the teacher, " We are the Middle Class?" My goodness, we knew people who were "poorer! The teacher paused and tried to find words to get around the label. I remember well knowing the teacher thought we were a part of the Lower Class. They call it "working class" now.

It seems that a family must have lived in the Porterdale Textile village for some time prior to renting a house more to their liking. After a few years we moved to Ivy Street, which was in front of the Osprey plant and had newer houses and was considered a better neighborhood.

(Osprey Mill) My brief memories of life on Ivy Street include a painful bee sting and a new pair of shoes. We seem to have always had a porch swing that would seat three people. I remember sitting on the swing on our Ivy Street porch when a bee sting sent me screaming to my mother in the house.

I also remember getting a new pair of black patent leather slippers while we lived on Ivy Street. I was walking down the street holding Mary's hand. I must have been about four and Mary fourteen. I could hardly walk for looking down at my new shoes.

Apparently my delight with the new shoes embarrassed Mary or perhaps she was afraid I would fall down. Anyway, as we walked, she kept reminding me to stop looking down at my shoes.

We lived on Ivy Street until a larger house became vacant on Hazel Street which ran parallel to Ivy just one street over. Much of my memories of Porterdale center on Hazel Street. Our house was one of the "new houses" built between the older houses, so it took up much of the yard space. But there was still enough yard for mama to have flowers growing everywhere and room for children to play in the back alley or front unpaved road that saw few cars and an occasional horse and buggy.

We thought Hazel Street the perfect location. We called it "our corner." Wonderful neighbors whose children were loved and disciplined: Albert and Blance Fincher's children were my playmates - Hazel, Dorothy and Lamar. Mr and Mrs Parnell and my good friends, E. F. Parnell and Mamie Miller. The Hornings with Guy, Sybil and Hazel, The Moores (Obie and Grace, Obie Jr. and Billie.) The Martins, Capes, Loyds.

I remember especially being close neighbors to Blanche Fincher (Hazel, Dorothy and Lamar's mother) and Mrs. Parnell (Mamie Miller's and E.F. Parnell's mama.)

Mrs. Parnell also had two older children by an earlier marriage: a son, Henry and a daughter, Lois, who married Woodrow Rogers. Henry had married an older woman, a "grass widow." What is a grass widow? A divorced woman (of which there were few in those days) was said to be a "grass widow." Henry's first wife was very slim and flat chested and had bright red hair that was said to have been “dyed.” They had no children and later divorced.

As I remember, some of the women in the neighborhood accepted Henry's divorce from the "grass widow" without problem because he was, they reasoned, "not Biblically married in the first place." Today we would consider this discrimination (a word we probably had never heard then), but I think the harshness or gossip toward Henry's first wife was that the neighbors felt this "older, more experienced woman" had taken advantage of the teenaged Henry.

Later, Henry married a pretty brunette his own age. I remember her name was Maggie. Henry and Maggie, in due time had a son. When i was eleven or twelve, I would occasionally go with my playmate Mamie to visit them and play with their beautiful baby boy.

Other neighbors were the Hornings, who had a son, Guy, and two daughters, Hazel
and Sybil. Mrs. Horning's mother "Grannie Brooks" lived with them. Grannie Brooks
was known in the neighborhood as devoutly Christian. I remember her as a boxlike short woman in long starched print dresses with her long gray hair pulled back in a large bun.

One day Grannie Brooks got very sick, and they sent for Dr. Baxley and Mama.
When Mama returned, I heard her tell my older sister that Grannie Brooks's bowels were impacted, and Dr. Baxley had "picked it out of her." Grannie Brooks had said, "Dr. Baxley, pray for me." Dr. Baxley brought a little levity into the sick room when he replied, “Grannie, you pray and I will pick." This is definitely more than you want to know! It is amazing what children hear and remember!

Hazel Street provided a slightly closer walk to school, church, post office and the few stores in town; one grocery store and one drug store. The Pharmacy had a soda fountain with ice cream cones going for five cents. However, in those days, nickels had to counted. We did not often patronize the soda fountain, It was a special treat on occasion.

One thing I remember buying at the grocery store was a package of six small cinnamon rolls for five cents. As delicious as my yeast coffee cakes are, they do not compare with the taste of those rare cinnamon rolls of my childhood memory.

One day Mama sent me to the store to get three cans of some kind of food. I keep thinking it was salmon. Was salmon ever just ten cents a can? I started up the hill home with the three cans of food and sat down for a few minutes the steps of the Methodist church we attended. The steps to the church came all the way down to the sidewalk that went down to the store.

I counted my change and realized the clerk had given me five cents too much change. I would have to go back to the store to give the man his nickel. When I handed the man his money and told him he gave me too much change he laughed and told me the cans were three for twenty five cents.

One of the benefits of not owning much is the simplicity of moving. Sometime after my father's death, we moved down and across the street from number 32 to 45 Hazel Street. One just scrubs the floors and any spots off the wall of their new residence. After it is all dried, my brothers carried (or toted) the beds, table and chairs down to the new place. There may be a need to drive another nail on the back of a door to hang the few clothes.

The Capes, Loyds, Browns, and Martins were also our long-time neighbors , along with the Finchers, Parnell's and Moore's on "our corner" of Hazel Street. We referred to this section of town as "our corner."

If we had owned the house, the block or the whole town, at least from a child’s point of view, it could not have been more ”ours” nor more “home."

Oh, the benefits of lack of ownership!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Get out and Vote: Womens Right To Vote

This is the story of voting 90 years ago! This is about our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who could not vote only 90 years ago.

It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

Some women were jailed for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

Authorities chained the hands of Lucy Bains to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

Dora Lewis was hurled into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. (Alice Paul) When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited.

Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote. History is being made.