Small Town Life for a Widow in the 1970's:
My mother, Eula Dick Baird was born in 1885, She married Wilson Baird in 1903 and was widowed in 1932. In the 1970’s she was living alone in a duplex in a small Georga town and enjoying her life fully. Why not? (Picture of Ieula Ann Dick Baird at age 17)
It was a time when women were addressed as Mrs. or Miss. Mrs. Baird's nine children were married and had families of their own but they visited her often enough. She was always glad to see them and never complained with any delay.
Although her income was small, she had enough money to pay her utility bills, enough to buy any groceries and medicine she needed. Surprisingly, Mama also had enough money left over to share and/or to loan to any friend or neighbor.
She had electricity, a telephone and indoor plumbing; luxuries that were not available to her in her early years. She had a television, where she would always tune in to hear Billy Graham and other pastors when their preaching was televised. She kept up with the daily broadcasts of The Guiding Light soap opera and read religiously the Bible, the Christian Advocate and the daily newspaper.
Her interests included politics as well as church news.
The Atlanta Braves! Mama was their biggest fan. She had learned baseball rules and lingo. She surprised me one day by telling me about another team "shuting the Braves out?" I checked with my husband, this meant the Braves had not scored a single run in that game.
Although, Mama had a hearing loss, she turned the television up loud and listened until the game was over, even when the game continued after midnight. One time a close neighbor ( her duplex neighbor) complained, “Mrs. Baird, I cannot sleep with your television on so loud?” Mama told her kindly, “Mrs. Mathis, I am sorry but I cannot hear it if the sound is turned lower and I am going to watch the Braves the few days they are on television.” Mama then went on to explain to Mrs. Mathis how she herself had worked at night for a time and how she could sleep soundly in spite of any noise during the day by training herself to shut out the daytime sounds. She explained to Mrs. Mathis how she could shut out the sounds and go to sleep being thankful "that Mrs Baird was enjoying the Braves."
As the youngest daughter, I visited my mother probably more often than any of my siblings. But she would tell me not to neglect my own family or my own church to visit her that she was fine. But I would visit and while there, do any shopping she needed. But I did not worry about her too much because she had a “come to the door Grocery man” and a "come when called doctor" as long as she lived.
Mr. Barkley owned and operated a small Grocery Store between Porterdale and Covington. I was visiting one day when he stopped in to see what groceries Mama needed. He came into her open and unlocked back door as he knocked, sat down on a chair near Mama and said, “Mrs. Baird, what do you need today. Mama replied, “Mr. Barkley, I’m about out of apples.” Then she added, “I need a sack of flour and some orange juice and co-colas and a few eggs.” Apparently he already knew how many of each?
Later in the afternoon, Mr. Barkley was back with the groceries, lifted them out of his box, sat them on her kitchen table and gave Mama the bill. She counted out the cash and paid for her groceries.
Mama also had a long time doctor, almost as old as she. This was great as Mama did not drive. I am told that she had been quite adapt at handling a “horse and buggy but she no interest in buying a car nor learning to drive. Dr. Sams made house calls and was always ready to come whenever she needed medical care.
As Mama was getting to the end of her life, I had told her to please call day or night when she needed me. She call one day and said, "Ruth I need you." I went down immediately from Atlanta to her home near Covington (about 45 minutes) and took her to the hospital in Covington.
Mama did not live but two more days. As my sister Louise and I stood at her bedside, Dr. Sams said with tears in his eyes, "I am sorry about your mother." Mama died on Dec 7, 1973. She would have been 89 on March 6.
Dr. Sams, her doctor died only 4 months later. Mr. Barkley, her grocer, had a fatal heart attack a few weeks later and his grocery store was closed.