Thursday, October 31, 2013


At the time he came home---I’m sure he probably came home that Saturday, but
I didn’t see him until Sunday.   I didn’t know the contents of the letter yet, but we saw each other every day that week---he probably had to hitch a ride into town, and maybe spent the night some at Bert’s.   We saw each other every night because I was working in the daytime.    And I was exhausted and about to come unglued.   Monday was the annual “M” night for all the Baptist churches in the county and we went to that, with Lois and her date, and rode in the back seat of her boyfriend’s car. 

We changed to my Dad’s car for some reason---he was working night shift at the shipyard, and he had parked it downtown to catch his ride to Mobile.  We just went and got it.   Apparently my sister’s date was not watching the road closely as we rode along, because there were several cows on the roadway and he hit one.   First thing we saw from the back seat was hooves up in the air.

Our first thought was what were we going to tell Dad, because we did not have permission to use his car.  (my question to Tawa---What DID you tell him and what did he SAY?)

“At that time in my life, I wasn’t caring WHAT he said!!”   (twinkly-eyed laugh).

My sister and I were scheduled to do a song that night, and we were late getting there.  But by this time I was not in any singing condition, and I asked the director to cancel us out, and the song was “Make Me a Blessing.”   (Tawa and I  just broke into song, finishing up with a very harmonious “. . . to SOMMMMME-ONNNE to-day!”)  

That was on Monday night; we had stopped by his parents’ home and they were on the porch and he introduced me to them.  I did not go into the house.   Tuesday night, we went somewhere with my sister and her date.    Wednesday night we went somewhere together, and we planned that he was going to meet me when I got off work next day at noon---businesses in town all closed at noon on Thursdays.  

The plans were to go to his sister’s there on Thursday, because he had had no time to visit with them.   GrandDaddy, Pammaw, Alice and JoeBob were going to be at her house, and that gave us reason to join the family.   He met me at noon and we went directly to Bert’s house.   She was not there; she was at work, and Pammaw was not physically able to cook for the crowd.    So there was a houseful of people---four children, Uncle Von, all the rest of us, and no noon dinner.   So I solved the problem---I volunteered to go into Bert’s kitchen and cook dinner for them.  Alice was at home doing Gran’s laundry, because he wore his uniform every day.

Uncle Von showed me where certain things were, for example, jars of home-canned green beans and so forth.   I’d ask him for this and that, and he’d go show me where it was.  Then he went back and joined the family in the living room.  Dad stayed right there by me; I don’t know if he helped, or if it was just for moral support.  Joe just would not leave the kitchen; he kept hanging around, just to see what was going on.  

I made some canned green beans and a pan of cornbread and stewed some potatoes and we all ate.   Dad and I cleaned the kitchen and washed the dishes.  My house was at the end of the street and no one was at home.  Mom was up the hill at the closed dormitory; our Fellowship had been meeting on our front porch, and she had gotten permission to use the building for the Homecoming the following Sunday.   My two youngest brothers were with her, while she
cleaned up the building, and the others were in school.    She had been working
at this chore for several days; Dad was at the shipyard in Mobile.   They had it understood that he would come there and they would work til dark before going home. 

We walked down to my house; the weather was fairly warm for the time of year.  We sat out in the yard in a swing under a cherry tree.   We sang and we talked about what kind of home we wanted, where each thing would be---so I went in and got a tablet and a pencil, and we drew our floor plan.    During that time,
he talked about Servicemen would marry the girl back home and would be killed in action, and that it wasn’t fair for this to happen, for the wife to be left without a husband, yet she’d been married.

Somewhere he made the statement, after he had explained all that, that he
would talk about maybe us getting married, but he just didn’t think it was
right, not knowing if he was coming back.  So I made the statement to him,

“So, I’m asking YOU to marry ME.”

If I was the subject affected by the risk, then I’d take my own risk, and I asked him to marry me.  And he said that he would not marry me before he asked my parents.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013


As I said, his sister lived on our block.  A Grand Ole Opry show was coming to town and performing at our school.  My sister and her boyfriend wanted to go, but I had to chaperone.   I did not want to go, because I was sewing myself a dress, and I so wanted to finish it because I wanted to wear it to work the next day.   I was such a perfectionist that if there was a stitch out of place, I had to fix it and make it so I felt good about it.  

But I was in a position that if I didn’t go, I’d make my sister mad, and if I didn’t obey my Mom, I’d be in trouble with her.  And if you got in trouble with my Mom---well.  SO---my decision was that I would go, and once they got seated, I would sneak back home and come in the back door and get back to my machine and they would not know it. 


Being wintertime, now, this huge potbellied stove was going in the auditorium.  I decided that I would stand there and get warm, and stay long enough that it was kind of safe to sneak back in at the house.   If I went back too soon, you see, it might be discovered that I was sneaking back in.  I had never met Aunt Bertie yet to know what she looked like, but there was this lady and two small girls.   When she saw me there at the stove---I guess the little girls told her who I was---she approached me, and there was this guy, this HANDSOME sailor that was with them, that just really swept me off my feet.   She introduced him to me as her brother.     (question from me, as I type---Tawa, you had recognized him as the picture by then?”)

“OHHHHHHH, YESSSSS!!!”   (Bold face type, exclamations, harps and choirs of angels).    We went through the formalities, no touching, no handshake, just “hello,” and she didn’t know why I was just standing there, so she invited me tO sit with them.  She didn’t have to beg me.  And to heck with the dress or slipping back home.  

So I sat with them.  The girls sat one on either side of him, and I was down on the other side of one.   Every so often, I’d work at getting a glance at him, and only a profile.   (I told Tawa she couldn’t tell me HE wasn’t looking back---I’ll bet he had his eyes cut so hard toward her he looked like a cat clock).

When the show was over, I went out of the auditorium with them.   He was over to my right side, with the niece still between the two of us.   I did not know at the time, that he kept glancing over at me while we were moving.   And so that ended the evening.

So naturally I told the girls when I went to work the next day that I had seen Prince Charming.  Before the week was over, maybe two days later, this nice little older lady came back to the shop.   And guess who was with her.  He made a purchase---he was looking for Christmas presents for the nieces and purchased a red sweater.  I can see it as if it was yesterday. 

He had to be back on base a day or two before Christmas Eve, and his Mom had already given me his address when she showed me the picture.   It was common
to write to sailors and soldiers during the War, and you’d get a list of five or six, and correspond. 

So I sent him a Christmas card to San Diego, with a lot of trepidation if I should be so bold, so I made a statement on the card that “maybe a card from home will make you feel a little less lonely for Christmas.   Merry Christmas.”  And my name.   Some background information that puts the statements together there---he was stationed in SD and was in steno school, taking shorthand to become a court reporter.     So he replied with a Christmas card, thanking me for the card.   And of course, his name---I can still see it.

Then he did me a phrase, a sentence in SHORTHAND.  I could not read it and did not know what it was and was still too shy to ask anyone what it said.   I didn’t want them to see my message, and didn’t know if I wanted to know it or not.  I replied to the Christmas card in the form of a letter---if my memory serves me right, his card did not get to me before Christmas.   Anyway, my letter expressed “Thanks for the Christmas card.” And a few statements about how our family Christmas was in Alabama. 

At that beginning point, we started corresponding with each other daily.  And it WASN’T in shorthand.    This was in January.  (I’m watching her, silver hair shining in the gleam of the breakfast-table light, hand to forehead, thinking up just the right sentence and order of events).


The last letter that he wrote me before coming home on Sunday, April 22, (I did not receive it until after we were married)---the content of this letter described how he loved me and that I love him and that each of us knew their love for the other.   I can see the point in this line of writing where this statement started: 

“I know that the Lord will work a way for us to be together.” 


and Moire Non . . .

Friday, October 25, 2013





This story was written down when Tawa came to visit us at our house in Indianapolis, in October, 2007.   She arrived on Saturday, October 20, and we had a wonderful time talking and laughing and going to Goodwill (three as I remember).  We went looking at the beautiful autumn displays which seemed to have waited just for her---October 20 is usually peak day of the season, but everything was delayed a bit that year, due to the long dry Summer.


          She traveled on several service calls with Chris, we all went to see the Dalai Lama at IU, and she and I went several places together, but mostly we sat with our coffee and talked.  We talked about old times, family gatherings, who was related to whom, what ever happened to whom, where her family had lived over the years, the church her parents established, and any and everything we could think of.    


The conversation was deeply spiritual sometimes, at others frivolous with peals of laughter; it was always memorable and enjoyable.   It was exactly what I had been hoping for all the years I’ve known Tawa---some time to just be with HER, and to share in her amazing presence and self.


          On the first day of November, we two had finished lunch and were still sitting at the table.   I knew that she and GrandDaddy had known each other just a very short time before they married, and asked her if she minded telling me the story. 


          She started talking, with smiles and gestures and pauses to find just the right word.   I sat for a moment, realizing this was a moment too good not to write down, so I scooted over to the computer chair, went to a blank page in WORD, and she began again.   I typed as fast as I could manage, asking her from time to time to stop for a wee bit so I could catch up. 


          The day just flew, and she just kept telling and I just kept keying in the words, with a few tiny asides to tell of her expression or her laugh.  It was one of the most delightful days of my life, and I couldn’t wait to share it with all her family.   A few little asides, for her reactions or a question, are in italics.


          So here is the story behind it all, all our own meetings and marryings, our place in the world and place in this family, all from a few months in 1944/1945, when they began their lives together and their own path so profoundly influenced ours.



During WWII I worked in a ladies’ dress shop  there in our hometown.   The shop where I worked was owned by two sisters and I was the other clerk in this shop.   Two older married women and myself---I was eighteen, a high school graduate.   So, if the other two clerks did not want to take time to follow that potential customer around to wait on her, I many times got to be “water boy”---the person who was told to do this and that.   After a time, I knew when they would just gesture, this meant get to the door.   The shop was not very big---narrow, and deep in length.  

Two weeks before Christmas, 1944, and very, very cold for Alabama.   An older lady came into the shop with a long heavy coat on and it fell Tawa’s lot to go and help her.  Back then if anyone entered the store it was expected of a clerk to go and help, even though I knew she wasn’t shopping for anything.   She was just getting in out of the cold.  

The reason she was in town was to meet the train.  Her husband was a truck farmer, and came in very early, so she had to come in early with him.  It was too cold to stay on the sidewalk, so she would go from one place of business to another to keep warm, and that’s what she was doing in our shop.  Her son was coming in on leave and his train was getting into town somewhere between 11 and noon.

The general businesses---motor companies and such, were on the other side of the railroad.   The shops were just like now.  She started at one end of the row, and worked her way down.   We were the last shop on that street, so there was not another place for her to go.

So I was the one chosen to wait on

this lady.   I approached her with

“May I help you?”  And from the very beginning, she told me that she was waiting for the train to come in; she assured me that she was not shopping, but just waiting.   In knowing that she’d be there for another fifteen minutes or so, I tried to make some conversation to let her know that she was not in the way and she started telling me about this son that was coming in for a week’s leave.  She was very proud and was telling me all

about him---high school days, Sunday School days, and everything about that little boy, almost from birth on.

She talked---mostly me listening, but I joined in enough that she didn’t have to feel like she was the only one talking.
She took a picture out of her purse
and showed me this wonderful son of hers, with all of his attributes. 
(Tiny pause for Tawa to say, “This is really our LIFE”).
So, when I looked at the picture, the first glance---as we would say today, “WOW!”   That was my first response to the picture.   It was SUCH a WOW that
I did not hand the picture right back
to her.  

I just kept looking at the picture,
 more so than if it had been in person, because I wouldn’t have looked someone in the face like that for any length
of time.   I really examined that picture---I looked at the chin, the eyes, the way he was wearing that
sailor cap.  Somewhere in the midst of this she told me that they had a daughter living in there in town, and she told me what her name was.  I said, “I know HER, because I’ve been going
by and getting their two daughters and taking them to Sunday School.” 
So there was a kind of unannounced bonding that took place between the two of us, because here was a Grandmother, and here were two granddaughters, that I thought the world of.  I thought they
were the cutest things I’d ever seen
and they lived on the same block that
we did.
And after telling the family history, she looked at her watch and
saw that it was almost time for the train---it was a Bulova; I well
remember it---I think that he had
given it to her before he left.   She had to cross the railroad track
because the station was on the
opposite side from the shops, and she had to cross before the train rolled
After she left, I was out there in the clouds.   I went back to the back of
the shop where we stayed.   We could
see the front---it was kind of a
lengthy place but no width to it.  The two girls were back there, just talking,
and I approached them.  I must have looked like I had swallowed the sunshine---I was just out there in a sunny orbit.   And I told them I’d
just seen the most handsome person I ever put my eyes on and someday I was going to meet him.  

And moire non,
At which time I hope to have mastered this cut and paste thing so that it's not all ziggy-zaggy down the margins.    

Thursday, October 24, 2013


We’ve been away for a time---an expected time, a dreaded time, a time of joyful reunion and of letting go of the dear Matriarch of our big extended family.  

Chris' Mom passed away this week, as we sped down I-65 in hopes of seeing her again, but alas.   His brother called with the news, we pulled into the parking lot of a donut shop and Chris called all the children.   Then we each ate a donut with sips from a shared carton of milk---a sort of numb, sweet Communion, and drove on.  

We arrived too late to speak again, but Chris called her every day---they say you should choose a husband by the way he treats his Mother, and she and I---we two later-life friends, eldest of the lot, have both been extraordinarily blessed.

I'm still so stiff I can hardly move, partly from stress and tension (though it was a FABULOUS time---I cannot tell you what a celebration it was, of a wonderfully-lived life), partly from standing rapt around the huge group of story-tellers gathered around that familiar old kitchen table the night after the funeral, and partly from riding those 1500 miles.

I'm trying to write down all the sayings and the doings while I still have them fairly fresh.   Some were so touching and beautiful, from the heartfelt “She’s with GrandDad in Heaven,” to “Do you remember the time . . .?” as a preface to yet another funny remembrance of such a witty, charming, ever-smiling woman, greatly loved and greatly missed. 

Every single child, Grand, and Great gathered, along with one tee-ninecy GreatGreat, who wandered amongst us in his just-walking little gait, stepping right out onto the path begun so long ago..

Moire non, for wisps are floating away every second, fleeting as air. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013



Camera snaps titled:  2013, Summer.


My usual view of the percolator until I can drink at least half of it.

Stash of sunglasses and keys in some of Caro’s HALL dishes.


Some wonderful old dishes Chris came lugging home in a sack, from a roadside flea market.   They make the table look like you’ve spilled out every crayon in the Box of Eight.


We love the make-your-own soup at the Formosa---you just take a bowl, choose what you like from the array of ingredients, and they simmer it for you.  Chris  likes a bit of seafood in his, and mine is always like a bowl of wilted salad in a little broth.  With maybe a pot-sticker or two for garnish.


Miss Effie, who has been with us through four houses, having been retrieved from the dumpster at the first one.   She came with no sticks, and so she sits, nesting for all time, as she weathers and fades and breaks under the spell of time.   Tree loves her, and cuddles her close, to keep her head from leaving her fragile body as she rests trustingly against his verdigris.
Every Easter, she sits on a trove of small pastel plastic eggs, which disappear miraculously one Spring night, having hatched and made their way to K-Marts and garden centers all over town. 

And then one day, you'll be checking out a new garden hose, or a new bird feeder, and you'll catch a glimpse of a familiar arch of neck, or a sly look from a knowing eye in a bright pink head, and you'll know you're looking on Miss Effie's fine offspring---your own grand-flams, off to their new homes and exciting adventures.

The entrancing ceiling at The Cheesecake Factory.   The pastels just make me smile.

Sweetpea's arsenal of shoe-horns.   She had longed for one for ages, and would appropriate Ganner's nice real-horn one, so when she asked for one for her birthday last year, she got the green one in her big sack of goodies.   The others have just appeared---perhaps a reverse- grooming version of lost socks.
  They have myriad uses:  Digging sand, swordfighting---though we do the salute-and-swish of fencing every time, with a hearty “En Garde!” before we fall to.  And a sorta cute aside, I looked it up to see what the proper name for the salute is (salute), and found the info from a charming fencer named Epeecurean.  


 It's six-in-three---yes, six---the hook on the end of the green one is oh-so-nifty for getting things off high shelves, and it fits exactly over the tops of cereal boxes stored above the stove, to tip them out into my waiting hands, hoping the last person closed the box.    These tools are handy for retrieving stuff from under stuff and behind furniture, for paddling our boat down the river, for stirring cauldrons and raking up the garden.  
Plus, we could dress a centipede in nothing flat.


Caro’s marvelous Blueberry Compote over Homemade Vanilla.


One of a set of sherbet-chairs which have brightened the patio this Summer.  Can you tell I love pastels? 

The cluttery corner with a slipshod array of STUFF.  Moire non about the cabinet, and what I should do with it---I’ve longed to paint it cream and fill it with all my pastel dishes.   Would that be a sacrilege to a handmade family heirloom from 1954?


Perhaps the last summer for the grapevines---they’re on steel cables, but are outgrowing the yard.   I DO love to watch the little grapes swell and grow, and now I’m watching the raisins, becoming in the October sun.


Carrying that last cup off coffee out onto the Cracker Barrel porch to enjoy in the soft Summer rain.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Goodbye to an excellent craftsman, brilliant repository of military lore, and sublime writer.
   I DID have to look up a lot of the  technical stuff, or ask Chris calibers and weapons and battleships and acronyms as I sometimes plodded along, but he was  PHENOMENAL at his work.
  And if all he'd ever done was to whisper "JACK RYAN" out into the Universe one day, that would have been enough.