A few more Legos

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Liberty Bell – incredible detail! The crack fascinated me as it always has in pictures!

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Supreme Court – replica is almost 10 feet long.  It took 3 Lego Masters 450 hours to assemble.  And, yes, that’s the grandson in the picture! He’s still into Legos a little and prefers the large pieces that have gadzillion pieces and take all night to put together!

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The “back door” of the Supreme Court.

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This happy little quintet was in a glass case making a good picture impossible.  Some of the little people were actually the Simpson family!

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Jaydon was excited about the Lincoln Memorial since he’s visited it. Likewise, I was excited to see the Old North Church (One if by land, Two if by sea) since I’ve visited it.  Part of the fun was finding the exhibits in the mall!

 

Letters to Mamie

The first book I picked up at the used book sale was rather old looking and in the loosely defined section of biography/history. It appealed to me because I had just seen a picture of a young Mamie and Dwight Eisenhower during their brief time in my city, plus I love reading old letters. I flipped through the pages, but put it down.  After all I don’t like to read about war and times of war.  Before I checked out I went back to this section just to make sure I hadn’t overlooked a treasure that I needed.  I looked at the book again and decided that since it was only a dollar I should go ahead and give it a try.  I’m glad I did as it was a good read.

Between June 23, 1942 and October 28, 1952 Ike wrote 319 handwritten letters to Mamie; she kept every one of them.  In 1972 she gave them to her son, John S.D. Eisenhower, and told him to use them as he saw fit.  In 1977 Letters to Mamie was published with John’s commentary on the events of the war interspersed among them. John edited the letters some to avoid tedious salutations and farewells, but otherwise are just as Ike wrote them.  He was a “rigid censor” of his writings to Mamie even though because of his rank he could have written more details of his daily life and the events he was shaping as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces.  Even so, his letters convey his loneliness and frustration with the management of the war.  The reader also sees him grow from a newly promoted colonel with no combat experience to a confident leader who was much loved by military personnel and civilians.

Through his gently written letters a different picture of the war emerges.  Endless meetings that lasted long hours, phone calls, grueling trips on almost non-existent roads in freezing temperatures, exhaustion and sickness that have to be ignored, and waiting for news from the front when a major offensive was taking place. Of course, there was also the delicate negotiations required to keep peace among the different nations participating in the Allied force.Ike shied away from social obligations, leaving other officers to officiate in his place, but instead choosing to have a scotty pup and a few close officers as evening companions. He shared with Mamie that his greatest joy was reviewing the troops and being among them; often the troops had no idea he as coming and he delighted in their surprise at seeing him in the field with them.

John reminds the reader that at the time of the editing of the letters the world was just a little over 40 years from the end of World War II.  That really gave me a startling time-perspective jolt.  At that time I was just a young woman and it seemed that WWII had been a long time in the past, but in reality the world was still recovering. Now I know that 40 years wasn’t really that long ago. This 277 page book really isn’t as old as it looks, now is it?

 

 

 

Postcards, photographs, and memorabilia

I entertained myself on many hot summer afternoons with the contents of two boxes that were stored in the bottom of the pie safe that my grandmother referred to as a china cabinet. I never tired of looking through the picture postcards, photographs, and a few letters and other keepsakes that they contained.

The noon meal, referred to as dinner, was just as full as the morning and evening meals with meat, vegetables, and some type of bread.  Of course, sweet tea was the only beverage ever considered.  After the meal was over my grandfather would head back into town and Mamaw and I would wash the dishes.  She would wash and I would rinse and then we would both dry and put everything away.  She would then busy herself with finishing up any kitchen chores or beginning preparing for any afternoon blanching and freezing of the morning garden pick.

I would be on my own until she was ready to lie down on her bed and rest while we played endless games of Old Maid .  During this interval I would often pull out the boxes and immerse myself in their contents.  From summer to summer the contents would grow and I would look forward to the new additions as a way of catching up on any news I had missed during the past year.

It was also a way for me to learn about my extended family.  Who is this I would ask and Mamaw would begin to tell me names, family relationship, where they lived and share any other story that she thought would entertain me. Many of these people I would never meet, but through their cards and pictures I would know who they were and when their names were mentioned I would immediately be able to place then in the proper relationship category.

I still love to look at postcards and pictures from the past and delight in the handwritten notes and letters from years gone by. Sadly, in our digital age, we have moved away from hand written correspondence and saving pictures and other memorabilia.  How will today’s children connect to their family and understand the relationships? It does concern me!

I am undertaking a project to create a book for my family members that features family history and pictures. I may even do two books for my children – one for my side of the family and one of their father’s side.  I am not in a hurry with this as I want it to be complete and easy to read and follow.  Who knows, I may even share some of the stories here on this blog…

Who owns the cemetery?

The Texas Historical Commission’s blog has featured a short article on cemeteries titled Cemetery Queries. The article gives a brief description of how small cemeteries formed and what can happen after they are abandoned or are no longer in the ownership of the original land owner. Cemeteries don’t qualify for maintenance funding, but they can qualify for restoration and educational project grant monies.

Going back

“It is not that I belong to the past, but the past that belongs to me.” ~Mary Antin

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Summer visits to see Grandparents always included trips to cemeteries where family members were buried.  This ritual may seem strange to some, but for us it is perfectly normal.  As Southerners we are firmly rooted in the past and the lives of those who came before us.  Although the relatives are long dead their history is infused with our current lives.  To know the past gives us the understanding of who we are and our purpose in life.

Recently I made my way to the Milligan Springs Baptist Church located a few miles north of Highway 82 between Stewart and Winona, MS.  I arrived thankful that Google Maps on my phone knew where I was and where I wanted to be.  I had double checked the map before I left the hotel and knew if I came into Stewart I had gone too far.  Sure enough I did and had to re-group.  The car GPS wasn’t able to pick up the small country cross roads, so the phone saved me.  After I found the turn off for Milligan Springs I realized why I had missed it – it was marked by an average size street sign that wasn’t visible across the median of a four-lane highway.

I was also thankful that the road is now paved at least as far as the church.  As a child I remember that the turn off wasn’t marked.  My grandparents just knew where to turn off the main highway (which in that day was still a dangerous two-lane highway). In later years I remembered a hand painted sign surrounded by kudzu that heralded the turn for Milligan Springs.  Today there is a sign, albeit small, and a paved road.

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Many of my grandmother’s family are buried here and after so many trips I had thought I would walk right to every grave.  Wrong! As I entered the gate I was surprised at how big the cemetery is and realized I had no idea where to look.  When I spotted several recent graves I realized that they are still burying people there today and that accounted for the larger than remembered size.  Sadly, I was to recognize names I knew on the newer graves.

The afternoon was warm and I had no hat and even though it seemed like a hopeless search I had the idea to walk to the back and along the way began to get my bearings.  I found the graves I was looking for and then remembered that I had not brought any flowers.  I made pictures and lamented the weathering of several headstones that made them almost unreadable.

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As a child I had asked my grandmother about these rocks dotted throughout the cemetery.  She explained that people were buried there long ago, but no one remembered who they were. The lost identities always fascinated me and I would wonder who they were and all the usual questions that run through my mind. I’m sure that these rocks were larger when I was younger and wondered if someday they will disappear.

I would have liked to linger for a while, but the only shade was under some trees next to the church and I knew better than to walk across the grass only wearing shorts (there’s nasty little chiggers in there). As I got back in the car I remembered that this was my grandmother’s church growing up.  This is where she found her Savior and grew up as a God fearing woman.  She left in the 1920’s to teach school in Webster County and married my grandfather there in 1925.  Although I asked her many questions about her life I never thought to ask her about this little church.  I do remember on one visit that after we left the cemetery she directed whoever was driving down one of the little roads and showed us where her childhood home had been.  The only thing I remember was that it was as you came around a curve in the gravel road.

There was no one around that afternoon so I had the solitude to myself.  I wondered if they still hold services regularly. The church and cemetery grounds are immaculate, well cared for and showing signs that people care about this place which made me feel good.  Just like the annual summer visits long ago I knew that I had done well that afternoon to visit again and pay respects to those who have lived before me.

 

Heaviness of Heart

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Thursday evening as I brought the dogs back through the hotel lobby after their last potty walk I saw what was happening in Dallas on the lobby television.  I was shocked, especially since I was just a few miles away.  At that time the story was just developing; we all know the outcome and the loss of life in that city.  Several friends encountered the police escort of one of the fallen officers being returned to Corsicana on Saturday. So senseless, so sad. 

Immediately people were asking what they could do to help and there were many reports of people reaching out to support the police in the work they do.  Even so, protests continue throughout our nation.  Honestly, I can’t sort through all of this and I certainly don’t understand any of it.  

Maybe being so close to where this tragedy took place has drawn me into it in a closer way. All I can offer is that we need to love one another.   We need to remember the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: Where there is hatred, let me sow love.  We need to sing along with Diana Ross: What the world needs now is love, sweet love. Above all, we need to share God’s love with those around us. 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35 NKJV

 

Wednesday 07.06.2016

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Zinnias are high on my favorite flower list.  They are very hardy, tolerating sun and heat, and don’t depend on daily water. They resist bugs and will bloom steadily.  Plus, check out those colors!  They are just downright cheerful, aren’t they?

My grandmother had a yard full of flowers, although not like she did in the years my mother was growing up.  Still there were always flowers to cut and bring into the house to make fresh arrangements or bouquets as she called them.  A line of zinnias extended from the clothesline along the road to the barn; they were always a good addition to any bouquet since they stood upright in the vase and would last far longer than the other flowers. In honor of that line of zinnias I planted a small line in my little herb garden to remind me of pleasures past and joyful moments to come.

Determination

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I wasn’t too surprised when I saw this little viola growing through the crack in the cement. Violas are very hardy and are prolific re-seeders. I’ve often had them “come up volunteer”, as my grandmother would say, in a spot close to where they were planted the year before. They don’t require a lot of water or any special care; they just grow and flower until the season is over. Even though the plant itself is strong it still had to grow and establish itself in virtually no soil while relying on rainfall to nourish it. It wasn’t stepped on and crushed or plucked hastily out of the tiny crack. In spite of its circumstances it survived and thrived!

Even so, when I saw it the word “determination” immediately came to mind. After some consideration I decided the correct description should be “perseverance”. The viola determined that it would grow there and so it did, it persevered. Job went through some real trials and lost everything except his life; yet, God showed him mercy and favor after his time of perseverance.   The New Testament relates of Paul’s struggles and the hardships he endured for the sake of the Gospel; yet, he also persevered and gave thanks in all circumstances.

In the last week I’ve thought about this little plant whenever I felt weakness or inability to complete a task. It has survived and thrived in spite of all obstacles and it never complained once. It just kept growing and blooming. Good advice from a little viola!