Last Monday was a national holiday for Presidents’ Day. Many people were off work for the holiday. But, more important to me, it was my 64th birthday! It seems unreal to be this age. It seems as if I was just 6. Looking back over these years, I thought of so many things that have happened or changed since I was born. It is funny how we remember certain things and others we do not. For this column, I will share some of the most memorable moments of my life.
Daddy rode the horse to the nearest home with a telephone and called Dr. Middleton to come to our farmhouse in rural Long County and deliver me, their fourth child, in 1947. Mama named me after a chiropractor from Jesup.
I remember when I was 3 visiting with our neighbor, Sheriff Cecil Nobles’ grandmother, who was bedridden. I was moving about on her bed and Mama told me to be still as I was disturbing the lady. The lady told me that I was not bothering her at all. I know that I was 3 because I saw the date on her tombstone when she died.
I remember gathering eggs from all the hidden nests our hens used. One cold day I had eight eggs in my coat pocket and crawled through an old wrecked car and remembered the eggs too late. What a mess! We never bought eggs until after I was 16. Egg gravy and thin corn bread was a favorite quick food.
I remember Mama killing an old rooster or hen and butchering it. When the feathers were picked off, I had to hold a brown paper sack that had been twisted and set on fire. Mama swung the chicken over the fire and turned and twisted it so the fine hairs would be singed off. She boiled it in a big pot until tender and then made dumplings for the broth.
I remember when I was 6 and my sister Helen was born. The lady at the store sent Mama a carton of small Coca-Colas. I hoped that one day I would have a baby so I could get a whole carton of Cokes for myself.
I remember Daddy snatching me up and whipping me hard just because I kicked my brother in the stomach and he accidentally landed in the fireplace with a fire burning. My brother did not get burned, and he still chewed the bubble gum that he had stolen from me. That is the reason I kicked him.
I remember many mornings having to break the ice in the water bucket on the porch to get a drink. Many times I had to let the rope or chain down into the well and try to pull a bucket of water to the top for filling the wash tubs or for watering the horse.
I remember when Grandpa asked me if I wanted him to dye my shoes. Sure, I wanted to see some dead shoes. He dyed my white moccasins brown and I cried.
I remember at age 5 setting the broomstraw field on fire and telling Mama. She pulled up my dress and blistered my behind, and all the time I was thinking how foolish grown people are. She was taking time to whip me, yet the house was probably going to burn down if she didn’t hurry and put out the fire. The field burned off and neither the house nor the biscuits in the oven were burned.
I remember the excitement of hog-killing day. We worked but enjoyed the outcome. Backbone and rice was certain for dinner. Cracklins would be cooked, and the next day hog head cheese made. Cans of lard were stored in the corncrib for the next year.
I remember pulling fodder and picking velvet beans. The fodder cut my arms and neck, and the beans made me itch.
I remember having to run for my life and jump over the fence with the wild mama sow coming after me. Her head was lowered and her long tusks were ready to kill me. I just wanted a pear off the tree and did not know she was there with her pigs.
I recall the days when gasoline was 29 cents a gallon, stamps were 3 cents, Cokes were 5 cents or six for a quarter, candy bars were 5 cents, lunches in the school lunchroom were $1 per week, big mullet fish were 5 pounds for a $1, the ice truck delivered the ice and the rolling store brought groceries to our door. The Watkins man, the peach truck, the furniture truck filled with rocking chairs and the linoleum dealer all came by the house selling their wares. Broken dinner plates were glued together and used for many more years. Cooking pots with holes were repaired with mendits.
I remember using the old kerosene lamps to see after dark. I remember the day the Canoochee Electric worker came and turned on our electricity. No more cooking clothes in the wash pot or heating the irons in the fireplace.
I remember the time Daddy told me I must follow him down the row and learn to plant beans, as he would not always be around. I cried my eyes out as I thought daddies lived forever. I thought about that as we sat with Daddy in the ICU during the last hours of his 81-year-old life.
I remember the morning Daddy came into the bedroom, woke us and told us our 2-day-old sister had died and that it was no use to cry. I cried anyway, all the time while I watched her little coffin being built on the front porch. I was 7.
I remember not having a dime to pay for the movie at school and had to stay in the classroom. I did not mind because the teacher let me stand beside her desk and read aloud, which I thoroughly loved to do. That is where my love of reading began.
I remember being embarrassed when I had to undress for the fifth-grade teacher to try on a green dress that she had made for my part in the school operetta. The slip I wore was handmade from a white flour sack with a green print border.
I remember I ate my first hamburger when we were on the way to Miami and stopped at a restaurant with my uncle. I was in fifth grade, and I still like a good hamburger.
I remember our first black-and-white television when I was 12.
“Gunsmoke,” “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide,” “Lassie” and “The Three Stooges” were my favorites. “The Edge of Night” was my favorite soap opera.
I remember not knowing how to dial a telephone number in eighth grade. The secretary asked me to call the mechanic shop for her, and I told her I couldn’t because I had never dialed a phone before. Now, I think babies are born with a cell phone attached.
In 1961, I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and was baptized in the cold, running water of Beard’s Creek. Now, people are baptized in a warm, clean baptistery inside the church.
I remember how happy I was to hear that I had a new baby sister when I was 14 — and how heartbroken I was the next minute to hear that she had been born with spina bifida and would not live long. She died one year later with me holding her hand while she had a raging fever. But I will never forget the precious little angel that we had with us for that short time.
I think about how difficult it was to keep enough stove wood to cook for 12 people three times a day and what a hard job Mama must have had. We got a tiny electric stove when I was 16. Now, almost everyone has a microwave oven.
I remember the long, hot, sticky days of stringing tobacco on a picker in the tobacco patch and the boys putting those monstrous green horn worms down my collar. This stopped when I climbed off the picker and the boys’ daddy put an end to the worm deal. The pay was $7.50 from daylight until dark in 1964.
I recall being on “Happy Dan & Popeye” in February 1965 when they were interviewing all the star students from the area counties. I represented Ludowici High School, and that was my first and last chance of becoming a television celebrity.
I remember getting my first birthday cake from my boyfriend when I was 17. The next year, he became my husband for the next 34 years. We got married May 2, 1965, in the Bethlehem Baptist Church where the Tomato Patch Murder took place many years later. Between the two of us, we didn’t have a dollar.
I remember my first acquaintance with Hinesville other than knowing it was the home of Coca-Cola. Harlon, my husband, was in Liberty Memorial Hospital and had surgery by Dr. Frank Robbins after we had been married only 10 days. There was hardly anywhere to eat. A burger trailer was under the large oak about where the Coastal Bank is today. It pulled in the window counter early in the evening and closed.
I remember my first job at a sewing factory in Reidsville. I earned $1.25 per hour when I began. Fifteen months later when I quit to have my first child, I still earned $1.25 per hour. My hat goes off to anyone who works on a production line. The first thing I had to do when I went to the bathroom at work was blow my nose. Red, blue, green, yellow and striped fabric fibers came out. No wonder I had such bad sinus problems.
I remember that I used my first paycheck to buy a set of club aluminum pots in sandalwood color. I still deep fry chicken in the big pot. The pots cost $39.95.
I remember the cold day, Thursday, March 17, 1971, that we moved to Liberty County. I recall telling some of the Walthourville Baptist Church members that they might as well move over and make room because we were here to stay.
Numerous camping trips to Hughes Old River and Beard’s Bluff are wonderful memories for my family when the children were all home and cell phones and texting had not been thought of. This is what occupies the young people today.
I remember coming to the Greenberg Furniture Store that was located where The Heritage Bank parking lot is today. I bought groceries at the Friendly Grocery and Red and White. Harlon worked at the furniture store, and while visiting him there, I saw ladies dressed in red-and-white uniforms walk by across the street. I thought they worked at the Dairy Queen. They worked at the new city hall. Never did I dream that one day I would be one of those workers.
I remember the joy I felt at the birth of each of my three children.
I remember the day, Aug. 28, 1972, that Harlon dressed in his Hinesville police uniform for his first day on duty and how proud I was of him. I was equally proud of my youngest son, Bruce, when he stood by his father dressed in his Georgia State Patrol uniform many years later.
I remember Paula, 4, asking me to open a Pepsi for her while I rocked Bruce, 2 weeks old, to sleep. I told her to be quiet and wait a few minutes. She looked at me and began stomping her little foot on the floor loudly and saying, “I wish you would send that baby back where he came from! We can’t get anything done for us anymore!”
I remember in 1976 taking the three kids to the health department for their shots and being told that we were on the poverty level. The nurse asked if we had applied for food stamps. “No,” I told her. My husband worked for the city and was a police lieutenant. This was embarrassing to me because I thought we were doing pretty well.
I remember asking my husband what was going on in Hinesville and Liberty County and he told me “nothing.” I subscribed to the Coastal Courier and found there was plenty.
I remember when Hinesville really became a booming town. In September 1976, the Burger King opened. Hardee’s opened Nov. 11, 1976, and gave away a Looney Tunes glass with each purchase of a small or large soft drink. TG&Y opened in February 1977, followed by Winn Dixie in March. Many years later, I saw the opening of K-Mart, Piggly Wiggly and Walmart — then the super Walmart, which is so crowded each day now. I have seen many changes in the city; it has grown so much.
I remember interviewing for a job with the Liberty County Board of Education and was told to come to work the next morning. I worked in the classrooms and library for eight years. I took a history class under Bill Cox and became interested in the vast amount of history in Liberty County. Years later, I became president of the Liberty County Historical Society for four years and then vice president Seven years ago this month, I began writing Liberty Lore columns for the Coastal Courier, and I also write for The Long County Press.
I remember walking up the back steps into Hinesville City Hall on June 24, 1985, for my new job working in the finance department. From a little girl not having a dime for a movie to getting to spend millions is a long distance. And now my son David could go to college at Georgia Southern University. Last July, I happily retired after working for 25 wonderful years for the city.
I remember the police department used a small space in the old Liberty County Jail for their operations in the 1970s. It was my husband’s dream after he became chief to have their own building that they and the city could be proud of. In June 1998, the huge Law Enforcement Center next to City Hall had its grand opening.
I distinctly remember Feb. 18, 1999, twelve years ago in the Huddle House in Ludowici. After eating supper, my husband slumped over on the bench and then he sat up. I had my arm around his shoulder and asked him if he was OK. He said, “Nothing’s the matter. Are you ready to go home?” And immediately, he went to his eternal home. It is ironic that February is heart month and he had a massive heart attack. He was buried on my birthday.
I remember how slowly the days seemed to go by until two years later, when I met Gene Love, a retired Georgia wildlife biologist, again after 36 years. We were married in May 2001. The time flies by now as we stay busy on the heritage farm we are creating in Tattnall County. We have 11 wonderful grandchildren.
I think of all the crazy and fun times I had with my only brother — going with him to check his coon traps, frying frog legs for him, losing all my marbles to him in a game, him teaching me to ride his old bicycle, having him draw pictures for my book and then watching as he courageously fought a battle with cancer in a two-year period and lost.
What do you remember about your past? Please take time to jot down your memories – they are so important to your family history and for posterity. Remember, life is like a book. It is written one page at the time and not completed until we take our last breath.