May 14, 2011 11:35:00 PM
Recently I went to Trinity Retirement Home''s assisted living facility in Columbus to attend the celebration of Lou Trim''s 100th birthday. Her daughter, Judy Stewart, was hosting a party. I tell you, the honoree looked a bare 60 years old, not a day older, and she is bright as a new penny.
She was dressed in a pretty rose-printed dress with a rose corsage. She was enjoying a visit with friends who had come a long distance to see her. Talk about inspiration. She gives the rest of us a goal to strive for. Best wishes, Lou!
While there, I met another woman, one after my own heart. Mildred Ward is one of those people who have written memoirs and a genealogy for the younger members of her family. I firmly believe every family needs someone like that, at the very least, every two or three generations. It turns out that she also enjoys painting, so I had found a like-minded person. The following week our friend, Judy Waller, went with me to visit her and to collect some of her stories.
Mildred was the daughter of James Clarence Green and Mattie Coleman Green and granddaughter of Robert A. Green and Josephine Reeves Green. She says they were "quiet, hardworking farm people, who had a saw mill." They lived "up home," local parlance for Caledonia.
Her grandfather was killed in a lumbering accident when a falling tree hit another tree, knocking a limb into his head. His son, who was with him at the time, was only 20 years old. Mildred said he, her father, could never bring himself to talk about the dreadful accident.
Her first cousin, Millard Greene, compiled an extensive genealogy. (Some of the family spelled the name with a final "e," but her branch did not, a change that occurred with one of the national censuses.)
Some of their records went back to the 15th century, but most of the details of their recent history were lost when the courthouse burned. This was the Carrollton, Ala., courthouse with the famous "face in the window," supposedly etched there by lightning, when the man accused of setting fire to it was later imprisoned there and facing an angry mob.
In 2000 at a family reunion hosted by Martha Jo Mims, they were urged to collect family stories to introduce all the cousins to family history. Mildred was one of six siblings, three boys and three girls. Nearby, "across the pasture," lived another large family, the Aldridges. They used to have great times together, often with sleepovers. The boys would stay at one house, the girls at the other. They were not above mischief.
One day all of them were playing ball at the Aldridge house. They got hot and decided to drive to the ice plant for ice to make ice cream. The trouble was Mildred''s brother was just learning to drive, but had been permitted to drive his daddy''s car the short distance between the two houses. Nevertheless, all the youngsters piled into -- or onto -- that one car, riding on the running board, sitting on the fenders, spilling out the sides.
They thought it prudent to take a back road so as not to drive past the Green house on such an unauthorized mission. Of course, they had an accident. The driver could hardly see around his passengers and they ran off the road and into a ditch. Saplings growing along the ditch just shaved children off the car; fortunately no one was badly hurt. There were so many of them that they were able to pick the car up and place it back on the road. They had cuts and scratches aplenty, but they never got their ice cream.
Three of the Green children had blue eyes, and three had brown. Two of the boys, Robert and James, were assigned the chore of bringing in firewood. After dark one night their father noticed the firewood had not been brought in; he sent them out to get it. Only Robert went. He brought his half in. Father asked James why he had not brought in his load.
"It''s dark. I can''t see," James said.
"Robert got his."
"Yes, but he has blue eyes, so he can see better in the dark."
Children will use anything for an excuse.
When relatives visited, all the family gathered to go to see the "company." Aunt Bobbie would have a picnic in the grove. Afterward the adults would sit on her porch, and the children would be sent out in the yard to play. On one such occasion, when Mildred was about 8 years old, she ran up on the porch, hugged an unfamiliar woman, and said, "How are you, Aunt?" It was a hospitable gesture, but the woman was not her aunt. Mildred said she was so embarrassed, she wouldn''t go back up on the porch.
Mildred was full of good tales, but I heard another one while I was visiting at Trinity. I met an attractive lady from West Point, where my grandparents had lived. We played the "Do you know ... " game, and she told me a tale about one of my grandparents'' good friends.
Even in old age, Miss Bessie Levy was a beautiful woman. She went to town one day wearing new glasses. A friend (?) saw her and exclaimed, "Why, Bessie, your new glasses make you look so old!"
Miss Bessie said, "Do they, dear? Now isn''t that strange; they make you look old, too!"
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.