Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Jewel Mason Stogner Jr

NOV 12, 1972
MAY 11, 2000

Back of Vase:
Son of Doris and Jewel
Bro of Tammy
Uncle of Corey and Casey

Foxworth Cemetery
Foxworth, Marion County, Mississippi

Memorial listed on Find A Grave
Maintained by Susan Bourgoyne
Click here for link

I can not imagine the heartbreak of losing one of my own children.  It has to be the most difficult event a parent has ever faced.  Mason's mother, my Aunt Doris, talked to me briefly about that fateful day.  She said that she was at work and heard sirens screaming as the ambulance passed the store.  She prayed under her breath that it was nothing real serious and that whoever the ambulance was going to see, that person would be okay.  Unfortunately, Aunt Doris learned soon afterward that the ambulance was headed to her son's place.  If my memory is correct, she said that Mason was on the rooftop of his trailer, trying to repair a television antenna.  He was apparently electrocuted by wires attached to the antenna.  Mason's sudden death devastated the family.  He was 27 years old.  No lessons in life can prepare us for such a tragedy and the deep feelings of loss sustained afterward.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sharing Memories 2012 (Week 5): Spoiled Little Girl

My Mother and I, c. 1961

It is my understanding that after Mom and my biological father (Daddy Charles) separated, she moved back  in with her mother. Mom told me that she and Granny often argued about me. Granny spoiled me and would not allow Mom to discipline me appropriately, which led to frustration followed by an argument. Furthermore, Granny would not agree to babysit when Mom wanted to go out. Mom was forced to take me everywhere she went, unless she could "bribe" one of her siblings or cousins to babysit me. Occasionally, Mom would convince her cousin Daisy to babysit. Besides being cousins, Mom and Daisy were also best friends. They often went out together, dragging poor little me along. I can just imagine being in the midst of young adults, at the drive-in or a date. How often was I given "bribes" to behave? How many times did I come home with a belly full of candy or a brand new nickle toy? Daisy told me of the "temper tantrums" I would have. She said that my screams were so loud and shrill that they would send shock waves through her entire body. Huh? Me? Throw temper tantrums? No, she must have me confused with someone else, LOL *insert innocent look*.   Well, okay... in all honesty, I will admit that I have been known to have sudden outbursts, when provoked that is. But alas, that was in my youthful days. I have since mellowed out quite a bit. I can only imagine what life must have been like in the household of my Mom and Granny. They were both head-strong and stubborn at times. I'm sure it was those qualities that helped them survive the struggles they endured.

I admire this photo of Mom and I. She was so young and beautiful. As she held me closely in her arms, I wonder what she was thinking. Her loving gaze upon my face tells me that she loved me very much. Did she ever regret becoming a mother so young? Did she wish she would have done things differently? If she did, she kept those thoughts hidden from me. I truly feel blessed that she was my Mother.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Family History: The Importance of Oral History- Preserve Their Stories!

Isn't it funny the difference between adults and children?  The seemingly endless stories told by our parents and grandparents, the ones we listened to over and over as children that we "tuned out" so often, are the very stories that we, as adults, struggle to remember today. If we would have only listened to those stories when we had the chance we wouldn't have to struggle today in trying to find out who or what we are all about.   It wasn't until after my grandparents started passing away one by one that I realized that their stories should have been written down and preserved for future generations. 

Everyone has a history that includes important family information. Where the family came from, who they were related too, what they did for a living. Some generic information, such as birth, death and marriage information can be located easily enough in county records, but the real family history is something that can only be passed down within the family itself, by those who experienced it. These are the important facts that need to be recorded.

Today we have a mound of records available to assist us in our genealogical research found in internet genealogical data bases and all kinds of public records at our fingertips with the click of a mouse, used to provide answers to most of our ancestery puzzles. And while these sources make research easy and fast, our grandparents grew up when oral history was the primary way of preserving the past. Even the internet can't provide us with some of the most important missing links. We can only depend on oral history for some of the most unique and intimate details that we like to know about our past. "Who do I look like? What was my great grandmother's personality like?", or "Why did the family decide to immigrate to America", are some of the questions that can only be answered by oral history.

In researching my own ancestery on the internet there have often been times when I have found many pieces to a family puzzle that don't fit together and all I've needed is one missing piece of information to make it all fit together. One piece to complete the mysterious puzzle and perhaps the only person who can answer my question is gone. So some questions to my family's history will remain unanswered for now and may be gone for an eternity.   We are cautioned by genealogists to avoid relying on strictly oral history to get dates, time frames, etc, but as far as those intimate details there is nothing as reliable as the stories that so many of us have heard while growing up.

If my grandfather was alive today I would sit beside him with a tape recorder and listen to each and every story over and over again and I'd write his stories down on paper. If my grandmother was alive today, I'd interview her and learn everything I could about her life. 

Our ancestors were more than just names on pieces of paper. They were real people like us, and they were loved deeply by someone from our past.

Historical Photos: Robert S. & Nazarine Elizabeth Crawley Fortenberry Family

Robert Sones Fortenberry & Nazarine Elizabeth Crawley Fortenberry Family, c.1920's

Back row:  Johnny Benjamin, Marshall Otho, Robert Sones Jr, James A. "Jim", and Forrest Marion
Middle row:  Myrtis (young girl), Ausalia, Gay, Rivers, Rosa Lee "Rosie", and Unidentified male
Front row:  Sitting- Robert Sones Sr and Nazarine Elizabeth Crawley Fortenberry.  Two young children are Grace and Elizabeth (possible grandchildren)

Nazarine Elizabeth Crawley was the daughter of John and Mary "Polly" Merritt Crawley and sister of Sabra Crawley, therefore, she was my 2nd great grand aunt.  She was born c.1868 in Marion County, Mississippi and died c. 1932.  She married Robert Sones Fortenberry on June 27, 1891 in Marion County. 

Photo courtesy of Sylvia Elaine Herrin

Abundant Genealogy- Week Four: Free Offline Genealogy Tools

Week 4 – Free Offline Genealogy Tools: For which free offline genealogy tool are you most grateful? How did you find this tool and how has it benefitted your genealogy? Describe to others how to access this tool and spread the genealogy love.  This challenge runs from Sunday, January 22, 2012 through Saturday, January 28, 2012.

My favorite offline genealogy tool is our local library.  The Columbia-Marion County Public LIbrary has a room specific to genealogy research and I've spent many hours there, browsing through books, newspapers, family files and using the microfilm reader.  I don't go as to the library as often as I used to but I plan to begin going again on my days off because I want to obtain more information on our local history.  

I also like to go to the local courthouses and browse through the books of marriage records.  

I know there are many more available offline resources in our area, such as the Family Research Center, the South Mississippi Genealogy Society and the genealogy library at the University of Southern Mississippi.  I need to make the time to visit these places- who knows what I might be missing out on.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Favorite Photos: Whose Idea Was This?

My daughter Crissy was then in the common childhood stage of "stranger anxiety" when this photo was taken of her and Santa in December, 1977.  She didn't care for him at all and started crying when Santa tried to talk to her.  Of course, her perception of Santa would change in later years ;)

Historical Photos: Sabra Crawley

This photo, taken in the early 1900's, is the only one that I have of Sabra Crawley, my great-great grandmother.  It has circulated among Crawley family researchers for a number of years and I obtained from my copy of this photo from Sylvia Elaine Herrin, my cousin and a family researcher.  The old photo is not a clear image and Sabra's face and hands look somewhat distorted, but I guess one photo of her is better than none.  

Sabra was also called "Sabry".  She was one of several children born from the union of John and Mary "Polly" Merritt Crawley.  Sabra married William H. Herrin and settled in Lamar County, Mississippi.  They had 8 children together, including Sarah Herrin, my great grandmother.  

Our family connection:
Sabra Crawley Herrin > Sarah Herrin Johnson > Susie Johnson > Me

Hollis Stogner, 1930-1994, Marion County MS

Hollis Stogner, my paternal uncle, was born 16 July 1930 in Mississippi, the son of Lewis Edward Stogner and Iva Louetta Peak.  He married Juanita Graves on 19 November 1960 in Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi.  From their union, three children were born- Stephen, Sandra Kay and Synthia Ann.  

He worked a number of years at the old Nickel Store on Main Street in Columbia, Mississippi.  He and his wife Juanita were members of the North Columbia Church of God.  Hollis enjoyed fishing and being with family.  

He died on 24 June 1994 in Jackson, Rankin County, Mississippi and was laid to rest in the Foxworth Cemetery, Foxworth, Mississippi.  

See also:
Tombstones:  Hollis Stogner
Sentimental Stories:  Remembering Uncle Hollis

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Marion County Courthouse

The Marion County Courthouse is located in the town of Columbia, the county seat. The Classical Revival style courthouse was erected in 1905 and replaced the old wood building that was then being used to hold public records. The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This photo depicts the beautiful detail of the design
in front of the building

A plaque to the side of the courthouse explains how the Marion County Courthouse was used as the temporary state capital in 1822 ( of course the old courthouse building was used then ) 

I have been inside this old building many times... to pay property taxes, to serve on jury duty, to attend court, and to research marriage records for my ancestors. I remember that in the 1980's, there was a older man that could be found sitting on a bench in front of the courthouse nearly every day. He wittled away at old pieces of wood, making various figures with it. Many of the towns people knew him and spoke to him as they passed by. (I think I remember his name but I'm not absolutely certain, so I will resist listing it). I also remember that during harvest season, several trucks were usually parked in front of the courthouse loaded with fresh goods from the country gardens and fields. Several years ago, a separate place was designated for the farmers to sell their goods behind the courthouse. During historical times, several hangings took place on the property near the courthouse. The last one occurred in 1922. There is absolutely a long history within the walls of this old building. If only walls could talk... I'm sure they would have a lot of tales to share.

Treasure Chest Thursday: A Mother's Love Statue

"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother"
~ Abraham Lincoln ~

This beautiful treasure was a Mother's Day gift from my parents to my grandmother, Susie Johnson.  It was given to her in the early 1970's.  After Granny passed away, Mom regained possession of it and kept it on display, usually in her bedroom.  I had always told Mom that if something ever happened to her, I wanted the statue.  I was granted my wish.  I don't know why I was always fond of this piece.  Maybe because it reminds me of the tenderness between a mother and her young children and the bond between them.  I now have this nearly 40 year old statue displayed in my bedroom.  

Sentimental Stories: Remembering Uncle Hollis

Hollis Stogner, 
sitting on front steps of Columbia High School, c. 1960

I remember Uncle Hollis as a simple, down to earth person who found friends wherever he went.  I remember the deep southern country accent in his voice and how sometimes he talked slower than others.  Uncle Hollis grew up a pure country boy who enjoyed fishing trips on the river and hunting as well.  He was sociable and made many friends during all the years he was employed at the Nickel Store in the small town of Columbia, Mississippi.  He and his wife Juanita were married about 34 years at the time of his death.  They had three children- Stephen, Sandra Kay and Synthia Ann.  Hollis and Juanita attended the North Columbia Church of God in Columbia, Mississippi for several years.  

Uncle Hollis, date unknown

The photo above was taken about 1964.  Uncle Hollis was showing off his "catch of the day", sitting with sibling Shelby Stogner.  Shelby is holding Stephen, then about a year old, the son of Hollis and wife Juanita.  In the background of the photo is their mother, Iva Peak Stogner.  At the time, the family resided in a house on Park Avenue in Columbia, Mississippi.

Tombstones: Hollis Stogner

JULY 16, 1930
JUNE 24, 1994

MARRIED NOV 19, 1960

JUNE 8, 1944

Foxworth Cemetery
Foxworth, Marion County, Mississippi

Memorial listed on Find A Grave
Maintained by Susan Bourgoyne
Click here for link

Uncle Hollis sustained critical injuries when the family was involved in an automobile accident in or near Jackson, Mississippi.  He remained in the intensive care unit of a Jackson hospital for several days, or possibly weeks, before his death.  The family was deeply saddened by the sudden, unexpected death of a man who was loved beyond measure and a treasure to those who knew him.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Alton Simmons, 1937-2004, Lamar> Marion County MS

Alton Simmons

Alton Simmons was born 10 August 1937 in Lamar County, Mississippi, the firstborn child and son of Woodrow Wilson Simmons and Susie Johnson.  He spent most of his youthful days in the back woods of the Baxterville and Pine Burr areas.  Being the oldest, Alton constantly tried to "direct" the order of childhood play with his younger siblings and nearby cousins.  According to my Mom, Alton was always trying to invent ways to get her and the others into trouble.  She wrote quite a bit about Alton and the days they spent growing up in rural Marion/Lamar Counties (see Memoirs of Lula Sue Simmons).  

Alton married Joyce Thornhill on 13 January 1955 in Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi.  From their union two sons were born- Alton Timothy and Joseph Leonard.  Their marriage ended in divorce after 25 years together.  He later married Sylvia Thompson then Darlene Elizabeth Horn, but no children were born from those unions.  

Alton worked in the oilfied and timber industries most of his adult life.  He also owned and operated "Fat Albert's Bait & Tackle Shop" in Foxworth, Mississippi for a few years before selling the business.  He temporarily owned and operated a meat store in Columbia, Mississippi.  

After a lengthy illness, Alton died 17 January 2004 at Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Mississippi.  He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi.

More About Alton Simmons:

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday- John Colon Simmons Family

Photo:  Courtesy of Sylvia Elaine Herrin

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sentimental Stories: Remembering Uncle Alton

Uncle Alton was a big man with a jolly spirit and a big heart. He would have given the shirt off his back to someone else in need. Lord knows he helped Charles and I a time or two during our struggles way back when. During my pregnancy with son Ryan, Charles was laid off from work in the oilfield. Uncle Alton was building his home in Goss at that time and employed Charles to do general labor and paid him cash each week- that helped us through a tough time until Charles returned to work. It has been said that Uncle Alton was often too generous, freely giving money to those in need.
He thoroughly enjoyed large family gatherings which he sometimes hosted at his home. He enjoyed cooking for the family and the satisfaction of watching everyone enjoy their meal. He particularly enjoyed fried turkey during the holidays. I remember one year Charles fried up six turkeys at Uncle Alton's request because he wanted to make sure everyone had plenty (and he wanted a couple left over to bring home with him).
Uncle Alton could also be a big clown when the mood struck him. He enjoyed teasing others and pulling pranks. I recall one instance when I had pulled into a gas station with my two young daughters Crissy and Cherie. Crissy was 3 years old and Cherie was 1 year old. I intended to quickly run into the store and purchase a pack of cigarettes. When I came back out to the car, only Crissy was in the car. I asked her where her sister was. She replied, "Some man took him". Can you imagine the fear that raced through my soul at that time? I frantically scanned the parking lot with my eyes, looking for my baby daughter. I asked Crissy if she knew the man. "It was a big man, Mama". Oh, the thoughts that raced through my mind! Moments later, here comes Uncle Alton from behind the store with Cherie in his arms. He was laughing his butt off. At that moment, I didn't think it was funny- I wanted to choke him for doing that to me. But, I later laughed about it. The incident taught me an important lesson- never leave my kids alone in the car because they can disappear within seconds. I realized how irresponsible that was and I never did that again.
I loved Uncle Alton. We visited often, either at my place or his. He carries a special place in my heart and warm memories.

Obituary- Alton Simmons

Funeral services were held Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2004, at the chapel of Colonial Funeral Home for Alton Simmons, 66, of Columbia, who died Saturday, Jan. 17, at Wesley Medical Center.  Interment was in the Woodlawn Cemetery.  Mike Grenn officiated, assisted by George Anthony.  A native of Marion County, he was a forester and a member of the Apostolic faith.  Survivors include two sons, Joey Simmons of Columbia and Tim Simmons of Foxworth; two sisters Gertrude Wiginton of Laurel and Lula Sue Powell of Columbia; a brother, Elton Simmons of Livingston, Texas; eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  Colonial Funeral Home in Columbia was in charge of arrangements.

Click here to view the Memorial page for Alton Simmons at Find A Grave.

Tombstone Tuesday: Andrew "Smokey" Simmons

APRIL 12, 1922
JULY 15, 1971

Palmetto Cemetery
Walker, Livingston Parish, Louisiana

Memorial listed on Find A Grave
Maintained by Jerry Biggs
Click here for link

Monday, January 23, 2012

Military Monday: Part V- The Battle of New Orleans

Two weeks after the War of 1812 officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, U.S. General Andrew Jackson achieves the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans.

In September 1814, an impressive American naval victory on Lake Champlain forced invading British forces back into Canada and led to the conclusion of peace negotiations in Ghent, Belgium. Although the peace agreement was signed on December 24, word did not reach the British forces assailing the Gulf coast in time to halt a major attack.

On January 8, 1815, the British marched against New Orleans, hoping that by capturing the city they could separate Louisiana from the rest of the United States. Pirate Jean Lafitte, however, had warned the Americans of the attack, and the arriving British found militiamen under General Andrew Jackson strongly entrenched at the Rodriquez Canal. In two separate assaults, the 7,500 British soldiers under Sir Edward Pakenham were unable to penetrate the U.S. defenses, and Jackson's 4,500 troops, many of them expert marksmen from Kentucky and Tennessee, decimated the British lines. In half an hour, the British had retreated, General Pakenham was dead, and nearly 2,000 of his men were killed, wounded, or missing. U.S. forces suffered only eight killed and 13 wounded.

Although the battle had no bearing on the outcome of the war, Jackson's overwhelming victory elevated national pride, which had suffered a number of setbacks during the War of 1812. The Battle of New Orleans was also the last armed engagement between the United States and Britain.


Other sites featuring the Battle of New Orleans:

Through the Years: Alton Simmons, The Early Years

Alton Simmons was born on August 10, 1937 in Lamar County (probably near Baxterville), Mississippi, the  first child of four from the union of Woodrow Wilson and Susie Johnson Simmons.  He was about 5 years old in the photo above. 

Alton appears to be about 6 or 7 years old in the photo above.  The actual dates of most of these old photos are unknown, I can only estimate the year. This was probably an early school photo.  

Alton was standing near what appears to be a corn field on the family homestead.  The family then resided in Pinebur, Lamar County, Mississippi.  

This photo of Alton was probably taken 1945-46, when he was about 8 years old.  Alton was a mischievous youngster at this age, constantly pulling pranks on his siblings, particularly his oldest sister Lula Sue (my mother).  She wrote much about him and their early childhood while growing up in Pinebur, Mississippi.  See Memoirs of Lula Sue Simmons for more.

Alton was dressed in his boy scout uniform.  After reading about all the trouble he stirred up as a child, it's difficult to believe that Alton was actually a boy scout!  I'm uncertain as to the date of this photograph, but it was likely between 1946-1948, judging by the appearance of his age.

It is estimated that this photo was taken between 1945-1946.  Alton is the young boy in the center, as that is pretty obvious without being mentioned.  It appears as though the shirtless boys are enjoying a warm day.  During those early years, Alton and his siblings spent a lot of their free summer time on the river banks, swimming or fishing.  It's uncertain as to who the other youngsters are.  

Alton was a freckled faced 11 or 12 year old in this school photo.  I wonder if he stirred up as much trouble at school than he did at home...yes, probably so.  

I don't know much about Uncle Alton's childhood, other than what my mother wrote in her memoirs.  I know that he continued to be a mischievous prankster, even into adulthood.  He always brought a smile and a lot of laughter to our family gatherings.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sharing Memories 2012 (Week 4): Emergency Appendectomy

Me, 1964

I remember only pieces of that particular day, some of them being blurred images and faint voices. Apparently, Dad was off from work because he was busy doing household chores. I can remember him folding the laundry and ironing his white work shirts. Mom was working at the processing plant. Frank Jr. and I were busy playing and doing what kids normally do while trying to stay out of Dad's way.

I had a tummy ache. I remember telling Dad that my tummy hurts real bad. He told me to go lie down for a little while and see if it would feel better. I followed his instructions and laid down in my bed.  I couldn't be still though. I remember wallowing in the bed, my legs rubbing the bed sheets and my hands rubbing my tummy. I got out of bed moments later and went to the bathroom. I remember straining and feeling as if I had to urinate, but I couldn't. The stomach pain only got worse. I again whined to Dad about my tummy hurting. That is all I remember until I awakened in the hospital.

I recall being on a long skinny bed and a lady in white standing next to me. I was scared to death! I picked up my head looking for Mom and Dad and felt a little more secure when I saw them standing at the foot of the bed. Mom looked scared but she told me that I was going to be okay and that I needed to do what the lady in the white dress told me to do. The lady in white had a mask in her hand. She told me she was going to put the mask on my face and I would start feeling sleepy. I again looked at Mom as I felt the mask being put over my nose and mouth. I drifted quickly off to sleep.

I awakened in a large white room with a big bright light shining down on me. I looked around and saw several people standing near me. I don't remember who all the faces were but I recall blurred images of my Mom and Dad, Daddy Charles and Uncle Shelby. I put my hand on my tummy and felt something there, something that felt odd to me. Mom told me it was a big bandage and I shouldn't pull on it. She might have tried to explain what had happened to me but I don't remember. I remember the lady in white coming back into my room and placing something in my mouth and telling me to hold it under my tongue real tight. I didn't understand why I was there nor what was going on. I only knew that I was in a strange place and not at home. I told Mom my tummy was sore and felt funny then the lady in white brought me some medicine for it.

Later that evening I remember my Granny coming to see me. She was going to spend the night with me in the hospital. I was glad to hear that. I would have Granny all to myself. I remember how she and I laid in my bed and I colored some pictures in the new coloring books that someone had given me. I remember her reading a story to me. She also asked the lady in white to bring me some jello or ice cream.

This is all I remember of the whole incident. I found out later, when I was old enough to understand, that I had suffered from a ruptured appendix and had to have immediate surgery. When the surgeon removed my appendix, he also had to remove a small portion of my colon because the infection had spread. Dad said that I was running a high fever and apparently had passed out so he rushed me to the emergency room. I can only imagine the fear he faced at those moments. It could have been a fatal situation. Thank heavens for the quick actions of the physicians and the surgeon...and to God for watching over me.

Sunday's Obituary: Susan Cordelia McCain Stogner

Mrs. Susan Stogner of Improve Buried Sunday

Funeral services were held Sunday, November 19, for Mrs. Susan Cordelia Stogner at the Carson Springs Baptist Church with the Reverend Jimmy Stewart officiating.  Mrs. Stogner died November 17 after an illness that extended over several months.  

Born March 25, 1878, Mrs. Stogner was the daughter of Ned and Ann Turnage McCain and a lifetime resident of the Improve community.  Her husband, T.E. Stogner, preceded her in death seven years ago.  
Interment was in the Carson Springs Cemetery with Denver McKenzie, Leonard Sorrell, James Stogner, Alton Stogner, Clyde Stogner and Felder Stogner acting as pallbearers.

Mrs. Stogner is survived by three daughters, Mrs Delhie Sorrell, Sandy Hook, Mrs. Stella Sorrell, Tylertown, and Mrs. Elva Schillings, Rio, La.  Four sons, Preston, Floyd and Levi Stogner, all of Sandy Hook, and Lewis Stogner, Foxworth; three brothers, two sisters, 28 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren also survive.  

Ginn Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Copy of article courtesy of Bill Reagan.  I'm not sure which newspaper or the date this was published, but she died November 17, 1950.  Susan Cordelia McCain was my great grandmother.  I was thrilled to receive a copy of her obituary and even more happy to realize that her first name was Susan ;)  She was called "Cordelia" by her family, so her first name was rarely used.  

A photo of her tombstone may be viewed here.  Her tombstone is also listed on Find A Grave, here.

Sentimental Sundays: Granny's Front Porch

On the front porch with Granny-
Watching her lazily swing back and forth,
Her floral cotton dress dotted with
Spots of dark perspiration,
Her tosseled hair dampened with
The sweat of summer's dew.

Silly giggles echo
From my summer time friend and I,
As we throw pebbles from the gravel driveway
At buzzing bumble bees
Trying to steal sweet nectar from Granny's flowers.

Our dirty bare feet
Rush us to grab a fishing net
Just in the nick of time,
To greet hummingbirds that flock
Around Granny's pink crepe myrtles.
Mischievous laughter from silly girls
As we watch the scarlet wings flutter by
Lightening quick, too fast for untrained hands.

Then suddenly Granny's annoyed threats
Thunder above our loud laughter, and
Capture our brief childish attention,
And we watch her lazily swing
Back and forth, holding
A thin wooden twig, swooshing it
Over the hem of her floral cotton dress
As if to frighten us with the threat of lashes
Upon our tanned little legs.

We nearly believe her, 
And we sit quietly for a moment,
Which seems like forever
Exchanging playful glances and
Whispering silly nothings,
Sweeping the dusty wooden porch
With our dirty summer feet,
While we watch the return 
Of hummingbirds and bumble bees
Shamelessly steal the
Sweet nectar from Granny's flowers.

In Loving Memory of my Granny,
Susie Johnson

Originally written by Susan Bourgoyne,
July 7, 2010

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Family Socials- Children of Thomas Edward & Susan Cordelia McCain Stogner

Children of Thomas Edward Stogner 
& Susan Cordelia McCain:

The Men:  Preston Jefferson "Press", 
Lewis Edward, Levi and Floyd
The Women:  Stella Mae, Delhia and Evie

My grandfather, Lewis Edward Stogner

Back row:  Lewis Edward Stogner, George Ellis Sorrell,  
Levi Stogner & Lawson Schilling
Front row:  Vella Duncan Stogner, Delhia Stogner Sorrell, 
Stella Mae Stogner, Ozzie Kennedy Stogner & Evie Stogner Schilling

Photos: Courtesy of Bill Reagan

Favorite Photos: A Mother's Love

A Tender Moment

There is no love like a mother's love,
no stronger bond on earth...
like the precious bond
that comes from God
to a mother, when she gives birth.

My daughter, Crissy 
with her newborn son Matthew

Photo from my archives, 2004

Memoirs of Lula Sue Simmons: Part 13, Everyday Miracles

As Mom aged, she thought a lot about the important things in her life.  I can remember Mom being a fanatic about having a clean house when we were growing up.  She worked herself down doing housework, laundry, cooking and still maintained a full time job after her children all started school.  I've often wondered where she acquired the energy to keep up with everything.  As children, my siblings and I were expected to keep our bedrooms orderly and participate in household chores.  As Mom grew older, however, she didn't worry as much about everything being in perfect order.  She realized there were more important things.

As we grew up and married our life would change.  We would have nice homes  nice cars  children who would go to school  come home and play.  No working until dark.  Good food.

Alton is the father of two sons.  Gertie has two daughters and a son.  Elton has three daughters and a son.  Myself the mother of two beautiful daughters and two sons.  But the love between my sister and my two brothers is still there and will always be.

Our mother died on June 18, 1974   she was fifty six years old but had a hundred years of work and hardship on her.  I guess that was the greatess [sic] loss that her children had ever known.

Time to enjoy things.  Not having to worry about dusting  washing  cleaning and cooking.  Your value changes     Your outlook on life is not what you can have, but what you have had.

Sometimes we are too busy raking fall leaves to see the real beauty of them.  To watch a small humming bird feed.  Flying so fast that you can hardly see its little wings.  To see a red bird sitting on a feeder feeding its mate.  The calling of a dove  this is life going on, in a world that we are all a part of.  This is a part of my life that is a everyday miracle.

Because I can see and hear this.  There are a lot of people that can never hear or see this   not because of being deaf or blind but because they are too busy with every days life and care.  To [sic] busy to take time to see real life   to [sic] busy making money to buy things with   that will not matter when life is gone.

I have seen a lot of people die in my time.  A lot of people that didn't have time to see life.  To see a reflection of a mountain in a beautiful lake.  I have seen this.  I have been to the highest mountains peak  have seen the ocean laugh as it greets the sand on the beaches with the roar of giant waves.

I have seen the great redwood trees that reached for the sun and heavens.  To walk among these gaint [sic] trees makes you feel God's hands in the sun that comes streaming through the gaint [sic] branches.

God's laughter in the crash of a gaint [sic] ocean wave.  But most of all God's peace in the clear cool air of a mountain breezes.  In our memories of life there is a lot of things that can never be bought or taken away.

I have always told my childrens [sic] it is not what life can do for you but what you can do with life.

While reading this part of Mom's memoirs, I reflected back to the times she and I have sat on her porch and enjoyed watching the birds feed.  During spring, she placed three or four hummingbird feeders out and before long she had broods of the little birds fighting for their places on the feeders.  I also thought of how much joy Mom had while on her vacations.  She thoroughly enjoyed traveling and seeing new places.  

Here are just a few snapshots of her while on her trips:

The West Coast

The West Coast

The Northwestern United States

Disneyworld in Florida (Mom & her friend Irene)

Beaches of the East Coast

Friday, January 20, 2012

Memoirs of Lula Sue Simmons: Part 12, Circle of Friends

There is nothing like a good friend.  Mom had plenty of them- whether related or not, she cared deeply about her circle of friends.  She enjoyed their conversation and the time spent with them.  She wrote lovingly about them in her memoirs:

I have had the good fortune of having a lot of good friends in my lifetime.  Two very special ones has a very special place in my heart.  Carol and Daisy.  

Carol's friendship has no boundary she accepts me as is.  Mistakes and all.  Daisy and I go back a long way together.  We have traveled a lot together and we have shared a lot of good times and a lot of special memories that no one can never take away.

In May of 1997 my sister a cousin and myself wented [sic] to Wyoming to see another cousin Pearl.  Elaine and Gertie had never seen the great Rocky Mountains that reached up to touch the blue skies.  Snow that looked liked [sic] the angel wings.

Or a waterfall that roars down the mountain into a beautiful stream of water.  To walk among the Indian Cliff dwelling were [sic] a very great and powerful people lived.  The frist [sic] real American people who has had their lands, God and honor taken from them.  Have been lied to cheated and killed for their way of life.  As we walked through their homes listen to their music you can feel their pain.

Have I losted [sic] my zest for life?  Why no.  I'm like a large dead oak tree standing in the middle of a field.

I might not have any pretty leaves lefted [sic] or new branches.  But when a stroam [sic] comes through I don't have to worry about those new branches or new leaves getting blown off.  I have old limbs and no leavs [sic] to lose.  But I still have things to do.

God made a lot of beautiful things and I intent [sic] to see most of them.  Who knows I might live long enough to see one of my daughters learn how to make dumplings or cook a big Christmas dinner without me being there.

This part of Mom's memoirs stirs up emotions within me.  Once her health started failing, Mom didn't have many years left to travel and see all the things she wanted to.  Yes, she was fortunate to have seen a lot of beautiful places, but there was so much more she wanted to do.  It's just that her tired and aged body wouldn't cooperate with her plans.  For years she had talked about wishing to go to Alaska.  That is one place she didn't get to see.  

As far as me or Sandy learning how to make dumplings, no- that has not worked out either.  I have tried and failed miserably.  I chose to leave that to someone else.  I have learned to cook a big Christmas dinner without Mom being there, but only because I have been forced to.  

I'm grateful that Mom had devoted friends who shared so much in her life.  She had great memories of their travels together, their fun and laughter and also of the times they held each other up when life was tough.  

Here are just a few photos of Mom and those she was honored to call her Friends:

Faithful friends- Mom & Carol

Friends for life- Mom & Daisy (they were cousins too!)
Showing off their catch of the day ;)

Their big trip to Wyoming
Elaine, Pearl, Mom & Gertie