Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sharing Memories 2012 (Week 9): Secret Vows

I remember Mom and Dad talking about this little "secret" years ago, when they were younger.  Their "love story" means even more to me now.

They wanted more out of their relationship. They wanted to begin making plans for a future.... for their future, together.

Mom and Frank had discussed planning a wedding but felt that their families would interfere because they were against it. What were they to do now? They wanted to marry anyway, despite how others felt about it. They were both adults and were capable of making their own decisions, after all. Perhaps when their families realized how much they loved each other, they would come to their senses and accept their relationship. They decided that, no matter what others believed, they were going to do what their hearts told them to do.

It was Thursday, December 8, 1960 when Mom and Frank tied the knot. Mom and I were dressed in our Sunday best. She could hardly wait for Frank to appear. This was the day they had chosen to marry. They would keep it a "secret" for a little while, and would continue to live apart until they could afford their own place. They would tell their families about their commitment when they could finally move in together. It would not be long now because Frank had saved nearly enough to get their own place.

They drove out into the country, to a small store where the Justice of Peace resided and operated his business. With me between them, Mom and Frank stood there and recited their wedding vows. This is the day they had long awaited. It was not the kind of wedding ceremony that they had hoped for, but nonetheless, they were now husband and wife.

After the marriage vows were exchanged, Mom and Frank (and me, of course) spent a little time together riding in the country and sharing thoughts about their ceremony and their future together. They had wished that their families could have partaken in their ceremony. They had wished that they could have gone on a honeymoon, away from it all, just the two of them. That would have to wait. For now, they were excited about getting their own place and beginning their new lives together.

For the next two weeks, Mom and Frank managed to keep their marriage a secret. They saw each other as often as they could, just like before. However, there was some "talk" going on among family members and some of them grew suspicious.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sharing Memories 2012 (Week 8): Dilemmas

More from Dad's memories:

They were finally together again. It had been one long year of missing each other, of pouring out their feelings onto paper. At last they were back in each others arms. During the year apart, they both realized that they wanted to take their relationship further. They knew that one day they would marry. Now that Frank was discharged from the Navy and settled in at home, there were plans to be made, plans for the future....

Frank took a job and decided to live with his grandmother until he could save enough money to move into an apartment of his own. He spent as much time as possible with Mom during his evenings and days off. They spoke of marriage often but had some reservations about planning a wedding right away. They were facing some unresolved issues at the time.

Mom knew her mother was not particularly fond of Frank; she thought that Frank considered himself "too good" for their family. She assumed this because Frank was better educated and more reserved than most members of Mom's family. Her assumptions were based on misconceptions, of course. She feared Mom was "rushing into things too quickly" and wanted Mom to realize that she was still a young woman and had plenty of time for marriage... later.

Frank had hinted to his grandmother about the possibility of asking Mom to marry him. Frank's grandmother did not agree. She thought that it would be a mistake because Mom had already been married and divorced once, and furthermore had a child from that marriage. She told Frank that he should date other women.... single women with no children. She feared that he was "getting in over his head" if he married a woman who already had a child.

Despite the opinions of those they loved dearly, Mom and Frank continued to see each other.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sharing Memories 2012 (Week 7): Coming Home

The story continues from my Dad's memories:

When Frank left home to return to his duty abroad, he had one more year to fulfill his obligation. He had previously considered staying in the Navy and retiring, since the benefits were outstanding. However, Mom was not keen on the idea of traveling abroad and moving constantly from one place to another. At that time, she was still very attached to her own family and already had one child in tow. After several discussions about it, through letters, Frank decided that he would finish his obligation to the Navy then come back home, to the woman he had fallen in love with, the one he intended to marry.

Mom and Frank could hardly wait until the year was completed. They were both anxious to see each other again, to be together. The frequent letters to each other kept their hope alive.

In October, 1960 the long awaited day finally arrived. Frank was honorably discharged from active duty in the Navy. He would be coming home.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Thomas Edward Stogner Family

Thomas Edward & Susan Cordelia McCain Stogner
with sons Levi and Floyd (in front)
Photo taken c. 1920, courtesy of Bill Reagan

My great-grandparents

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: James Moree & Bertie Johnson Moree

MAY 7, 1903
AUG. 22, 1966

AUG. 27, 1911
MAR. 3, 1986

Pleasant Hill Apostolic Church Cemetery
Foxworth, Marion County, Mississippi

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

Monday, February 6, 2012

Historical Photos: Thomas L. & Melissa Ann Crawley Sumrall

Melissa Ann Crawley

Thomas L. Sumrall

Melissa Ann Crawley was the daughter of John Crawley and Mary "Polly" Merritt.  She was born 09 November 1854 in Mississippi and died 23 March 1920 in Hackley, Washington Parish, Louisiana.  She married Thomas L. Sumrall on 13 November 1881 in Marion County, Mississippi.  After marriage, the couple settled in Louisiana and had five children:  Jannette "Nettie", Lizzie, Angelean, Missouri and Alice.   Melissa and Thomas are both buried in the Crain Cemetery, Washington Parish, Louisiana.

Melissa was the sister to my 2nd great grandmother, Sabra Crawley.  Therefore, she is my 2nd great grand aunt.  

Photo courtesy of Sylvia Elaine Herrin.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sharing Memories 2012 (Week 6): Oceans Apart

I'm interrupting my own childhood memories to write about the beginnings of a long relationship- that of my Mom and her second husband, who I would come to know as "Dad".  I am writing this from the memories of my Dad, though my Mom briefly told the same story many years ago.  

Modern technology has provided us with wireless home phones, pagers, cellular phones, ear phones, and iphones. We can communicate with anyone at anytime around the globe. Some would say we are very fortunate to have these great amenities in our modern lives.

Things were quite different in 1960. Most households in the south were not furnished with even a simple home telephone. If they were fortunate enough to have a home phone, it was usually tied into a "party line" which means the phone line was shared with a neighbor or two. International calls were impossible to make from the rural homes of south Mississippi. Therefore, letters were written and mailed.

So it was with my Mom. She began writing to a young man whom was then in the Navy. Frank was from her hometown and was a "friend of a friend". He had come home on a 30-day leave from the service. On his very first day at home, a weekend night, he received a call from his sister asking him to accompany her and a gentleman friend to a club in Bogalusa which was about an hour drive away. Frank was hesitant, reminding her that he had just returned home and furthermore did not want to be the "odd" one in a group of three. Minutes later, Frank's sister called again, this time convincing him to go out that night since she had arranged a "blind date" for him. This "blind date" was none other than my Mom. Apparently, she was fortunate enough to find a babysitter that night.

The date between my Mom and this gentleman that night was only the beginning of a new relationship. During the next few weeks, Mom went on several dates with Frank, taking me along on most of them. I was there, between them, as they went on dates to the drive-in movies and theatres, fairs and restaurants. Their time together would pass all too quickly. As Frank prepared to return to duty, he vowed he would stay in touch with Mom.

Thus the letters began. The letters that would become longer and more frequent....words that expressed how much they missed each other and longed to be together. As their feelings for each other grew, they began writing about commitments and a future together. The only thing that separated them then was distance, for they were oceans apart.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday: Granny's Biscuit Bowl

Wooden biscuit bowls, also called dough bowls, were a standard household accessory in the kitchens of our ancestors.  Most often these hand-carved bowls were used for nothing but biscuits.  I inherited this one from my mother.  She said it originally belonged to her grandmother and it was passed down to her mother.  I feel so blessed to have this precious heirloom as part of my family collection!  It is probably close to a century old, if not more.  I'm curious about the type of wood it was carved from- it is a soft, velvety wood, or has it become soft from aging?  I would like to one day take it to an antique expert and get more information on it.  I can just "picture" my great grandma standing in her kitchen with her hands in this bowl, turning and kneading dough for homemade biscuits- there's just no telling how many biscuits took form in this old wooden bowl.

Emily Elizabeth Stogner, 1876-1962, Walthall County MS

Emily Elizabeth Stogner was born November 1876 in Marion County, Mississippi, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Stogner and Elizabeth Stubbs.  She was my paternal great-grand aunt.  She married John Albert Lowery on 16 December 1896 in Marion County, Mississippi.  He was born March 1862 in Smith County, Mississippi, the son of John and Louisa Lowery.  

Emily's husband, John Albert, died 26 July 1961.  Emily died in 1962.  She is buried in Oral Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, Walthall County, Mississippi.

Children of Emily Elizabeth Stogner and John Albert Lowery:
Nettie Elizabeth Lowery
John Thomas Lowery
Ralph "Rayford" Lowery
Ouida Lowery
Georgia Vermell Lowery
Mildred P. Lowery
Seth Lowery
Addie Lowery
Lillie Lowery
Robert Lowery

More About Emily Elizabeth Stogner:
Historical Photo:  John Albert & Emily Elizabeth Stogner Lowery

Those Places Thursday: Jack's Sandwich Shop

Jack's Sandwich Shop is one of the oldest businesses in Columbia, Mississippi.  For decades, Jack's has offered delicious, old-fashioned hamburgers and chili dogs from their location in Courthouse Square.   While I was growing up in the 1960's, Jack's was one of the most popular places to eat in our town.  I remember the times that Grandma Stogner and I walked to town during her shopping trips- they always ended with us sitting on one of the wooden benches at Jack's, eating a hamburger or chili dog and fries.  Sometimes I would get an extra treat- a delicious old-fashioned ice cream cone!  Great memories and great food are part of the history of Jack's Sandwich Shop.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Historical Photo- John Albert & Emily Elizabeth Stogner Lowery

Emily Elizabeth Stogner was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Stogner and Elizabeth Stubbs. According to the records I have available, she was born November 1876 in Marion County, Mississippi and died 1962 in Walthall County, Mississippi. She married John Albert Lowery on December 16, 1896 in Marion County. The couple settled in Walthall County and had several children. They were married over 60 years when John Albert died in 1961. Both are buried in Oral Missionary Church Cemetery in Walthall County.

Emily Elizabeth Stogner was my great grand aunt. A copy of this photo, taken probably between 1950-60, was given to me by Bill Reagan. I was thrilled to get it, thanks Bill!