Sunday, November 27, 2016

Free Kindle Book - Giving Tuesday

"It is the early 1900’s in rural Mississippi along Cohay Creek, where people are scarce and stately virgin pine timber is plentiful.

Caleb Smitherlin, a talented blacksmith, has a wife dying of cancer and a teenage son who tries every way possible to please his critical father. Caleb is torn. On the one hand, he loves Mathilda with every bone in his body, but on the other, he needs the company o
f another woman.

The Gypsies he allows to camp on his land near Cohay Creek receive hate and distrust from the people of Taylorsburg. Walthere, the Gypsy leader, and Rosalie, his wife, become close friends of the Smitherlin family, even though Gypsies rarely mix with people outside their clan and especially not gentiles.

Esmeralda, the Gypsy fortune teller, encourages Red Felty’s idea that his wife Ruby and Caleb Smitherlin are having an affair." .............

Would you like to read more about this?

This is just an excerpt from "Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek".....written by Mary Lou Cheatham and Sarah Walker Gorrell.

It's what we call "factual fiction" (borrowed that from another author). It can be downloaded from Amazon, for FREE, on Giving Tuesday!!  (Our Christmas you!!)

#GivingTuesday #FreeKindleBook #TravelersinPaintedWagonsonCohayCreek #Free  #Download

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Cemeteries hold the key.....

Anyone who knows me knows anything about me, or has read anything I’ve written knows that I love country roads, cemeteries, genealogy, cemeteries, family, cemeteries, travel, cemeteries……you’ve got the idea!

This past Saturday, at the Historical Society Meeting in Raleigh (if you have any interest in your family lineage and/or Smith County, we’d love to have you join us!), one of the members, who is also a distant relative, mentioned that one of my Allen ancestors (a ggg- aunt) had been confined to the Mental Hospital in Meridian and was buried in that cemetery. (My Granny Walker’s mother was an Allen.)

This ggg-aunt was born in 1829 and lived, per census records, most of her life with her parents. In the Smith County census of 1880, she was still living with my ggg-grandmother. She was approximately 50 years of age and my ggg-grandmother, a widow, was 78.

In 1882, legislation was passed establishing the East Mississippi State Insane Asylum and in 1885, the hospital opened 2 miles west of Meridian. I am assuming that ggg-grandma Allen died sometime between 1880 and 1885, hence the reason the “insane” ggg-aunt had to go to a Mental Hospital.

Again, anyone who knows me understands that this is a mystery to be unraveled. Even though there was a heat advisory, on Sunday, I just HAD to go find this grave. I coerced cousin, Pam Walker, to ride along with me. After all, I had already located the other Allen grave in the cemetery at the Ellisville State School. I have to admit, this was beginning to be a little unnerving ……all these ancestors ending up in mental facilities! (Bob had always laughed and commented that everyone in Smith County was so related, he didn’t know how we could “walk and chew gum, at the same time.”)  I miss him, terribly, but I think this was one time I was glad he wasn’t around!

The directions to the East Central Mississippi State Hospital, also known as Cedar Haven, stated that the cemetery was at the west end of 22nd Street. Have you ever tried to find anything in Meridian? The streets start and stop. We’d be on 22nd and it would end and we’d have to zig and zag until we found it, again. We stopped at a convenience store to ask directions, and the two female clerks spoke absolutely NO English!!

We got to the end of 22nd street, in the absolute worst part of town and there was no cemetery. Everyone we stopped to ask, shrugged their shoulders…..they had no idea where the “old cemetery for the insane” was located. We were already hot and tired and probably looking pretty scary!

Finally, we decided to use Pam’s GPS, on her phone!! Maybe we needed to be in that hospital. We had driven around for an hour – why didn’t we think of this sooner?
We located the East Central Mississippi State Hospital on Highland Street. It’s a huge facility that seems to be in the process of growing. Are they expecting that many more people? Anyway, we got directions from a very nice young security guard …..who had no idea there was a cemetery ……but she made a phone call, got and gave excellent directions.

After following her directions, suddenly we were, again, at the end of 22nd Street (in another block)…..and there was the cemetery with a locked gate!  The optimist cousin Pam  said, “we can crawl under.” I looked at the bottom of the locked gate….and the ground…..and wondered how badly I wanted to find this woman’s grave (on this very hot day.)

I’m not sure why the gate was locked ….unless it was thought that someone might steal a body. There was ample (well, not really ample) room between the locked gate and the post to which it was attached…..we were able to squeeze (literally) through.

We walked the cemetery, checking each tombstone. Again, as in the Ellisville State School cemetery, most stones were state issued and were small with name and dates of birth and death. Unlike Ellisville, most of these stones were set above the ground. In the older section, the stones were of concrete and only contained a number …..etched into the stone….probably the “Inmates ID” number.

I’m not sure how many acres the cemetery covered. After all the makeup on my face had melted into my eyes, and I began to feel like I couldn’t breathe, it felt like 100! (I think it was probably 5 acres.)

Unfortunately, we didn’t find the ggg-aunt, but I did take a photo of a tombstone with a familiar last name – Hosey. When I got home and began checking, I discovered that he’s my 1st cousin twice removed (his mother was an Allen.) 

Can I say that now I’m just a little more than concerned.  All these family members in a Mental Institution. Yep, it’s probably a good thing Bob Gorrell isn’t around right now. 

Cemeteries hold the key to our past - and possibly - to our future!! 
#Cemeteries #Hosey #Allen #EastMississippiStateInsaneAsylum #Meridian

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's the Small Things.......

Sometimes, it’s the smallest of things that brightens one’s day or makes one smile.

I’ve been tracing various families, in my trees, for a number of years. Recently, the focus has been on the Allen family. My grandmother, or Granny, as we all called her was Annie Catherine (Gibson) Walker. Her mother, my great grandmother, was Courtney Alice Allen. For the most part, the Allens were a great bunch of people – with the exception of Grandma Courtney’s brother, Matt.

Matt Allen had a farm over in Jasper County and his mother, great-great grandma Permelia Allen lived with him after great-great grandpa Hardy Allen (great grandma Courtney’s father) died. Two of gg grandpa Hardy’s and gg grandma Permelia’s daughters had died and left orphans (Pete Hosey, age 10, and Little Jimmy Bethea, age 24 who was mentally challenged).Gg grandma Permelia and her two orphan grandsons lived with her son Matt.

Matt had a farm with cattle but he was also a bootlegger. Because Little Jimmy Bethea was mentally challenged, his Uncle Matt was very abusive to him. Old newspaper articles mention how Little Jimmy was starved and beaten. I’ve often wondered where gg grandma Permelia was when this was going on. Was she afraid of her son, Matt? Is that why she didn’t speak up?

Apparently, Little Jimmy told someone that his Uncle Matt had a Moonshine Still, and Matt beat him, to death. There was a trial, in Jasper County, back in the spring of 1924 and Matt was sentenced to life behind bars, in Parchman.

Money talked back then, just as it does today. Matt sold his cattle and was able to accumulate enough money to buy his way out of prison. He was sent to live, for the remainder of his life, in the Ellisville State School.

I’m not sure why I cared, but I wanted to find his grave. (It’s just one of those things that genealogists do.)  I searched online on Find A Grave and in old Jones County Cemetery books, to no avail. Susan Blakeney, the expert on Genealogy at the Library in Laurel suggested that Matt might have been buried in Ellisville, at the State School.

It was the day before July 4th and I had taken my cousin, Hilda Grace Craft Bynum, in search of a vehicle – in Ellisville. After looking at the car, I decided to go to the Ellisville State School and search through their cemetery, if there was one!

The state of Minnesota always talks about “Minnesota Nice”….but Mississippi has that, too! I was so impressed with both the young men who helped me that hot afternoon. Nathan Fayard, the young policeman who led us to the oldest of the two cemeteries at Ellisville, walked through with us as Hilda Grace and I looked for Matt Allen’s grave.

The gravestones, supplied by the state of Mississippi, were buried flat in the ground. I was surprised how far apart the graves were spaced. They could have buried two people in the space where they only allowed one.

I had no idea that I would locate his grave. Imagine my surprise when suddenly, there it was!! I had found him on the 1940 Census of Jones County, still in Ellisville School as an inmate, and I had no idea when he died. There was his gravestone with the dates 1881 – 1958. He had lived until he was 77 years of age, and had been sent there when he was 43. He had lived 35 years of his life in the Ellisville State School. Had he gone to Parchman, he might have suffered for abusing a child. I wondered, did that also happened at Ellisville?

By his gravestone was a small figurine of a dog, that had been there for awhile. Someone had visited the grave. He had no wife and no children, so who?

Finally, I was able to close the book on this horrible story. I didn’t like Matt Allen but I could put him to rest.  Now, if only I could find out where Little Jimmy Bethea was buried!! 

Thank you to wonderful Ellisville State employees who went out of their way to be so helpful. It’s the small things that count!!
#MattAllenGrave #EllisvilleStateSchoolCemetery #JimmyBethea #PermeliaWindhamAllen 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Double Yellow Line

As I stared up at the narrow dimly lit flight of stairs ascending almost straight up, I wondered if this had been a poor choice.  As a “Road Warrior” spending every week on the road, I began to think that switching from a hotel to a Bed and Breakfast might be a good change.

My client was near the Chesapeake Bay, in such a beautiful area; surely there was a wealth of places from which to choose.  After searching the Yellow Pages, I discovered that there weren’t that many.  I settled on what seemed to be the closest and made the call to get reservations and directions.

In giving directions, the owner of the Bed and Breakfast told me to “follow the double yellow line”.  Not wanting to appear stupid, I didn’t question “What yellow line?”  I figured it would become apparent. And finally, it was.  You know those lines; the two down the middle of the road!  I had informed him that I’d arrive later in the evening. His instructions had been that the key would be left under the flowerpot by the front door.  He had also said there was only one other guest in the B&B that week.

I drove down the dark street, passing row after row of apartment buildings, always following that double yellow line. I thought that it certainly didn’t look like an area where one would find a Bed and Breakfast.  Suddenly, the street (and the double yellow line) came to a dead end into another street. Apparently, I had missed the B&B.  When driving and being faced with the decision to turn around, I ALWAYS turn to the right. Why? I have no idea. Thankfully, for some reason, I turned left.  There, looming in front of me was a monstrous house that looked like it might have been the setting for “The Addams Family” television series.

I slowly drove forward and pulled into what had once been a driveway but was overgrown.  The yard appeared to be a couple of weeks past the scheduled mowing.  I walked through the tall grass and up onto the unlit front porch of the old two-storied Victorian style mansion.  Looking into the foyer through the old beautiful frosted, beveled glass door; the subdued lighting reminded me of a funeral parlor!  I hadn’t gotten a description of the house, but I did note that there was a flowerpot in the grass, by the front steps.  I experienced mixed emotions as I groped in the dark, under the pot. I hoped this was the right house, for I didn’t relish having someone call the police because I was plundering in front of their house. I also wasn’t quite sure how I felt about going inside this darkened old relic.  When my fingers touched the key, I don’t know whether I felt relief or dismay.

I went back to the car and retrieved my luggage and briefcase.  I came back to the front door and followed the instructions given by the owner. I went inside and began to search for the back staircase.  As I passed through the living room, dining room and kitchen to the backstairs, I noted the high-ceilings and rooms furnished with beautiful antiques. Had they been family heirlooms passed from generation-to-generation or did something have a penchant for estate sales?   

As I lugged first, my luggage, and then my briefcase up the narrow, steep stairs I decided to score one for hotel elevators.  From the description I’d been given, I knew I was going to be staying in  “The Baltimore Room”. It was a beautifully appointed room - green and white striped wallpaper, an antique four-poster bed, and an adjoining bath containing an old bathtub with claw feet.  I went through my “week on the road arrival routine” and unpacked all the essentials.   All the while, I had one ear tuned to listen for any other sounds in the house, and I heard nothing.  Score two for the noise in hotel corridors.

After I finished unpacking, I decided it was time to call home and let my hubby know that I’d arrived safely.  I looked around the room and found that there was no telephone (and this was before cell phones).  I had left the room door open while going through the unpacking routine, I closed the door ready to lock up for the night, and I discovered not only did the room have no phone, the door had no lock!  At this point, I decided that hotels weren’t so bad after all.  The score pad, in my mind, was leaning heavily in their favor.

The antique four-poster bed was very comfy, but it didn’t matter. Attempting to sleep in a room with no phone and no lock on the door wasn’t to be in the cards for me that night.

Breakfast was to be served at 7:00 a.m. At 6:45, I still had heard no sounds in the house.  I finally went downstairs, at almost 7:00, to ask for an iron (that I really didn’t need) just so I could look for another human being.  I walked into the kitchen and found a man who didn’t seem surprised to see a strange person coming down his stairs.  At least I was in the right place even though I had already decided that I had made a wrong decision.  He searched the kitchen cabinets, looking for the iron I had requested. Every cabinet he opened looked like they might have belonged to Fibber McGee and Molly. They were crammed with books and papers and everything but something related to a kitchen. I couldn’t imagine anyone being able to prepare anything edible from what I was seeing.  He finally turned, and in apparent desperation said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think we have one of those”.  I was just happy I hadn’t really needed one!

I’m sure a genie must have prepared the breakfast.  It was quick and good and in the dining room by 7:00.  And we (the other guest appeared at breakfast) heard the story of the house, which was on the National Historic Register. It truly was a beautiful home and had my husband been with me, it probably would have been a great choice. 

My client knew that I had made the change from the hotel to the B&B, so when I arrived for work that morning they anxiously awaited hearing how my adventure had turned out.  Once I told my story, I ended it with “And, I think this was probably one of the most stupid things I’ve ever done.”  One of the men looked at me and asked, “Did you check out this morning?”  I replied, “No, I made a commitment for the week, so I thought I should stay.”  He shook his head and commented, “Nope that was the most stupid thing you’ve done.”

In later years when I tired of staying in hotels and began considering the coziness of a B&B – the house at the end of the double yellow line was quickly a reminder that elevators and noise aren't so bad...and locks on doors are preferred.      3
#B&B #followthedoubleyellowline #travel #choices #antiques #victorianhouse #addamsfamilyHouse #consultant #roadwarrior

Friday, October 28, 2016

One Is Silver And the Other Gold

It was a beautiful September afternoon “way up in the country” in the backwoods of Smith County. Jay and Claudia Mae McIntosh Arender had opened their beautiful home in Polkville, MS to yet another reunion of the THS Class of 1959. 

I rode up to the reunion with Johnny and Carolyn Mims Barr (and enjoyed the trip almost as much as the reunion). I hadn’t realized how large Smith County really is … square miles. ‘Course, we do live on the bottom end and Polkville is almost to Scott County.

The Arenders own the Music Barn in Polkville, and about four times each year they host a week long Bluegrass Festival. The Class of ’59 reunion (which is held every year) is scheduled to coincide with the Festival. The Music Barn is just that – a barn.  The spacious open-air facility, with a stage and sound equipment for performers, will accommodate several hundred people.  

Where do all these people stay? you ask. In Polkville? No, Polkville hasn’t built any lodging facilities. But the Arenders do have an RV Campground – adjacent to the Music Barn. Quite enterprising, I’d say. There were campers of every type – big elaborate, expensive buses, motor homes, fifth wheels, pop ups, pull behinds, Class C (camper is attached to a pickup truck), and tents.  

Claudia Mae McIntosh was Miss THS back in 1959 and a graduate of that class. Her family owned the old Melroy Theatre which has been purchased by Steve Bruntlett and his wife, Melissa, who have remodeled it and she now has her Accounting firm there.

Back about 1952-53, I attended school at THS …..or maybe it would have been TES. Our family lived in Taylorsville between our years in Columbia, MS and Louise, MS. I developed friendships then, and in the summers during my high school years, when I would spend time with my Granny on Fellowship Road, and my Aunt Mary and Uncle Ray who owned the Philco Store in town.

Then came marriage and family and very few trips back to Taylorsville, so friendships made in those early years weren’t forgotten…..they just fell by the wayside. 

In 1994, my husband Bob and I were in Fellowship Cemetery cleaning up my mother’s fresh grave when Joe Carl Smith approached me and asked “are you Sarah Walker?”  From that year forward, I began to be included in the reunion of the Class of 1959 – it didn’t matter that I hadn’t graduated with them.

This year was no exception once again I was invited to attend the annual get together of this class that has been out of school for 57 years! This time, I attended – and I couldn’t have been happier that I did. There were those faces, from all those years ago – all those people with whom I had been friends. They were still friends. They still remembered me, and I remembered them.

There were so many I hadn’t seen, in all those years. What a wonderful rush of emotion and excitement to see (and hug) someone that you considered a dear friend – all those years ago.

Yep, it was such a wonderful afternoon “way up in the country.” Good food, good friends, and wonderful hosts – our lives were full of so many blessings. Perfect day.

 I was reminded of that old saying…….”Make New Friends, but Keep the old, one is Silver and the Other Gold.”
#Classof1959 #THS #TES #PolkvilleMS #ArenderMusicBarn #TaylorsvilleMS #57Years

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Dream Comes True.......

It is the early 1900’s in rural Mississippi along Cohay Creek, where people are scarce and stately virgin pine timber is plentiful.

Caleb Smitherlin, a talented blacksmith, has a wife dying of cancer and a teenage son who tries every way possible to please his critical father. Caleb is torn. On the one hand, he loves Mathilda with every bone in his body, but on the other, he needs the company of another woman. 

The Gypsies he allows to camp on his land near Cohay Creek receive hate and distrust from the people of Taylorsburg. Walthere, the Gypsy leader, and Rosalie, his wife, become close friends of the Smitherlin family, even though Gypsies rarely mix with people outside their clan and especially not gentiles. 

Esmeralda, the Gypsy fortune teller, encourages Red Felty’s idea that his wife Ruby and Caleb Smitherlin are having an affair. The old Mayhew house on the edge of the slave cemetery is the perfect place for Ruby and her lover to meet. 

This story is filled with intrigue, adultery, drunkenness, bitterness, fights, sweetness, friendship, and some history—all woven together with phrases that will make you feel you are walking deep into the southern swamps of the Cohay Creek. You will find yourself listening for the sounds of the Cohay Swamp panther, wondering if there really is a slave cemetery and sharing the anger and desperation that Jeremy Smitherlin must feel with a dying mother and a father he cannot trust.


Our book is now available on in either print or as a Kindle download.

We will also have it for sale at the Taylorsville Grillin' and Chillin' on Saturday, November 5th.

Thanks to the daughter of the woman who was the midwife (Myrtle Hathorn Gregg) when I was born, my dream (of someday writing a book) has come true!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek

Travelers is the story of Trudy’s friend Jeremy Smitherlin as he finds himself functioning as the adult in his home because his parents have emotional and physical illnesses. 

Jeremy first appeared in The Dream Bucket as the slimy boy who dipped Trudy Cameron’s braids into his ink well. 

He struggles to be perfect so he can win approval. The more he tries to do the right things, the more he irritates Caleb, his papa. Jeremy wants his mother to live, but she moves closer to death. 

Travelers (Gypsies) settle on Cohay Creek, which runs through Caleb’s farm. The captain of the Travelers becomes a friend. 

Although Jeremy would like to live an innocent, carefree life, evil adults slam him into a grown-up world. He learns about gunfights, adultery, drunkenness, physical abuse, and sarcasm. 

Sometimes, despite all his problems, Jeremy has adventures that are fun, such as snacking on a candy bar and soda at a store in Soso or wading in the ice-cold near the Spillway at Gitano, Mississippi.


Authors, Mary Lou Cheatham and Sarah Walker Gorrell, have teamed up to write a novel centered on the area where they were both born and where Mary Lou's mother was the midwife, during Sarah's birth.

Mary Lou grew up in the area, and Sarah's home sits on her family's old home place near the banks of Cohay Creek. She hears the cries of the panther, mentioned in the book, in the spring, and in the fall.

The old Slave Cemetery still exists in the woods near Sarah's home. The Mayhew house, in the book, is based on the house of renowned residents of the area - many years ago. 

The small town of Gitano, Mississippi was named for the Gypsies who inhabited the area.

Many hours were spent on research - indicating that there is much fact in this enjoyable book of fiction.

'Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek' may be downloaded, on Amazon. The print version will be available later this month. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Covington Chronicles - A Must Have

Covington Chronicles III and IV which include 'The Dream Bucket' and 
'Manuela Blayne' - both written by Mary Lou Cheatham are available on Amazon. 

These two books will provide some background information and insight prior to reading our latest addition to this series.

In 'The Dream Bucket', Trudy Cameron, lives in an elaborate Mississippi home with her hypocritical father, William, withdrawn mother, Zoe, and mischievous older brother, Billy Jack. It is the spring of 1909. 

The last session ever at Gravel Hill School comes to a close, as Trudy looks forward to her tenth birthday. She adores Papa until she hears him slap her mother for asking him where he hides his cash. Soon afterward, Billy Jack tells Trudy that Papa ridicules her behind her back. On the last day of school, Papa gives the schoolmarm a noisy smack of a kiss, overheard by all the pupils in the one-room schoolhouse. 

All she has heard leaves her so angry she wishes Papa would die. When he accidentally sets fire to the family mansion and dies in the fire, she is not prepared for the shock. She believes her anger caused her father's death. 

'Manuela Blayne', a novella, is the fourth book in the Covington Chronicles. It is a complete story that stands alone. To understand some of the characters fully, however, it would be beneficial to read The Dream Bucket first. 

Manuela Blayne is the story of one suffering for another.

A new day dawns for Trudy Cameron. She develops a heightened sensitivity to others around her who endure the hurts brought on by circumstances she tries to influence. Trudy starts to realize she cannot change everything, she cannot fix all the bad in her world. At the same time she develops a streak of mischief. Sometimes she is shocked by her own behavior. As she grows up fast, she finds emotions within herself she didn't expect. 

In the summer of 1910, Trudy Cameron witnesses the aftershock of an event that will disturb her the rest of her life.

It is more than the consequences of the crime that concern her. Cruelty dominates the evolving social system of the South, the only home she knows.

Never will she comprehend all the hurt suffered by her friend Manuela Blayne, but Trudy wants to understand. 

She witnesses firsthand what forgiveness can be. She observes hardships she has never imagined. 

In a world that denies mercy to her friend, will Trudy's faith shrink or blossom? She is always honest with herself about her emotions.

Trudy tells her story in first person. 

Come spend some time with the Bentons and Camerons. Delight in the parenting skills of Samuel Benton, as he tries to distract Trudy from her anguish over Manuela Blayne. 

Have a dish of ice cream in the Covington and float on a watermelon in the swim hole at Hot Coffee. Witness the mischief Trudy dares not confess to her parents.

And then, of course, we'll want you to read 'Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek'. Thanks to Matthew (the Hurricane), publishing has been delayed. As soon as it's "on the shelves"....we'll let you know!

Travelers is a continuation of the story of Trudy’s friend Jeremy Smitherlin as he finds himself functioning as the adult in his home because his parents have emotional and physical illnesses. Jeremy first appeared in The Dream Bucket as the slimy boy who dipped Trudy Cameron’s braids into his ink well.

He struggles to be perfect so he can win approval. The more he tries to do the right things, the more he irritates Caleb, his papa. Jeremy wants his mother to live, but she moves closer to death. 

Travelers (Gypsies) settle on Cohay Creek, which runs through Caleb’s farm. The captain of the Travelers, and his wife Rosalie become friends of the family. Some of the residents of the little town of Taylorsburg don’t trust the Travelers and aren’t happy that the Smitherlins have allowed them to live so close to town.  This causes additional problems for Caleb, Jeremy, and the Travelers.

The beautiful and sexy Ruby Felty adds intrigue to the story with her love of good-looking men.

.......Covington Chronicles......a Must Have!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Travelers In Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek

It's ironic how families can become involved in one's life in one way or another. Back in 1941, when I was born - Myrtle Gregg was the midwife who assisted with my birth. She was probably the first to hold me when I saw the "light of day" in Smith County - all those years ago. She helped to give me my beginning.

And now her daughter, Mary Lou Gregg Cheatham Cooke, is helping to give me another beginning.

Mary Lou is a published author with Abi of Cyrene, Secret Promise , The Courtship of Miss Loretta Larson, The Dream Bucket, and Manuela Blayne which are all available on Amazon. (She writes as Mary Lou Cheatham.)

Mary Lou and I met on Facebook - even though we were both Smith County natives.  I'm not sure how our friendship began or who requested whom as a friend. 

I grew up in the MS Delta but visited Taylorsville in the summers, while Mary Lou was growing up in Taylorsville and visiting - in the Delta. 

On one of my many Taylorsville to Dallas trips, I contacted Mary Lou and we met for lunch - in Shreveport. Of course, we discussed writing. Mary Lou was a published author. I was a "wannabe"......someone who writes freelance articles. I had begun a book, and I discussed it with Mary Lou.

I'm not even sure how the "let's write one together" came about - but our connection to Smith County, Taylorsville (which is Taylorsburg, in our book), Cohay Creek and life in a small southern Mississippi community all seemed to make sense. 

"Travelers in a Painted Wagon on Cohay Creek" was actually born in Mary Lou's head - but there is so much of this book that is a part of me and my life. Mary Lou had the ideas and would make suggestions, and I realized what she was thinking and dreaming about was also in my head! We knew we could do this together - it was as if our minds were one - in this venture.

We are thrilled to have completed the first segment of this journey. The manuscript is now in the hands of Beta Readers (or as one friend's son said...."Criticizers"). The cover has been designed, Bio's are being crafted, endorsements are being written, and soon - Travelers will head to the printer.

We have been absolutely amazed at the response from the Beta readers. One wrote: “....ought to be on television...loving this book...cried when I finished it...a great story line...”
#Gypsies #Romanies #CohayCreek

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I Love Trees..........

The old Walker home place on Fellowship Road is full memories. Each child had their own memories and each grandchild has their own set of memories.

Our grandfather passed away in 1950, when I was just 9 years old. I barely remember him. The one memory that I have is of a summer when I was about 5 years old. All their children, my aunts and uncles, were grown and married. I came for a visit. The only thing I remember about that time was riding in the old school bus, on the front seat, between Granny and Grandpa. They took me down to Cohay Creek, so I could wade in the water and play in the sand.

Grandpa owned the school bus, and when school was out for the summer, the yellow body was taken off and the flatbed truck was used, on the farm.

Granny was just 56 when Grandpa died suddenly of a massive heart attack. She continued to live in the little house, on Fellowship Road and she continued trying to farm with hired hands. She had to make a living. She sold timber, even though there wasn’t much to sell – most of her land was used for farming.

In the summer, gardens and fields were full of vegetables for canning and freezing. There was a huge oak tree, in her back yard, where everyone would sit to shell the peas and butterbeans and snap the green beans. It was the tree where watermelons would be piled – ready for cutting. Granny’s theory was that you ate only the heart…..the rest was thrown over the fence into the hog pen.

I loved that old tree because it held so many memories.  I remember the day Bob (my husband) told me that it had to go. It was dying and was hollow inside and one day it would fall and someone could be hurt. I was away, at work, the day the tree came down about 2003. Loving trees, as I do, I must have grieved for it.

I remember when our house was being built and the tree that I always thought of as “Mama’s Bull Tree” had to be cut down. Just to the right of the old corn crib was the huge oak tree. My mother would laugh and tell stories about how she, and my Aunt Hilma (my dad’s oldest sister) had to climb the tree to get away from a charging bull. In my mind, I could see the two of them….hanging onto the tree and screaming and all the while the bull was butting the tree. I remembered the climbing up part of the story I just never remembered hearing the getting down part!
Down behind the garden was the Mulberry Tree. Such a mess they can make, but what wonderful syrup can be made to pour over pancakes, or French Toast, or Waffles! When Hilda Grace (now Bynum) and her mama, Miss Mary Craft, would visit Granny…..Granny’s treat for Hilda Grace was to visit the Mulberry Tree. Her teeth stayed purple, all summer!

When we were kids playing in Granny’s yard she would give us spoons and dishes (if kids play outdoors, these days, it’s with plastic), and we’d play in the dirt under the old water oak that still stands beside the old house. I remember the night, a few years back, when lightning struck the old tree. Bob tried to make me understand that it would have to be cut down. I fought the decision, and the old tree still stands. When winter comes, the Mistletoe thrives in the top, and squirrels chase up and down the tree all summer long. How could I deprive them of their home?

Down under the hill, behind where the old corn crib stood and behind where my house now stands, is the old Pear Tree. Granny passed away in 1973, and the old tree still lives on. It’s one of the first trees to begin blooming, in the spring, and it’s one of the first trees to begin changing color in the fall. I look at the old tree and so many memories of Granny and my mother flood my memory.

I love these old trees of my childhood and when they die it’s as if I’ve lost a good friend. I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. When a tree from my childhood dies, I think a part of me goes with them.

I love trees and I’m surrounded by them! 
#trees #Ilovetrees #FellowshipRoad #GrannyWalker #PearTree #Craft #Bynum #Walker #homeplace

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Never Prepared.....

Two years ago, tonight, was the last night we had you with us. The house was full of family and friends......I had called everyone you had told me you wanted to be here at "the end." Your children, your grandchildren, your siblings, special cousins and friends. You were always such a private person....that was so unlike you to want everyone around you.

I remember, so vividly, the night we put you in hospice.......I didn't realize that the time you had left.....with us......was so short. (We had been to so many doctors in the past few weeks, I am still unable to fathom that one of them didn't have the nerve to tell us you were in the "final stages.")

I will always remember something you said to me......"Mama (that's what you had begun to call me), I must be've called everybody to come home." I didn't lie to you........there was no point. You had called each of your siblings just a couple of weeks earlier and said your told them you were dying. You didn't tell me that same thing.....because I'm sure you knew I would try to "talk you out of it." I had often said "you won't die, on my watch"......even though I had absolutely no control over what was about to happen.

A diagnosis of cancer isn't always a death sentence.....many forms are curable.....but yours wasn't. It was treatable, but not curable. You responded quickly and well to the treatment and almost immediately you were in remission. However, the treatment that put your cancer into remission damaged other organs and brought great pain. From before your diagnosis, when you sprained your back playing golf in North Carolina, you were in pain......we were to learn that it was one of the "benefits" of your type of cancer as well as of the treatments.

The day you were given the diagnosis of cancer you were also given a prognosis......."you probably have five years." You focused on that number......and you didn't make it that long. I wonder if the prognosis had been ten years.....would you have lived longer?

You lived with constant pain and a regular routine of controlled substance meds to attempt to assuage the pain and keep it under control. You weren't ready to leave us but you were ready to die to relieve the pain and suffering. We weren't ready to give you up, but we were ready for you to no longer suffer and for you to finally know some peace. Your quality of life had become more important than the quantity of days you had remaining.

Our family had been preparing, for this moment, from the time of your initial diagnosis......and we learned, at the moment you took your last breath, there is never enough time to prepare to say a final goodbye to one we love.

Tomorrow, while Labor Day is being observed by will be a day of observance, in this house.....the day when you left the arms of those who loved you and awoke, in the arms of Jesus. It won't matter how many days, weeks, months, or years will forever be in our memories and in our hearts.......and we will continue to relive the last week that we spent......with you.

Loving you always........missing you forever......and we would have never been prepared for what was to come.

#MultipleMyeloma #LaborDay #Remembering #BeingPrepared #Hospice #TheFinalWeek

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Do You Remember Where You Were?

On Saturday night, August 27, 2005 after a delicious dinner on the Pontchartrain Lakefront and continued calls to Delta Airlines…..who assured us that our flight on Sunday would be timely, we settled down in our hotel room near the New Orleans airport.

Our children and grandchildren were in various stages of worry and disbelief, elsewhere. Our youngest daughter in Texas was excited “I’ve always wanted to ride out a hurricane!” she said. Our oldest daughter in Pennsylvania was beside herself and couldn’t understand why we were taking such a risk. I’ll never forget our oldest grandson then 15 years of age, telling us “I hope you two lovebirds can swim!” (For the record, only if my head is above the water when my feet are touching the bottom!)

We had absolutely no idea what was ahead, but based on the fact that the television stations were “suggesting” that people begin evacuating……who could help but wonder what we were thinking!

We arrived at the busy NOLA airport earlier than necessary and checked our luggage, curbside…….mistake!  We entered the terminal and immediately knew this was going to end badly. Delta was the only counter open and the lines were miles long. The Delta Arrival boards were showing no arriving planes and the Departure board was showing that our flights were cancelled. And they had taken our luggage!

We went through Security with the hundreds of other hopeful people. Why? I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea, at the time. The Gates were empty…..there were hundreds of passengers, like us…but no Delta employees. (They had followed the evacuation “suggestion”)  Of course there would be no flights out of NOLA…..they weren’t bringing planes, or people, to this disaster that was about to happen, so there would be no plane to take us out.

I began calling Delta in an attempt to reschedule our flights to Las Vegas and Minnesota. As one of their customers who flew weekly and had attained Platinum status, there was a “special” line I could call. The best I could do was to book us on a flight out of Dallas, Texas for 4 p.m., that same day. Sure, that would be an easy trip!  (We hadn’t seen Interstate 10 and the evacuees, leaving NOLA!)

We needed our luggage back, so while I was rescheduling our flights my honey (Bob), and cousin Jimmy’s wife, Pat, went to retrieve the bags. They returned, shaking their heads. It couldn’t be done. We’d have to leave without it. (That was what they said….I knew that wasn’t going to happen.)

I have failed to mention that we had three different personality types in this group. Bob and Pat were both easy-going, patient, get things done, organized. Jimmy was anxious, impatient, and easily agitated. I was probably a combination of some of these things but I was also known for my “authoritative voice.”

And for that reason, I went to get the luggage. I didn’t have time to stand in the “mile long” line at the Delta counter….so I went directly to the counter. Yes, they were screaming at me! I really didn’t care. I didn’t know these people and they didn’t know me, and in all likelihood would never see me again. There was a hurricane coming, I wanted my luggage!

I didn’t ask for our luggage. I demanded it. My argument was they had taken it, curbside, knowing the flights would never take off. I got the luggage!  From that day forward I was called “The Gestapo.” (I never had to act like that, again. I’m reserving it for the next hurricane!)

I have often wondered how much luggage was lost, in that storm, because Delta wouldn’t (said they couldn’t) return it….and those travelers didn’t have an authoritative voice or a “Gestapo” person with them.

We finally arrived in Dallas….and when we got back home, over a week later….there were trees down in our yard.  Two tall pine trees had fallen across our front walk, right beside the 32 oz. cup that was still sitting where it had been, when we left.

We were fortunate……we were back at home and it was safe and sound. Many people weren’t so fortunate.

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing?
#Katrina #August 2005 #Hurricane #Delta

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Legs Murder Case.....

I was on my way back to Taylorsville from Slidell, LA. Not only do I love Story telling, Genealogy, Cemeteries, and old country roads, I also love Antiques. (Takes one to know one!)

I had heard that Picayune (some folks call it Picky-une) had several nice Antique stores, so at Exit 4 I got off the Interstate. I was in no hurry to get back home and there were a few things I wanted …….not needed!

I headed toward town and turned on old Highway 11 to the downtown section. The first Antique store was closed, but I saw a “Flea Market” that was open. I kinda’ like those, too. I stopped and went in and saw, quickly, there was probably nothing I couldn’t live without. Of course, I was wrong….I found some Champagne Flutes, yes, in a Flea Market!

After paying, I asked the owner where the Antique stores were, and I was given directions to Angel’s Place. His exact words were “She’s got some real good stuff.” When I opened the door to Angel’s, my thoughts were “boy, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder!” And there was nothing, in Angel’s Place, that I couldn’t live without!!

After scoping out three good Antique stores, I did find some “real good stuff.” I headed on up I-59. I was determined to go back to McNeill and find the grave of the legs, and the grave where no grass grows. I’m nothing if I’m not inquisitive!

Have you ever gotten someplace and couldn’t remember why you were going? Well, I got to McNeill Cemetery and I could not, for the life of me, remember the last name of the people for whom I was searching. I literally was going to have to search for a grave without any grass.

The Legs Murder Case had occurred in 1930, so I immediately went to the old section of the cemetery. At one point, I decided it should be named The Spiers Cemetery, since that seemed to be the only folks buried there. I was amazed at how many small children and infant’s graves there were. I walked over the entire cemetery…..old section, new section, all sections…..and all the while I was going thru the alphabet, in my mind, trying to remember the last name of the people for whom I was searching.  

Finally, in the middle of the cemetery (some old stones, some newer stones) were two graves and Ouida Keeton’s grave had almost no grass. Ouida had been buried beside the legs of Daisy, the mother she had been accused of murdering some 40 plus years ago (and only her legs were ever recovered.)

They were both buried at the foot of the grave of John Monroe Keeton who had been killed, by a train, at age 37. (John Monroe was Daisy’s husband and Ouida’s father). Apparently, there had been unanswered questions surrounding his death which resulted in his young wife, Daisy, becoming a millionaire at age 29. Had Daisy’s horrible death somehow been the revenge of the God’s for her husband’s mysterious death?

Someday, when you have nothing better to do …find a copy of ‘The Legs Murder Case’ …but be forewarned, it can actually be pretty boring. The book goes into laborious detail, so I found myself skimming through some pages to get to the “meat” (sorry, no pun intended) of the book.

#Laurel #murder #LegsMurderCase #OuidaKeeton #DaisyKeeton

Friday, August 19, 2016

As Easy As.......................

Camping (is living in a Motor Home with all the accoutrements of home, really camping?) in the backwoods of Minnesota has been beautiful.

This state with its thousands of lakes (License Plates boasts 10,000) plentiful with fish, water sports, and winter sports, abundant forests where the tall trees seem to be reaching for the blue skies,  many Nature Trails, hiking and biking trails, Corps of Engineer Campgrounds and private campgrounds nestled in and among the trees – filled with campers of every type.

The almost 50 mile Heartland State Trail established in 1974 was
one of the nation’s first rail corridors to be converted into a hiking/biking trail. The asphalt paved trail follows the shoreline of several of Minnesota’s lakes through forest of towering white pine, spruce, fir and hardwood. In the woods are deer, red fox, porcupine, beaver and some of the largest raccoons I’ve ever seen, in my life!!

This trail is home to many bikers and hikers – and that’s where my problem began. My friend is an avid biker – riding 40, 50 or more miles per day. I, on the other hand, hadn’t been on a bike … years….and then, it wasn’t one of those “fancy” bikes that changed speeds ….and it was a girl’s bike!! And, I never wore a racing helmet……in my life.

The die had been cast. It was decided. I must join my friend riding the Heartland Trail. The Bike was removed from the Bike Rack, on the back of the car, and suddenly I was being shown where the speeds were. My question was….”where’s the brake?”

It was a man’s bicycle. There was no putting my leg through….I must lean the bike over and throw my leg over and then try and stand it up.  Do you know how old I am? Do you know how hard that is? The seat was too high. It was lowered. It was still too high. It was lowered, again. It was still too high. When did I get this short?

I was instructed about starting with my right foot and then getting my left foot going….with confidence….(heck, I think I left that in Mississippi)…..and taking off. I wobbled and wobbled and finally got it stopped. I asked…”Why am I wobbling?” I was told….”because you aren’t riding fast enough to keep it upright.”

The last time my hands were this sweaty was when Bob made me drive the RV on Interstate 20…and the semi trucks were passing me. This was a bicycle, for goodness sake. This wasn’t supposed to be a big deal!

It didn’t turn out well. Yes, the bike and I fell….and I wasn’t even moving when it happened!  (That takes a real Pro.)

I was told, “We’ll practice tomorrow….so you can get better, at this.” I worried, for hours, about how was I going to get out of this. My bruises were beginning to have bruises…and I was sore.

This morning, I suggested that I didn’t “need” any broken bones (at my age)….and hiking might be my speed.

As far as I’m concerned….it may be as easy as riding a bike for some of you, but for me….it’s as easy as falling off one!!