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!!!