2015 in review

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Friday, May 21, 2010
“Dorothy”

“Dorothy,”

“Dorothy, where are you?” O. J. ws calling me.

The thin hand above the hospital bed rail was reaching as if to catch someone rushing by.
“Here I am” I wiped my hands on the bottom of my faded oversized tee-shirt. The antibacterial hand cleaner I’d hurriedly squirted on before wringing my hands under running water was probably not enough to go from putting weeds in the overgrown beds to patient care, but maybe few toxic microbes remained.
The frail figure looked in my direction as I approached the shiny metal hospital bed raised to its maximum height. The cheekbones were like our youngest daughter who prided herself on maintaining her bridal weight of fifteen years before.
I said, “ Did you have a nice nap?
“Who are you?” my husband asked.
“You just called me, Do you want some breakfast now?’ It looks like one of those days. Yesterday he had been lucid much of the morning.
“ I don’t know you. Where’s Dorothy? I want to go home.” The thin fingers jerked at the brightly printed sheet chosen to help his distorted sight.
“I am Dorothy and this is home.” I left the rail down and lowered the bed
O. J.’s head turned slightly in my direction.. Obviously he was both unconvinced and annoyed at this intruder. This daily reorientation was not what one expects from the handbooks and instructions sheets. To the general population, Alzheimer’s is a byword for silly behavior or slight confusion. The grim reality is a juggernaut that grinds down patient and caregivers with its slow steady stealing of memory, of awareness, of sense of place and time. At least he knows my name today. I put my hand on his wrist to reassure him.
He pulled away. “You’re not Dorothy’” He twisted his head to the side and squinted at me. The ophthalmologist had explained that both eyes were good, just as they had been right after the cataract surgery. It was the receptors in the brain that had been damaged in the last stroke. The doctor had said, “He can only see a sliver of color and image, about what you’d see through spaces between you fingers if they were in front of your face.”
It seemed so terribly unfair. For eighteen years he had suffered stokes of varying intensity, much like the one that had killed two of his sisters and crippled a brother. When the confusion began, one neurologist had said multi-infarct dementia or “hardening of the arteries” another had scrawled “Alzheimer’s” across the top of the chart. The dozens of doctors, more tests, and many consultations simply meant ‘ live with it’.

Thank God and David Bronner for early retirement. O. J.’s BFGOODRICH/ UNIROYAL/MICHILIN pension and my teacher retirement benefits meant that we wouldn’t starve. His insurance had flipped over to Medicare when he turned 65. The move from the small frame house where we’d raised our children into a nearby mobile home provided an opportunity to create an intensive care facility near family and friends..
A door cut though the bedroom wall into the bathroom made a way to get the wheelchair near the tub, although it meant all privacy was gone. A bath bench inside the new larger steel bathtub had replaced the flimsy garden spa peculiar to mobile homes.. Bars had been installed vertically and horizontally so he could help pull himself into the tub and stay upright while someone lathered his shrunken limbs with baby soap on a large soft sponge.
Finally he located my face in his narrow range of vision. “ You’re not Dorothy . What are you doing here?”
“Honey, it is me” ‘or I or … whatever’ I pressed the button raising his head. ‘Why argue, he’ll have forgotten in five minutes.’ Some days he would wake up alert and normal as if the 5 years of mental disintegration had been a horrible nightmare.
Once the fog had disappeared for almost a week and we’d celebrated a return to sanity.
I tried my cheerful nonsubjective nurse’s voice. “ How about some orange juice? We’ll have breakfast after the home health nurse comes.”
“Why can’t I go home? Why are you keeping me here? I don’t like this place.”
His hands moved over bed. frame. and pajamas in small jerky movements..
“O. J. we are home . Remember when we moved down to Missy’s trailer, so we could have a wheelchair ramp. There’s your chest of drawer that you’ve kept clothes in for fifty years. And your mirror is over there. All of your stuff’s here.” I patted the mahogany chest making a trail in the dust.
“Get Dorothy, take me home now.” Echoes of the drill sargeant fifty years ago were in his voice.
“ I am Dorothy and it’s time for you to get up .” I put my left arm around his bony shoulder and the right hand under his knees and pivoted him to a sitting position on the side of the bad. I placed his right hand on the bed rail to keep him safe until I could pull the wheelchair closer just enough space to move him.
“Are you ready for a ride in your wheelchair?” I placed my knees flanking his, reached under his arms, and hugged him into a semistanding position. His grip on the back of my shirt was surprisingly strong. Another pivot like a clumsy dance step, had him in front of the wheelchair. and I bent my knees slowly lowering him into the chair. He grabbed the armrests like a novice on a bumpy place ride. I pulled the footrests to the front, locked them in position and guided his feet in place.
As I straightened up it seemed that his eyes were a little brighter. Sometimes activity made him lucid . The face I’d known for 38 years was unfamiliar in its thin emptiness but the eyes were searching for something to focus on.
. O. J. tilted his head as his eyes focused on me.
“Are you somebody I know?’ Plaintively.
My image in the mirror grimaced back at me with the dirty smudge across my check from the flower I had just planted. Just keep it steady. He can’t help it.
“I am your wife, your best friend, and your housekeeper, and your cook and your private duty nurse and your own true love. I’m David’s mother and Missy’s mother and Ryan’s grandmother, and Zac’s great grandmother,” I sing-songed as I rolled him to the table and locked the wheel. “ We’ve have six kids, 13 grandchildren, and soon we’ll have 5 great grandsons. And David’s going to be a grandfather.” Just the sound of my voice seemed to stop the fidgeting, even if he didn’t understand all the words.
He turned toward the sound of my voice. “I know David. Where’s David?”
“He’s gone to work. He came by early this morning to help me change you before he went to the river. He’ll come back tonight after he sells the mussel shells. That trip to Clanton always makes him late.” The last time O. J. had made that trip alone to help David he lost his way and went to Selma, and Montgomery before finding his way up highway 82 to Tuscaloosa, then Romulus and me. It had taken 14 hours and I was frantic. After that I drove him wherever we had to go.
“How about some eggs and ham and biscuits with your orange juice?” I spread a bath towel over his chest and lap. He fingered the towel and explored the hard surface of the table above it. His eyes searched the sun warmed kitchen until they focused on me again like an anchor to his world.
“Are you kin to me or something?’
“No, this is not Mississippi. You couldn’t have married me if we were kin’”
“oh…”
Ding-dong…Ding-dong.
“Honey, your orange juice will have to wait. It’s the nurse who gives you your bath.”
“Come on in,” I said loud enough for the nurse to hear from outside.

The slender blonde in a brightly figured knit nurse uniform entered, put down her large navy medical bag and said, “Good morning, Miss Dorothy . How are you feeling, Mr. O. J.?”
The bald head turned toward the voice. A crooked grin spread across this face.
“How are you, Linda?”

Ann’s letter

The ice storm was over. After spending nearly 60 days in various hospitals, O. J. and I were home. In three years my husband had suffered major health threats; strokes that left him almost blind, surgery for cancer twice, a heart attack, and an aneurysm of the aorta so large his shirt moved with its pulsing. For months I had cared for him like an infant.
Worst than the physical problems was the loss of wisdom and humor . Tucking the shocking pink sheets around him, I found it hard to recognize the gaunt features. If only I could think of him as he used to be, The illness had robbed him of so much, but it had also robbed his family of the person we knew. We disputed the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s because of the brief glimpses of rational thought he occasionally displayed. Sometimes he would be lucid for almost an hour and could grasp new information and answer our questions. But it might be days before it happened again.
“Lord, please give us our memories back. We’re losing him, but we know that You will keep him safe. His children and I have lost the sense of who he is. This shrunken old man who seldom recognizes anyone has no resemblance to the solid, friendly man who could fix ‘anything but a broken heart’ as he often bragged.”
That morning I had written in my journal,
“Often I feel helpless about the continuing disintegration of personality and body of my beloved . My feelings cover a wide range of emotions from tender love, frustration, glimpses of hope, and sometimes bitterness. Sometimes I feel trapped in an unrelenting 24 hour schedule that means I am reminded of the hopelessness of the situation every waking moment. So where’s the fear? In my gut, in the lump in my throat, in the tightness around my chest when he has pain, I register the fact that he might die today.
There had been no mail for 5 days, so when we heard the mailman stop I hurried down the icy driveway to see what he had brought. In the stack of letters there was a hand addressed letter for O. J. Gast at an address about 20 years old. It was from London, England. As soon as I got back into the house handed it to him and let him feel it.
Did he want me to open and read it?.
The letter stated that the writer was the daughter of O. J. Gast, born in London, England in 1945, that she had tried to get in touch with him over the years through the U. S. Army, but had been told that he was dead.. A recent television program in England had given information about locating long lost family members so she had tried again, writing to the last address in the army file.
She stated that she had a twelve year old son that wanted information about his deceased American grandfather and asked if the family would just send a photograph or some information about him. The letter ended by stating that the writer did not wish to cause trouble, discord, or scandal and to disregard the request if it might do so.
When I finished reading the letter to O. J., tears were rolling down his checks, I asked if he were angry, no, upset, no. Then I asked him if I could read the letter to our children. He nodded. I called our son David and asked him to come down immediately. Within one minute he had ran the 200 yards to our house and was in the bedroom concerned that there was a medical emergency. He read the letter and looked at me quizzically.
‘What do you know about this?” he asked.
“Your dad told me about this before we married. He talked about going to England to find her years ago, but we did not know where to start” .
“O. J. Were you surprised to get this.?” David asked.. O. J. nodded. Talking had become increasingly difficult during the last weeks of hospitalization.
“Ma, have you told anyone else about this?
“Just got it. I’ll call Martha. Should be able to reach her at the office.”
When she answered “ What’s wrong? “
“I’ve got something to read to you.” I read the letter.
“Oh, my God, it’s Enda’s child. When did you get this?” my stepdaughter asked.
“Just about 10 minutes ago. What do you know about it?
“Mother had told me about a child born after he left London. The mother, Enda Curran, had written about 1946 when mother was pregnant with the son who was stillborn. They had a big blowup over it and evidently he agreed to have nothing to do with the child. Mother said it was a girl and her name was Ann and there had been trouble when he named me Martha Ann.”
“Does the letter sound authentic?” I asked.
“Sounds about like Mother described. Is there a phone number or information enough to place a phone call?”
I gave her all the information in the letter and she and David began trying to establish connection by phone on their phones while I called the other daughters.
O. J. had drifted off to sleep,wearied by the excitment. This was the most alert he had been in days. The confusion had lifted for a few minutes and he seemed to understand the letter and its import.
As I called each of the other three daughters and found much the same response. Surprise, then excitement and a wish to find out more. All expressed the thought that Ann needed to come immediately to see O. J. since his health was extremely fragile and the possibility of death eminent. All offered to help raise the money to pay her flight to the USA if she needed the money.
I immediately wrote a letter to Ann explaining that her father was still alive, but in precarious condition and that I had read the letter to him. The family was happy and could not wait to meet her. Enclosing photos and a brief family history, I explained that there were two half sisters, two step sisters, a half brother, various in-laws, 13 nieces and nephews, and 3 about to be 6 grand nieces and nephews. Also included a brief description of his strokes, dementia, and continuing medical emergencies.
A week later I answered the phone to a distinctive British voice. “ Hello, this is Ann. May I speak to Dorothy?’ After a brief talk I put the phone to O. J.’s ear and he listened. He tried to say a few words, but had to give up and hand the phone back to me and I talked for him.
I got Ann’s phone number and made arrangements to call back with conference calls so that other members of the family could share the calls. I set up the calls and each of us got to visit by phone. Evidently the pictures and letter had been studied carefully, for the questions were very apt. A flurry of letters and calls went back and forth over the Atlantic. Plans were made for Ann, her husband Reg, and their son, Steven to come to the states when school was out. They refused to accept financial help from their new relatives.
Before O. J. died on April 17, 1996, he signed legal documents acknowledging Ann, preparing the way for her to obtain dual citizenship in her father’s country.
The family celebrated his life with a upbeat funeral in accordance with his wishes. There was a celebration of his life filled with warm memories and funny stories. The congregation sang Amazing Grace and It is Well With My Soul and poems by members of his family were read. His picture, his bible, and his glasses were on a table beside the casket. After the service the family received friends and visited in the church fellowship hall with the country luncheon he had asked for.
Because of her teaching schedule, Ann could not be there, but was kept informed and sent clippings and documents. During school holidays, She, her husband Reg, and son Steven came to visit for two weeks. After a few minutes, it was as if we’d been family always. We keep in touch by phone and mail.
In sharing our memories with Ann, the rest of the family found our happy memories restored. . O. J.’s stories of his stay in England became more real to all as Ann identified Picadilly Circus, the Thames, and Big Ben. The double decker bus Reg drives now is like ones we’d heard described.
My prayer for renewal of my memories was abundantly answered as family members pored over photos and videos and told stories from their growing up years. The experiences became a collage of family life we all could share.

NEW LAND

Corks Come to America 1772

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*Note: I reviewed documents with exact dates and places in revising this fictional story, but was not able to locate a copy of Mrs. .Phillips’ book which is out of print.

NEW LAND By Dorothy Graham Gast

In the port of Larne, Ireland, John Cork and his wife Elizabeth, heavy with child, boarded the ship, “Lord Dundee” in high spirits. October 4, 1772 seemed more like summer than fall. James Gillis was the captain of the 400 ton ship that carried a group of Protestant refugees bound for America. The Bounty Act passed by the General Assembly of South Carolina on July 25, 1761, gave benefits to religious refugees to settle in that state.

Elizabeth’s tomboyish ways had made them childhood friends. As a child she could run or fight with the best of the lads and chafed against the attempts of her mother and grandmother to make a lady of her.      “I’ll never have the title of lady, why should I bear the nuisance,” she said and tossed her untamed curls in the sunlight. Her sunbonnet was a hated symbol of women’s restrictions and her golden cheeks had sprinkled freckles.

They became sweethearts and talked of the adventures the future might bring. Her mother taught her homemaking skills and her grandmother taught her to spin and weave the warm fabrics so valued in the shops of County Antrim, in the area that would later be called Northern Ireland. They had married on her 18th birthday and moved into the tiny attic room in her mother’s cottage.        Presbyterians in a Catholic land, John’s strong beliefs often led him into disputes with his neighbors. The plans to move across the North Channel to Scotland were changed when news came from the colonies in America. Young men from their village wrote glowing reports of the rich lands granted them in South Carolina.         Handbills posted at the church promised 100 acres for each single person 16 and up and 100 for each married man. Another 50 would be granted to the wife and to each child. When their little one was born they would have 200 acres to start their farm.

Two days from land the storms began. The tossing, creaking ship was filled with seasick passengers. The nausea that had touched Elizabeth in the summer was mild compared the great wrenching episode she suffered now. John felt little better although he sometimes escaped the stinking quarters below deck for a walk in the fresh salt air on deck.       “John, I don’t know whether it was your trouble getting along with the Catholics or the promise of free land that put us on the wretched voyage, but it’s a miserable journey to a strange place, if we make it.” Elizabeth said, at first teasingly, then bitterly as the terrible weather and complications of pregnancy kept her confined to the narrow bunk.

Labor began violently on a December night nearly ten weeks into the voyage. Women passengers tried to send John up on deck, but he stayed and stroked her brown and held her hand and talked about the farm they would soon carve out of the wilderness. After dawn the baby was born, so tiny and weak the first wail sounded like a kitten. John cuddled him inside his coat while Elizabeth sipped hot broth to give her strength. The baby’s frail -ness, the shock of birth, and the cold were too much. He died at noon and the tiny body was tenderly wrapped and given to the sea.

Days later  John shivered in the penetrating winds and searched the western horizon. The cold was almost as painful as the last weeks had. been. Although the baby had only lived hours, their grief was as great as if they had cuddled and loved and cared for it for years.       She just lies there, he thought. Her gray-green eyes have lost their fire and she is pale as death. I hope she can get her fighting spirit back soon. We’ll need all the fight we can muster to clear land and start a crop.

Low on the western horizon the sun broke through. The ship and the mood brightened simultaneously. “Land ho,” came the long awaited call from the crow’s nest. “Where away?” responded the officer of the deck. Bundled figures from all over the ship made their way to the rail for a first look as their new land.

John hurried to tell Elizabeth the news. She had pulled herself to a sitting position when he reached her. “Is it really true?” she asked. His embrace answered her question. He rejoiced in her first positive response in days.        “We’ve made it. We’ll start the year 1773 in our new land.” he said.

They arrived December 20, 1772, but they were quarantined for fifteen days because small pox had broken out and several children had died. They went before grand court for their acreage allotment on January 6, 1773.

The farm was hardly established before the Americans began their war for independence. John Cork served as horseman for 119 days in 1781 and 1782. His records are in the Historical Commission building in Columbia. South Carolina.        John Cork was the only Cork listed in the state of South Carolina when the first census was taken in 1790. He was buried in the cemetery of Concord Presbyterian Church, the structure he had help build. His original marker was a small handmade stone with the inscription, “John Cork, died February 15, 1798, age 53 years. 4

The original house of John Cork, built in 1775 still stands about a mile and a half off South Carolina highway #321 in the Woodward community in a field surrounded by woods. Picture by John Graham, June 2004

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Corks Come to America 1772

*Note: I reviewed documents with exact dates and places in revising this fictional story, but was not able to locate a copy of Mrs. .Phillips’ book which is out of print.

NEW LAND By Dorothy Graham Gast

In the port of Larne, Ireland, John Cork and his wife Elizabeth, heavy with child, boarded the ship, “Lord Dundee” in high spirits. October 4, 1772 seemed more like summer than fall. James Gillis was the captain of the 400 ton ship that carried a group of Protestant refugees bound for America. The Bounty Act passed by the General Assembly of South Carolina on July 25, 1761, gave benefits to religious refugees to settle in that state.

Elizabeth’s tomboyish ways had made them childhood friends. As a child she could run or fight with the best of the lads and chafed against the attempts of her mother and grandmother to make a lady of her.      “I’ll never have the title of lady, why should I bear the nuisance,” she said and tossed her untamed curls in the sunlight. Her sunbonnet was a hated symbol of women’s restrictions and her golden cheeks had sprinkled freckles.

They became sweethearts and talked of the adventures the future might bring. Her mother taught her homemaking skills and her grandmother taught her to spin and weave the warm fabrics so valued in the shops of County Antrim, in the area that would later be called Northern Ireland. They had married on her 18th birthday and moved into the tiny attic room in her mother’s cottage.        Presbyterians in a Catholic land, John’s strong beliefs often led him into disputes with his neighbors. The plans to move across the North Channel to Scotland were changed when news came from the colonies in America. Young men from their village wrote glowing reports of the rich lands granted them in South Carolina.         Handbills posted at the church promised 100 acres for each single person 16 and up and 100 for each married man. Another 50 would be granted to the wife and to each child. When their little one was born they would have 200 acres to start their farm.

Two days from land the storms began. The tossing, creaking ship was filled with seasick passengers. The nausea that had touched Elizabeth in the summer was mild compared the great wrenching episode she suffered now. John felt little better although he sometimes escaped the stinking quarters below deck for a walk in the fresh salt air on deck.       “John, I don’t know whether it was your trouble getting along with the Catholics or the promise of free land that put us on the wretched voyage, but it’s a miserable journey to a strange place, if we make it.” Elizabeth said, at first teasingly, then bitterly as the terrible weather and complications of pregnancy kept her confined to the narrow bunk.

Labor began violently on a December night nearly ten weeks into the voyage. Women passengers tried to send John up on deck, but he stayed and stroked her brown and held her hand and talked about the farm they would soon carve out of the wilderness. After dawn the baby was born, so tiny and weak the first wail sounded like a kitten. John cuddled him inside his coat while Elizabeth sipped hot broth to give her strength. The baby’s frail -ness, the shock of birth, and the cold were too much. He died at noon and the tiny body was tenderly wrapped and given to the sea.

Days later  John shivered in the penetrating winds and searched the western horizon. The cold was almost as painful as the last weeks had. been. Although the baby had only lived hours, their grief was as great as if they had cuddled and loved and cared for it for years.       She just lies there, he thought. Her gray-green eyes have lost their fire and she is pale as death. I hope she can get her fighting spirit back soon. We’ll need all the fight we can muster to clear land and start a crop.

Low on the western horizon the sun broke through. The ship and the mood brightened simultaneously. “Land ho,” came the long awaited call from the crow’s nest. “Where away?” responded the officer of the deck. Bundled figures from all over the ship made their way to the rail for a first look as their new land.

John hurried to tell Elizabeth the news. She had pulled herself to a sitting position when he reached her. “Is it really true?” she asked. His embrace answered her question. He rejoiced in her first positive response in days.        “We’ve made it. We’ll start the year 1773 in our new land.” he said.

They arrived December 20, 1772, but they were quarantined for fifteen days because small pox had broken out and several children had died. They went before grand court for their acreage allotment on January 6, 1773.

The farm was hardly established before the Americans began their war for independence. John Cork served as horseman for 119 days in 1781 and 1782. His records are in the Historical Commission building in Columbia. South Carolina.        John Cork was the only Cork listed in the state of South Carolina when the first census was taken in 1790. He was buried in the cemetery of Concord Presbyterian Church, the structure he had help build. His original marker was a small handmade stone with the inscription, “John Cork, died February 15, 1798, age 53 years. 4

The original house of John Cork, built in 1775 still stands about a mile and a half off South Carolina highway #321 in the Woodward community in a field surrounded by woods. Picture by John Graham, June 2004

World War II in Mississippi

Memories of my Life During WWII

I as born during the Depression years our family lived  near the University in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. My parents and I shared a shotgun house on 10th Street three blocks west of Bryant-Denny stadium with a widowed aunt with two young daughters, and two single aunts.

Daddy often joked that when I was born he had two nickels in his pocket, He spent one on a telephone call to tell everyone that I had arrived, and the other to celebrate with a cup of coffee. Then he added, “I’ve been broke ever since.”

Daddy bought an antebellum home that was being torn down  near the Warrior River in Tuscaloosa and used the lumber to build a house for his family on the Graham farm in Romulus. The mansion was reconfigured as a  two bedroom bungalow. My brother and sister were born before Pearl Harbor. Clouds of war were threatening even down to the small farm in Tuscaloosa County.

Later we moved to Pascagoola, Mississippi where Daddy was a mechanic in the government boatyard across the bay from Ingalls Shipyard. We were there when the news of Pearl Harbor was broadcast and the town became a boomtown,  so crowded that workers in the shipyard rented rooms from families who lived nearby. Neighbors from Ralph, Ethard and Mutt Styres, were two of our boarders.  Our living room became a dormitory for men who worked in war production. Our family all slept in one bedroom. Mama provided meals and laundry for the boarders and made more money than daddy, they told us later.

We lived a mile from the Gulf of Mexico and often went to the beach and saw huge anti-aircraft guns covered with camouflage netting a hundred feet from the waves in the trees along highway 90. Soon there was rationing of gas and food. Children bought war stamps to go in their books, saving stamps to buy war bonds. There were black-out shades for the windows in case enemy planes made it to the Mississippi coast.

We watched as fathers and big brothers went off to war, but were fortunate that my father’s work with the Corps of Engineers protected him from the draft. The influx  of workers and the shortage of building supplies made it necessary for existing schools to have morning and afternoon  shifts of students in very crowded classrooms. Despite the war we were happy there until my brother’s asthma grew so severe doctors advised that we move away from the coast if he were to survive.

We returned to the Graham family farm in the community of Romulus, in Tuscaloosa County. My father had been able to redeem the farm after his father lost it during the Depression. We have lived here since. My great grandchildren make the seventh generation to live on this ever-diminishing plot of ground. My children only inherited five acres each.

My Children will never understand the love my generation has for this land.

THE GRAHAM HOUSE

0262842c-b748-4064-8d2d-0f6e033d19fd

The Home of John C. and Preasha Graham

Romulus Community

Buhl, Alabama

In 1914 John Graham built this home for his growing family. As a lumberman he moved his household from community to community, as his business expanded. Beside Eula and Raymond born to his deceased wife, he and Preasha had Lawrence, Lyman, Lucille, and Lois and brothers, Charlie and Jesse rescued from the T. B epidemic in his home state of Missouri.. Ithe location was on a hill just east of New Hope Baptist church that reminded him of his Baptist Church in Piedmont, Missouri.

Eventually they would have 9 children of their own, but helped raise many children of both extended families. Later during the Depression there were 32 people who stayed there at different periods when times were hard. This house was in walking distance of the school and teachers often boarded with the Grahams. Although they lost all their business and turned to farming to survive, there is no record of any seeking food or shelter ever being refused help.

Preasha had just turned 17 when she married the 28 year old widower and began her own family. She was tiny and disciplined. well organized and competent even in her youth. John worked hard and made much money before the crash, he gave most of it to those worse off. This practice he continued until his death long after his income was an “old age” pension.

They had first settled at Gordo, Alabama where my father, Lawrence and her oldest son was born. As Gramdpa bought land with timber to cut, they lived in temporary “tarpaper shacks” alongside his employees’ families. The pictured house was the only permanent one they ever owned.