This mama kangaroo and her baby were a sewing project for me a long time ago. This week they were again on my to do list. Construction the first time, another mending this time. I spread and laid out fake fur , layered on patterns, cut and hauled out my Singer to sew, then stuffed. I embroidered eyes and remember giving a proud sigh of relief that I was able to finish mama and baby before Christmas in 1975, the year Ben was nearing 18 months old. Now, his own children still play with them. Three year old Oliver brought them to me and told me to "fix it!', pointing to a parted seam or two and spilling stuffing. I told him I would work on it "tomorrow" and we put Kanga and her Roo in a chair in my room. But a little while later, I picked them up thinking about all those years ago when my sewing gift made Oliver's Daddy smile. So I threaded a needle, sat down and repaired broken places.
This stuffed toy is real. Remembering The Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse.
My mother's handwriting was beautiful, distinctive. I always spot it among a stack of old papers. As I sorted a file of family records recently, I spotted her writing on 4 pages of yellowed lined tablet paper. They contained names and dates of both hers and Daddy's family. I am sure I found it going through the many boxes of her things, filing it away until I could give it more attention. Each entry could have its own story.
I will make an effort to do just that, but for this post, I want to record the photographs of the pages and make some general observations. While I am recovering from my back injury, I am unable to sit for very long at my laptop.
Today it is important to remember that record keeping was very different in the 2 centuries these dates reference. Passing information from generation was done by recording births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths in a family Bible, by word of mouth, by writing notes in a tablet much like these. For us now, census and church records and gravestones only supplement online research and helps like Ancestry.com
I see that my mother did her best to record names, date and place of birth, date and place of faith commitments and baptism, sibling names, date of marriages, and date of deaths. Just reading the family names is like poetry to me. I hope I am able to work on developing our family history in a way that will be available to all who wish access. At the least I can make the bits and pieces of information I do have accessible to others.
The center statue is etched in mind as part of my childhood. It stood on the corner of the park where the town library was located and I saw the statue often when I was taken to the library. I did not know then that I would someday marry a descendant of one of those memorialized with their names inscripted on the base. Pasco Parker is Joe's Great Uncle. Now there are 3 more Pasco Parkers: Joe's youngest brother, Pasco Parker, his grandson Pasco Rowe as well as great grandson Pasco Pico Rowe. The article below describes more about the statue than I ever knew growing up. It has been relocated and joined by the other memorial walls shown.
The Hazel Tilton Park War Memorial, was originally a structure honoring solely those Jacksonville American soldiers lost during World War I. The war concluded November 11, 1918, a day then referred to as Armistice Day and now memorialized as Veteran’s Day.
The task of raising money for the monument was spearheaded by the Jolly Workers Club, an organization of young working women in positions of responsibility around Jacksonville. The club was composed of twenty-four members. In 1924, they contracted for the monument and raised $900 toward that end. The statue, carved by an unknown Italian sculptor and hewn from Italian marble, was completed and delivered. However, it was not erected because another $400 was needed for the inscription of names and erection costs. Unfortunately the Jolly Workers Club disbanded in 1926, and the memorial statue was left abandoned in the lobby of the then Guaranty State Bank.
In 1928, the Jacksonville Progress began a series of wrenching articles aimed at shaming the public and local government to raise the needed funds for the monument’s completion. One essay stated that the lack of completion “…stands as an accuser of tragic neglect on the part of the citizens of Jacksonville.” Finally, the Civic Committee of the Jacksonville Chamber took over the project and the City Council got on board as well. Checks and cash began to flow and eventually the needed funds were finally raised. The statue was erected on a plinth of Colorado marble and stood twelve feet high. The local J. E. Gould Monument Company (founded in 1908) was in charge of erecting the statue and engraving all needed inscriptions.
The main day for the Memorial Statue inauguration was April 15, 1928, a beautiful Sunday, at 3:30 PM in the Jacksonville City Park. Attending were the Boy Scouts, former Jolly Worker Club members, and the Jacksonville Municipal Band, along with a host of interested citizens. Mayor T. E. Acker delivered a short historical address. A local black minister spoke briefly thanking the city for inclusion of five fallen African American soldiers. The grand moment came when Mrs. T. M. Clairborne, the Gold Star mother of Jimmie Walter Clairborne- the first soldier to fall- unveiled the statue.
The statue itself depicts a uniformed soldier holding a Springfield 1903 (30-06) model rifle with fixed bayonet. He wears a hip length coat with artillery belt, a helmet, and puttees to protect the ankles. The state of Texas suffered 892 deaths attributed to World War One. From that number the names of thirty-two Jacksonville men are inscribed on three sides of the statue’s base, all lost in the Great War.
The white marble statue of the Dough Boy endured much over the years from the indignity of being sprayed green during the mid 1950s (by several high school boys who will go unnamed!), to its near destruction from horrific winds in 1990. It was after this that the concept of a new memorial at a different site in the park was contemplated, one that would represent not just Jacksonville but the entirety of Cherokee County in all wars fought where lives were lost.
Therefore, in 1992, the original WWI monument (1928) was transferred to its new location in the Jacksonville City Park and rededicated as the Cherokee County War Memorial. In anticipation of the new memorial and relocation, the WWI statue, which had been partially destroyed by high winds in1990, was repaired. Three large black granite walls were erected on white marble foundations adorned with the names of the Cherokee County fallen in World War I (24), World War II (139), Korea (9), Vietnam (22), and Iraq (1). The major inscription reads: “In Memory of All Cherokee County Veterans Who Served With Honor In The Armed Forces of The United States of America.” Symbols of the services surround the inscription.
It was a grand affair planned by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3984. The ceremony took place on Saturday, May 30, at 2:00 PM. A flag ceremony was executed by the National Guard and the national anthem was sung by recent Jacksonville High School - Jacksonville ISD graduate, Jason Harkins. All of this was highlighted by a twenty-one gun salute along with a somber rendition of “Taps”. The Reverend Grady Higgs, pastor of the First Baptist Church Jacksonville Texas, delivered the invocation, while the benediction was given by Reverend Karl Hockenhull of the Sweet Union Baptist Church.
Attending the ceremony and calling aloud each name on the monument, was Cherokee County Judge Craig Caldwell, a Vietnam veteran of the 101st Army Airborne. US Congressman Charles Wilson (1933-2010) delivered the major address. Rep. Wilson was a Naval Academy graduate and twelve term US congressman representing the Texas second congressional district. He is best known as the subject of the book and movie entitled Charlie Wilson’s War. The movie starred Tom Hanks as Charlie and Julia Roberts as his benefactor.
The City Park, where the memorial is located, began as a public square donated by the International Railroad when the town of Jacksonville was first laid out shortly after 1872. In 1882, a train track of the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad cut through the park area and will remain, though eventually unused, for several years following 1928.
Other structures were located in park during those early years. A water tower was built in 1906, and a small fire station and pine-slab jail existed for a short time. Tree planting began in 1882 directed by Captain H. L. Morris. One of these trees, a magnolia, was eventually referred to by locals as “The Tree of Knowledge” because the town elders would gather beneath the tree on benches to discuss important affairs. It is possible that the large magnolia near the front of the new fire station is that same tree. A wooden bandstand erected in 1907, was replaced by native stone during the 1930s by the Worker Progress Administration.
The park represents an important place in the history of Jacksonville and the War Monument is its center. While the monument is made of cold stone it is etched with real names of real people who loved and were loved. Reflecting upon this public stone, we can better understand both the private loss as well as the concept of duty.
There are reminders of my mother, Opal Terrell Teal, everywhere. In these months following my back injury I have had more time than ever for reflection and remembering stories, though the distraction of pain and other health issues has delayed working on recording those stories. Recently, I asked our oldest son if he would like to have the red enamel pan. Only the story that accompanied it would have led anyone to say yes to this chipped and rusted enamelware. Mother told me when she gave it to me: before she was married in 1931 at the age of 18, she sold tins of salve to earn money to buy a set of pans and a coffee pot. This is the remaining piece of that set. I only wish I had asked more questions about her early days of housekeeping and cooking.
I photographed the pan sitting on another reminder. Mother did needlework, taught by her own mother and grandmother who both crafted many works of needle art - sewing clothes and quilts, crocheting doilies and booties and lace, embroidering linens and collars, even tatting with a little silver shuttle that I still have. Years after I married and had my own children, she maintained her love of crocheting. My sons and grandchildren all have afghans she crocheted. This lovely cream afghan is one she made for me and is edged with fringe. It is on the foot of my bed right now, ready to pull up for a nap. I am still covered with her love.
During Maddie's recent visit with us, we enjoyed so many special times. She spent time and had fun with all of us in this multigenerational household - oldest to youngest! Maddie is now 13, but when she was a little younger than Nora is now at 5, she came to stay with us and loved dressing up using all her imagination and the dressup collection we kept in the front closet. When they pullled out the dressup trunk a couple of weeks ago, Maddie found an old skirt of mine that she remembered making into an outfit and modeling for us. The two girls found a hat and ribbon and sunglasses to complete the ensemble and proudly displayed the results.
It has been 10 and 1/2 years since I accepted my own challenge to begin this blog. I did not know how, only why, I wanted to do this. In the first post, On January 12, 2009, I admitted "Blog? The word is strange to me. I know what it is. I read other blogs. But I do not know how to blog. The word as a verb instead of a noun is vaguely unsettling because it implies an action I do not yet know how to perform. But I will learn. I will.
Forty one years ago tonight I was beginning the labor that would bring our first son into the light. On that cold Saturday morning, mighty work was required but then came the overwhelming joy. The work that can deliver words that have grown within me into the light of print and scrutiny may be absorbing and intense as well but with joy I ask for grace in the passing on of life and story.
Again, I have needed to determine to learn, and to ask for grace in the passing on of life and story...
I see that it has been 2 months since I last posted - April 13, 2019. Later, during that night, I fell, fracturing a vertebra in my lumbar spine, launching me into a season of change. I wrote recently about this and Joe's recent vision loss in another blog: https://stonesandfeathers.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/return/
In all the challenge of wearing a thoracic brace for 3 months, beginning daily injections that must be on my calendar for 2 years, managing pain making my own health management a necessary priority while yet being available to Joe, and learning to accept help there has been a great deal for me to keep on changing and learning. And, as I wrote all those years ago, I will.
The Untried Melody Howard Thurman
I will sing a new song. I must learn the new song for the new needs I must fashion new words born of all the new growth in my life---of my mind---of my spirit. I must prepare for new melodies that have never been mine before, That all that is within me may lift my voice unto God.
How I love the old familiarity of the wearied melody, How I shrink from the harsh discords of the new untried harmonies.
Teach me, my Father, that I might learn with the abandonment and enthusiasm of Jesus, The fresh new accent, the untried melody, to meet the need of the untried morrow.
Source: from "I Will Sing a New Song" in Meditations of the Heart
Our Vitex greens and blooms. Again.
"The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung." ~Walt Whitman
Jeremy, Maddie, and Jordann spent a week and a half with us.We said Goodbye with both smiles and tears and blessed their travel home. While they were with us, we enjoyed doing as much together as we could pack in the days! The photos show how much!
Fishing in the little lake behind our house.
Catching up with talks and hugs!
Cooking and Eating!
Tea for Two and Friends
Revisiting Favorite Places. Secret Places.
Making music and listening!
They made hummingbird nectar and put out 4 new hummingbird feeders!
Jordann's Canvas Art
There was more, of course - they went to the zoo, to a splash pad, and picked strawberries. The girls and Jeremy drove down to Galveston and Surfside for a day. Maddie brought back tiny lavender lined shells to create a butterfly picture.Jordann and Nora worked jigsaw puzzles. They had movie and popcorn nights and a Dutch Baby one morning for breakfast! We did art projects and picked roses. It was snowing when they left Nevada, and Spring had arrived in South Texas.
We made precious memories. Joe and I reveled in being with our children and grandchildren. I am thankful for Joe and for each of these, the generations who follow us.