Thursday, March 23, 2017
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Love's Lookout, Jacksonville, TexasJoe and I grew up in the same small East Texas town. Jacksonville is located in Cherokee County surrounded by rolling hills and pine trees. The scenic overlook in the photograph (not mine, one I found online) is called Love's Lookout. The scenic bluff was used for the location of a large ampitheatre formed from red rock, a WPA project. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-era Works Progress Administration came to the hill in the 1930s and, using red rock mined from Cherokee County, built a park, picnic grounds and an amphitheater.
The ampitheatre was named to honor Wesley Love who in 1904 bought much of the surrounding area and planted a 600-acre peach farm. After Love's death in 1925, his wife donated 22 acres to the state for a state park. The state, however, failed to create the park and in 1934 the City of Jacksonville purchased an additional 20 acres and developed the two tracts as a city park. That's when the Works Progress Administration began its project.
In the Spring, dogwoods and other spring flowers are in bloom, making the setting even more beautiful. When I was a child, we often drove on the highway between Jacksonville and Tyler because both sets of my grandparents lived in Bullard, about halfway between those towns. Typically, scenes that are so familiar and frequently seen tend to be taken for granted. Not until you are far away do you remember those sights and realize just how lovely they were.
There is yet another fond connection for our family with this place and its name. In 1982, we bought the home built by John Wesley Love and lived there long enough to research and write its history, receiving a designation for the significance of the home with a State Historical marker. By that time all acreage but the 3 acres where the house was located had been sold (or donated, as the land for Love's lookout is located), but the oaks and magnolias and pines that were there were lovely reminders. When I did the research for the historical commission I learned that there were earlier connections between our family and the Loves. My father and uncle once worked in John Wesley Love's peach orchards picking peaches. Joe's father had done work inside the home as a painter.
When we do go back to Jacksonville, our itinerary usually includes a trip to the Bullard cemetery where so many of my ancestors were laid to rest. The highway is bigger and better, but the sides of the road are still lined with red dirt and pine trees. There are still remnants of the watermelon colored crepe myrtles which were always full of summertime blooms. And Love's Lookout still beckons us to stop and look across a green valley.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
When I was sorting out saved stuff in my closet, I came across several items loosely wrapped in a piece of tissue paper, itself saved from a long ago gift. I held the bits and pieces in my hand and realized they made a collage, a portrayal of my emotions and mixed feelings about leaving this home and this part of my life. There were pieces of a lovely painted glass globe a friend gave us many years ago that was a tiny painting of the lovely old East Texas Victorian house we bought and moved to for a far too short time. During the months we were there, I researched and wrote the history of the place, submitted it to the historical society, and received a State historical marker - not for me, for the house. In a later time, the pretty piece was knocked from its stand, leaving only shattered pieces which I kept.
There were some pieces of filigree silver jewelry from our time in Indonesia, all tarnished and worn. There was a tiny safety pin with beads strung on it, one of the many "friendship pins" that our youngest son and his friend exchanged in first grade, when we lived in yet another place. And there was a piece of foil where that same son had written "To Mom, Love Ben." I do not remember what it was attached to, but I kept the crumpled paper with his writing during his college days. All these were folded in the wrinkled tissue printed with the name of shop where it was used to wrap a purchase: Things Remembered. I decided I would keep my little packet but I really do not need these reminders. They are indeed, "Things Remembered."
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Mother sewed new dresses for my sister and me, which inevitably wound up being hidden under coats as we made our way to the Sunrise Service held. in our hometown. This service was early, and happened at a place called Love's Lookout where there was a large ampitheatre formed from red rock, a WPA project. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-era Works Progress Administration came to the hill in the 1930s and, using red rock mined from Cherokee County, built a park, picnic grounds and an amphitheater used for these sunrise services, plays and other events.
The scenic bluff which was the location of the ampitheatre was named to honor Wesley Love who in 1904 bought much of the surrounding area and planted a 600-acre peach farm. After Love's death in 1925, his wife donated 22 acres to the state for a state park. The state, however, failed to create the park and in 1934 the City of Jacksonville purchased an additional 20 acres and developed the two tracts as a city park. That's when the Works Progress Administration began its project.
In the Spring, dogwoods and other spring flowers are in bloom, making the setting even more beautiful. I remember shivering on the cold hard semicircle of rock on which we sat, but I loved this sunrise service, with its gathering of Christians from many area churches, the joy of singing "Christ Arose" and Alleluia, the feelings of newness and festivity in our Easter clothes, and our family traditions that would follow: church services at First Baptist Church, Easter Sunday dinner which would included having grandparents at our house or going to theirs. There was baked ham, potato salad, new potatoes with green beans put up in Mason jars, Jello salads and sometimes Coconut cake or pie - all homemade and delicious. I can almost smell the vinegar we used for die to color boiled eggs the day before so that we could hide them over and over again on Sunday afternoon.
Today our family includes some version of many of the same traditions as those I loved 70 years ago, but
we have added to these a deeper awareness of the season of Lent, and more intentional observance of Holy Week. Our church for 22 years now, First Baptist Church in Richmond, Texas is where we gather for services such as one we attended last night, Tenebrae. The church has a prayer garden with a small labyrinth where chairs will be set up for a Sonrise service tomorrow morning followed by breakfast with our church family served from dishes made with eggs and sausage made at home and brought as families arrive. There will be an egg hunt for children. I will sing in the choir and ring with the handbell choir as we express joy and praise with some of the same hymns I sang with my family all those years ago. Then we come back here to our house with all of our sons and their wives and children who can be here. That will include our newest granddaughter, sweet Nora Opal, who is exactly one month old and celebrating her very first Easter.