Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Games People Play.

Catherine LeDuke was a world class "Game Player". To the best of my knowledge she never won any trophies but if one had been awarded for willingness, eagerness, availability, variety, or sportsmanship her case would be over flowing. And how her children and grand children became so fiercely competitive in the game playing arena is beyond me. Nothing satisfied Mother more than the look on a child's face who had just defeated her at old maids, checkers, or connect four.

"Anybody want to play Somitpqirsh? Count me in, I'll play, shuffle and deal. By the way, how do you play somitpqirsh?"

Mother grew up playing Canasta with her mother, daddy, and brother, my Uncle Bud. Her sister Mary Elizabeth was the baby of the family and I believe was less involved in the card games. They made her the "chief kibitzer" and she was good at it. When our family went to visit our Memphis grand-parents in the fifties, Cathie and I were always eager to go because it gave us a chance to play cards with the grown ups.

Richard was the baby of our family so we made him the "kibitzer". He was never very good at it so we eventually had to teach him how to shuffle and let him join us. That was a mistake because fairly quickly he was beating us. Baby's of the family should be outlawed.

In the thirties and forties Bridge was the popular card game of choice and Mother and Daddy were extremely good. There were bridge games going on all over Tiptonville and Catherine and James Neville played in many of them. Most often I recall them being down the street at Annie Lee and Taft Yates' house.

James Neville and Catherine had returned to Tiptonville permanently in 1938 and lived across the street from Ben Neville and Miss Maude until they had a house built at 114 LeDuke Street in 1939. This was built on a lot deeded to them by Grand-Ma Duke who lived on the corner where the Post Office is now. Their two story house (that is if you walked up stairs only where the steep part of the roof was) cost $17,000 and when built had only the first floor finished.

But this house was large enough for the two of them and with room to spare for Catherine Lee LeDuke who was born in in in in in ....... Well, I was born in 1943 and Cathie is slightly older than me. Cathie and I shared the second of the two downstairs bed rooms until Richard came along in 1948. At that time the second floor was declared livable if the inhabitants would just not grow above 5 feet. Cathie and I both played center on basketball teams at THS.

Three rooms and a bath were added to the upstairs that were accessed by a flight of stairs that broke every safety code in the book. Climbing those stairs was very much like climbing a ladder. When Cathie and I got older and were about to receive punishment for some wrong doing, we would run around the house until we had out maneuvered which ever parent was chasing us and shoot up the stairs. We knew that if we could make it through the upstairs door we were safe. Neither Mother nor Daddy ever attempted that flight of stairs with anger in their heart.

Life on LeDuke Street was not just about bridge games with Annie Lee and Taft. There was a lot of gaming going on in the late forties and all during the fifties. I don't remember if the "gang" that played on this street had a name or not. Corinne or Cathie might know. All I remember was that I was barely old enough to be included in the street activities of the time.

And I remember that all of us in the area could be summoned by any Mother with just a few hollers from a front porch. Miss Annie Lee lived across the street and down about two houses. She and Taft had three children roughly the same ages as the LeDuke brood. Corinne, John Taft, and Gail. Behind the Yates lived Miss Jane Donnell who also had three kids, Bob, Connie, and Sue. Around the corner on Lake Street lived Dr. Smythe's two children, Helen and Bart. Helen was too smart and sophisticated to hang out with the likes of us but Bart was a regular in our crew. Later years found Phil Wesner, Paul Moore, Jerry Cooper, and WickyHearn mixed in with this bunch.

Kick the can, tag, roly-poly, baseball, bike riding - on handle bars, lightning bugs, red light - green light, crickets, tree climbing, pea shooter wars, cowboys and indians, putting a playing card in the spokes of your bike, double dog dare. And these are just a few of the games we played. And if we ever needed a referee, any mommy in the area had complete authority over the whole crew to administer what ever justice needed to be doled out to whomever.

Ree Ree Rogers lived at the end of the street. She had a hole in her house that was made by a cannon ball; at least that's a story I remember. Wish I could remember the point of the story. I do remember having dances at Ree Ree's house in our teen years. By then most of my street crew had graduated and gone on to bigger things. Which was alright since I had graduated to teen stuff and kick the can was not on the agenda.

If Catherine LeDuke's grandchildren and great grandchildren have even one memory of her, it would be at a dining room table playing cards, clue, monopoly, jacks, shoots and ladders, checkers, scrabble, connect four, rubbicube, michigan rummy. If it was a game, deal "Bubba" in.

Catherine LeDuke remained a game player extraordinaire and only very recently was forced to turn in her play book. One of her favorite games was domino's and I can remember playing with her until just a year or so ago. Her eye sight was the main reason she had to quit. For years we found progressively larger and larger domino tiles to play with until their size out grew the playing field of our dining room table.

Today as her memory fades I am convinced that just as she can recite poems learned long ago, I know she could hold her own in a game of canasta right now if she could just see the spots clearly enough.

And if a deck of cards were required for any game she played today, only the "Hearts" would be needed.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Throw a rock into a pond and the effect will be felt on all shores.

Sept. 20, 2009

Dear Miss Catherine,

I was pleased to read in the Banner some time ago that your children were looking for people to share their memories of you and Mr. LeDuke. You and I have visited several times through the years, and you already know that you have meant so very much to me. I'm glad to be able to have the opportunity to share some memories with you and with others who might read this.

My class was the last one to graduate from the old Tiptonville High School, that grand old multi-storied building that had graced the corner for so many years, but was literally falling down by the time we graduated in 1963. As children I recall swinging in the front yard of the old school with Ray Allison, Jeannie Hyde and others. What wonderful swings those were!

As I recall, I had you for freshman and junior English and for American History as a senior. There were lots of good teachers in Tiptonville, and going into high school shortly after Sputnik was launched, there was a first rate education available to anyone who chose to avail themselves of it.

But, you, Miss Catherine, were the best! Your teaching style and my learning style were perfectly matched. I loved your classes, and felt your genuine love and concern for every one of your students. I was a very strange teenager in that I ACTUALLY BELIEVED that adults knew more than I did, and that they truly did want the best for me. (Just how bizarre is that?!?!)

As adults, many of us have attended seminars, classes, etc. in which we were asked to speak of or just recall the most influential people in our lives. There are two that, without a doubt, made me into the person I have become. The first was my dear daddy, who died in 1984, and a very close second is you, Miss Catherine. The two of you taught me so many things about life and the love of learning. You were both on the same page as far as your character and philosophies were concerned, and I'm still trying to live up to the lessons you both taught me.

One thing I especially remember was that little blackboard you had in your room. It was really too small to use for teaching, and you would write a poem, quotation, bible verse, etc. on it and leave it there for some period of time before a new one would appear. Some in the class thought that you were being overly moralistic and "preachy", but not me. Did you know that I copied all of those down? I have them still.

One in particular I liked and have said over to myself many, many times since. In fact I wrote it on the blackboard of an adult Sunday School class I was teaching just a couple of weeks ago. It was this:

"Boys flying kites
Reel in their white winged birds,
But you can't do that
When you are flying words."

This was just the sort of poem my daddy would quote to me. He loved poetry, too, and taught me that it must be read aloud to be fully appreciated. I shared this with him, and he liked it a lot. It was a rule he lived by as I know it was a rule you lived by, too.

My husband and I are very active in our church, and one of the things I love to do, is to be the Lay Reader. I've been told often that I seem so relaxed speaking in front of groups. I always say that we can thank my high school teacher, Mrs. LeDuke for that.

You probably don't remember this, Miss Catherine, but one day you took me aside after class and said that you were going to call on me to do something in front of the class once a week, not as a punishment, but to help me become more confident. Sure sounded like a punishment to me, but again, I had that crazy notion that adults really did want to help me, and it was without a doubt, a God-send. I now have no difficulty doing anything in front of crowds of people, and have been blessed many times over because of your insight and care into what was needed by one terribly introverted teenager.

I got my first taste of success, and enjoyment in this endeavor when, toward the end of our junior year we were each given the assignment of reading a short story or book and then standing up and telling it to the class. Pondering what to read, my daddy suggested to me the short story "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank R. Stockton. What an excellent choice it was. I'd never read it and loved the story. I practically memorized it, and I remember the feeling I had when I knew that the whole class was hanging on every word I said. I'd NEVER had that kind of attention in my life. What a thrill! What power!

The story ends with a cliff-hanger, and when I got there, I just sat down. Frankie (now known as John) Rose and David Ramsey were practically yelling "What happened? What happened? No fair!" I loved it! Thank you, Miss Catherine. I was never nervous in front of a crowd after that.

Mr. LeDuke was just a hoot. I don't mean any disrespect by that. He was just plain fun as far as I was concerned. I had him in Chemistry and have always regretted that I didn't take Physics as well, but instead I took four years of the only language offered at that time - Latin - taught by Mr. LeDuke. There were not many of us who took four years of Latin, and Physics probably would have done me more good in the long run, but I have always enjoyed languages. As a result, I have always had a very good vocabulary, and can figure out the meaning of most words.

In fact, as a young adult, one of my sons said to me one day, that he wished I hadn't taught him so many big words! Some of his friends thought he was being snooty, but he was just speaking normally as far as he was concerned. Too bad, so sad to be smart and speak well.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line would be the same: The LeDukes were a blessing to countless numbers of young people and are/were loved more than they can ever know.

You have wonderful children who are willing to put this tribute together for you. Clearly you have blessed your children's lives as you have blessed the lives of all your students.....

My love and best regards,

Nita (Jones) Heard
Houston, Texas

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thirty Eight Dollars and Fifty Cents is a Fortune. You just have to know how to invest it.


James Neville LeDuke graduated from State Teachers College which later became Memphis State in May of 1936. He had majored in Latin and had two minors in Chemistry and Physics; the sciences were due to his having enrolled in 1933 as a pre-med student. The Latin major was influenced greatly because Catherine Patty was president of the College Latin Club. As the history buffs among us will remember the country was recovering very slowly from the "Great Depression" and money for tuition had become so scarce that he had to cut his college career short.

James Neville spent the summer of 1936 sending out resumes to every school in Tennessee hoping to land his first real job. He had decided he would take any teaching position available regardless of the subject and was equally unconcerned about the location of the school. The truth is his main concern was to save enough money to marry his college sweetheart, Catherine Patty.

The two of them began courting in 1935 and that relationship had grown so that he had asked her to become his wife. They had agreed that since neither of them had two nickels to rub together, they would both find teaching positions for the 36-37 school year and save their money for a wedding in the early summer of 1937.

While waiting for his "irons in the fire" to produce a job offer James Neville clerked in Mr. Coats Tiptonville grocery store; enduring comments about being a college educated bag boy. He also worked for Skylar Martin in the farm bureau drawing farm maps. He was beginning to become quite discouraged when he finally got a phone-call interview from H. E. Scott, the Head Master of Burritt College in Spencer, Tennessee on Friday September11, 1936.

Daddy got his official job offer on Monday, September 14; boarded a train for Doyle, Tennessee on Tuesday the 15th, and following a harrowing journey worthy of a story at a later date, was teaching American History and Latin on Wednesday the 16th. He was also teaching Latin I and II, Ancient History and Civics during each 7 period day.

James Neville lived in the campus dorm which housed a total of 10 young men. He was the dorm master to this small brood. At least two of these young men were 20 years old; only one year his junior. Just 4 months earlier he had been in a college dorm as a student and now he felt like a fish out of water as the authority figure to this small group.

James Neville accepted this job without ever even asking what the salary was or what subjects he would be teaching. At the time he cared about only one thing; saving a little money and marrying Catherine in the Spring. When he finally got his first paycheck he found that he was making the kingly sum of $65 per month. His early budgets showed that after paying for meals, cleaning, cigarettes, clothes, and a few other small miscellaneous expenses he hoped to save $150 by spring. I would say that qualified as "saving a little money".

Catherine, having graduated at the same time as James Neville, had to wait until October before she finally got her first teaching job at the Alcoa Junior High School in Alcoa, Tennessee just south of Knoxville. She started out teaching English and Latin and being in a more affluent area of Tennessee received a whopping salary of $85 per month. However, she had to pay for lodging at a rooming house in addition to her meals, so her contributions to the Spring Fling Marriage Fund was not significantly greater than Daddy's.

It took the two of them until Thanksgiving when they finally got to see each other for the first time since the summer to realize that they were poor now, would be only slightly less poor in the spring, and would probably always be poor as long as they continued in the careers they had chosen. This revelation lead them to decide to start being "poor together" immediately. A Christmas Wedding was quickly planned and on Wednesday night December 23, 1936 following prayer meeting at the Chelsea Avenue Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, Catherine Patty became Catherine LeDuke.

Catherine retired at the age of 20 from Alcoa Junior High School. She and James Neville continued to live in the tiny dorm apartment on the Burritt campus. Together they were "House Couple" to the 10 boys in their charge. They sloshed through the snow three times a day to Mrs. Worthington's for meals. Catherine helped her new husband with his lesson plans and made "scrapbooks" while he was teaching all day. They took long walks and made "angels in the snow" during the heavy snow season of 1937 in the Cumberland Mountain town of Spencer, Tennessee.

Catherine and James Neville LeDuke started out their married life with $38.50 and became the richest couple in Tiptonville, Tennessee.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

Not many people know that Catherine LeDuke spent most of her early years being call "Dinah". The strange thing about that is that no one has ever been able to explain exactly why. When my daughter Amanda and I were researching for the book we recently wrote concerning the courtship of James Neville LeDuke and Catherine Frazier Patty, we made a trip to North Carolina to visit with "Dinah's" brother, Clarence Patty.

We were trying to gather a little information about life in the Patty household in the early 30's. I grew up hearing all of Mother's family call her Dinah and thought I would finally be able to get an answer. NOT. Uncle Bud's memory is remarkable. We came away with much detail about a lot of things relating to Memphis life, but about the name he had no clue.

The book I mentioned contains many letters written by Daddy to Mother in 1936. Daddy used many names when starting his letters. You know mushy stuff like honey, sweet heart, dearest, darling. But every envelope was addressed to Catherine Patty. Not one single Dinah from him.

Cathie, Richard, and I were not very creative. When we needed attention is was "Mommy, Cathie hit me; Mother what's for supper?; Hey Mom, have you seen my sweater? And of course much later it became: Miz LeDuke what's the test on Friday going to cover? Wow, that was weird.

Years later Catherine got her first grandchild courtesy of Cathie. I believe it's pretty traditional for the first grand baby to give the grandmother the moniker by which she will be known by all future grandchildren. And of course that name then is used by most everyone in the family since grandchildren are usually under foot no matter which household Mother is visiting.

On behalf of all of Mother's eleven grandchildren, and her sixteen great-grandchildren, and all the parent types including Sue who now use that same name when addressing Catherine Frazier Patty LeDuke, I want to thank Diana McCrory Sharpe for giving us "Bubba".

Yes, that beloved teacher, Latin scholar, Sweet heart to James Neville, Mentor to many students who eventually became teachers themselves, Director of scores of Drama Club plays, editor of her high school annual, President of her college Latin Club, Angel extraordinaire, Elder of the Presbyterian Church was reduced to a "Bubba" in the 70's.

To Mother's credit of all the names she has been known by during her 93 years, I honestly believe that she is proudest of this last one. So I guess we really do owe you a sincere thanks, Diana.

And of course, as her beloved Shakespeare wrote: "A Dinah by any other name would be as sweet."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Here's some more letters of Tribute................


Dear Cathie, Jimmy, Richard

"Miz" LeDuke first entered my life when my daughter Kathy came home school her first year at the new LCHS with glowing accounts of her Latin teacher. She continued to feel the same way through 4 years of Latin. I believe it was the second year of the newly consolidated high school when Miss Catherine began her fabled Latin banquets. Such an inspired way to teach and build enthusiasm in what was quickly becoming a dying subject in high school.

The students researched clothing of the time, their roles as slaves and the dignitaries at the feasts, and food to be served. I was one of the many mothers behind the scenes in the kitchen, all the while enjoying the pageantry in the cafeteria. Students and parents made the tunics, costumes, and togas. Later I enjoyed the Latin and Spanish banquets as guest faculty and spouses.

One thing that amused Kathy in her 3rd year was the way Richard addressed his mother in class as "Miz LeDuke"!

After Kathy graduated in 1967 somehow Howard Guthrie persuaded me to "fill in as biology teacher until Christmas". The last time I had been in a biology classroom was 22 years before and the book had changed so in those intervening years. Two people helped make that year bearable for this neophyte -- James Neville and Catherine LeDuke.

Mr. LeDuke taught Chemistry and Physics in the afternoon after his mail route. At that time teachers could spend the balance of the lunch hour in the teacher' lounge instead of the cafeteria. James Neville regaled us all with his stories, some about his early teaching days and some great ones about his World War II experiences. He was a wonderful story teller and often had his audience laughing so hard we cried! He was a cherished colleague and made the last 2 periods of the day bearable for me!

Miss Catherine probably saw how at sea I was. She became my mentor and remained so while she was teaching. She had the ability to quietly move people with gentle but firm words. Her guidance helped change what started out as a daunting experience to some of the happiest, most fulfilling years of my life.

Over time our relationship deepened so that we became dear friends as well. She was kind enough to accompany me to my father's house in Destin at a very critical time in my father's life. For a period of about 2 weeks while I was with Daddy at the rehab hospital during the day, Catherine had her beach chair, her books, and enjoyed sitting on the beach of beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay. Words cannot express how indebted I am to her. Miss Catherine had her ever-present camera and the pictures she took at that time are so dear to me. In particular those of my Daddy, one with his usual big mischievous grin, another contemplative, a glimpse into his heart as it were.

"Miz LeDuke", Miss Catherine - 46 years, teacher, mentor, friend - yes, and angel - guiding, leading, resolute, firm, sensitive, caring above all.

Most sincerely

June B. Dooley


July 15, 2009

Dear Cathie, Jimmy, Richard

Catherine LeDuke was at the heart of the best kept secret in public education in the 1960's and 1970's in Tennessee.

For a tiny school in a farming community with more poverty than wealth and well off the beaten path, the public schools of Lake County overachieved beyond anyone's reckoning because of a cadre of educators that exceeded any expectation one would reasonably have of such a place.

Scholars in Latin.....or anything else for that matter? From Lake County High School? In a little place like Tiptonville, Tennessee?


I was no scholar, to be sure, but I went to school with some of them and one of the finest, Debra Holliman, is now the second-ranking public school official in the county. But what I learned, was critical to a mastery of written English that is my stock in trade as a 30 year journalist now.

There was greatness in those classrooms. Catherine LeDuke, teaching Latin and Spanish. Her husband, James Neville, teaching chemistry. Ray Allison in English. June Dooley, the life sciences. James Welles, for all his subsequent troubles, made history real for his students. And Catherine's closest friend and co-star in the all-star lineup, Virginia Hayes, also in English.

They're all out of teaching now, and that's a shame.

The value of what they did wasn't realized until the college years. You see, kids from a tiny place that evoked either derisive laughter or blank stares on elite campuses surprised people. They performed and performed well at major universities. They've spread out all over the globe, their success today rooted in what they learned long ago.

It was a special time. From a student's standpoint, it was a time of grace and privilege we little understood then and can only fully comprehend now.

Bob Lewis



Before you read any further "Postings" please go back to yesterday's entry and click on "comments" at the end. I wouldn't want anyone to miss Richard's remarks about our sister, Sue.

His words not only compliment my posting, they actually state it better.

Thank you, Richard.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Special Tribute to My Other Sister...........Nettie Sue Hurst

It occurs to me that many people don't know that I have a second sister: Nettie Sue Hurst.

How can that be you ask? Well I'm about to tell you.

Nettie Sue Hurst graduated from THS in 1962, a year behind me. Truth be known I really didn't know Nettie Sue very well in High School. First of all she was not in my class and secondly she was not a "town" girl. Now that fact alone didn't keep her out of my clique. But, in those days we were somewhat "class" conscious; not from a social standing mind you because none of us in those days had much social standing above anyone else in Lake County.

No, we were actually "CLASS OF" conscious. And my Class of 1961 just happened to be head and shoulders above all the other classes ahead of or behind us. We couldn't help it. We were just born that way. Don't take my word for it. Just ask any member of the Class of '61 and they will tell you we were the brightest, best looking, best behaved, most honored by the faculty, and above all most loved by ourselves.

And that fact for some unknown reason meant other classes just didn't associate with us much. Oh there were a few exceptions but for the most part the elite class of '61 suffered through our High Schools years in our own private little academically superior cocoon. Alas, it warped some of us for life.

Nettie Sue, despite being one of the "little people" graduated with honors and left Tiptonville to start her career in Nursing in Memphis. She went on to work in Nashville and Cleveland, Ohio. During all of that time away from her home town she continued to keep in touch with both Mother and Daddy as many of their former students have done through the years.

Well in 1977 James Neville LeDuke passed away following complications from major surgery, and coincidentally that same year Nettie Sue was making plans to return to Tiptonville and continue her nursing career in her home town. Mother invited Nettie Sue to stay with her until she decided where in Lake County she wanted to live and the two have been companions ever since.

Several years ago Sue decided to go back to school and get her Bachelors Degree. She and Mother both packed their bags and they rented an apartment in Millington. Sue worked at the Hospital there part time while attending Memphis State full time. Conveniently Mother had been going to Memphis weekly to take care of her Aunt Sally, so the move meant less traveling for Catherine back and forth from Tiptonville. Aunt Sally eventually moved into the nursing home in Tiptonville where she passed away at the age of 109.

Sue earned her degree, the two of them moved back home, and stayed settled for awhile. Then the academic bug bit Sue again. She and Mother moved to Nashville while Nettie Sue attended Vanderbilt University. After a year or so there Sue graduated with a Masters Degree as a Nurse Practitioner during which time Mother had "mastered" her typing and computer skills as chief "paper-typer" for Sue. Sue has put her skills to work in Lake County and the two of them seemed settled, at least for now.

It would be hard to tell exactly who has gained the most from this alliance that has grown so much over the years. Sue would have to be the one to add all the proper labels that would reflect the changes in the relationship over these 32 years since she and Mother became housemates.

One label that has been added several years ago happened when Cathie, Richard, and I enthusiastically began introducing Sue as our sister. After all, she has spent more time at 114 LeDuke Street than any one of us has.

We are all proud of our Sister Sue and know that Mother's life has been made far richer by her presence.

You can stop looking now. You have found your home in Lake County.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

She touched me........................Oh, She touched me!!!

At church this morning we sang:

"He touched me, Oh He touched me,
and O the Joy that floods my soul.
Something happened, and now I know,
He touched me and made me whole."

Marty and I attend First Redeemer Church in Cumming where we live and where Marty works as the Food Service Director. She and her staff cook meals, including Wednesday night supper, for the 4000 or so members at this mega church north of Atlanta. Marty lets me wash dishes for her when ever there is an event. Am I lucky or what.

This morning Dr. Richard Lee gave an exceptionally good message on Discipleship; leading people to the Lord not just by your words but by the way you lead your life. If there is any one religious tenet that I would attribute to my Mother and to my roots growing up in The Tiptonville Presbyterian Church, it would be that very theme. Lead your life as Christ would have us lead it to His honor.

This church, as seems to be the norm at large churches these days, has no hymn books. The Choir Director leads the congregation in what these days are called "Praise Songs" the words of which appear on three large screens. As you might imagine the small town boy in me rebels somewhat at this "mega change" from my memory of singing from well worn hymnals followed by the doxology.

Many of you may not know that James Neville was the organist at our little church and Mother was the first female elder elected when the Presbyterian Church joined the "real world" sometime in the 50's and started allowing women to be ordained. If you want to have a good laugh, find Jack or Helen Haynes and get them to tell you about Daddy's facial expressions when the church's song leader, Miss Marian Burnett, would start singing off key or worse yet, would somehow switch to a totally different song than the one James Neville was playing. I think that is why Daddy always emphasized to us that God had a deaf ear and no matter what the quality of our voice we should not hesitate to sing out in church.

This morning Kevin Richmond slipped in an "oldie but goodie"; He Touched Me". In truth the hymn is not so old having been written by Bill Gaither in 1963. But it sings like an old one.

As you have learned by now it takes me a minimum of 4 paragraphs to get to my point, which by now is obvious. As I was reading (and yes, I was singing--off key), I could not stop my self from changing the subjective pronoun to "She". I don't know, maybe that's being sacrilegious, but I have been so focused this past week on Mother that it just seemed to fit. And then the pastor got up and preached a sermon that mirrored Mother's life as well.

She touched me. She touched us all.

Several of the letters we have received have made mention of a small blackboard that stood in the front of Mother's class room. I was reminded that each day or maybe it was each week Mother would write something on that board totally unrelated to the subject she was teaching. It might be a poem, a famous quote, a bible verse (she'd be in trouble today), or a historical event. Something that was intended to make the class think.

Often, I was reminded, what ever was on the board was never discussed. That is to say, Mother never worked it specifically into her lesson plan. If someone asked a question about the contents of the blackboard, it might then become subject to discussion, and occasionally Mother did have a particular idea in mind and would lead the class to that topic, but just as often the quote on the board would simply disappear to be replaced the next day or next week by another one. Nita (Jones) Heard told me she had several pages of these quotes written down. If you're out there Nita, send them to me please and I will share them with this crew again.

She touched us often when we didn't even know we were being touched.

July 16, 2009

Dear Jimmy, Cathie, and Richard

Mrs. LeDuke can't be 93. She is still my greatest teacher and will always be the lady in command, standing up in front of the class. I never had a teacher who commanded the respect, demanded discipline and had so many students who enjoyed her class. I remember one fellow classmate who said he hated English classes, but he "really liked Mrs. LeDuke". I sincerely believe she is one of the most gracious ladies I ever knew. In all my years, I have never heard an unpleasant comment on your mother. There are not many folk who can lay claim to that honor and respect.

The last time I saw Mrs. LeDuke was at my dad's funeral in 1997 and we were in the front before the services and she came up, hugged me, and said the most unforgettable thing to me. She said, "My, you are very distinguished looking and I know your dad was proud of you".

There are many things we remember as we grow up but she, Martha Bryant, Mrs. Coates, Grace Dietzel, Mr. Henley and your dad were my favorites. Mr. James Neville once told me, "Barthell, shut up. You were vaccinated with a phonograph needle".

I know it is easier to look at someone from outside the family, but I think it must have been good growing up with your dad's sense of humor and your mother's graciousness. I could probably write for a long time about Mrs. LeDuke, but it would become redundant. She is a very great lady and the best teacher ever.

Please give her my very best and God bless!!

Barthell Roberson

July 14, 2009

Dear Jimmy, Cathie, Richard

I cannot begin to tell you how your family influenced me. I have the fondest memories of your dad in Chemistry and Physics classes. He had an unusual sense of humor. I remember one day in chemistry class a student pulled a prank - you know with sulfuric acid. This was back during the days when teachers' language was above and beyond reproach.

However, your dad was quite irritated over the incident and made this comment: "If I were accustomed to saying 'Damn', I would say it right now!" He then became amused at himself and started grinning. He definitely made Chemistry and Physics most enjoyable for me.

Mrs. Catherine was the teacher who had the most impact on my life as a student. I endured four years of high school Latin and through her tutelage won the Mid-South Latin Tournament at Memphis State my senior year. But she went beyond the requirements of a teacher. She was very much concerned for my well being. I had the lead part in the senior play, "Washington Never Slept Here". One day she asked me to stay after class. She asked what was wrong--- I was not effectively acting my part in the play. When I responded that nothing was wrong, she persisted until I finally admitted that I was worried about paying my way through college. She immediately referred me to a gentleman in Martin, Tennessee who, as a result of my visit with him, recommended me for a Gooch Scholarship. Because of that scholarship, I started my college career, and subsequent loans from the Gooch Foundation enabled me to get my degree. After being discharged from the Army I returned to LCHS and taught school for four years with your mom.

I left the teaching profession in 1974 to become a State Farm Insurance Agent in Dyersburg -- a career which I still love. Were it not for the caring attitude of your mom I probably would not have been a teacher nor would I be engaged in the career that I now so thoroughtly enjoy. And in this career, every day it seems I get opportunities to help other people, just as your mom helped me.

L.D. Gant

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yes, Even Now She Continues to Teach

If you skipped over the comment section of the previous posting, you must go back and read Richard's words. Beautiful remarks. Beautiful.

I have always been impressed at how easily Richard can take my 30 minutes worth of conversation and boil it down to 30 seconds.

Oh Well................The long winded one will continue buoyed by the knowledge that the Baton Rouge Crew is now comfortably on board.

This seventh posting today marks the end of my first week's efforts at this new endeavor. As I reflect on the experience I have t0 admit that I am selfishly gaining far more from the writing than those few of you out there are gaining from the reading.

I can already feel the temptation to stray from my stated purpose of honoring Mother and Daddy with the reprinting of the letters of her former students and friends.....turning this site into a forum for "all things Jimmy" as if my feeble brain contained information or thoughts worthy of spreading to the world at large.

I suspect that anyone getting through even one week of this kind of concentrated, focused activity already has an ego the size of a hot air appropriate analogy for sure. Why else would one spend several hours each night at a keyboard while ignoring all the wonderful programing available on TV.

Additionally I've been sending out e-mails, making phone calls, putting posting on facebook, and generally making a nuisance of myself all for the purpose of saying: "Look over here, over here. Watch me, watch me." Well, at least that part of this venture is coming to a close.

I've decided that if the good Lord wants people to see these Pearls of Wisdom he'll just have to whisper in their ears on his own time. In the meantime I'm going to continue to talk to the "few", be less concerned about the "many", and continue to reap all the benefits of my ramblings.

Mother would be the first to say: "If you don't have anything good to say, then just shut up". Well I still have many good things to say about Her. So I think I'll get back on track and concentrate on my stated mission. Yes, even now she continues to teach.

I talked to Mother yesterday and can report that she seemed pretty perky. Probably due to our poetry sessions. I choose to believe that anyhow. When we got to that part of our conversation where I began reading to her I chose a poem that I was quite sure she would not know; The Purple Cow. In true fashion she fooled me again. Same routine. One line then she took over.

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

My first thought was why in the world would she know this "nothing of a poem". Of all the neuro-paths buzzing around in her head why would one be taken up with this short verse. So after we ended our session of reading, reciting, and being amazed I hung up and went to the computer to Google The Purple Cow.

I continue to be astounded at my ignorance. It seems that I am probably the only one alive that hasn't heard of The Purple Cow. Written in 1895 by Gelett Burgess it was described as being world famous and continues even to this day to be parodied:

I've never seen a purple cow,
My eyes with tears are full.
I've never seen a purple cow,
And I'm a purple bull.

Yes, even now She continues to teach.

I want to thank the writers of the three letters I posted yesterday for their kind words concerning Mother and Daddy. As you will see in the letters that will follow as I continued to post them, one recurring memory always seems to crop up concerning James Neville.....his bottle of Maalox.

His fairly regular consumption of this elixir has often sparked speculation as to the true contents of the assorted bottles he kept handy at school, work, and at home. I want to put those rumors to rest. It really was Maalox. To the best of my memory I never saw Daddy drink anything stronger. That is until his cousin Kathleen moved back into town.

Kathleen Downs was an older first cousin, the only daughter of Alice Myrtle LeDuke and Charlie Earles. Kathleen's mother died when she was 15. Kathleen, her father, and her father's sister Letha lived next door to us on LeDuke Street. Uncle Charlie and Aunt Letha, as we called her, raised chickens, goats, and one pig and always had a big garden in the back yard. Their tomatoes and chickens were separated from us by a tall wooden fence. In those days before kitchen sink disposers we helped Aunt Letha feed her chickens by tossing all, and I mean all, of our garbage over the fence.

When Kathleen moved back to Tiptonville following the death of her husband Arthur Downs, she razed the old house she had grown up in and built the house that stands today. Several weeks after moving into her new digs she approached James Neville and asked him why his children were throwing watermelon rinds, banana peels, and other assorted garbage over her fence into her back yard.

After hearing James Neville's explanation she informed him that considering that Letha had died eight years before Kathleen moved back and had in fact not raised any chickens for the last ten years of her life, perhaps it would be appropriate to find a different method of discarding trash. We had our first garbage disposer installed within a week.

Kathleen had lived her entire adult life far north of the Mason-Dixon line and was accustomed to having an afternoon cocktail. James Neville, having already completed two working activities each day, carrying the mail and teaching skulls full of mush, seemed to be absent quite often once "As the World Turns" was off the air. Mother always wondered why he seemed to be in such a good mood in the early evenings when she was still grading papers and cooking supper.

Daddy may have tipped a couple with cousin Kathleen, but I think he still preferred his Maalox.

Jimmy LeDuke

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Poet in each of us

This posting has been misplaced.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No glue necessary, they are stuck in our hearts.

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wasn't that a great letter from Terri.

I read this letter to Mother as soon as it arrived and her response was: "Well that teacher sounded like a pretty nice person". As with most all the letters we received, Mother was quite amazed that she was the subject being discussed. Her doctors tell us that she does not have Alzheimer's. So we don't expect her to forget how to use a fork or how to turn on the television or even how to use her camera (which she uses still but less frequently). Her problem is simply dementia.

Fortunately for us and all those she meets at Lakeview on Sunday after Church or those who come calling at her home, Mother still has ingrained within her personality the graciousness that she seems to have been born with. She smiles brightly and greets us all usually with questions about who we are and how do we know her. Then she proceeds to talk to us with the same interest as that teacher we all remember standing at the front of the class room; only occasionally does she stop and ask us again: "Now who are you again? Oh that's right, you're Jimmy. And how is Joan doing."

Richard's wife is Joan. My wife is Marty, but we have come to ignore this miscue just as I learned 50 years ago that when she called me Richard I would answer without correcting her, and Richard would do the same. Our wives have come to realize that they need not feel slighted. At least she remembers their names. Richard and I are not so sure either of us was ever clearly labeled in her memory bank. After all she called me Henry during most of my formative years and Richard was Billy-Dick. We don't really care. She can call me Joe........she can call me Moe..........just as long as she still calls me.

Imagine me describing her condition as "simply having dementia" as if it were akin to having a bad cough or arthritic knees or a crooked finger. Now speaking of that crooked finger I feel I need to share with you the rather "un-romantic" version of how that finger came to be crooked. It was not due to arthritis or hard work shelling peas or caused by a fight with James Neville concerning him eating crackers in bed. Nope. A frozen block of hamburger meat and the careless stroke of a kitchen knife get all the credit.

By the way, I bet I was 30 years old before I learned that oatmeal was not a natural ingredient in meatloaf. In my days as a Stouffer's Restaurant Manager I was exposed to the recipes being used by the dietitians and cooks. I kept trying to explain to them that My Mother taught me to put in equal parts of meat and oatmeal to make hamburgers and meatloaf. I have been kicked out of some of the finest kitchens in the industry....... But I digress.

Fortunately for all of us growing up on LeDuke Street Dr. Smythe's Clinic was just across the street. Our family practically wore a path to his back door during the 40's and 50's. And Mother, with a towel wrapped around a dangling index finger, followed that path quickly that faithful morning in 1957.

Dr. Smithe saved the finger but did not have the technique nor the equipment necessary to give her normal use of her now "crooked finger". Over the years she has grown accustomed to it and we hardly ever noticed it. That is unless we were playing Canasta or Bridge which was often at our house. To watch her shuffle cards was quite a sight. I know that had Mother known the effect that her crooked finger would have on her students as described by Terri, she would have performed that hamburger-meat surgery years earlier.

Terri described how much the Drama Club meant to the development of her self confidence. In my day we didn't have a formal drama club. We had the annual senior play, oratory contests, and book reports given orally in front of the class. The effect was the same. All of us exposed to Mother's teaching recall how consistently and constantly she stress speaking clearly and distinctly when you were in front of a group. How often have we heard her say: "Speak up, your audience cannot hear you. Okay now we can hear you, but we can't understand you." She always emphasized that this concept applied to all "life" situations, not just the stage.

I recall several years ago I was called upon to speak at my good friend Johnny Vaughn's funeral. When I approached the podium at the appointed time I noticed that a whole line of flowers had been placed at the front of the pulpit area with the effect that I could not make eye contact with any of the family members sitting in the front 2 or 3 pews. Without hesitation and before I started speaking, I left the podium and went down and laid all those flowers on the floor.

I knew several in the audience thought I had lost my mind or forgotten my purpose, so when I returned to the dais, I explained that my Mother was present in the back of the crowd somewhere and that if I had returned home after the funeral and told her of my unhappiness at not being able to speak directly to the family, she would have said: "So why didn't you do something about it right then?". So I told those attending that I was just trying to avoid that discussion.

The funeral was attended by many of Mother's students who all completely understood my actions. I even expected Johnny to raise up, look back at me, and say: "Way to go, Jimmy."

The truth is that Mother's presence that day did not cause me to move those flowers. My presence in Mother's classrooms, classrooms that went beyond those made up of four walls with a blackboard in the front, and the self-confidence she taught all of us was all I needed to leave the podium that afternoon. And when I spoke the painful words I had prepared for that occasion, I did so clearly and distinctly.

I tell this story not to pat myself on my back, but rather to reinforce what Terri was stating in her letter. That many of us without ever knowing it was happening were learning so much more from both my parent-teachers than how to conjugate a verb or what the periodic number of a particular element was. These life lessons were available to every student that came in contact with either of them, even after they retired from the class rooms and labs.

And weren't we, in that small rural community extra lucky to have had not only those two, but a whole building full of the same caliber of teacher. I defy any student coming from the era that Terri and I refer to to name even one teacher that did not fit the mold we would hope all teachers aspire to fit into..................... Even though some of us still do not know how to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.

Yes, Terri is right. I need buy no glue for they are truly stuck in all our hearts.

Jimmy LeDuke

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

She had a crooked finger.....................

As promised I will begin sharing some of the responses we received when we asked for "Memories of Catherine and James Neville". I intend to relay these letters in their entirety with little or no editing of the content but I'm not sure if I should identify the writers.

I'll think on that.

This first letter I am sharing was one of the first responses received in mid July only a few days after we made our "request". In some future posting I will print that "Request for Memories" in its entirety in hopes of encouraging others of you to send me your thoughts. But for now I just want to mention that in the body of the text of that request I made the statement that "I could get a bottle of glue and some blank scrap books and start pasting away the many notes, letters, and other memorabilia I have found at Mother's house as a way to display and honor her life". As you will soon find out this first letter writer had a beautiful response to that idea.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 12:15

Dear Jimmy, Cathie, and Richard,

How I welcome the opportunity to write about your mom, my teacher. Do you think I never think about her? I do. Even my family who never met her, knows her. I speak of her often. How was I to know that this assertive little lady whose patience was so tested, with my 9th and 10th grade Spanish classes in a tiny high school in a quiet corner of Tennessee, would impact my life in such a manner? She was my Spanish I and Spanish II teacher.

In class she was very professional, coaching us to roll our r's. To me she was amazing! And where did she come from? Had she been wrong about anything she taught us, we'd have no way of knowing. We were small country town Tennessee kids who had never seen a Mexican, never heard a word of Spanish except in an old western (And how many of those did we have on our t.v.'s that only picked up 2 stations, not at the same time without turning the aerial, and neither of which were even in our state!) The technology in her classroom was as intriguing to us at that time as it would be later when we would see our first cell phone! The spiral cords hanging from the ceiling with the bulky soft vinyl padded earphones/headsets that would play our lessons and encourage us to repeat what we would hear.

The kids in the class were a cross-section of studious brainiacs that you just knew were destined for political careers. Then there were those of us who were just sure we would need this foreign language as we dreamed of international travels. She fueled those dreams and made them seem so attainable (a pretty far stretch for a kid of a widow who struggled to make it in a rural farming community) and those who just needed a grade/credit that thought they would skate through the ole lady's easy class. Some of these kids were in for a surprise! She wasn't easy. She was at the top of her game. We had a class clown, an older boy from a couple of grades higher, and he had met his match with Mrs. LeDuke! She would point that crooked finger (I am sure from arthritis) at him and set him straight right quick! Funny I remember her hands so well, but the crooked index finger would draw you attention to them. They were the same hands as my grandmother and aunts' hands that showed wear from picking vegetables, and shelling peas and hard work, and the crooked finger seemed to be designed to flip through papers for ease of grading with the red ink pen. The students learned to be certain the crooked finger was pointing at them before they answered.

She was fun, she kept it exciting with the top students of her class attending Spanish tournaments at larger schools where we would compete with our knowledge. And the annual Spanish banquet was a night of fiesta and entertainment in full costume for every student. This was as close to any international festivities most of us would ever see. We would form committees and plan for months for this momentous occasion, just as school year after school year of students had done before us. Every detail was ruled on under the watchful eye of Mrs. LeDuke.

I remember a classmate and I getting special permission from a reluctant Mrs. LeDuke to play and sing with our guitars and sing a Tennessee/Spanish translation of the current 1970's Carly Simon song "Anticipation". The Translation, the musicality and the singing was a flop. But only we and Mrs. LeDuke knew how horrible it really was, as it was well received by the banquet-goers. We were "Stars".

And where did I get this ability to get up in front of a group of our peers and perform? Mrs. LeDuke! She was our drama teacher. Drama, I didn't even know what it was. To me it seemed it was a group of the popular kids, the outgoing vivacious people without inhibition who would entertain us as a student body with plays and performances to make us dream to be like the people on the stage and make us laugh or make us think with the mystery, intrigue and humor performed on the stage in our cafetorium. I aspired to be one of these people but I was quiet and all too shy. At the prodding of friends, the graduating class had left openings in the Drama Club that needed to be filled. I couldn't do this, could I? It was my nightmare fulfilled! But I did.

It was this little club under the direction of Mrs. LeDuke, that gave me wings. I had new found confidence in myself. I was free. I performed in plays on stage and I loved it! I was so proud of myself! To this very day, I know I owe as much to Mrs. LeDuke and that drama club for making me who I became, than any other youthful event I ever experienced. I was out of my shell.

Writing this comes so easy to me, as you are not the first person I have spoken these words to. My friends, my family, my young sons have heard them as I encouraged them to participate and be all they can be. When I explain my childhood of acute shyness, it all ended with Mrs. LeDuke and the Drama Club. She truly did inspire me.

I guess you could say I grew up to have my dreams fulfilled. You must remember my love of animals. I know my neighbors, the Tiptons and the Rogers in Tiptonville do. Our backyard was home to pet raccoons, a fox, rabbits, a monkey, a pony, ducks, chickens, cats and numerous dogs, even a sick whooping crane. I now ranch American Quarter Horses in Texas. With the help of my Spanish, learned in Tennessee, taught to me by an Irish Lady, I can communicate with clients in their language. It gets me a smile every time, but they appreciate my inhibition to let loose with the attempt to speak with them in their language with a Tennessee/Texas drawl. I have visited ranches in Mexico and have exported over 100 horses to that country.

In 1976, my junior year, I had Chemistry under Mr. LeDuke. He was a quiet, deep voiced man with dark laughing eyes. We were an academically inclined class of students in his class. Why else would you be there? It wasn't a required class, as you only needed two Sciences to have required credits to graduate. Biology I and II covered that. Some students were practically geniuses. Some of us struggled with the depth of the content. The big atomic chart in the front of the class, black lab tables in the back, formulas written on the chalk board gave the classroom a serious air. Everything seemed to revolve around something called the Avogadro number. He taught us that this was the most important thing to know. I have never needed it, but I do remember it..just in case. It was the glory days of Saturday Night Live. Mr. LeDuke told us he ailed of stomach ulcers and kept a large bottle of Maalox in the top drawer of his filing cabinet. He would jokingly tell us we were making him hit the bottle as he would walk over during class and take a swig. He called us "people" not students, pupils or class. It made you feel like you were mature, with a responsibility to learn. He had told us: "People, 'I don't know' is not an appropriate response." He didn't want us to speak those words in his class. I remember a group of about 4 or 5 of us had written the words "I don't know" on the back of our spiral notebooks. When we didn't know the answers, we would just flip and hold up our notebooks with this sign on the back. This would usually send him back to the filing cabinet for another swig.

No glue necessary, they are stuck in our hearts.

Terri Lynn (Poole) Lay

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

OFF AND RUNNING.........ok, crawling

I can see already that this blogging stuff is going to test my level of commitment to the stated task which is no task at all. The problem I see looming before me is how to put order to the myriad of ideas for expressing my love for Catherine and James Neville LeDuke.

I can only hope that I don't loose the interest of the few that I know to be reading these posts as I ramble and add form and direction to my thoughts. I am sharing more of this process with you than I should because of my inexperience at this format. I promise if you will be patient with me I will make this literary journey worthwhile. How's that for confidence.

Concerning my posting yesterday, my very good friend CWC has informed me that George Santayana's 4 sonnet work entitled "To. W. P." was a tribute to Warwick Potter whom the poet referred to as "his last real friend". Potter died of cholera following a boating accident in 1893. More than this you will have to research on you own. Two hundred words minimum. Have your papers on my desk by Friday......................Wow. I think I just channeled the great lady herself.

Yesterday I mentioned that Mother amazed us with her reciting skills. Marty reminded me that the occasion when she was introduced to Santayana's Sonnet occurred when Mother was sequestered in a rehabilitation facility in Martin in 2004. Mother had just left the hospital following her second hip replacement and was spending the required 30 days in re-hab learning how to put on her socks and shoes without bending over.

To accomplish this feat (no pun intended) she spent an hour each day in the physical therapy room of the nursing home using assorted gadgets designed to strengthen various muscles of the body. This is really boring stuff as any of you can attest who has either witnessed or participated in these exercises.

To while away the time Mother would recite poems and assorted soliloquies. The nurses thought this was quite a hoot; this 88 year old lady sitting in their therapy room pedaling a make-believe bicycle reciting "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". Followed immediately by "In Flanders Fields". Followed immediately by "Mark Anthony's "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him". Followed by............OK you get the point.

Understand Mother was not speaking quietly to herself. No. She had an audience of between 5 and 9 other little white haired old ladies pedaling as fast as they could to no where, listening intently to every line she spoke. The nurses were never sure when there would be a pause that would allow them to stop the bicycling action so they could switch the ladies to some other equally mundane contraption.

This was a twice a day event that went on for three weeks. The exercise classes for the time slot that Mother was assigned to grew day by day. By the end of Mother's stay at that facility Mother had several of the ladies well versed in "I think that I have never seen a............." and "The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;". As you can see Mother's range was quite broad and it was said by several of the nurses that she never repeated the same poem twice, at least not in the same day.

I would have questioned the validity of this story had I not witnessed several of these sessions myself. I was reminded just the other day when, as I reported yesterday, Mother at 93 and not always clear what day it is, knocked off Santayana's 14 line tribute to his friend without hesitation and without a missed word; well maybe one or two, but come on, let's cut her some slack.

Jimmy LeDuke

If a tree falls in the woods and no one................

I can see already that this is probably going to be a lonely exercise in self indulgence. My daughter Jennifer just passed on kudos for my becoming a blogger. But am I. If I write pages and pages of incredibly insightful prose, and no one reads them does that still make me a blogger? Oh well, I suppose I will just have to be satisfied with being a diarist and hope that one day after I am gone someone will discover this site, force open the lock, and discover the pearls of wisdom I wrote to myself.

In the meantime I must not lose sight of the true purpose of blog which is to honor Catherine LeDuke. I think I'll start by telling the story that actually got me going in this direction.

A few days ago my wife Marty and I were talking about Mother and she remembered a poem that she had heard Mother reciting several years ago. Marty liked the poem so much that she asked Mother to keep repeating it until she had copied it down. She went directly to the special spot where she has been keeping this poem and brought it to me so that I could look up the poem on the internet and see how accurately Mother had recited it and how closely Marty had copied.

It turned out that both had done a great job. The poem is a four sonnet work by George Santayana entitled "To. W. P." I haven't figured out who W. P. is yet but I guess I should just in case there is a story in that to be told. The recited portion was the second sonnet which starts out; "With you a part of me hath passed away". I will include the entire 14 line sonnet at the end of this posting.

Marty expressed that she liked the poem because it touched her and she wanted to have it read at my funeral. I suppose it should concern me that she was planning my eulogy, but since the original reciting and copying exercise took place about 5 years ago, I have decided not to start having my coffee analyzed for poisons.

The next day I called Mother to see how she was doing and during the call I mentioned the conversation Marty had just had concerning her. She of course did not remember the incident. In fact Mother rarely knows what she ate for breakfast on any given day or for that matter who she is talking to at the time she is talking.

But in spite of her memory lapses she remains gracious and thoughtful to her caller (or visitor) and expressed interest in knowing what a poem was and what poem she had recited. I started reading the poem and before I had finished the first line she had taken over. She was amazing. I prompted her only once as she recited clearly the entire poem:

With you a part of me hath passed away;
For in the peopled forest of my mind
A tree made leafless by this wintry wind
Shall never don again its green array.
Chapel and fireside, country road and bay,
Have something of their friendliness resigned;
Another, if I would, I could not find,
And I am grown much older in a day.
But yet I treasure in my memory
Your gift of charity, your mellow ease,
And the dear honour of your amity;
For these once mine, my life is rich with these.
And I scarce know which part may greater be; -
What I keep of you, or you rob of me.

There should not be a dry eye in the house at this time. If there is, read again this poem slowly line for line as if you were in Mother's English class. It clearly references James Neville.

There is so much still sloshing around in Mother's head. I have a new mission now; to read a poem or two each time I call. I did this already last night and true to form she recited with me two familiar poems. And she seemed to enjoy the exercise so very much.

So I encourage each of you as you visit Mother in the future, as so many of you do so much more regularly than I, to take a little extra time before you go and select a poem or two, or a page or two from a familiar book or play. Read slowly and distinctly to Mother and be amazed as I have been at the Catherine LeDuke that will light up before your watery eyes.

And be thankful that this teacher taught you to appreciate the written word and that all sonnets have 14 lines by definition.

Jimmy LeDuke

Monday, October 19, 2009

First posting`

Monday, October 19, 2009

Welcome to the "I Love Catherine LeDuke" blog.

I have pondered the several ways to transmit the responses to our "Request for Memories" which I began receiving in July, 2009. Memories of our times with Catherine and James Neville LeDuke.

Somehow it just seemed appropriate to experiment with this 21st century way of communicating: The Blog. I have trouble even saying that word without thinking of the mid-fifties movie, The Blob. I can only hope that my attempt at creating this site will be less like the movie and more in keeping with what Mother would have wanted as a means of remembering and reporting on her.

It is my intention to be much more prolific in future posts, but for now I will stop here and try to evaluate what just these few lines look like in cyberspace. I could see myself filling out four pages of text and then discovering I had pressed the wrong button and wasted an hour or so with no one ever knowing of my efforts.

If anyone should accidentally see this posting, please try to respond by what ever means is a part of this site. It will surely thrill me to no end.

Hoping much more (and better) will follow.

Jimmy LeDuke