Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"I'm glad I touched shoulders with you"

 *Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*


After reminiscing all last week about James Neville's presence, I found myself this week reminiscing a bit about James Neville's absence.  The following are some random thoughts that came to mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


James Neville LeDuke  1915 - 1977

I am continually amazed at how little I seem to be able to remember about some very important events in my life.  Like the death of my Father.  I just can't seem to pull out specific memories of the six weeks he spent in the hospital trying to recover from what should have been "routine" surgery; not that any surgery is really routine when they are "putting you under" and then cutting into you.

I think the reason that I have such a hard time is that I don't believe I fully recognized that daddy was ever in any real danger.  I can't even fully remember exactly what the nature of his surgery was. 

I had been living in Atlanta for about five years, was enjoying a reasonably good career in food service, had two beautiful young daughters to occupy my weekends, and was selfishly unaffected by the lives of two of the most wonderful people I would ever know: my parents.  I was, I guess, busy with life.  And then Death appeared.
No casual picture exists that does not
show James Neville without a cup
of coffee, a cigarette, or both.

I knew Daddy was going to have surgery sometime in June of 1977; I may even have been in Memphis when he was admitted.  I remember vaguely that I made at least two trips to visit him following his surgery which was described to the family as being successful.  I won't even complete the punch line to this "old" joke as its humor does not exist for anyone in the family.

James Neville at 31
I remember how uncomfortable it was for me to see him struggling to talk with that vent tube down his throat.  He seemed to be desperately trying to convey something to me, but I recall being more concerned with trying to get him to relax and be quiet than I was in understanding his muffled words and his sign language.  It just never occurred to me that he wouldn't be better in a few days and then be back home watching "As The World Turns" on TV.  How stupid I was at 34 years of age.

James Neville and Catherine
1944


One thing I can remember clearly is how strong Catherine LeDuke was following the death of her Soul Mate.  She had 41 years with him but now, at my present age, I realize how much she was "cheated" out of at least another 20 good years with the love of her life.  She was a very young 61 years old in 1977.

I suppose I'm reflecting on all this because I just came across a letter that Mother wrote to family and friends a few months after Daddy's death.  I really was not joking when I told you people that I have boxes of "stuff" that I have confiscated from 114 LeDuke Street.  Every few days when I am running low on "posting" ideas I rummage through another box to see what interesting items I can find.

The following is the letter I found and then I will close this post with a poem that was included in a letter sent by Shug Landrum a few years ago.  (Click on Shug's name to visit the posting dated in October, 2009 for her entire tribute to James Neville and Catherine.)  I think the poem was intended for Mother but I believe it applies to them both.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On June 27, James Neville had to have surgery – a V graft on the aorta and a bypass to the artery to his right kidney. The surgery was successful, I suppose, but the following morning he developed a condition called “Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome”-- and although his lungs seemed to clear up somewhat he was never able to get away from the respirator. Other complications came along too and in spite of the brave fight he put up, he just couldn’t make it. An “acute myocardial infarction” was the immediate cause of his death early Friday morning, August 12.

His mind remained clear and his spirits were good. Although patience had never been one of his virtues, he endured with good grace the severe limitations imposed by his illness.
Fortunately, I did not realize the small chance he had of complete recovery. Because my spirits were high and because I could read his lips and be an interpreter, I was allowed to stay with him often during the day when he was not asleep and to help a little bit in caring for him even though he was in the intensive care unit the 6 ½ weeks at Wm. Bowld Hospital.

School started a week after I came back to Tiptonville. During that week Jimmy and his family from Stone Mountain, Georgia, and my sister and her husband from Central Washington were here and they helped me make the adjustment. Brother Bud came from New York two weeks later and stayed several days. [Letter damaged, unable to read the rest of this paragraph.]

There will always be a deep down loneliness but it is not my nature to sit down and mull over it – if there is something I can be up and doing, so I’ll pick up club meetings and Eastern Star and Delta Kappa Gamma just as I have already gone back to church and school. Friends here and letters from friends away are a great help to me, although, for my part, I am not much of a letter writer and I have found this letter so hard to compose that I am going to ask your indulgence that I have copied it to send to several friends who do not yet know of Duke’s death and who will want to be told these same details – and I ask indulgence from those to whom I send copies so that I will not have to write this again.

So many people loved Duke so much – he was someone special to each of them and to each one in a different and special way. No other so humble a man could have touched so many lives so very deeply.

I am enclosing clippings from the Lake County Banner ---

Catherine

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


                                                      Touching Shoulders
                                                      (Author Unknown) 

There's a comforting thought at the close of the day,
When I'm weary and lonely and sad,
That sort of grips hold of my crusty old heart
And bids it be merry and glad.
It gets in my soul and it drives out the blues,
And finally thrills through and through.
It is just a sweet memory that chants the refrain;
"I'm glad I touch shoulders with you!"

Did you know you were brave, did you know you were strong?
Did you know there was one leaning hard?
Did you know that I waited and listened and prayed,
And was cheered by your simplest word?
Did you know that I longed for that smile on your face,
For the sound of your voice ringing true?
Did you know that I grew stronger and better because
I had merely touched shoulders with you?

I am glad that I live, that I battle and strive
For the place that I know I must fill;
I am thankful for sorrows, I'll meet with a grin
What fortune may send, good or ill.
I may not have wealth, I may not be great,
But I know I shall always be true,
For I have in my life that courage you gave
When once I rubbed shoulders with you.


***********


Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)


Friday, April 26, 2013

R - U - D - E! RUDE!


*Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*


As part of my recent "request for memories" of Catherine and James Neville, three of my classmates have all within hours of themselves chimed in with comments concerning a "conniption fit" that James Neville LeDuke threw at the beginning of one of his afternoon Latin Classes in 1960 or 1961.  For the benefit of those who may not have heard the story in its entirety, and in an effort to encourage many of you to include your own LeDuke stories, I offer my clearest recollection of the events leading up to Mr. LeDuke's outburst.

Lyle explaining to Ellis Truett the exact status of our class
A contributing factor to the story is the fact that the Latin Class in question was made up primarily of the infamous Class of '61.  Anyone who was in school within 5 years of this particular time knows that this group of students was without a doubt the "most special," the "most intelligent," the "most humorous," and the "most revered" by all the faculty in the history of good ol' THS.  If anyone doubts this just ask any one of the 33 members of the Class of 1961.  Now my dear sister Sue Hurst, who was in the class of '62, has told me on more than one occasion that we were also the "most conceited" class.  I really don't know why she thinks that.


How could this "Teddy Bear" have
shouted at his favorite class
Now back to the story being told.  James Neville, as has been told before, was a Rural Mail Carrier for the Post Office six days a week from about 7:30 in the morning until about 12:30.  Once he completed his chores for Uncle Sam, he would toss down a quick sandwich, play a few bars at home on the piano, and rush to the High School, usually in plenty of time to start his one o'clock Latin class to be followed by his two o'clock Science class.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lyle: My Perfect Other Brother

*Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*
Easter Sunday 1953

An excellent result from our recent "Request for Memories" posting!:

This past Easter my wife, Marty, and I made a pilgrimage to Tiptonville; my Mecca, since my beloved Mother stills calls this home.  I wrote a posting about this trip called "A Trip To Visit The Easter Bubba."  As often happens I ran into Lyle Lankford during our regular Sunday visit to Lakeview Restaurant.

I have always regarded Lyle as one of my best friends, but in my current "old age" state, I am coming to realize how shamelessly little I really know about those I hold in high esteem.  Lyle lived in Atlanta thirty some odd years ago when he was in the "teaching" stage of his life and I had a little better opportunity to visit with him.  When he moved off to Nashville my visits became less frequent. 

When daughter Jennifer enrolled at Vanderbilt University she was very much impressed that I was able to get a "high ranking" member of the University's Administration to help us carry her luggage up to her freshman dorm room.  I think I at least bought Lyle a Fuddrucker Hamburger for his services that day.  And I must say it was a great feeling to know that my daughter had a family friend on campus just in case she needed some extra "pull" during her four years there.

Lyle with Ms. LeDuke at 50th class reunion
Those of us in the Class of '61 have enjoyed a very special treat every 5 years for at least the last 30 years.  Lyle Lankford was class president for the senior class of 1961 and as such it has fallen on his shoulders to "emcee" our class reunions.  Everyone that has attended these events would agree that the highlight of these reunions has been hearing Lyle's "Special Words of Wisdom".  Each time we have gathered I think that there is no way that he can out-do his previous speech and yet each time he does. 

When I sent out a posting with a new "Request for Memories" I was not in the least surprised to hear quickly back from Lyle.  You can get a glimpse of his wit, charm, caring nature, and humor from the two letters which I am sharing with you now; one is to me with some good "James Neville" stuff and the other is written to Ms. LeDuke dated a few years ago enclosed in a January birthday card.

Enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   


Good morning, Jimmy,
Hope all is well with you and Marty. Good to see you both on Easter.
Re: your appeal for LeDuke memories, I’m attaching a copy of a letter I sent to your mother on her birthday a few years ago.

James Neville conducting some sort
of experiment involving a sword
no doubt.
Your dad left us before I had a chance to “reminisce” with him. I remember going home from school almost every day with “Mr. LeDuke” stories. I thought he was the funniest, most pleasant, man I ever knew, and I still do. I recall all the “classics”: the day he, in “righteous indignation,” slapped his leg igniting the loose matches in his pocket and the “dance” that followed; the day he – again in “righteous indignation” and for good reason, I’m sure – screamed to us that we were “R – U – D – E!”; the day Tanye’s tropicals turned belly-up; the day we were in Memphis for a Latin tournament, and he “slipped away” to seeSome Like it Hot, which. at the time, I thought wonderfully “scandalous”; the day in Chemistry lab when Rob produced bellows of purple smoke and your dad yelled “WHAT IS THAT?!. To which, Rob, in his own na├»ve, innocent way, replied, “I don’t know, but ‘idn’t’ it pretty!” followed by that priceless disgruntled look which was singularly your dad’s; etc., etc, and so forth!
Best regards, my friend,
Lyle
              

And the attached letter Lyle mentioned:
(Originally written January 14, 2006)



Friday, April 19, 2013

My Uncle Bud

*Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*


Dina, Bud, and Mary E.
One of the greatest regrets that I have in this life is that I never really got to know my Uncle Bud.  Clarence R. Patty, Jr. was born just a year or so after Catherine (called Dinah by her family), and about 5 or 6 years before his baby sister, Mary Elizabeth.  That would make him about 95 today.  He lives in North Carolina in an assisted living facility near his only daughter, Mary Lisa Abbey.  Cousin Lisa has been lucky enough to have been much more geographically close to her dad than I have been to my mother.

(I encourage readers to go back and read a posting written on October 29, 2009 that tells about the name "Dinah" that Mother's family used when talking to or about Catherine: "A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet.". A very clever piece, if I do say so myself.)



1994 Family Gathering at Hall of Fame Ceremony
(Lisa Abbey, Bud and Bunny on left)
My first meaningful introduction to my Uncle Bud came in 1994, almost 20 years ago, when he, his wife Bunny, and daughter Lisa came to Nashville to be a part of Catherine's induction ceremony into the Tennessee Teachers Hall of Fame.  All my previous experiences with Uncle Bud had been a few encounters when I was growing up, several Memphis family reunions before my Grandmother Patty passed away, and one short overnight visit to his home in Corning, NY way back in 1970.







Major Patty and wife Edith
1944 on Leave from Europe
My memory of Uncle Bud was always shaped by my stronger memory of Aunt Bunny.  I have always known that Edythe Patty was a wonderful woman, an excellent wife, and judging by the lovely Mary Lisa, a perfect mother.  However, while I am not trying to characterize this in a negative way, that "strong" memory I mentioned of Aunt Bunny is that she had a way of dominating all conversations that I was a witness to.  I simply have no visit or reunion recollections of Uncle Bud that don't have him sitting politely and quietly at the edge.  Following a long and illustrious career as a patent attorney with the Corning Ware Company, he and Edythe relocated to North Carolina to enjoy retirement near their daughter in Brevard.  Some few years later sadly, Edythe passed away.






In 2003 I met a very different "Uncle Bud."  He and Lisa drove over from North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee to attend my daughter Jennifer's wedding to Daniel Lott.  Bud knew that his sister Catherine would be attending and this would allow for some "catching up" time for the two of them.  At the reception following the wedding, he was more vocal than I ever remember; witty, charming, full of information about Mother, and incredibly funny.  The following morning several of us, including daughter Amanda gathered at our Nashville hotel for breakfast and then lingered over coffee for at least an hour afterwards being entertained by Uncle Bud.

In 2007 Amanda and I were putting the finishing touches on our first book and we decided that we should take a trip to North Carolina to talk to Uncle Bud.  We wanted to know some of the details of Catherine's early home life, his memories of Humes High School, and a "30's" view of Memphis, Tennessee; and we wanted another dose of "Uncle Bud".

Wow, what a great time we had visiting him at his home there.  Lisa joined us in our conversations and I was able to fill in some of the blanks about my Cousin Mary Lisa and her life growing up in New York State.  We were also able to learn much about "Major Patty's" Army career in WWII which included his role in writing manuals on defusing bombs in Europe in 1946.  A lot of this conversation was really useful when we started writing the War Years book.

Lisa's been sharing much of the blog postings with her dad and she has been checking in with me and Amanda with regularity since our 2007 visit.  There is so much about Uncle Bud that I wished I had learned earlier.  I have just skimmed the surface of a uniquely intelligent man with a wonderful since of humor.  

It's my loss.

***********


Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New "Request for Memories"

*Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*


Amanda and Jimmy discussing next blog posting
In July of 2009 a “Request for Memories” was placed in the Lake County Banner.  As mentioned in Tuesday’s posting Amanda and I thought we should give our readers a chance to revisit that “Request” just in case some of our new readers had not seen it the first time around.

After looking it over I realized that so much of it is a repeat of information we have been sharing lately that I am providing here a greatly “edited” version.  The intent is unchanged as we would very much like to add any additional memories to our impressive pile we have already received.  Even if you have already responded, don’t be shy about adding new “Memories” that you would like to share. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                                                                                                                                                                          
July 9, 2009

CONCERNING CATHERINE LeDUKE

A Request for Memories,

For Too Soon She Too Will Not Be With Us

          In truth she has already begun to leave.  Oh, her physical health is surprisingly strong for a person of 93 years.  But regrettably her memory is fading.  She doesn’t always know which of her two sons she is talking to.  Sometimes she doesn’t remember that she has two sons.  This is not a real problem for either Richard or me because for all of our lives she has called me Richard and Richard, Jimmy.  At least she has never called either of us Cathie. She does surprise us sometimes, however, when she comes out with a detailed story about something or someone; a story none of us had previously heard.  It could be related to her childhood, her early life with James Neville, or fond memories about a former student.


Jimmy and Mom at reunion 2009
          This coming September a first annual “All class reunion” has been planned and Mother and Daddy will be honored as co-recipients of the Virginia Hayes Outstanding Faculty Award.  Richard, Cathie, and I plan to accompany Mother to accept that award on the evening of September 26, 2009.  It would make that evening even more special if I could hear from as many of her former students as possible prior to that evening.  I want to put together a special piece to show her once again the impact her teaching career and her life in general has had on so many people.

          To this end I am asking that the word be spread to all who were touched by Catherine Patty LeDuke or James Neville LeDuke to share with me your thoughts, stories, letters, pictures, and memories.  Please include any ripple effect that you are aware of; stories of people she touched who then touched others.  Please send to:  Jimmy LeDuke, 3769 Mars Hill Road, Cumming, Ga. 30040, or e-mail me direct at: jimmyleduke@gmail.com.  Also, please communicate this request at your next individual class reunion. 



Jimmy LeDuke 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You know I just thought of a touching memory that only the Class of '61 would have been privy to.  About two years ago our High School Class celebrated its 50th year reunion.  The event was held in the new downtown Tiptonville Event Center.

Catherine LeDuke has been invited to most all class reunions for the last 50 years or more.  In the last several years she has simply not been strong enough to attend many of them, but often Sue Hurst will try to bring her around for a short visit if it is practical to do so.  For my class's 50th Sue and I had agreed that she would bring Mother for just such a short appearance.

Bunch of "Old People" from 1961
It just so happened that the planners of our reunion had booked a "Doo Wop" group from somewhere across the river that really had our group singing and dancing like it was the late 50's.  About the middle of their performance the group was doing their rendition of "My Girl" when purely by coincidence Mother was brought through the front door.  As the group continued their number the leader of the singing group realized that everyone had risen to their feet and were applauding Mother's arrival.

Mother being sung to by Doo Woper
I lead Mother to a chair near the door and the Class of 1961, her favorite class by the way, stayed on their feet and joined the "Doo Wops" in singing a few extra choruses of "My Girl." I guess you really had to be there to feel the "goose bumps" rising.  It was a very special "accidental" memory for everyone there; and especially for me as I'm sure I was shedding a tear or two in shameful pride for the love and respect being shown to our very special teacher, Catherine LeDuke. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please put on your thinking caps and send me your "Memories".  A special note here is directed to all my family members to share some of your memories that not everyone in the LeDuke Clan may have heard. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Great Remembrances from a Time Long Ago

*Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*


That was a great "remembrance" comment from Jackson Hearn on this past Friday's post.  When this blogging activity was first started my intention was to share the many letters that were received in response to my "Request for Memories" piece sent out to James Neville and Catherine's former students, fellow teachers, and friends via the Lake County Banner and the LCHS and THS alumni websites.  Those letters contained some really funny and touching material and I would encourage any newcomers to go back and find those first 30 or so blog-posts for a real treat.


1970's Mr. LeDuke
You know, if "YouTube" had existed in those days there would be a whole section devoted to " LeDuke Lab Experiments Gone Bad" and many of them would have gone "viral" overnight:
* Matches ignite in Mr. LeDuke's pocket
* Is the Maalox bottle in Mr. LeDuke's file cabinet "spiked"?
* Fire in the trash can
* Volcano experiments gone horribly wrong

On Friday, we'll re-post the original "request for memories" and encourage all of you to continue to share your remembrances of Catherine and James Neville, and others they may have touched, with us here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Professor LeDuke at Burritt
College Prep in 1937
Back to Jackson Hearn's memory... James Neville taught Chemistry and Physics along with Latin for many years in Lake County.  Many of you would be surprised to learn that he was not an "A" student in those science courses at State Teachers College.  When he accepted his first teaching job at Burritt College in Spencer, Tennessee, he was quite disappointed to learn that he would likely be teaching Chemistry there as one of the seven classes assigned to him by Mr. H. E. Scott, the Head Master of that Middle Tennessee Prep School.
James Neville spent an anxious summer waiting for a "teaching place" at one of the several schools he applied to.  When he received a phone call on Monday, September 14, 1936 with a job offer, he did not even ask what the salary would be or even what subjects he would be teaching.  Mr. Scott simply asked him if he could make it to Spencer by Wednesday morning to teach his first class.  An eager James Neville quickly agreed, packed several suitcases, made a phone call to his true love in Memphis, and boarded a train in Union City at 9 AM the next morning.

The following short letter was mailed to Catherine Patty from the Union City Train Station and was postmarked 8 AM.
                                                                                     Tuesday Morn.
Hello, Sweetheart, I'm on my way.  Scared stiff, really and truly.  I love you, darling.  I love you.  I find that I can only ride to Doyle, Tenn.  Then, the last 9 miles, I have to get there the best way I can.
School has already started.  I don't yet know what classes I'll teach.  Hope I can do them OK.  I dread that Chemistry.  You know I hate it, I'll try hard, you know I will.
I have an hour's wait here before train leaves.
I'll miss you terribly there.  Seems I'm going to Europe.  Wish I could kiss you now.
Didn't even go to sleep last nite.  Start teaching in the morning, I think.
Honey, I love you, love you,
                                                            'Duke
I love you.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
James Neville never made it to Spencer that day; in fact he didn't actually even make it to Doyle.  Because of several delays and missed train connections, James Neville had to spend the night in Sparta, Tennessee.  The entire train trip is described in Chapter Seven of "James Neville and Catherine - A Love Story" (copies are in the Tiptonville Library).  The letters written by James Neville during this 15 hour ordeal gave birth to the term "Train Letter."  Amanda and Jimmy would read and laugh aloud at many more "train letters" written during James Neville's frequent journeys from "camp to camp" during his WWII experience.

The last part of his epic letter is included below:

Friday, April 5, 2013

In whatsoever state I am...

*Look for a new posting every Tuesday and Friday*


Very nice comments made on my last posting made after my trip home at Easter.  The title of today's entry is a reference made by brother, Richard, about a common Bible verse often repeated by Mother: Philippians 4:11 - "In whatsoever state I am, there within to be content."  Catherine LeDuke has taken that phrase and truly "made it her own."  However, the state in which she currently finds herself is not a state that she would want any of us to fret about.

Catherine F. Patty
1933 Humes High Graduate
She would remind anyone who finds themselves feeling remorseful for her that she has led a full life, has been blessed in so very many ways throughout the years, continues to be blessed by having so many loving and thoughtful people around her, and has yet before her an Eternity with the One she has been so faithful to all the years of her life.  Whatever short, seemingly uncomfortable "state" she is in at this time will be but a blink of an eye in relation to the Everlasting Adventure that awaits her when the Lord finally calls her home. 

For now, each of us must have faith that however incomprehensible the purpose of this current state may seem to us, the Faith that has Guided her for a lifetime will someday provide her with the ultimate contentment she deserves.  I believe this with all my heart and would hope that those who place even a small measure of "trust" in me will feel and believe the same.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Snow was common on path to
Mrs. Worthington's 
With my sermonizing over I'll share a rare letter written in the Spring of 1937.  When Mr. and Mrs. James Neville LeDuke returned to Burritt College following their Memphis wedding they took up residence in Billingsley Hall.  James Neville was the House Master in this dormitory and had been living in the two room apartment since his arrival in September.  Catherine would share a bathroom with another teacher, Miss Kimmins, who had an apartment just down the hall.  They had no kitchen so breakfast, lunch, and dinner would be eaten at Mrs. Worthington's boarding house just outside the School Gates; the cost to eat 3 meals a day, times thirty days a month, times two people was a whopping total of $28.00 per month.  James Neville insisted that Catherine purchase a new warm coat and a comfortable pair of galoshes for this thrice daily trek.
Little is known about those first few months of their married life in Spencer, so this letter found recently written to Mrs. Patty in Memphis was a nice treat.  Being nosy is fun sometimes.
                                                                                        Sunday nite, April 18, 1937

Dear Mrs. Patty,
     We missed your letter this week.  We've had a fairly nice week.  Friday nite the elementary grades had their exercises.  Saturday Catherine and I went on a picnic, marshmallow toast or what have you.  We gathered flowers and please don't spank us we went in wading in the creek.  No, it didn't give us a cold.  At least it hasn't yet.  Six weeks from today we'll be in Memphis, and will I be glad.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Trip to Visit the Easter Bubba

*Look for a new posting each Tuesday and Friday*

Jimmy and his beautiful Mother 2013
Yesterday, Marty and I returned from a short trip to Tiptonville.  We had a good visit and found both Mother and Sue in good spirits.  We did the usual things ending with a nice Easter Church Service at the Tiptonville Presbyterian Church.  With the help of The Lord, the good folks there have gotten a fine retired Pastor, Rev. Walter Lockhart from Trenton, to come and preach two or three times a month.  The demise of this landmark church was greatly exaggerated a year ago; the congregation may be small in number, but their resolve is strong.  Wonderful experience, great piano playing by Mrs. Lockhart, beautiful Easter Lillies filled the Sanctuary, and the church's oldest member graced us with her presence; no, not 97 year-old Catherine LeDuke, it was Virginia Council who was there with daughter Lu Wynn.  At 104 she was greeting everyone by name with a bright cheerful smile.


Catherine holding her
wedding dress
Of course, while I was at Mother's house I had to do a little foraging.  Two postings recently mentioned Catherine's wedding dress so I went digging into the cedar chest that has been at the foot of her bed for many years.  Sure enough I was able to come up with the dress.  I had incorrectly described it as being neatly folded.  Actually it was rolled up in some wrapping tissue and then rolled inside a linen cloth.  Marty took a few pictures of it.  I would love to say that when I placed it in mother's lap she immediately smiled in remembrance of that 1936 event, but alas I cannot report that.  She did express interest in the story I told her about the "beautiful, fair maiden" that made and wore the dress 77 years ago.  When I told her that she was the heroine of my story, she accused me with a lovely smile of making it up.  I choose to think there were at least a few "circuit boards" in her head that actually lit up for a moment or two.

White Satin will wrinkle
when rolled up tightly
Marty and I brought the dress home with us.  She says she intends to take the dress to a seamstress to see if she can restore it properly.  I can't really imagine that any of our granddaughters would want so simple a dress for their wedding.  Perhaps when I tell their fathers that they can have it for only $10, one of them might be persuaded.

Our trip ended with a trip to Lakeview Restaurant on Reelfoot Lake; a Sunday tradition for Sue and Mother.  They usually sit near the door so that Catherine does not have to walk too far.  That also provides her a convenient "throne" from which to hold court. as her many fans stop by and greet her on their way in or out.  By now, most everyone knows that Mother is not really sure who is talking when her "subjects" come up to the table, but I must admit I am amazed at the multitudes that come by anyway just to give a "peck" on the cheek or a pat on the back to one of their favorite teachers and friends.  She may not be fully aware of their names but she still tells everyone that she is glad to see therm.

In May Sue will be making two short trips out of town and that will be allowing me the privilege of caring for Mother around the clock while she is gone.  I have been doing this a couple of times a year for the past several years and this time alone always provides me with my best opportunity to dig for more "treasures."  See the posting made in February called "Angels Abound" to see what a typical day is like for Mother and me.  The Dairy Queen will have to stock up for my visit.

Hope everyone had as good an Easter Holiday as I just did.  No egg hunt though; my Easter Bubba was just not up to dyeing eggs this year.

***********


Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)