January 21, 2021

Pauline Miller with sons Jimmy and Johnny

CAMPBELL’S SOUP LUNCHES

After we moved to our new house on Burger Street, Mother got the idea it was a good idea to build a couple of small rental houses just down the lane on some of their property.  She persuaded her brother Jack who lived in Cleveland to purchase an older house just across the street from the new house—and she became the landlord for the three rental properties. 

The Millers were a young family just moving to Athens and they spent several years as renters in Uncle Jack’s house.  M.C. had been a World War II navigator—and spent some time as a German prisoner of war. He smoked constantly and was often angry or agitated.  He probably had PTSD but there was no word for it.  Pauline was always patient and gentle with him—and did her best to keep their two lively toddler sons from getting on his nerves.  

I loved talking with Pauline—and spent almost every hour I wasn’t at school with her and the boys.  She was the first person I’d known who had graduated from college—except my brother Easy who had played football and graduated from Duke when I was a baby. She told me about her professors and classes, the campus social life at Carson Newman College—and meeting M.C. while they were students there.  She’d majored in elementary education and taught until the boys were born but now wanted to be home with them.

She always asked me to join her and the boys for lunch—every day the same.  Campbell’s Soup (either alphabet soup or chicken noodle) and saltines, and sometimes a PB&J sandwich. The house was always cluttered with scattered toys and books, laundry waiting to be folded, beds not made—but Pauline was smiling and loving her rowdy little sons.  She probably hoped they would tire themselves out during the day so M.C. could have some peace and quiet when he got home from work.

After I did go away college, the Millers built a nice brick home near ours and a third son Larry was born.  When the boys were in school, Pauline went back to the classroom and taught at City Park Elementary for over twenty years. She and M.C. were together over sixty years.When I remember those conversations over a simple bowl of soup in Pauline’s cluttered and noisy kitchen, I see “love is patient; love is kind” in action.

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