November 27, 2021

THESE WEDDING GUESTS

The Rogers family played a big role in my early life in Athens—and this photo of them as guests at my wedding is the only one I have!  Bill was the nephew of Mr. Sizer, who owned the Athens Table Factory that Arley managed for many years.  His mother Ruth was Mr. Sizer’s sister, and after college and a few years working on other family businesses in Missouri, Bill was sent to Athens to learn the table business.

He was rather shy and unassuming, and not yet married.  Arley liked him and he was a frequent guest at our home for home-cooked meals.  After a year or so, he told us he was getting married to a young woman from Mexico, Missouri.  Her name was Joann, he said, but everyone called her Jodie. I was about 12 by that time and excited to meet the young bride. He shared one more bit of information about her—she had a prosthetic eye.  When she was a baby, her mother accidentally put drops from the wrong bottle into her eye late one night. To her horror, her baby girl’s eye had to be surgically removed.  Bill said she wasn’t at all self-conscious about her eye.

Jodie was very warm and friendly, and usually wore pastel cashmere sweaters and tailored skirts—always with a strand of pearls.  She was working on learning to cook and often invited me over to their apartment to try out her latest recipe.  She served spaghetti and meatballs or pizza—and those were dishes we never had.  I thought she was really cool!

When their first child, a daughter named Leslie, came along (she’s the little girl with bangs in the wedding photo), I was delighted to babysit!  And to think Jodie and Bill trusted me with her.

Years after I left Athens, Jodie opened a picture framing business on the downtown square.  After Bill died and her children were grown, she expanded to add elegant gifts. The last time I went in to visit with her, her youngest son Billy had begun making handcrafted jewelry.  I was delighted to talk with him and purchased a beautiful amethyst ring from him.  It’s not every day you buy a ring from a craftsman you used to babysit!

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