Among our family photographs are a few high school graduation portraits, recognizable by the beribboned and rolled diplomas. This one features the Bales sisters, Sarah Lee and Anna Lou. There is another of Aunt Abbie and her sister Themis, as well as others of Neal Ensminger and Howard Bales.
Attending high school was easier for those who lived in town like the Bales and Ensmingers. For rural farm families, it was more complicated. Mother was a bright student and longed to go to high school. She aspired to be a nurse. I think she boarded with family in town to begin high school studies, but soon her parents told her she was needed at home. Times were hard and the whole family had to work hard to eke out their living.
This graduation photo was probably about 1919 or 1920. They didn’t seem to have class photos at the time. The young women look more like debutantes than graduates! It must have been a very important celebration for them. The special white dresses and elaborate bowed turbans, the bank of flowers at their feet (perhaps props provided by the photographer) and the dainty baskets of flowers they are holding with their diplomas—all create the impression that this is a special occasion. At that time, high school diplomas were as significant as a college diploma is now. Teaching and nursing were about the only job options for women of this era.
Sarah Lee did work and travel for much of her life. Anna Lou married and died young, leaving behind her five little children. In this photo, they seem ready to move on from their school days into adulthood, armed with those diplomas!
It looks like we were going to go to church in style this Sunday! Arley had picked out a new car for the family—and it was more upscale than we usually had—the only Buick we ever had, I think. He told me it was a Buick Eight Coupe—and it sounded quite elegant to me.
This photo (which Arley took) shows Uncle Jack, Mother and me with the new car. Uncle Jack had come up from Cleveland for the weekend. In keeping with the occasion, I stood on the front bumper with a hand on one headlight. Surely a princess must ride about in a fancy car like this, I thought.
Mother would be driving—and she was probably still a little nervous about taking the new car. Since Arley wasn’t a frequent church goer (preferring to go horseback riding on Sunday mornings), it was up to her. She was a good driver although she never had any input on selecting our family car. That was the man’s responsibility!
This was during the years we lived in the little black and white log house on Decatur Pike. We most often took photos at the front of the house, but this one shows the side and back of the house. The building in the background is our smokehouse. I loved the smells inside the smokehouse where Arley cured hams each fall.
The coupe only had two doors and no back seat. We actually put a wooden bench behind the seat for me. So much for child safety measures.
Apparently the Buick Eight was a very popular model, and is still a favorite of classic car owners. Arley made a good choice!
The fall after my divorce, my friend Anne (also recently divorced) suggested that we have some new family photos made at a park near Columbia. She arranged for a photographer friend to meet us all there one Saturday morning for a photo shoot. It was a crisp sunny morning among the colorful fall trees. I had my new “single again” short haircut—and for one of the few times ever, Heather also had a short haircut.
The photographer treated us like celebrities, taking lots of time to pose us in a variety of settings. There were shots of us with our children, as well as some of each of us alone and of our children together. I remember seeing the proof sheet and finding it difficult to select a few of the best ones for enlargements.
That morning photo shoot was really affirming and healing. Seeing the resulting images gave me confidence somehow and confirmed that we three were after all a family unit. No one seemed to be missing.
A decade or more later, we had this Olan Mills photo made for the church directory. Again the motif was autumn—although this time a fake studio background instead of the trees at the park. The little ones were growing up—Heather with longer hair, me with the permed look and Patrick holding steady with the only type of haircut that controlled his cowlicks!
Over the years we have had many other photos taken of the three of us together especially at holidays and now taken with iPhone cameras. They both have wonderful families of their own now, but I never pass up a chance to have a picture made with them—and remember with love those years we were a daily threesome. This third photo was made in Nashville a few years ago when we all went out to dinner at Bricktops. It’s still us!
Phyllis Roof was one of the gentlest and gifted women I ever knew. Her life was anything but easy—but she faced each day with grace and determination. When she and Larry had twin sons Shannon and Shawn, both children had severe autism. The resources these young parents needed desperately were not available. As educators, they longed to create a residential school for children like theirs. For years, they labored to get funding to fulfill their ambitious dream.
They began making beautiful crafts and hosting an annual Sparkleberry Faire fundraiser at their country home. They applied for grants. At one time I gave Phyllis a job working part time at the hospital.
Although the residential school never was possible, they continued their advocacy for their sons. Eventually they entered a more stable period when for several years they had a lovely retail shop called Sparkleberry Faire. The quality and craftmanship of everything they sold were outstanding. The sights and smells and sounds of the little shop were enchanting. I still cherish one of Phyllis’ cherubs I bought there!
They also had a daughter Dee who inherited her parents’ artistic gifts. Eventually their adult sons had to go into a state-operated facility to get the care they required. Phyllis and Larry returned to the Asheville area where he taught at Warren Wilson College. Just as Phyllis began to have some peace and freedom, she was killed in a freak car accident.
Dee is carrying on her parents’ legacy. She got her MFA in Graphic Design from Kansas State University. Today she is an artist and educator in Kansas City, with an emphasis on nature and care for the environment. Her website www.leafandsky.com tells her story and displays her beautiful creations. She truly is Phyllis’ daughter.
Monte probably enjoyed golf more than anyone else in our family. He golfed with business associates at the Springbrook Golf and Country Club and on business and pleasure trips across the country and overseas (including the famous St. Andrews course in Scotland). His golf clubs were always in the trunk of his car (usually a Lincoln Continental)—just in case.
After his successful career as a hosiery mill executive, he retired while still in his 50’s and was happy to have even more time for travel and golf. His wife Isobel did not share that interest and they divorced after he retired. In later years he spent many happy hours with a lovely widow, Helen Beaman. She loved traveling and golfing with Monte.
Easy was the other Eaves who enjoyed golf. He and his wife Mildred spent many hours on their country club golf course in Ashland, Kentucky. He and Monte also enjoyed playing golf together.
This world of golf courses and country clubs seemed central to Monte and Easy. In the next generation of the Eaves family, Tootsie’s sons Jerry and Joe probably enjoyed playing golf the most. Jerry and his wife Marilyn often played golf together and spent a lot of time with friends at the same Springbrook Golf and Country Club. Joe lived in Asheville and played golf there. After he retired, he worked part time at the clubhouse. In return, he had access to play golf on the course.
No one on my mother’s side of the family ever played golf. The Connellys also were generally not the country club or golfing types. After we married, Tom tried golfing some with some of his faculty friends. When a wild shot of his hit the college dean on the head, he got rid of his golf clubs for good! His younger brother Bill did enjoy golfing and the country club life in Nashville—and currently lives on a golf course.
And that’s the family story on golf and country clubs!
Valentine’s Day is all about love, so it seemed the perfect time for an engagement celebration in 1998! Hunter and Katty were the honorees at a party given by his parents Bill and Jane at their log house on Lynwood Boulevard. Since Heather lived in Nashville, she and her friend Steve went to the event.
Katty and Hunter met when he rented a house to her and some of her girlfriends. He’d graduated from University of the South and she from Vanderbilt. Her parents are from Iran and taught at UT-Chattanooga. Their lovely summer wedding was in the chapel of UT-Chattanooga with a reception at a Lookout Mountain country club. Our whole family was able to enjoy the wedding festivities which blended the foods and cultures of Tennessee and Iran.
This photo also brings fond memories of this lovely log house where we often enjoyed visiting. It had a rustic charm that contrasted well with more formal furnishings and original artwork. With Jane’s special knack for decorating, it always felt cozy and welcoming.
More than two decades later, Hunter and Katty have their own beautiful Nashville home and four amazing children—McClain, Riley, Luke and Drew.
This is one of the loveliest family photos in our collection—showing Clifford and Abbie Cate with their three little sons, Leroy, Ralph and baby Hoyt. Leroy (with a straight blonde haircut) and Ralph (with curly blonde hair) are perched on tall stools, while barefoot Hoyt sits on his papa’s lap. Certainly a beautiful family!
Fast forward a few years and we have a snapshot of the four Cate children probably on Easter Sunday. They now have a little sister, Dorothy! The brothers are lined up according to age, Leroy, Ralph and Hoyt. I imagine this was during a period when the parents were working hard to expand their dairy farm, and had little time for formal family portraits. Dorothy was always a beauty, but this is one of the few childhood photos we had of her.
This family snapshot was made almost twenty years after that first one! And now the group had expanded to include twin baby boys. Aunt Abbie is holding Delbert and Uncle Clifford is holding Elbert—their surprise additions. Leroy, Hoyt and Dorothy are on the left and Ralph is standing between his parents.
Within the next two or three years, the three older brothers would all be in the military during World War II. Leroy was an Army sergeant, Ralph a Navy pilot and Hoyt was also in the Army. Fortunately, they all came home safely. Tragically, four of these family members died by suicide—Uncle Clifford, Leroy, Delbert and Elbert. But on this day, they were an intact family of two parents, five sons and one daughter. Photos only reveal the present.
In the 1990’s, I experimented with a new format for entertaining friends. It grew out of my fascination with the life and art of Vincent Van Gogh. Recalling a movie I saw about forty years earlier, I went to Blockbuster and found a VHS tape of Lust for Life. Kirk Douglas starred as Vincent Van Gogh; Anthony Quinn was his friend French artist Paul Gauguin. It wasn’t a great film but did show many of Van Gogh’s paintings. I decided to invite a group of eight women friends to a Van Gogh movie dinner party.
For the dinner menu, I highlighted dishes that were in the Van Gogh color palette. There was cold blueberry soup for an appetizer, and side dishes of yellow and orange vegetables and fruits. The centerpiece was an arrangement of sunflowers. We began with appetizers served in the living room as we watched the first section of the movie, then adjourned to the table for the main course. Over dessert and coffee in the living room we finished the movie and discussed the art and life of Van Gogh.
Later I hosted a second movie dinner party to view and discuss the 1987 film, Babette’s Feast. That evening, I created a French menu although not as elegant as the one Babette prepared. The one item we did have that she served was Amontillado Sherry! Again, we followed the same format and had a wonderful discussion on Babette’s artistry and the significance of this extravagant feast. This is still one of my favorite films.
In the photo, I am serving a cup of soup to Karen at our third party. This time we laughed our way through the delightful comedy from 1998, Waking Ned Devine. Since the story took place in a tiny Irish village, we had an Irish menu.My Nashville home doesn’t have a layout that accommodates a movie viewing dinner party. They were unforgettable evenings with my South Carolina friends!
This photo from a few years back shows a group of us Redeemer women after completing some fairly fancy Christmas packaging! Each year we’d been visiting a limited income senior housing apartment building to join in on the residents’ festive Christmas party and carol singing. We’d always taken small gift bags to distribute to everyone but this year we went all out!
We worked on the project for weeks. Several teams volunteered to be the gift shoppers, choosing items for each man and woman. There were throws, purses, fishing rods, jewelry, pajamas and a wide variety of other things residents had on their Christmas wish lists. Vicki and Valerie (on the left in the photo) came up with a lovely plan for wrapping the gifts in clear cellophane and making beautiful bows. Arranging the items for display, doing all the packaging—a tricky process indeed. My friend Jane and I (the two on the right) stuck with cutting the lengths of cellophane and ribbon and left all the wrapping to the experts.
I really appreciate arts and crafts although I don’t tackle many projects on my own. Mother always told everyone, “Sally just can’t do anything with her hands”—because I couldn’t seem to catch on to sewing or crocheting. Over the years I’ve had quite a few crafts projects that never seemed to get finished.
This morning of gift wrapping was fun because we enjoyed coffee and snacks, talked and laughed, and somehow all together made those gifts look very special.
Finally, I found perhaps the only existing photo of my one and only red car—a Saturn in 1996! This photo shows my great-niece Katie standing in my Williamsburg West driveway in front of my shiny red Saturn. She was in high school in Murfreesboro and called to say she wanted to fly to Columbia for a visit to talk about her dreams of college. I loved her idea and thought she was bold to plan such a trip—especially when the Olympics were in Atlanta and airlines were maxed out. On a slow day the Atlanta airport (where she had to change planes) is hectic enough. She persisted and I enjoyed showing her around the University of South Carolina, taking her to Riverbanks Zoo and shopping for bargains (her favorite pastime).
After my divorce I was anxious to trade in our green Chevy station wagon for a car more like my new lifestyle as a working single mom. A man I worked with said he thought I should get an Impala and I did. It was good for the transition but didn’t feel “like me.” A friend who was a local Honda dealer offered me a good trade-in for a Honda Civic. It was so compact and reliable—but I never cared much for its dark brown color.
Then in the mid-90s I read about Saturn, the unique automobile developed by General Motors and being manufactured in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The whole Saturn story and marketing plan won my heart, and I bought my red Saturn. Like many fairy tales, that one also ended. By the time I moved to Nashville in 2001, I was ready to return to Honda. Yet having a red car made in Tennessee for a few years was a good experience!