Friday, July 20, 2018

KITH AND KIN

George Alton Stewart

On Christmas Day in 1929, a plane containing three men buzzed the home of a local man, alerting him to open the fairgrounds at Dunn, North Carolina. The pre-planned maneuver resulted in a plane crash, killing the three men aboard, two students and the pilot, my grandfather, George Alton Stewart.

It was thought that one of the young men, alone in the rear cockpit, panicked, taking the controls from Stewart, resulting in the devastating accident.

Stewart was fascinated by planes from boyhood. At the age of 22, his life changed forever when one landed close to his home, having had a mishap in the muddy field. Stewart introduced himself to the pilot, offering to repair the damaged plane.

Shortly, his childhood dreams came true. He took flying lessons and had his first solo flight in 1924. He became well known in the Southeast as a flyer, and his trademark was his safe and professional flying.

In a short time, Stewart's praises were being sung as the state's first licensed pilot and the first licensed aviation mechanic. His license was signed by Orville Wright.




Stewart was happily married with three children...my uncles, David and Harold, and my mother, Jean. His death devastated his family but left a legacy in North Carolina history. His grave marker at Coats contains the following...

"He died in man's conquest of the air."







From the time I was a little girl, my sisters and I were told by our mother of my grandfather and his accomplishments. Later, my uncles also shared remembrances, leaving us with the picture of a loving husband and father and a respected pilot.




Thanks to an article in the Clayton News-Star for the facts in this blog post.





Sunday, June 17, 2018


HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, DAD



Daddy always woke early while the women of his castle slept. He would roar through the house, singing happily. We would grumble from our respective locales, but at five or six A.M., we didn't want to move.
One day, his women--mom, me, and my sisters--decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. He went to bed early, around nine or so. When we thought he was asleep, we crept to the kitchen, arming ourselves with pot lids and spoons,and trying not to laugh, we surrounded his bed. We began a cacophony of chants accompanied by frantic drumming, then ran like rabbits as he jolted out of a sound sleep. Once fully awake, he had to laugh at the sight of his wife and children racing away in hysterical laughter. He was a little quieter after that, but would, from time to time, break into spontaneous song, reminding us all what a happy soul he was. Love and miss you dad. Happy Father's Day.




Sunday, June 10, 2018

KITH AND KIN
"Papa"


My grandfather was a southern gentleman and a romantic. This is an example of the poems and writings he would send to my grandmother from work or leave in their home for her to find.




I visited my grandparents every summer from the time I was six. Mom and Dad would put me on a Greyhound bus for the trip from North Carolina to Alabama, nine hundred miles away. Sitting directly across from the driver, I enjoyed the scenery, confident in my safety. I'm sure my parents compensated him for his care. In a few years, my sister, Carolyn, joined me for the yearly adventure. Those were happy times.

Memories of those summers include my grandmother's baking. She made extra money by providing cakes for the community and was known for her ability. My desire for sweets developed at her feet.

My grandparents sang in the church choir and my love of music grew with every summer's visit. They both possessed lovely voices, and I remember many evenings sitting next to my grandmother at her piano.

Papa, as I called him, was a wise man, loving simple pleasures. His sense of humor and his intellect endeared him to many. 




He loved to fish and we spent many hours on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. We enjoyed the meals from our 'catch of the day'.  Fondly remembered are the tours with Papa giving the history of the town and its inhabitants, showing me his favorite spots and important landmarks.



Every evening, we would sit on the expansive front porch with our feet on the banister, watching the resident spider spin its web. To this day, the lessons from Papa on the simple things of nature bring delight.





Thank you, Papa, for the sweet memories.


Peace,
Barb

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

PERFECTLY UNIQUE

AN ANTHOLOGY


                                   An anthology for autism awareness with stories from 18 authors.





Randy Brown
Roux Cantrell
Tracy H Gilmore
AB Glenn
C.G. Higgins
Terra James
Sharon Johnson
J. Grandison
A. K. Lawrence
P. Mattern
Teesa Mee
Brian Miller
Savannah Morgan
Leah Negron
Robin Rance
Jennifer Sivec
Lea Winkleman
J.C. Wing


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Saturday, June 2, 2018

KITH AND KIN

Grandmother Glenn

Grandmother Glenn was a grand lady.  A schoolteacher by profession, she was beloved by all.  She possessed a beautiful voice, a good mind, and a romantic nature.  I remember summers spent watching spiders spin their webs, singing with Grandma, and going through her schoolroom for books to read.

From an early age, Dad put me on an overnight bus from North Carolina to Alabama where Grandma lived.  Traveling alone was a great adventure.  Sitting behind the bus driver, I could watch the road from his vantage point, feeling like a 'big girl' as we made our way southward.  I’m quite sure my dad tipped him to watch over me, but back then, it wasn’t like today with pedophiles around every corner.

Grandma and Papa would meet me at the bus station and we would go 'home'.  The house was on a lovely street, one of the many in the small southern town.  A median about 20 feet wide ran the length of the street, separated by a convenient cut-through every block or so.  Graceful trees filled the median and gave much needed shade in the summer.  The house sat approximately 30 feet from the street with a porch that wrapped around to the left.  Two windows were visible from the second floor, that being a single room with a dormer.  The front porch had a swing in the left corner and plenty of comfortable rocking chairs.





 
Grandma loved sweets and baked cakes and pies to make extra money.  She always had several ready for my arrival and I also had a sweet tooth, a very large one.  I sometimes slept upstairs and sometimes in the front bedroom.  There was no air conditioning, only fans and open windows.  I do not remember being hot.  Ah, the innocence of youth.

Papa was a real romantic.  The letters he wrote to her when they were courting are beautiful and poetic.  I can imagine the joy in her heart when she received them.  They were married December 26, 1912, when Grandma was 23.  Times were difficult and they worked hard to make ends meet like most their age.  Teaching was her calling and she taught first grade for 40 years.  Her classroom was beyond its time, without tables in rows like most.  She used round ones, giving her students a feeling of importance and her ability to walk among them, giving much-needed individual attention.  I loved my visits to her room, even though it was scaled down for the summer.  Not being much older than her students, I wished that I could have been in her room every year.  She also managed a hotel restaurant that had the reputation of being one of the best in town.  Her menu brought in many customers and she had a loyal following. 

My times with her were sweet treasures. We would sing at the upright piano in the living room, and I would enjoy her and Papa singing in church on Sunday.  There was a chicken pen in the large backyard and we would go out every morning to gather the eggs.  She would protect me from the rooster who had a bad habit of spurring anyone he could.  One swift kick and he would make for the back of the pen.

Lindy, the cook, would come in the mornings to make breakfast on the wood stove in the small kitchen.  I loved watching her and would quiz her on how and why she did things.  One vivid memory of Lindy is the day she showed me how to kill a chicken.  I sat on the back steps, eager to learn.  She picked up a chicken and wrenched its head off.  The poor chicken’s body ran around for quite a few minutes.  Despite this horrendous sight, we continued to enjoy fried chicken every Sunday.

As I grew older, I continued spending the summers with Grandma and Papa.  It was a lazy, innocent time with them, peaceful and free from care.  When I was in the tenth grade, my family moved to Alabama and a year or two later, after Papa died, we moved in with Grandma.  What a delight.  Sweets whenever I wanted them and music as well.

She was happy in her later years with her grandchildren, her cats, and her flowers.  I will be forever grateful to her for giving me so much love and sweetness, which is what she was made of.  I will hold the image of her when young, dressed in a long skirt, white ruffled blouse, and dark hair pulled back in the style of the day, contrasted with her aged, portly frame, dressed in cotton gingham, hair white, and with those wise, sweet eyes clouded by time.







Grandma is seated.




In her first grade classroom.



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

KITH AND KIN


My great-great-great grandfather was born in North Carolina in 1786. At the age of 20, he moved to South Carolina and was admitted into the Methodist Conference. The following year, he was ordained a Methodist minister.

After his marriage, he moved to Alabama and built a fortified house for himself and his family. The town,  Glennville, named for him, developed over time and was known in its heyday as the "Athens of the South". It had collegiate institutes, finishing schools, a military academy, classic churches and stately homes. In 1854, John Glenn, cousin to James, left to establish a school at Auburn and became its first president of the board of trustees. This school in successive changes became Auburn University. 


Witches

"Rev. Glenn had a full-rounded face, a florid complexion, a voice like a trumpet and 'faculties naturelle of the highest order'. Being an ordained Methodist preacher, he began his search for a congregation. 

 Mr. Glenn made repeated efforts and failed. One of the peculiar notions of the people and the only one on which there appeared to be a uniformity of faith, was the belief in witches. He resolved to take advantage of this fact, and in due time, was heard throughout the settlement, for miles in every direction, by written posters over Mr. Glenn’s own signature, and by public announcement, that he, on a certain day, at a certain hour, at a certain place, would publicly proceed to kill witches.

There was no cabin or other dwelling large enough to hold the crowd, which gathered for the exhibition. His method of killing witches included drawing of a witch’s picture into which he shot golden balls. His pictures included infidelity, drunkenness, and other vices. After that service he could draw a crowd from a twenty-mile radius at any time."




Unfortunate accident

"Mr. Glenn was very much given to walking long distances. It was March, 1851, and he wanted to walk the two miles to the church, give his sermon, and return home. His family persuaded him to ride a gentle old horse.

After the service, he began his journey. As he rode down a steep slope, a hog jumped out from the brush, scaring the horse, which bucked, throwing him against the pommel of the saddle, injuring him so severely that he died several days later."





He was buried in the Glennville cemetery and his wife, who died a few years later, rests beside him. The town he founded disappeared into history a few years after his death. Refusing to allow the railroad to go through brought about its demise. A few of the stately homes are present as museums, and the restored cemetery remains as a reminder of the souls who lived there.


PURPORTED DAGUERREOTYPE OF  JAMES GLENN
(Not authenticated)




Peace,
Barb

Saturday, May 26, 2018

KITH AND KIN


My aunt was a brilliant woman, full of wit and good humor. She and I shared many things through the years... our love of family, of good books, art, and music, of nature, and of people. We were the watchers who often communicated without speaking.  A look or a touch of the hand spoke volumes.

Sister, as we called her, was a walker. We took many excursions, she strolling jauntily ahead, me struggling to keep up. Her energy was boundless. One memory that stands out is sitting under a huge tree, watching the leaves blow and the squirrels run. Words were unnecessary.

In looking through the family pictures, I have definite favorites, but the one that brings smiles is Sister in her grandmother's wedding dress, taken when she was eighteen. 



Raised in a small southern town, she had all the advantages her parents could provide. She and my father were close, enjoying times with friends and family. These pictures are of the two of them as young adults, playing off each other with their hats, and later in life, after marriage and family.






Sister attended college in Georgia before moving to Boston, where she met and married the love of her life some years later. When I moved to Virginia in the late sixties, I stayed with her until I began teaching. She and my uncle took me to concerts, lectures, and museums, broadening my horizons. Her presidency of the local women's club provided another level of awareness as I witnessed her in that capacity.

She was a touchstone for her family. I am her namesake. She was my aunt, but she was also my friend. 



Thanks, Sister, for the memories.