Archive for the ‘Cecil’ Category

Mary Etta’s Purse

Monday, May 16th, 2016

When my grandfather died, we cleaned out his house, and there was just. so. much. stuff. Stuff that felt important and that I knew I should save, and I couldn’t make a decision about at the time. I put it away in boxes, and they ended up in the basement.

The basement flooded.

Much to Todd’s chagrin, none of my boxes of genealogies, family papers, history books, and old photos were damaged. However, the whole basement had to be emptied to do the renovations required to put in new floors and paint, so all of the accumulated stuff is kind of being moved into safekeeping until the renovations are complete. (By “safekeeping” I mean mountains of boxes in our bedroom, foyer, and dining room.)

While we were moving them, Tiller immediately caught sight of one item on top of an open box of photos that belonged to my Grandma.

My great-grandmother’s purse.

IMG_8706

 

I kept it because it’s a classic, beautiful vintage purse. Score. But I had forgotten until we opened it up that I had also kept it because it was a mini-time capsule of my great grandmother’s last years. I think that when she died, her daughters probably just took her purse home, and they couldn’t bare to throw any of it out. (Must be genetic.)

Here are my Grandma Palmer (Evelyn) and her sister, Lessie, at the funeral home. I know it’s morbid and sad, but I don’t care; I like this photo.

4935893088_70357b80c1_o

 

She was born Mary Etta Richardson (her mother was Matilda Denmark, which is partially the origin of Till’s name, but mostly we just liked the name), in Liberty County, GA in 1888. She died December 7, 1959. (Pearl Harbor day, and my sister’s birthday, too.) She married my great-grandfather, Horace Ray Butler (Rollie dodged a bullet there) and they had five children. Two of them died as babies, and the stories of their deaths are heartbreaking to hear as a mother.They were older than the three who lived and died before the others were born. The three who lived were: Lessie, my grandmother Evelyn Jean, and Clayton. (I believe he was actually William Clayton.)

 

Both of the babies are both buried at Thomas Hill Cemetery on Fort Stewart. Here is a photo of Marie’s grave and one of R.C.’s. This gets mighty confusing, because my grandmother would tell me about her mother telling her about losing the babies, and the names above are misleading. According to my grandma, Marie was not pronounced with the common pronunciation. It was “MA-ree,” rather than “Ma-REE.” And there is no french accent to it, just “Little Ma.Ree.” And when my grandmother told me about the babies dying, the boy was “Little R.C.” Not “R.O.” which is what the gravestone looks like, but I am sure that it was R.C. and i think maybe the stone was not well-engraved, because I am sure she knew what her own mother called her dead baby brother. And we never heard a word about “Meldrum.” That makes Little R.C. quite a mystery, as he seems to be named “Meldrum R. C. Butler.” Genealogy nerd me would really like to know what the R. and C. stand for – I think R. might be for “Richardson.” Who knows.

Anyways, a ton of my other Butler, Richardson, Denmark, Shuman, and other families are also buried in cemeteries at Fort Stewart. (I hope to get down there for a cemetery visit, but you have to make an appointment, i think due to the Army not wanting you to get blown up driving around the base. Heck, I could do a whole post just about the people buried on Fort Stewart.)

Whoa. That was one of my more offensive genealogy tangents. Sorry about that. So, here’s the juicy part . . .

I guess the statute of limitations is probably up now on these folks, so I can say that we have not figured out the actual truth, but it is rumored that Horace also had a relationship with another woman (possibly a Sarah or Maude, who was perhaps a Shuman) and fathered a son, but I have never been able to figure out much more about it. People just alluded to it, but never actually gave us any real dirt. (If you happen to stumble across this post and know anything about this other relationship, marriage, or illegitimate child or his descendants, we would very much like to hear from you. I know that’s a long shot.)

Horace and Mary Etta lived in Bryan County, GA, on (as I understand it) the original land grant that the Butlers received in Georgia. My grandmother was born there, near Clyde. When Fort Stewart was created, everyone in their area lost their farms. They moved to Savannah, where both died and are buried.

So, back to the purse. The satin lining is sooo silky.

IMG_8712

Tills and I started laying the things in the purse out on the table. Here are the things we found in my great grandmother’s purse:

This really cracked and cool looking mirror. If Mary Etta was anything like my Grandma Palmer, she would not go out of the house without lipstick.

 

IMG_8713

One box of tithing envelopes. I think at the end, she maybe lived with my Aunt Lessie in Garden City, outside of Savannah, because I know she didn’t always attend church out there.

IMG_8714

Here is one of the cards inside. I love that they are numbered and have the date on them, so that you don’t miss one single Sunday of tithing.

 

 

 

Here is her wallet:

IMG_8716

 

It contained a lot of medical receipts and newspaper clippings of bible verses and obituaries.
IMG_8718

I thought this one was very interesting; A tuberculosis report, from 13 years prior to her death. Negative. I’m curious if there is some reason she would have kept this in her wallet all those years. At the time of the test, she still lived on Stevenson Ave. Daddy would have been about five at that time, and also lived there.

IMG_8721

Another bible verse. I can’t figure out why it’s printed so oddly. Are they like bible verse flash cards? Because even upside down, I can still figure out it’s from Proverbs. . . and I missed a lot of Sunday School.

 

She had the card for the Superintendent of Sunday School. Love the old phone numbers. No (912) back then.

IMG_8724

One Walgreen’s prescription. I didn’t realize Walgreen’s had been around that long.

IMG_8725

Okay, nerd that I am, I looked up history of Walgreen’s. No wonder they were around so long; They started in Chicago and were allowed to sell “medicinal” whiskey during Prohibition. 

Also of interest: Mary Etta’s doctor was a female. Thinking that wasn’t super common back then, but made me smile.

IMG_8726

 

Quick Google search on Anne Hopkins came up with nothing, but I bet she might have been pretty interesting. And anyone know what that cream is for?

 

Here’s an obituary for some British dude, William Wright. A boyfriend, perhaps? None of the names look familiar.

IMG_8730 IMG_8731

 

The next one is sweet: A memorial clipping, of some sort, for Mary’s husband, Horace. He died when Dad was around five. IMG_8733 IMG_8735

 

One flashy red change purse.

IMG_8737

A whole bunch of hair doodads.

IMG_8747

I particularly like the packaging for the bobby pins, which did not photograph well, but reads, ‘Gayla 10 cents.’

IMG_8748

Here’s a brooch, of jewels in a crown. A few of the jewels are missing.

I really like this old letter opener. Does anyone actually still use these?

And here is my absolute favorite item in the purse. One, unopened, perfectly preserved stick of Beech-Nut gum. 
IMG_8753

One pair of vintage bifocals.

I really love that they just folded up her glasses and stuck them in the purse. There is something so sweet and personal about holding someone’s glasses for them. It almost feels like an honor. Someone really trusts you if they hand you their glasses for safekeeping. And there is something heartbreaking about folding up someone’s glasses for the last time and putting them away.

Here I am wearing them. Rollie and Tills both had to try them on and we all did our best schoolmarm impersonations. (Ignore my hair frizz. I just ran.) See any resemblance to the photo of Mary Etta below?

Mary Etta Richardson Butler. October 1888-December 1959. Buried at Hillcrest Cemetery, Savannah, GA. (I guess this photo was probably taken at the Stevenson Ave. house. The house is long gone, I think.)

1023578825_aa8eafe8cf_o

I guess maybe I will start digging through these boxes as I put them back in the basement after the renovation. I am guessing there might be some related posts in the next few months. History nerds unite. Everyone else just stop reading for a while.

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Friday, September 19th, 2014

It has all come full circle. I have become my parents.

 

Tonight we watched Forrest Gump with the kids. I do not recommend this movie for 8 and 11-year-olds. Sure, Forrest is sweet, but bullying, child abuse, racism, war, death, amputation, implied nudity, sex, drugs, cancer, AIDs. This is not a kid’s movie. We watched it anyway. We had some good discussions and a lot went over their heads. They actually really liked the movie, and of course they think it is funny when I cry. Which i do, pretty much the whole movie.

 

So, there is this one scene, where Forrest goes to see Jenny at her all girls’ college, and she takes her bra off (but you don’t see anything, but Forrest does), and Forrest ejaculates. And when that scene came on, and we realized what was about to happen, Todd, sitting between Tiller and Rollie on the couch, put his hands over Tiller’s eyes, and he told Rollie not to look, and Rollie wanted to look, so I did exactly what I was taught to do in that situation.

 

I sang “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” at the top of my voice, distracting the kids from the TV and drowning out the sound of the movie. Todd joined in, as if my father passed down this little coping mechanism to him the day of our wedding. And then we acted like nothing much happened.

 

Yep, as a kid, my father sang “The Bear went over the Mountain” during any romantic or sex scene in any tv or movie. Until i was at least sixteen.

 

Oh. Except that time he took me to the theater to see Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. It’s hard to sing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” at the movie theater at Roswell Mall. So, instead, there was 12 year old me, sitting next to my Dad, who was lusting after Andie McDowell the whole time. (Pretty sure he still does.)

 

The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Because it’s easier than talking to your children honestly about sex.

 

(Footnote: When Forrest is sitting on the bench in Savannah, waiting on the bus, and he gives Jenny’s address to the lady next to him, it is Henry St. Where my grandparents lived. Pretty weird.)

Here. Have a Sevin with your beer.

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

This photo pretty much sums up my childhood. Dad keeps the Sevin dust (for his tomatoes) on top of the guest mini-fridge in the basement. “Here, have a beer and sprinkle this around.” Then you paint some stuff for him. “Oh, yeah, that’s oil-based. Let me pour some gasoline on ya. Here’s this dirty old rag. Rub the gas until your skin is burning and bleeding and then it’ll come off.” “Oh. I cut your finger with the saw? Okay, stop crying. Lets finish sawing this board and then we’ll go inside and out some methiolate on it.

Okay. That last one was Pop.

This is mostly for leelee’s benefit. Because sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that we came by the crazy honestly.

20130620-222511.jpg

Spring Break 2012

Monday, April 9th, 2012

We did the Spring Break thing. A few days on Hilton Head (Todd had a shoot this week: Bad advertising world! Bad!) and then we did the lake for Easter with the whole family. About 24 hours of my family in one small 2BR lakehouse is all I can take, no matter how much I love them. I think this is normal?

So busy after being gone – work, laundry, trying to get back into a diet and exercise happy place. I feel like a train that derailed in a fiery crash of fried, fat, beer and excess!

Highlights of the week, not in photos: Fishing with my kiddos at dusk. Morning kids swimming with dog while I drink coffee at lake. Watching Brody revel in lake life. Puttering around with my dad for a day at the lake, fixing stuff, for once not snapping at each other. A rarity. Mom’s potato salad. My kids’ awesome manners while out to eat in HHI. I almost cried. Watching Venus in the Pleiades (spelling?) from the dock on a clear night. On the water at the beach. Seeing kids’ faces when they saw dolphins up close. Hearing their contagious laughter in the car on 441 – They had a “make each other laugh contest” and were killing Todd and I with their laughter. Such sweet music. Driving home on a sunny, perfectly-warm Easter afternoon with only Rollie and Brody in the car. Windows down, listening to an old mix CD of some of my all-time favorite songs, discussing them with Rollie: He asks a lot of questions, like “who is it by? What is it called? What is it about? Why do you like it?” Memorable discussions of songs – “Mayonnaise” by Smashing Pumpkins, “This Must Be The Place” by Talking Heads, and “Tempted” by Squeeze. R. thought it was so funny that I used to sing it to him as a lullaby when he would cry as a baby. Teaching kids to jump rope in the driveway last night. “Cinderella, dressed in yellow. . . ” (What are your favorite jump rope rhymes?)

Hope you all had a great Easter, Seder, spring break, etc.

Part II, a.k.a. Shotgun Blast of Thanks

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

I am thankful that I happened to come across a blog post i wrote two years ago on the Winter Solstice. I am thankful that I spent that lovely evening with my dog, Quint. I am thankful that I wrote about it, so I can remember what it was like to sit in the cold on the lake with him and watch stars. I am thankful I still remember what his ears felt like.

This year has been rough and a lot sad, and it has made me even more sad that I haven’t written as much as I normally do. This is part two of looking on the bright side, so that two years from now, I will maybe look back and remember the good things, not the sad ones.

I am thankful for this little guy, and that he likes baseball.

I am thankful for this little guy, and that he likes baseball.

That I had the pleasure of seeing Harmony at baseball games, and know the strangeness of old friends having kids play sports together. Always surreal.

That I had the pleasure of seeing Harmony at baseball games, and know the strangeness of old friends having kids play sports together. Always surreal.

Thankful for the wonderful people who always step up to the plate and coach my kids' teams. This guy cracked us up by coming out to pitch the last inning of a v. close final game dressed as Braveheart. I am thankful for the weird and the absurd in people.

Thankful for the wonderful people who always step up to the plate and coach my kids' teams. This guy cracked us up by coming out to pitch the last inning of a v. close final game dressed as Braveheart. I am thankful for the weird and the absurd in people.

Thankful for Yankees in rural Georgia. They make me laugh.

Thankful for Yankees in rural Georgia. They make me laugh.

And for quiet, woodsy solitude at sunset.

And for quiet, woodsy solitude at sunset.

And that I had time to play hair with friends. I miss those simple time-wasters.

And that I had time to play hair with friends. I miss those simple time-wasters.

And good Chardonnay. Don't get the good stuff nearly often enough.

And good Chardonnay. Don't get the good stuff nearly often enough.

For a sunny cool day spent shopping with friends.

For a sunny cool day spent shopping with friends.

A day spent trying on hats.

A day spent trying on hats.

and being reminded of my long-gone hat collection and how much joy it brought me. (i am a freak!)

and being reminded of my long-gone hat collection and how much joy it brought me. (i am a freak!)

And girls drinking in trucks.

And girls drinking in trucks.

Thankful that I rarely forget to take in the view.

Thankful that I rarely forget to take in the view.

And for time spent in front of outdoor fireplaces. (I will have one, one day. I will!) And for the sweet gift of the MacQueen tartan scarf my Daddy gave me. I love it.

And for time spent in front of outdoor fireplaces. (I will have one, one day. I will!) And for the sweet gift of the MacQueen tartan scarf my Daddy gave me. I love it.

And thankful that I have more girlfriends at 39 than i ever did as a young girl.

And thankful that I have more girlfriends at 39 than i ever did as a young girl.

Thankful that Mom finally made it to Alaska and loved it as much as she thought she would.

Thankful that Mom finally made it to Alaska and loved it as much as she thought she would.

Thankful for the beautiful day I spent with friends in Athens.

Thankful for the beautiful day I spent with friends in Athens.

And that my husband still takes me to the game every other year.

And that my husband still takes me to the game every other year.

Even though I bark in the Auburn section, and I am usually bad luck for Todd's Tigers.

Even though I bark in the Auburn section, and I am usually bad luck for Todd's Tigers.

Thankful for my sweet, artistic girl, and the chalk drawings she does in the garage.

Thankful for my sweet, artistic girl, and the chalk drawings she does in the garage.

Sad that they are not permanent, but that Todd and I managed to capture her precious misspellings. Thankful she lists the things she loves - the cuirur green, sparkely shoes, her dog. - Perhaps she is a bit like her mother sometimes.

Sad that they are not permanent, but that Todd and I managed to capture her precious misspellings. Thankful she lists the things she loves - the cuirur green, sparkely shoes, her dog. - Perhaps she is a bit like her mother sometimes.

I'm thankful for decorative gourd season, mutherfuckers!

I'm thankful for decorative gourd season, mutherfuckers!

Because it still makes me laugh every time I think of it. It is a cornucopia of laughter.

I am thankful that I know what it means to have a daughter.

I am thankful that I know what it means to have a daughter.

And for a most peaceful thanksgiving with my parents. Also, for a husband who has the patience to show my mother how to put books on her iPad. He is worth his weight in gold.

And for a most peaceful thanksgiving with my parents. Also, for a husband who has the patience to show my mother how to put books on her iPad. He is worth his weight in gold.

And that we still do EAV Santa.

And that we still do EAV Santa.

Thankful for my husband's brothers' wife and fiancee. I am lucky we have no drama. And that we all talk when the boys are stoic and quiet.

Thankful for my husband's brothers' wife and fiancee. I am lucky we have no drama. And that we all talk when the boys are stoic and quiet.

Thankful for my sweet niece, Luci. Lucky to have a niece and a nephew.

Thankful for my sweet niece, Luci. Lucky to have a niece and a nephew.

Did I mention Tills? She is my heart.

Did I mention Tills? She is my heart.

And thankful to know what it is to have a large family. My in-laws are so devoid of drama. They are so very normal. It is nice to have something to balance out the crazy.

And thankful to know what it is to have a large family. My in-laws are so devoid of drama. They are so very normal. It is nice to have something to balance out the crazy.

I am so thankful for happy engagements.

I am so thankful for happy engagements.

And that my children will know the love of cousins.

And that my children will know the love of cousins.

For the wonderful Johnson men. It is a comfort to know that they are such a wonderful example for my son.

For the wonderful Johnson men. It is a comfort to know that they are such a wonderful example for my son.

And that I still love my husband and he still (I think?) loves me.

And that I still love my husband and he still (I think?) loves me.

Thankful for Ned and Vanessa and their sweet girl Scarlett, and for the wonderful afternoon we spent tailgating for Iron Bowl. I love that our kids experience that tradition every year.

Thankful for Ned and Vanessa and their sweet girl Scarlett, and for the wonderful afternoon we spent tailgating for Iron Bowl. I love that our kids experience that tradition every year.

And there you have it. One huge shotgun blast of thankfulness. My life is good. Really good.

More Lake Pictures

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011