October 26, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Edgar Garrison, Sr.

Monroe News Star - 1/7/1976

Edgar Eugene Garrison, Sr.

Born on March 9, 1886

Son of
Reuben Alexander Garrison and Elizabeth Asenath Powers

Husband of
Annie Hulda Francis

Father to
Eunice [Enright], Artie [Miller], Annie [Laffler], Edgar Eugene, Jr.,
Jo Francis [Peck] and Cecil Alexander

Died on January 5, 1976
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

October 25, 2014

October 19, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Frederick Timothy Chambless

Monroe News Star - 7/22/1975

Frederick Timothy Chambless

Born on April 15, 1888

Son of
Zach and Ella Chambless

Husband of
Mollie Blackmon Smith

Father to
Lewis, Mabel Louise, Marguerite, Frederick Francis and Jessie

Died on July 20, 1975
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

October 17, 2014

Friday's Faces from the Past - Birdie Talbert Krause

Birdie Talbert Krause

Birdie Talbert was born in Bienville Parish on August 30, 1898 to the marriage of Benjamin Harris Talbert and Mary Elizabeth Jones.

She came to Sicily Island in 1923 where she taught Home Economics in the newly constructed three-story school.  She taught the girls to sew on three treadle machines.  Cooking was taught on six two-eyed gas burners that were placed on tables.  The ovens, 12x12 inch metal boxes with doors, were set over the burners for baking purposes.

After arriving in Sicily Island, she met and married Oscar Krause.  Mrs. Birdie and Mr. Oscar never had children of their own.  However, when Mrs. Birdie's sister Benola passed away shortly after giving birth to a son, she and Mr. Oscar took their nephew and raised him as their own.  This nephew was Ben Westerburg.

Birdie Talbert Krause died on March 18, 1984 and is buried alongside her husband in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery in Sicily Island.

Courtesy of FindAGrave member, Karen Klemm Pinckard

Below is a letter Mrs. Birdie wrote to my grandmother back in January of 1969.  In this letter, she mentions her neighbors, Vivian [Martin] Enright, Olga [Knight] Seal and Willie [Evans] Knight. She also mentions the birth of her first grandchild, Ben, Jr.

This letter was written while my grandmother was in the hospital and several months before she passed away.  She mentions me, my siblings and my father.  She also goes on to tell my grandmother that she loves her and reminisces about the good times they shared back in the early 1920s.  

Mrs. Birdie encourages my grandmother to get well and hurry home so that she can take her for a drive in her new Chevrolet Nova.

I often wonder if my grandmother ever recovered enough for Mrs. Birdie to take her for that drive.

October 13, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 60

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Smoking, Chewing Tobacco and Dipping Snuff…
I remember how we used to smoke corn silk.  We would get the silk out of dried corn in the fields and wrap it in old newspapers or old brown paper sacks then smoke it. 
We also smoked cross vine.  Cross vine was found along fence rows.  It actually left blisters on your mouth.  I don’t know if the blisters were the result of some kind of chemical reaction to the vine being burned or if the heat from smoking it caused the blisters.  Other boys smoked it so I did.  Man, it left a big ole blister on my mouth like a fever blister.
Bernard Seal
I taught many of the boys my age how to chew tobacco.  I dipped snuff one time.  Junior, Bernard, Billy Pat and Lester were the sons of Walon and Addie Mae Seal.  They lived on what we called the Enright place.  It was north of town going towards Wisner.  About a half a mile out of town you would turn left and go back in there where we used to call the Chisum Deadening.
I used to go out to their house and spend the day with them.  Bernard and I were the same age but I often buddied up with his older brother, Junior.  There were a lot of boys that lived in that area; Hyman Cooper, Jr., the Coleman boys, James Smith and some Hutto boys. 
One day I was out at the Seal house visiting with the Seal boys.  Coot and Buddy Hutto came over while I was there.  We all went out in the backyard.  Coot had a little tin box full of snuff.  He was dipping it and offered us some.  Junior and the other Seal boys wouldn’t take any but I did.  Boy, I filled my bottom lip up with that snuff.  It looked like brown, fine dust.  All of them were admiring me and going on about me dipping that snuff. 
Junior Seal
After a while the snuff seemed to melt away in my mouth so I asked Coot for some more of it.  I pulled my bottom lip out and put me another good batch of that snuff in my mouth.  Within minutes of putting that second batch in my mouth I started getting sick.  Lord, I can still remember how sick I got.  My head was spinning so bad I could hardly stand up. 
Junior and Bernard put me on an old wash bench where Mrs. Addie Mae washed clothes.  They laid me on my stomach with my head hanging off the end of the bench.  I was out of it but I can remember Mrs. Addie Mae asking Junior what had happened.  Junior had to tell her that I had taken some snuff. 
Addie Mae Cooper Seal
She told the boys to get me up and bring me in the house.  Once inside, she said, “Little Bruce, I used to hear my daddy say that if you got sick on chewing tobacco or snuff, you should drink strong black coffee.”  She made a pot of black coffee and as soon as I drank a cup of that strong bitter coffee I wasn’t sick anymore.  I’ll always remember that.
As kids back in the 1930s we would make like we were dipping snuff.  We would take cocoa that came in a can and mix sugar with it then tuck it in our bottom lips.  It had a sweet taste to it and after it melted away in your mouth, you’d get you some more.  I reckon that’s what I thought I was doing with that real snuff. 
Cigars made me sick every time I smoked them but I kept on smoking them.  I got sick off of chewing tobacco a many a time but I kept on chewing to where it didn’t make me sick anymore.  I’ve been sick on beer and whiskey but kept on drinking.  Snuff?  I got sick that one time and I never tried it ever again.  That’s the sickest I ever remember being.
Rosemary Wilkinson Crawford
I chewed tobacco in class when I was in the seventh grade.  Back in those days, the seventh grade class was in the high school building even though we weren’t considered high school students.  I remember sitting in Mrs. Rosemary Wilkinson Crawford’s room.  I would sit right there in her class and chew tobacco. 
I’d make me a cup out of paper and spit in it when I’d catch her looking in another direction.  She and others probably knew I was chewing tobacco but they never were slick enough to catch me.
After boys got up to a certain age and had permission from their parents, Mr. Coney would let them go just off the school property and smoke during school recesses.  I couldn’t get permission.  My mother knew I smoked for years before my daddy knew.  There was no chance of me getting permission.  So I had to smoke down in the basement or in the weeds out behind the school house. 
When we would go down in the basement to smoke there would be four or five of us with one along to be the lookout for Mr. Coney.  The rest of us would get up in the big ole shower stalls and smoke. 
One day our lookout, Buddy Benge, must have looked off in another direction and when he looked back Mr. Coney was right up on him.  He couldn’t say anything to warn us because Mr. Coney was too close.  He had one of his hands inside the shower stall just flopping it up and down.  Lonnie Owen Stringer, Cary Francis and I knew something was wrong so we put the cigarette out. 
Cameron Coney
Smoke was just boiling up out of the stall.  Mr. Coney stepped in the stall and it looked more like a heavy fog instead of cigarette smoke.  He turned around and walked out.  He wouldn’t whip us unless he actually caught us with a cigarette in our hands or in our mouths. 
We almost got caught so many times.  Dodging Mr. Coney was not a fun game.  That was a survival thing; like your life was on the line in dodging him.  Many an ole boy got whipped by Mr. Coney if they got caught smoking.
We always had to line up before entering the school building at the beginning of the day and after each break.  Girls lined up in front and the boys in the back.  Mr. Coney would stand up on the steps and look over all the lines and everybody thought he was looking right at them.  Lord, he could look mean.  Once he was satisfied that we were all in line and behaving, he would say, “Pass”, which meant we were allowed to enter the building and go to our classrooms.
I remember on one occasion he stood up there for what seemed like ten minutes.  His face was blood red and he sort of rocked back and forth as he stared out over all of us.  Finally, he said, “Pass into the gym.”  If he had a special announcement to make, he would say, “Pass into the gym.” Instead of everybody heading to their classrooms, we would head straight to the gym and take our seats.   
He addressed several topics that day.  One topic was about boys and girls walking around the building and holding hands.  Apparently he had caught some boy and girl holding hands as they walked around the building.  That was a terrible thing and we were told it would not happen again. 
Then he had one more announcement to make.  He said, “We’ve got a smart aleck who lives here in town.  He comes back from lunch hour smoking and he tosses his cigarette out just before he crosses the cattle gap into the school yard.  Sometimes he blows smoke out of his mouth after he crosses that cattle gap.  One of these days, he’s going to make a mistake.  He’s going to step across that cattle gap with that cigarette in his mouth or in his hand.  He’s going to forget and that’s when the payoff will come.”
Everybody in that gym, including older students and ones my age, turned around and looked right at me.
Photographs of Junior, Bernard and Addie Mae Seal are courtesy of Derene Seal.

Note:  Parts 1-59 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

October 12, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Thomas Leo Hardin, Sr.

Monroe Morning World - 7/13/1947

Thomas Leo Hardin, Sr.

Born on January 7, 1877

Son of
Dr. John Calvin Hardin, Jr. and Texana Elizabeth Torrey

Brother to
Melbourn, Douglas Baker, Mary and John Calvin, III

Husband of
Florence Meyers

Father to
Thomas Leo, Jr., Naomi, Flora, John Rollin, 
Mary and Loraine

Died on July 11, 1947
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

October 11, 2014

Sports Center Saturday - S I vs. University, Pre-Game Write Up, 1974

Monroe News Star - 12/10/1974

Note:  Though the reporter is not identified, it was most likely Ted Lewis.  Mr. Lewis often enjoyed painting Sicily Island in an unflattering light.  This was not the first (or last) article where he condescendingly noted our rural setting or our 'city cafe'.  

October 9, 2014

Co-Op Erecting New Building at Sicily Island, 1968

The following article appeared in the June 26, 1968 edition of the Monroe News Star:

October 8, 2014

Wednesday's Child - Aubrey Malcolm Evans

Aubrey Malcolm Evans

Born on June 3, 1924

Son of
William Estus Evans and Lou Alpha Smith

Brother to
Susie Bell, Willie, Joseph Denman, Mary Lucille and Evelyn Alpha

Died on February 15, 1927
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

October 6, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 59

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
The cotton gin and rail cars...
My memories drift back to the cotton gin, the railroad and the great big platforms where they used to place the bales of cotton after they were ginned.  As I mentioned before, one of those platforms would hold two or three hundred bales of cotton. 
There was a railroad spur that ran off the main track and up beside the platforms.  Empty rail cars were left for the gin workers to load the cotton onto them from the platforms.  The loaded cars were then picked back up by the railroad and taken to either Ferriday or Winnsboro to one of the compressing plants where the bales of cotton would be compressed to about 1/3 of their original size. 
As kids we played on the platforms and in the cars.  I remember on several occasions where we almost got locked inside one of the cars with the cotton.  One time in particular stands out in my mind.  John Fairbanks and I were playing on one of the platforms when we saw Mr. Fred Chambless coming.  He was the depot agent and he had warned us not to play there.  Part of the game was to dodge Mr. Chambless. 
Sicily Island Railroad Depot
Well, to dodge him this time, we ran up into one of those cars that was loaded with cotton.  At the last minute, we decided to get out of the rail car and back onto the platform to hide between the bales of cotton.  Mr. Chambless walked right up and grabbed the lock and pulled it across the very car we had just run out of.  This was in about 1937.  After that, John and I were leery about ever running into one of those cars again.  
Evelyn Ogden Rife
The last time I ever remember playing on the platforms was with two of my cousins, Evelyn Ogden and Dorothy "Bit" McNair.  Bit jumped off one of the bales of cotton sitting on the platform.  It was about a five or six foot jump. 
When she jumped off and landed on the platform, her foot went through a rotten board.  Her leg became wedged in between two boards all the way up to her knee.  Oh, she screamed and hollered!  Hell, I took off!  Evelyn was trying to help her but I left!  
I remember running by Cousin Jessie’s house.  Cousin Jessie was Bit’s mother.  She and some of her family and friends were sitting out on the front porch. 
Dorothy "Bit" McNair Reed Smith
I didn’t stop to tell them.  I just hollered as I ran by, “Bit’s leg is hung in the platform!”  I know it must of have scared Cousin Jessie half to death.  I do know it scared the hell out me!
In the meantime, Marvin Nolen had come by on his bicycle and heard all the commotion.  He stopped and helped get Bit’s leg out from between the boards. 
Marvin was just a young teenage boy at the time.  He later married one of Bit’s older sisters, Kitty McNair.  Kitty died about two years ago.  Marvin is getting remarried today, November 3, 1991.  Bit is going to the wedding with Marvin’s son, Brother and his family. 
My mother told the story about an old empty box car that stayed up by the depot for months.  During this time, the Iron Mountain Railroad ran through Sicily Island.  The Missouri Pacific Railraod took over in about 1911.  
Mary Allye Steele Edmonds
As little girls back in 1907 or 1908, she and Mildred Harris had used that old box car as their playhouse.  They had it all fixed up with shelves that held different colored little bottles they had picked up.  They even had their dolls and doll clothes in there. 
One day my mother and Mildred were here in the Village on the main drag up town and they looked up as the train came through.  The railroad had picked up their car!  There went their playhouse going through town.  My mother told how they cried and carried on so over the railroad taking their playhouse.
I guess somewhere, wherever that car ended up, someone opened it up and saw where some children had all their dolls and their doll clothes and everything in there. 
Mildred Harris was the daughter of Mr. Richard and Mrs. Laura Harris.  Mac Harris was the oldest of the Harris children.  Mildred was the second child.  She later married William Edward "Buck" Smith and had two sons, Sonny and Richard, and two girls, Gerrie and Kay.

Note:  Parts 1-58 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

October 5, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Laura Wood Yancey

Monroe News Star - 4/7/1971

Laura Morton Wood

Born on August 13, 1880

Daughter of
Gillam Wood and Honor E. Goodrich

Sister to
Mary, Martha, Honor and Charles

Wife of
Stephen Richard Yancey

Mother to
John Richard, Clarence Langston, Charles Fredrick and
Honor Eloise

Died on April 5, 1971
Buried in the Elder Shade Cemetery
Tensas Parish, Louisiana

Tombstone photograph from Ancestry member, mwood12358.

October 1, 2014

Wednesday's Child - John Ferris Brooks, Jr.

John Ferris Brooks, Jr.

Born on February 3, 1966

Son of
John Ferris Brooks, Sr. and Lucille McCarty

Died on February 5, 1966
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana