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The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM) Diaries – Chapter 1: Cupcake…or Happy Birthday to Me…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries – Chapter 1

Cupcake…or Happy Birthday to Me…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

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On an early January morning, I entered this world as the first born daughter of a young East Tennessee couple. I had been, at first, what Momma thought was a bad case of flu. (That probably should have been Momma and Daddy’s first inclination I was going to be their “why” child…)

My arrival was on the second day of the New Year. Now, in the little East Tennessee town where I was born, back then being born the first baby of the New Year was a big deal. It came with a certain “15 minutes of fame” mantle which included a package of goodies. I missed Day One by a few scant hours…

Of course being the baby born on the second day meant you got to lay in the crib next to the winner…and that’s about as good as it got. As a result, the course for my personal motto was set at that tender age. That motto is, “A day late and a dollar short…” Kinda been the story of my life many times. The fact I was also born on a Saturday just reinforces my plight because we all know “Saturday’s child works hard for his living…”

Momma and Daddy were childhood and high school sweethearts. She was 15 and he was 16 when they first laid eyes on each other…at a church meeting as they were called back then. She was the pastor’s daughter…a PK…a shy and quiet one. Once they laid eyes on each other, that was pretty much it…it was over for other contenders…male or female.

Mom was smitten by the tall, handsome kid with shiny black hair, dove gray eyes, velvety long eye lashes, the brain of a whiz kid, hands and feet of a giant (my son would later inherit those) and a smooth baritone voice he would use to serenade her under her bedroom window.

Daddy was Momma’s rock star. I have to admit he was a hunky young thing…I can’t tell you what it’s like to be in the third grade and all you friends have giddy crushes on you Dad! Many of my schoolgirl friends thought Daddy looked like Elvis.

Oakley Hicks ROTC Picture

Daddy’s ROTC Picture

That perception of Daddy pretty much followed me all my life…sometimes even to my place of employment. Back about 1977 or 1978 I happened to work for one of the largest banks in Birmingham, AL. One day they floated me for a day to the branch just a few blocks from Daddy’s office.

Around lunch time I happened to look up and see Daddy loping across the lobby in those big long strides of his (I needed to take two or three to his one). He had that look of determined, focused concentration he has when he’s got a task on his mind…it’s like tunnel vision…”I’m going from point A to point B in a direct straight line”…it’s an engineer thing…

I couldn’t help but grin when I looked up and saw Daddy…and that’s who I saw…Daddy. (I will always see Daddy just like no matter how old I am he will always see his little girl, or as he calls me “his little Texas girl because I had my second birthday in Fort Worth”.)

Beverly Faith Hicks  2 Jan 1956

The Little Texas Girl – I still have that table

Ok…back to the bank and the 1970’s…Daddy looked over, saw me, grinned, threw up his hand and waved and kept going in that direct straight line to a teller in an adjacent teller station, took care of his banking, turned to walk out, grinned, waved at me and left.

The minute he was gone some young thing (a fellow teller) came running over to me all giddy and flushed and asked, “Who was that man that was flirting with you?!” I thought she was going to swoon…

My eyes had to have popped out of my head at the speed of light and were about the size of half dollars. I reared back, puffed my chest out like a puffer fish, looked at the giddy little “gold digger” and stated surely and firmly, “That was no MAN, that was my Daddy…and he was a wife at home…my Momma.” Yep, us Southern gals watch out for our own…

Oakley Christmas 1975

The Daddy that came to the bank…

Her mouth flung open and I could have sworn I saw teeth falling out of her gaping mouth. As she was picking them up off the floor she mumbled something like, “Your father?! That can’t be! He doesn’t look old enough to have a daughter you age.” (I was barely past the age of “majority” myself! Give me a break sister bimbo!)

Of course Momma was easy on Daddy’s eyes. Momma was a dark haired beauty. To hear Daddy tell the story her big ol’ doe eyes (that’s big brown eyes in Daddy-speak) caught his attention and heart real fast. Momma was a tiny little thing and smart as a whip even though she was quiet. Like all steel magnolias Momma has a hidden iron will and strength that has seen her through difficult times and her man admires and loves that…and she can be feisty, too.

Juanita Ima-jean McGee (Hicks)

The Girl with the Big Ol’ Doe Eyes…

So, Momma and Daddy were an item all through high school…till both of them graduated…a little over four years. Yes, I said four years.

The fact that Momma’s two sisters adored Daddy like a brother and her pastor father was very fond of and approved of Daddy were all certainly in Daddy’s favor. Even if they hadn’t, I don’t think it would have matter…Daddy was the one for Momma. Momma exhibited the perfect example of the song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” a long time before the Supreme’s even thought about singing it…

When you look at my parents you probably think totally down the line traditional, but they would surprise you! There has been a time or two when Momma and Daddy have bucked the system and done things their way as Frank would say.

Yep, they surprised everyone when they eloped! They had planned on keeping it a secret for a while and Momma was going to continue to live with her folks while Daddy continued his studies at the University of Tennessee in engineering. But some how one of Mom’s younger sisters found out the big secret and being the typical little sister couldn’t keep a secret. The cat was out of the bag and once it was there was no keeping the newlyweds apart.

Oakley Hicks and Juanita McGee Early 1950's

The Way They Were…

Well, you guessed it…about three months later Momma came down with that really bad case of the flu. It just wouldn’t go away and she finally went to the doctor. The doctor let her know pretty fast the flu was going to last about another nine months…you got it…it was me…poor Momma was pretty sick.

Cominghome Day 1-7-1954

Coming Home Day – Yep, that little head is me

I look back over the years and realize some things were set from the beginning. The fact that his girls would be Daddy’s girls was a given. Momma always told me how Daddy was when I was an infant.

When I came home from the hospital my bassinette had to sit by his side of the bed. Momma said if I sneezed, coughed or grunted Daddy was Johnny on the spot to make sure all was right. There would be no choking to death, smothering or SIDS on his watch. He would even take late night and early morning feeding shifts to give Mom time for rest. Over the years we have kidded Daddy about being our “Jewish mother”…our six foot “Jewish mother” worrying over us and protecting us…

Oakley & girls

Daddy and his girls…guess who’s wearing braids?

I thought of all of this recently as I celebrated yet another birthday and marveled at the time passed. Momma and Daddy had called and wished me a Happy Birthday and sung Happy Birthday long distance. Of course Daddy’s special lyric is “Happy birthday little Texas girl…”

It just can’t be possible that so many years have passed since those very first birthdays, yet they have. That point was made plainly clear New Year’s Day. Tall & Handsome and I had gone out to run a few errands and pick up some ingredients for the Chinese dishes for my birthday dinner the next day.

I also needed to pick up some hair spray and other items so I ran into a beauty supply store. As I started to pay I noticed my discount card needed to be renewed. During the renewal process the clerk asked me if I was a certain age or older (keep in mind this age is a loooong way from 60 or any of those other ages people label as “senior”). What?! Me?! I thought… I looked at her slyly and pondered my answer.

Ok, now’s the time to decided whether I will be in denial or take advantage of saving money. Humm…let’s weigh this…vanity…saving money… Logic won. I looked at her and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but tomorrow is my birthday and I will be that exact age.”

She looked back at me and said, “That’s good enough.”

Darn. Did I just get my first senior discount?

Veritas Vos Liberabit – the truth shall set you free

So, in honor of that liberating moment, my birthday and the beginning of my journey I picked the Cupcake block as my first dairy block for The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries.

Cupcake

The Cupcake Block – BamaSteelMagnolia(TM) Style

This block is a six inch appliqué block. I used the freezer paper appliqué method. It really went together quickly and I’m excited about future blocks. The challenge to myself was to see how much of my stash I could use. I’ve already fudged…I bought some fabric on my recent trip to Arizona to use in the diary blocks…it is a journey, right? That’s called justification…

Some fabrics in this block did come from my stash. The “icing” fabric was used in a project for my beloved Aunt LaRue, one of Momma’s sisters. (I had made her napkins with the fabric.) The “cupcake” and candle are fabric I had and have long forgotten their place of origin, but I remember the flame fabric was purchased at Connecting Threads.

It appears this quilt is developing in a red, white and blue color scheme (with accent colors thrown in)…one of my favorites. Blue is one of my favorite colors, and red is the color of garnet my birthstone…which I just happen to love.

Check in to see what Chapter two brings…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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