Category Archives: Lovelady

Bright Spots, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Day Lilly

Day Lilly B 2011

No matter when, no matter where, day lilies always lift my spirits. Over the years I’ve had so many special people divide theirs and share abundantly with me. My sweet little Loveladys who lived next door to me for years had what I call the “roadside day lily”…that perennial bright orange beauty that proliferates along the sides on the roads here in the South during late Spring and early summer. The only difference with the ones the Loveladys had…theirs had triple layered blossoms! I wish I still had some of those and I sure wish the Loveladys were still around. I miss them sorely. They were like grandparents to me and I loved them dearly.

These bright little fellows are growing in my back yard.

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Alabama, Day Lilies, Flowers, Horticulture, Lovelady, Photography, Picture of the Day

April Showers Brought…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

April Showers Brought…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

It hasn’t been a dry spring here in Bama. We’ve had our fair share of showers in April…and May and so far even in June. This is good news considering the drought situation we endured a few of years ago.

According to my favorite weather people, James Spann and his crew at ABC 33/40, it looks like the wet stuff might hang around at least until Monday. James is my favorite weather anchor. I missed his coverage when I was an ex-pat living out of state. He’s what I call a “salt of the earth” person. I’ll never forget his coverage of the tornado outbreak of 1998. I’ve been watching James for years…I remember when James had hair!

Just this morning, Tall & Handsome looked out the bathroom window as he was brushing his teeth and he said, “I love our little garden.” Our little container garden has definitely benefited from all those showers! We’re already reaping rewards, enjoying herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley and several kinds of basil. On Memorial Day we used a couple of our home-grown jalapenos. Talk about a kid in a candy store…New Mexican born guy + home-grown peppers = happy hubby:)

It rained again yesterday so I took a little time this morning to survey the “garden”. Things are still growing along! And I can hardly wait…

Tomato gardening tips:

1. When blossoms appear on your tomatoes and peppers, be sure to spray them with blossom set. This prevents the blossoms from falling off before the fruit has time to develop and set.

2. This is a “Mr. Lovelady” tip. Mr. Lovelady was my surrogate granddaddy and had a backyard garden every year. He and Mrs. Lovelady patiently and lovingly taught me a lot: as your tomato plants grow, pinch out the “suckers” that begin to grow in the “V” point of the limb branches. This growth is unnecessary and will actually reduce fruit production.

Mammoth Jalapeno

Mammoth Jalapeno Pepper

Regular Jalapenos

Regular sized Jalapeno

Red Bell Pepper

This will eventually be a red bell pepper…

Greek oregano

Greek Oregano



Oh Mint how you've grown

Oh, Mint! How you’ve grown…


Raindrops…proof positive…on impatients

© 2010 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under ABC 33/40, Alabama, Container Gardening, Gardening, Gardening Tips, Herbs, Hobbies, Horticulture, James Spann, Lovelady, Peppers, Photography, Plants, Weather

A Day in the Sun, by Beverly Hicks Burch

A Day in the Sun

By Beverly Hicks Burch

My granddaddy McGee could make a stick grow. To say he had a green thumb was an understatement. It seems he got his green thumb from his Momma, Rebecca Shaffer McGee of Lawrence County, Tennessee. Now, where her green thumb came from I’d be hard press to say. I do know my little Momma seems to have inherited a love for green growing things and it should be of no surprise it filtered down to me. I do believe some things are more than “environmental” when it comes to our make-up and what goes into making us who we are.

My granddaddy was known for the flowers he grew around his house and for his unbelievable and bountiful tomato crops. His house sat close to the street and even though he had a very large yard and it was fenced in, he grew his tomatoes in the long narrow, raised concrete planters that were in front of the house. He used the fence to stake the plants up and then he went about tending them for the season.

PaGee as I called him had had health issues for years. He was a pastor and one year he had a heart attack while in the pulpit. He also had problems on occasion with what the old timers called “the sugar” or what we know as diabetes. He was also affected by the summer heat we get here in the South…something my aunt and I deal with to this day…the heat just makes us deathly sick…always has…

Anyway, these planters in front of the house were the perfect set-up for PaGee and his gardening. He would get up early in the morning before the day got so blasted hot and step out his front door and “bam” he was right there at his garden. He could water, tend feed and harvest…it was a set-up made in heaven…

One year his tomatoes were so outstanding and he had such a bumper crop, the local paper came out and featured him and his prize tomatoes in living color on the front page of the newspaper. Pretty exciting stuff for a kid…of any age…

Years later as I started my own life I eventually found my way to the land of green and growing things. I even attended the local community college and was pursuing the study of horticulture when Short & Stubby AKA Gomez had an auto accident and broke his neck. I dropped out of school to nurse him back to health, started work, then a family…and just never finished that degree in horticulture.

But, I never stopped loving things in the garden. Now, don’t get me wrong…I hate yard work…but, I love gardening. For years I lived next door to Herman and Lola Lovelady who were like surrogate grandparents. Every year they had a full fledge garden in their back yard and they encouraged and taught me a thing or two along the way.

One thing Tall & Handsome and I do is use a lot of fresh herbs in our cooking. I use to have an herb garden…not much of which survived “Big Jim” (along with my poor Japanese maple). T & H has been chomping at the bit to try his hand at raising some edibles so over the last couple of weekends or so we had accumulated a sizable little cache of herbs and such. Yesterday I spent the better part of the day repotting said cache until I ran out of pots and almost out of soil…some of them really need to go into the ground.

One surprising addition I’m growing is cilantro. I use to abhor the stuff, but over time I am beginning to appreciate the subtle use of it. It can be over used in my opinion, but I’m rocking it right now is some Thai recipes and some Southwestern recipes.

Weather predictions are for storms tomorrow…our first outbreak of severe weather for the spring, so since it was nice this morning, I was out on the deck checking my handiwork from yesterday. I hope it survives tomorrow and yet another move…I’m tasting fresh, juicy home-grown tomatoes and peppers even as we speak….yummmm!

Jet Tomatoe, husky red and pepper 

Jet Tomato, Pepper & Husky Red Tomato

Jet Tomato

Jet Tomato already blooming…

Husky Red 2

Husky Red – little “grape” tomatoes

Sedum, Bee Balm, Greek Oreganeo

Sedum, Bee Balm and Greek Oregano

Sedum, Basil & Rosemary

Sedum, Basil & Rosemary

Parsley, Mint, Chives

Flat Leaf Parsley, Mint & Chives

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Mint)

Japano & Cilantro

Jalapeño & Cilantro


Cilantro – it’s beginning to grow on me…

Tomatoes, Peppers & Coreopsis

Tomatoes, Peppers, Pachysandra & Coreopsis



Coreopsis – can’t eat it, but it’s still a favorite

Mom's Sedum

Mom’s Sedum – it’s a little different from mine and the bloom is different


I think this is Shamrock…

Lovelady Iris

Lovelady Iris – in honor my my sweet little Loveladys

Purple Iris

Purple Iris

© 2010 Beverly Hicks Burch All Right Reserved.


Filed under Backyards, Coreopsis, Gardening, Herbs, Horticulture, Iris, Lovelady, McGee, My Tennesse Heritage, Photography, Plants

Elephant on the Roof…or Storm in My Hair, Part Two, By Beverly Hicks Burch

Elephant on the Roof…or Storm in

My Hair

Part Two

By Beverly Hicks Burch

If you missed Part One…you can catch it here…

For years I was my family’s advanced warning system when it came to storms…in other words it took me a while to recover from the experience of Memorial Day Weekend 1973…the tornado that hit Center Point, AL. Years later we found out it had been an F3 tornado.

After Gomez and I married we lived in an apartment on the second floor. Any time a storm came up, I insisted we trek over to my parents and head to the basement. And, we did…sometimes we did, even with me in my pjs. After that, weather warning became more of a advanced science and TV stations began to beef up their weather forecasting…at least here in the South. They are “events” that interrupt “regularly scheduled programming”…with colorful radar and blow by blow details…and let me tell you, it has probably saved countless untold lives.

We learned six tornadoes had been seen in the state (AL) back on May 27, 1973. Later that evening little Brent, AL was just about wiped off the map. The tornado that hit south of Birmingham in Brent a few hours after the Center Point tornado had been stronger (F4) and took more lives. One church was demolished. My most favorite weatherman in the whole world, James Spann has a great link on his blog of the radar of the Brent tornado. The hook signature of a tornado is there as big as Dallas on the radar. The Centerville NOAA was even hit that day. I don’t think the radar was Doppler back then…

The following year, 1974, tornadoes hit Alabama hard again and almost obliterated the little town of Guin, AL into history. That was the night of a “super outbreak” in the nation. Guin is in northwest AL and folks up there to this day are still “marked” by that storm. I think every family that lived in the town lost someone or knew some who did.

Tall & Handsome found out how haunting the storm had been all these years on people on the area when we were living up that way. One day shortly after he started working in the area severe weather warnings were issued and most of the women in the site just stood up and walked out. It was a first time as an Operations Manager he had every seen anything like that…he was, ummm…gobsmacked…as the Brits say…

I had to explain some back history to him…the company had to explain metrics to the employees and they had to come to a happy meeting to accommodate safety, nerves and metrics…

He actually got an introduction to weather Southern style shortly after arriving in Alabama. A round of severe weather hit Alabama, and as we took cover in a basement his big blue eyes stayed nervously on the TV. By this time I was a veteran and I kept falling asleep, but he kept waking me up wanting to know if the storm was close to the county we were in. I guess you don’t get many twisters in the High Desert of New Mexico…those green chilies must keep the darn things away…that’s what a Scoville unit will do for you…

In the 1980’s I rode a storm out in the basement of my first house with my son. He was about three or four at the time. We had been back from one of our field assignments in New York State where we had spent about nine months. Almost as soon as we got back, the company had sent Gomez on another field assignment.

In the South, when there is a tornado warning in your county the civil defense sirens go off…it can be an eerie experience, especially if the power is out and you hear them in the distance against the backdrop of darkness…it’s very 1950-ish and Cold War-esque.

This particular night I had been following the weather on the TV and the minute the warning was issued on the TV we heard the sirens. I gathered up a flashlight, my pursed and some candles and ushered the little one downstairs, trying to remain calm and reassuring.

This basement was not a luscious tricked out place…it was just a place to go when we needed to be safe. The washer and dryer were down there and Gomez’ tools and workbench…oh, and the cat box. No human potty.

As the storm approached, guess who need the use of a facility? Moi. I tried to convince the fruit of my loin I could run upstairs really fast, use the bathroom, be safe and get back to the basement in a flash and he would be safer downstairs below ground level. Was he convinced? Heck no. What did I do? All I can say is necessity is truly the mother of invention…

We eventually lost power for a bit as the storm approached and as we sat in the dark under the ping pong table I watched the Rose of Sharon tree outside the basement window whipped and beat around like a pom-pom. It was flaying in the wind and doing an eerie dance against the backdrop of fierce lightening. It was a terrifying sight to behold.

Fortunately, my sweet little Loveladys…my surrogate grandparents…were next door, and Momma and Daddy were about a mile away. The power came back on shortly and my sweet baby and I went back upstairs. There were a few houses in the neighborhood with some damage, but this storm and not been as severe. My damage? My bedroom window had been left open and pillows and some bed linens had been blown off the bed. A small price to pay!

I was afraid Gomez (maybe I should call him Gomex) would hear about the storm and become alarmed and concerned about our safety, but, *slap forehead* what was I thinking?! I tried calling him at the hotel he was staying at…until the very wee hours of the next morning and never could reach him…and he just never had a good explanation either…that wasn’t the first time…and it certainly wasn’t the last time…hence the new Mrs. Gomez. (I often wondered back then how he contracted hepatitis in the late 1970’s, but Bev is much smarter now.)

There were blips on the weather screen over the next few years…scares and nears misses if you will. The civil defense sirens went off many times and many times we were fortunate.

Then in April 1998 I was alone at home…this time just a couple of blocks from my parents…with my precious Lady…my little angel…my English Cocker Spaniel who is now in doggie heaven. I was just three years past my latest bout of lung cancer and the surgeon had hacked 60% of my left lung out of me this time. I had not recovered as well this time because of all the autoimmune disorders I had developed over the years…in other words…I wasn’t feeling too good this particular day.

The weather was spooky and bad this day. Ladybug as I called her hated storms. She was stuck to me like a Post-it note. Not only that, she usually trembled and shook so badly that sometimes we would have to give her what I called a “falling down pill”…in human terms…a nerve pill.

This particular day I stayed vigilant concerning the weather. You see, in 1995 right around the time of my last cancer, a storm had come through and my best friend had lost the chimney on her home. And, now about two and half years later here I was AGAIN alone with my babydog. Gomez was off on another field assignment. I was working on a quilt as I sat in the bed…one eye on TV and the weather…one eye on my quilt.

Then the alarm was sounded! There had been a tornado spotted in Jefferson County. *gulp* As I carefully listened though, it sounded like it was in a distant part of the county, so feeling poorly I thought I would “ride” it out upstairs. Well, guess that’s what I get for thinking, huh…

Before I knew it I began to hear that noise like a 747 on approach for a landing at JFK. I didn’t need a light bulb going off over this gal’s head to tell me what it was…and neither did Ladybug! I sprang from the bed and so did she. It was instinct for both of us. I headed for the basement stairs and lo and behold that little red streak beat me to the bottom of the stairs. I never did figure out HOW she knew to run straight for the stairs with out me telling her to…it was like I was following her!

We were both shaking in our proverbial boots…and rightly so. As it turned out, the tornado had just passed us over and we had been very fortunate. But, in another section of Jefferson County, AL that April 1998 the news had not been so good. The tornado carved a 31 mile long path that was ¾ of a mile wide killing 32 people in its wake. The big cruel monster had lifted just before it hit the northeastern side of town where Lady and I cowered in the basement listening to it roar overhead…and then as unpredictable as a bipolar schizophrenic off their meds, it touched down once again in St. Clair County (where I was to move five months later) and kill two more people.

The monster was an F5 tornado…one of two in the whole nation that year. To say it was a historical event is an understatement. Major news outlets sent satellite trucks to cover the devastation. Even our local anchors and news crews looked stunned and you could hear emotion in their voices as they covered the devastation. Some seasoned professionals were moved to tears. The damage looked like the debris from Hiroshima.

And so, that was springtime in Alabama…or how it can be on occasion…and that brings us up to my two most recent encounters…

To be continued…

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under 1973 Brent Alabama Tornado, Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham AL Tornado April 1998 Video, Birmingham Alabama Tornado April 1998, Guin, James Spann, Jefferson County, Lovelady, Southerners, Storms, Tall & Handsome, Tornado, Weather

Family Plots, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Family Plots

By Beverly Hicks Burch

This past weekend I did something I’ve wanted to do since I moved back to East Tennessee two years ago, and that is document some of the grave sites of my ancestors for my genealogy files. Sounds morbid, doesn’t it? Well, it really isn’t. Gravemarkers, headstones or tombstones as some call them are legitimate documentation for the date of birth and date of death for the person in question. They can also contain various other inscriptions such as military, Masonry and dedications.

It just so happened the weekend I chose to go was Memorial Day weekend. Tall & Handsome had a three day weekend and we decided to be adventurous and you, my friends, will hear all about it…this is just the first of my blogs on the weekend. I actually had so much fun that I over did it and I’ve had to rest up to write…darn ol’ autoimmune disorders…but, I digress…

Anyway, after grabbing Mapquest and taking a new route to Grandview Cemetery in Maryville…I was use to coming in from Birmingham, we finally arrived at a road I was familiar with and I was able to guide T & H to the cemetery from there. It was kind of ironic, but within about a mile and a half I could show Tall and Handsome the hospital where I was born and the cemetery where my paternal grandparents are buried. It just goes to show you…birth and death are truly the beginning and ending of life and go hand in hand…it is the natural continuum. It made me think of the old saying “when someone dies, somewhere a baby is born”.

Well, when we arrived at the cemetery, there was, and I will put this delicately, a rush at the cemetery. You see, there was one small detail I had forgotten. In the South, Memorial Day weekend, especially the Sunday before Memorial Day is considered Decoration Day. This is a really big deal…almost as big as tailgating and NASCAR…or, at least it use to be, and it still is with the older folk.

When I lived in my first house we had some precious neighbors, Herman and Lola Lovelady. I was 23 when I moved into that house and they were already in their early 60’s. They were “from up home”…which for them was Winston County, Alabama. Herman and Lola had raised two daughters who had become nurses, married and started families of their own. One daughter stayed in Alabama, and one moved to Atlanta where her husband was an editor on a newspaper and then they later moved to Waco, TX where he was an also an editor.

The Loveladys had a passel of grandkids, but they did one thing, they adopted me and my family as their own and they became my surrogate grandparents. Every year in May, the Loveladys went “up home” for Decoration…and it was a BIG deal…there were pictures. Tables were set up after church, a spread was set (that means there was food), then people sat around and talked…they might even play horse shoes…but, graves were decorated, too…it was kind of a reunion. I always regretted that I never was able to go with them.

This past Sunday when we arrived at Grandview, it was evident some “decorating” had been going on and was still going on. I’d never seen so many people in a cemetery without a funeral going on. I wanted to run to the nearest florist and buy flowers, because I had arrived flowerless. But, I arrived with a digital camera, and stories to tell and a captive husband to listen…not bad in a pinch, huh?

My first order of business was to document my dad’s older brother’s place of rest. Uncle Jay was resting in a tomb…a mausoleum and I had never visited. We pulled up and the first thing I noticed was that it was HOT. (This is one Southern gal that hates…hates…hates hot weather…there, I’ve said it.) We started walking the aisles of vaults…and there were many. Thankfully, they were covered and there was some shade.

After much walking around a bit, I started noticing an…ummm… strangely sweet odor. I asked T & H if he noticed it, and he said, “Honey, it’s just probably the flowers.” Well, ok, but, most of the flowers were artificial. I think he was trying to keep me from freaking out, but I do believe it was the scent of death. I couldn’t stay there much longer. Fortunately, we found our objective on the last aisle, snapped a pic and moved on. I think I want to be buried where I can be exposed to sun and rain and fresh air. My dad called later that evening to see how our outing had gone. I mentioned my experience around the mausoleums to him. (I should interject here that I get my sense humor from Daddy…dry…ironic…etc. and I will say right now, if your reading Mom, stop! Because if you are I can hear you now…you’ll say, “Bev!!” Just skip to the next paragraph.) I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth when he said, “Honey, I noticed the same thing the last time I was up there. I just figured they’d just laid a new one in somewhere.” Like I said…I want to be buried in the sun and fresh air and rain…

From there we drove down to the front of the cemetery and walked around a bazillion times hunting my Papaw and Mamaw Hicks’ grave sites…and, of course, I was looking for an above ground marker. No luck. We decided to drive back down the road, make a pit stop and I called my dad and clarified my info with him. When we drove back to the cemetery and parked, I got out of the Jeep, looked up and the very first thing I saw was Mamaw’s grave. I burst out laughing and I told T & H that was so typical Mamaw…she loved making things hard on folk. We snapped our pictures, paid our respects and moved on to our next objective…Townsend.

On the drive to Townsend, I begin to reflect on burial and death customs humans have and have developed over centuries. Of course, we’re all familiar with the Egyptians and their elaborate royal tombs, the Pyramids and their burial method, mummification. Mummification has actually been found in countries all over the globe and is not exclusive to Egypt.

I thought of the custom in India that forced windows to burn on funeral pyres with a dead spouse, a similar custom that would seal wives and concubines up in tombs in Egypt, Native American traditions that abandoned widows when the clan moved on. Kind of makes you stop and think about our current day custom of leaving insurance money to a spouse after death…darn progression…what were we thinking…women…wake up and smell the coffee! I personally hate being burned at funerals.

During the Victorian era, death was approached with a much different attitude than we have nowadays. There was a certain length or period of mourning, mourning clothes, and elaborate funerals to fit your status in life…far more elaborate than we see today. It wasn’t uncommon for people to photograph their departed loved ones in their coffins and family would take time sitting up through the night with the corpse…the body usually rested at home until the service and burial. Mirrors were covered, clocks were stopped at the time of a family member’s death, there were coffins alarms…just in case some one was buried by accident and some cemeteries were designed like parks. One rather unusual practice (at least to me), was the taking of hair from the deceased and weaving the hair into jewelry…usually a brooch to be worn in remembrance of the loved one.

I thought of a quilt I saw a few years ago. It commemorated the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos”…Day of the Dead. When I first saw the quilt, I thought it was rather morbid and garish…it was full of skeletons and other morbid and graphic images. But, after reading about the inspiration, I understood the quilt was pretty accurate.

The Day of the Dead is a holiday that is observed in the first two days of November in Mexico. Its origins are in a Mesoamerican native Aztec festival presided over by Mictecacihuatl, the “Lady of the Dead”. The festival is now held to coincide with All Hallows Eve (or Halloween as we know it).

dayofthedead-skeletonpeople-021.jpgToday, modern Mexicans know it as a time for families…a time to celebrate the dead and their children. The dead are invited back into family homes. Families meet in cemeteries, spruce them up, decorate the graves with flowers, religious amulets, food, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, have picnics and special food and activities. Kind of sounds like Southern Decoration Day doesn’t it?

Well, my pondering ended when we arrived in Townsend, a tiny little mountain town up the road from Maryville. My dad was born in Townsend. Most of my paternal ancestors were rooted there…their names well known…Walker, Hicks, Dunn to name a few. Townsend has a sign when you first drive into town…”Welcome to the peaceful side of the Smokies.” I hope it stays that way. I fear it won’t. Townsend was the setting for the TV show Christy starring Kellie Martin back in the 1990’s.

It didn’t take long to find the cemetery we were looking for…Myers Cemetery. It’s right off the main drag. Turn right at Weems and it’s across from the visitor center. It’s just a tiny country cemetery.

I found my great-grandparents and my great-great-grandparents, my great-grandfather’s brother and his wife and my grand aunt’s first husband’s grave…he was a Rough Rider…that was a new discovery!

So, I may not have gone Decorating this past weekend…bearing flowers and what-not, but, I did go with memories and appreciation and a desire to pass on and document the lives they lived. I hope we can all pass that desire on to the next generations. I know that matters and counts…


© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Right Reserved.

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Allman, Boone, Death & Burial Customs, Dunn, Family, genealogy, Hicks, Lovelady, Maryville, Mexican Day of the Dead, Spanish American Veteran, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, TN, Townsend, Walker