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I Love the Landscape Because It Is So Sincere. It Never Cheats Me.

“I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

from-townsend-to-cove-w

Taken between Townsend, TN and Cades Cove, TN

Most of you know me as the BamaSteelMagnolia. And, there is a reason for that. For most of my life I’ve lived in Sweet Home Alabama, a state I love from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

I’ve gone to school here, married one guy from here (big mistake, but not because he was from Alabama), birthed a child here, divorced here, remarried a Tall & Handsome southwestern cowboy here and battle twice non-smoking lung cancer here. I’ve lived more decades than I care to share here in this state I am passionate about.

In other words, I’ve done a lot of living, losing, loving and everything in between in this place I call home – Alabama.

What you may not know: on a cold January morning I was born to two young people in an East Tennessee hospital as the Great Smoky Mountains stood silently in the background, an ever present sentinel in my early life and childhood.

cominghome-day-1-7-1954

I’m the little head peaking out in the crook of Momma’s arm. My gorgeous parents.

So, what does that mean and why am I telling you this?

Well, it’s been a rough week for me and my family as we’ve watched the Smokies and Gatlinburg burn.

I don’t care how long you’ve been gone, it’s not easy to watch the places of your childhood and childhood memories, and the places of your ancestry go up in smoke. It’s a helpless feeling. And, if you still have family living in those parts, the helpless feeling is compounded. I can’t even begin to tell you what I feel to know these fires were started by arsonists.

I spent about the first 12 years of my life in or around East Tennessee with the exception of a year or so when I was two. My daddy worked in the engineering department of an aircraft company in the Dallas area at that time. But, you just don’t take a mountain boy out of the mountains and put him on the flat plains of Texas, and, so, back to Tennessee we went.

We eventually ended up in the central Alabama area and I think it stuck for a couple of reasons. Daddy worked for an engineering company started by brothers who were University of Tennessee grads (where Daddy started his college career), the terrain is similar to East Tennessee – we all ended up living on this little mountain top in Alabama because it reminded us of our roots – and the people here in Alabama are 24K gold.

But, oh, the childhood memories I have of those times and places in East Tennessee.

Walks with my Papaw as he pointed out the name of each tree. Watching him have his faithful hunting dog do all kinds of tricks for cornbread. MaMaw and Papaw letting us dig up peanuts or pick some cotton from the garden. This gal from the burbs thought she was a real farm hand then.

Weekend trips to the mountains taking in the fall colors, wading in the cold mountain streams, picnics with the grandparents, and my Aunt Ruthie’s house in Kinzel Springs. You had to walk over a swinging foot bridge to get to her house. It sat backed up against the mountain and even in the summer time, that house never seemed hot. As a matter of fact, back then, those mountains always seemed like the coolest place on earth to be.

It was just a “hop, skip and a jump” over twisting, hairpin two lane mountain roads to Cherokee, NC where we could see a Cherokee chief. My paternal grandmother was originally from Western North Carolina and it was said she was part Cherokee. She looked the part, but we’ve never confirmed the ancestry.

My PaPaw worked at the Little River Lumber Company back in the day. He was a clerk in the company store. My cousins tell me there’s a picture of him in the train museum in Townsend. He was also the fill-in mail carrier for Cades Cove and Daddy went on that route a time or two with PaPaw.

That’s my roots on the “quiet side of the Smokies”, my Daddy’s side. My little Momma is a different story.

Several years ago I started the journey into genealogy and it’s a journey I’ve loved and wished I had started sooner. Once I jokingly told Momma she was a half-breed. She was startled at first and then I laughed and explained.

Tennessee is divided into West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee. Any good Tennessean knows that. Mom’s ancestry is Middle Tennessee/East Tennessee (on her mother’s side). Half and half.

And, it is that East Tennessee ancestry on Momma’s side that carries me back to Gatlinburg.

You see William Ogle and Martha Jane Huskey Ogle are my 5th great-grandparents. Martha Jane Huskey Ogle’s cabin was the first house built in what is now known as Gatlinburg. William and Martha had 7 children and I descend through two of their sons, William “Black Bill” Ogle and Isaac “Shucky” Ogle.

A few years back I went to Edgefield, SC to get a copy of William Ogle, the father’s will. That type of documentation is like the holy grail for a genealogist. The Ogle family was living in Edgefield and William went to Tennessee to prepare for the family to move. He laid up provisions and he cut and notched timbers to build a log cabin for his family. He went back to Edgefield to get his family for the move back to Tennessee, but before they could leave South Carolina, William fell ill and died.

Martha Jane didn’t go to Tennessee at first, but she eventually did and family members helped raise the cabin using the timbers William had prepared.

It was the first house built in White Oak Flats, a place that would become known as Gatlinburg. Over time other families moved in. You saw the formations of clans with names that pop up in my family tree. If you throw a rock into a crowd of locals there’s a good chance I’m distantly related to them – including a famous country songbird who shares a common ancestor with me named Henry Bohannon, my 5th great grand-father.

My family was founding fathers of an area I watched decimated by a historical fire this past week. I never thought I would live to see anything like this. I hope I never have to see anything like this again and I pray for more rain to come their way.

I listened and watched as I saw names like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Chimney Tops, Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap, Wear’s Valley and others threatened and burned. And, each time my heart broke.

For me, it’s not only pride in the pioneer spirit of my ancestors, but it’s also love of the location and area. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. When I go into the mountains, my heart sings and my spirit is refreshed. I feel at home.

Just like the people, this area is resilient. They survived the Great Depression and floods after floods before TVA. It will come back and they will come back. There will be regrowth and rebirth. Mountain folk are good strong people, just like the land around them. They have learned from the land. They need our continued support and prayers.

Thoreau said it best, “I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests.”

My birthplace is sincerely hurting right now, but it will be a beautiful landscape once again – and the people will be there with it – rejoicing.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Birth, Cades Cove, Central Alabama, Daddy, East Tennessee, East Tennessee Fire, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg Fire, genealogy, Grief, Home, Memories, Momma, Mountains, Nature, Ogle, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6–“Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6 – “Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block

And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:8 NASB

(*This post can also be seen at my quilt blog Around the Block with the BamaSteelMagnolia™ where I am blogging the whole project.)

Wedding Ring block

I started this chapter in February some time ago and it seemed a fitting month to start writing the latest chapter of The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries. The block for this chapter is called Wedding Ring. It is a single wedding ring and not the double wedding ring we know so well. The block is a simple 6 inch pieced block and it represents the fact that I don’t know many in life who have not been affected by a marriage in some way or another…including me.

Being a genealogist I can see how all the “begats” or unions/marriages in our ancestry make us who we are. When you stop and think about the numbers in the equation of “you” it becomes pretty staggering.

For instance, for each generation you go back the number doubles to how many sets of ancestors, or marriages if you will, it took to trickle down to create the final individual you. Look at it this way…you are the starting point on the road backwards into time and your ancestry. Take those sets and multiply them by two and you have how many people it took to create the one special individual called you.

It works this way; you had two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents, 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents and 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and so on. As mind boggling as 128 may seem, your heritage and ancestry doesn’t stop there and it continues to double for each generation back. There are so many life lessons just in the formula of who you are and how you were made, but that is for another story. One missing link in that chain and you would not have been you…as a matter of fact you probably wouldn’t have been, well, here on Earth at all.

I would ask you to reflect on the marriages in your life, including your own that have affected you and what they mean to you. I’m sure everyone has different recollections and feelings and experiences.

The most immediate marriage that has affected me all of my life and is actually responsible for me even being here is of course the marriage of my parents. My parents have something that is rare to find in this day and age. That’s a long lasting marriage. For you see, on Feb. 28, 2012 they celebrated 59 years of marriage.

Oakley Hicks and Juanita McGee Early 1950's

Daddy and Momma early 1950s

Momma and Daddy were high school sweethearts. They were 15 and 16 when they met at a church function being conducted by my Momma’s daddy. Yes, Mom was a PK…a Preacher’s Kid. She was the shy quite one with big brown “doe eyes” as Daddy calls them. Momma and Daddy were a couple all through high school, for four years, so for all practical purposes you could say they’ve been together for 63 years and that is the biggest portion of their life. When they laid eyes on each other, there was no one else as far as they were concerned…that was it.

Daddy started the University of Tennessee with intentions on becoming a mechanical engineer. But, Momma and Daddy also had secret plans…yes, in their own quiet non-conforming conforming way they were rebels with a cause. They had plans to get married and I don’t mean a big church wedding with the wedding party, flowers, music and weeping mother of the bride (and in this case weeping mother of the groom, too). Nope, no way, no how. Momma and Daddy were going to make Hicks history…or at least stuff that would go down in family history. For you see, the shy lovely quite preacher’s daughter and the tall good looking guy from the foothills of the Smokies eloped…all the way to Ringgold, GA!

Now, the plan was to get hitched and drive back home. Mom would go back and keep quiet and live at home and Daddy would go back home and live with his parents and continue going to college. The slight hiccup in their little plan happened when Mom told her next oldest sister, Korinne, what she had done and swore her to secrecy…which of course was the very last thing that actually happened. Before you knew it the cat was out of the bag, the cow was out of the barn and the camel’s nose was under the tent or in other words, it was like telling Western Union and everyone found out. As Ricky use to say to Lucy, “There was some `splaining to do.”

Well, of course everyone knows you can’t keep true love apart very long anyway and by the time the parents (my grandparents) had time to wrap their heads around the events Momma let it be known in no uncertain terms she was living where Daddy was. And that was that.

Everything went along pretty good in newlywed life until about three months later. At that time Mom came down with a raging case of flu. Made her sick as a dog. She just could not get well. That was the “Beverly” flu. Yep, eleven months after they married I was born…and Mom’s flu was cured.

Cominghome Day 1-7-1954

Daddy, Momma and Bev – Coming home day

I was an only child for about three and a half years. During that time we moved for a brief time to Texas where Daddy worked as an engineer in the aircraft industry for Chance-Vought Aircraft. I celebrated my second birthday in Fort Worth, Texas which has always left me with a soft spot for Texas and branded me Daddy’s “little Texas girl”. And, as I have always said, some of the most famous and infamous Texans were Tennesseans.

“Oh, really?!” I know you Texans are saying… yep. For instance: remember Davy Crockett…♪born on a mountain top in Tennessee…♪ and also famous for the Alamo. Then there’s Benjamin and Henry McCulloch who both fought in the Texas Revolution and became Texas Rangers; Mack Brown head coach at the University of Texas and oh, yeah some fellow named Sam Houston. I think you might have heard of him, too. Sam’s time in Tennessee included time as a governor of that great state and time spent teaching in the town of my birth…a long time before I was born or course Smile

Being the true East Tennessee mountain boy that Daddy is, the Plains of Texas didn’t do much to lift the Tennessee boy’s spirits and heart. In other words, he got sorely and mightily homesick, especially when those Nor’easters barreled into the Plains faster than a New York minute without any warning. It wasn’t too long before we were packed up and headed back to the lush green climes of Tennessee.

Over the next eight or nine years Momma had two more cases of “flu”. And, two more baby girls followed those cases of “flu”. Pamella was next in line, followed by Yvonne. For a little Hicks trivia here: Mom named her girls Faith, Hope and Charity…in that order. I always teased her and said if we had been born boys we would have been named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…

Momma and Daddy’s marriage has mirrored life in general…a road with ups and downs and bumps in the road. Almost every young couple starts out with the bare necessities and grows from there. Daddy was smart and savvy and his engineer career grew. We also moved several times following that career. We landed in Birmingham, AL (for the second and final time I might add) when I was 12 years old and the rest of that is history. That is why I proudly say, ♪…my home is in Alabama…♪ and one of my ringtones on my cell is Sweet Home Alabama…

My baby sister Yvonne, really Charity Yvonne, was born in Greeneville, TN when I was in the third grade. Mom’s delivery with her was fast. Like greased lightening…about 20 minutes. She barely had time to step off the elevator at the hospital before Yvon was born. When Momma & Daddy brought the baby home, they brought home another beautiful baby girl (Momma and Daddy had the reputation of popping out beautiful baby girls with long dark eyelashes and heads of thick dark hair. The nurses in the baby nurseries used us as baby dolls and hated to send us home. Back in those days they had about seven days to get attached to a baby before it went home.)

It seems like from the recollection of my child’s mind that it wasn’t too long after she was born that Yvon seemed to get sick and stay sick. So sick in fact that Mom had to take her all the way to Chattanooga for medical care and stay with family that lived down there. Papaw and Mamaw came to Greeneville to help Daddy take care of Pam and me.

I remember it as a tumultuous time. Yvonnie was sick. We didn’t quite know what was wrong and in the world at large, the Cuban missile was going on.

Over time Yvonne was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and for the last 50 years has lived at home. Do you know what the statistics are for marriages surviving for couples who have disabled children? They’re not very good. The divorce rate is very high and it’s usually the husband who takes his walking papers and goes on to create another worry-free life for himself.

It is a testament to my Daddy’s character that he is right where is started out 59 years ago, disabled child and all, and that is with my Momma and our family. As a matter of fact Daddy is pretty much the rock of the family and the three of us girls are Daddy’s girls. It is also like having a Jewish momma having him around, which is our way of saying he worries over us like a Jewish mom would…he just never learned to cook that chicken soup. Daddy’s remedy is to always take it to prayer…

I heard some place one time that marriage is a marathon not a sprint. My parents’ marriage would certainly qualify for the marathon…

Unfortunately, the first time around, I married a sprinter…

There is a lot I could write about my first marriage. My child is the issue of that marriage. And, sometimes I feel really badly because I feel I provided a poor example…a sprinter if you will as a role model for my child. I do not adhere to the current feel-good philosophy that divorce does not affect children. It does…no matter what their age. I think our society today reflects the side effects and ravages of decades of divorce. On the other hand I also believe that some parents can be toxic and I do not adhere to the theory that having a toxic parent around is better than having no parent around.

But, with that said, there are just times when divorce is unavoidable. Marrying that “marriage sprinter” is certainly one instance. Infidelity usually ends a marriage fairly fast or ends the chance for that marriage marathon partner. Another unavoidable instance is when you marry the type of person who ends up creating the “tragic love” scenario or as I wrote about a few years ago, the type of guy (or gal) that causes love to hurt.

If that is the case, I would beseech you to go back and read a blog I wrote a few years ago that addresses just that subject. Called When Love Hurts I address the rash of tragic stories in which women have chosen to stay and in the end unfortunately paid dearly for that relationship…sometimes with their lives.

The most recent example would be Susan Powell and her precious boys. Susan disappeared one cold December day in 2009 while her husband supposedly had taken their two very young sons camping in a blizzard. On Feb. 5th of this year her

husband blew up himself and those two precious boys as the police drew closer to lowering the hammer on him and his pedophile father. The coward and those poor children died in a burning inferno that should have never happened.

My love hurt story wasn’t like that, but it was traumatic just the same. Had I just opened my eyes and looked at the warning signs early on I could have saved myself sorrow and devastation years later. After 27 years of marriage my ex walked out because he was unfaithful. The summer he left I read my diary from the summer we started dating and as I did it was a real eye opener…he was the same back then…had cheated then and had not changed in 27 years. Leopards as they say do not change their spots. I just could not love him enough for him to change.

Bev & Momma on the Regrettable Day Nov. 1974

Bev & Mom – me as a young bride not paying attention to warning signs

And, unfortunately staying in a bad relationship hoping to make it functional only teaches children dysfunction. What did Susan Powell’s children learn in the end by her hanging on to a bad marriage? It cost her kids their lives. What a tragic shame… There is a saying…”The sins of a father (parent) are visited upon the children…” In other word the kids will learn from the father…from the parents. And, if you close your eyes to alcoholism, addiction, incest, abuse, violence and plunge ahead into that and choose that as a family center for your children…it will trickle down to them and affect them in one way or the other

For me realizing I could not love the ex enough to change who the core of him was, it was, well, the beginning of a new future, hope and moving forward…

So, even though I was scared to death when Gomez the Underwhelming abandoned me I began to have hope. Yes, I was disabled. Yes, he had wiped out the bank accounts. Yes, I had not worked outside the home full time in over 21 year. Yes, at one point he left me without health insurance. Yes, he assaulted me before he left and injured my back. Yes, I had hoped with everything in me that that he would have a change of heart and come home and things would go back to normal.

But, to have normal and a marriage that’s going in the same direction, you have to have two people who want the same thing. Without that, it’s just not going to happen and the only resulting by-product is going to be pain, sorrow, poor health, a bad example for the kids and low self esteem.

In the end the veil was lifted from my eyes and I was able to see there just might be someone out there who not only would help heal my broken heart, but became my marathon runner.

As the Rascal Flats song goes…God blessed the broken road that lead me straight to you…and that you is my Tall & Handsome…my southwestern cowboy.

Our story is unconventional at best. A sign of the times and a sign of what happens when a geek (me) comes into her geekdom and starts to revel in her life and gain self esteem once again. And a lonely, broken hearted southwestern cowboy who had given up on the hope of a loving nurturing relationship begins to hope again. You see we met playing an online MMORPG game. We emailed, talked and instant messaged for almost a year before we met face to face.

When I first laid eyes on my Tall & Handsome he was walking out of the Birmingham Airport. He had on tight blue jeans, a Western cut jacket and a Stetson. I got out of the Lead Sled (what I “affectionately” called my Park Avenue) and walked towards him. He walked toward me, smiled and said, “Hello, darling” and then kissed me under that cowboy hat in front of the Birmingham airport.

I felt 18 again! Wow! It was like living in a movie…a real chick flick. He really had me at “Hello, darling” and that kiss.

The kiss 12-30-03

The Kiss – my favorite of our wedding pictures

I have also learned words are cheap, but actions speak volumes and they do so loudly! Some of Gomez’ parting words were (referring to my illnesses and disabilities), “I didn’t want to take care of you, I hated taking care of you, but I did. So, there!”God help him when his karma comes rolling around.

I have never wanted to be a burden…to anyone. So, I was very up front from the beginning with T & H about the status of my health. The man did not tuck tail and run. He called me his wounded dove…

He knew I saw in him a heart that was larger than large…and he appreciated that.

I never felt secured and truly loved with a man I was married to for 27 years. I never felt “good enough”. I poured myself into him, body and soul. But my self confidence and self esteem was non-existent. There were episodes of suspect cheating from the beginning. He had developed hepatitis before we were married five years and I was so naïve back then I didn’t realize how hepatitis is contracted. Deep down inside though I knew something wasn’t right…

By the time T & H and I married, I felt loved, appreciated, confident and secure. I had found my muse. I wanted to create again. That is a huge gift any man can give to the woman he loves. My T & H does it effortlessly…

It has been the little things that some people would never notice. The time I lay dying in the back of an ambulance in Knoxville, TN my feet were bare. T & H dashed quickly into the house and grabbed a pair of sock and gently put them on my feet before the ambulance doors were closed. At the hospital ER, he refused to be separated from me and was by my side until I stabilized and was released.

When we moved from Alabama to Tennessee I was so sick I had to go through the ER first. When we got to Knoxville I was exhausted and slept quite a bit. I woke up one weekend afternoon to discover T & H had set up the deck furniture like a side walk café, bought flowers and grilled a luscious dinner. All I had to do was eat and enjoy him and the outdoors.

Another time when I was deathly sick and my stomach would hold absolutely nothing down, he cut up corn tortillas and made home-made lime-pepper tortillas chips and they were the only thing I could eat and not get sick.

Life may try to batter us, but we fight back together as a team.

We’ve taken care of a couple of bucket list items together. But, our greatest strength is being there for each other, understanding each other and appreciating each other. I love to see life through my T & H’s eyes. It is seeing life anew sometimes.

In the end, my greatest regret…our greatest regret? That we won’t have more years together and didn’t meet years earlier. If only fate had intervened when we were young…how many times have we had that conversation?

But, in the end, it is what it is…as much as we both hate that saying. We are thankful for what we have and for finding each other. It would have been awful to have never found each other. Neither of us can imagine a life without the other. I cannot imagine a day without his voice and his blue eyes and his sense of humor.

My Tall & Handsome and me at the Survivors Dinner in Savannah, GA (2011) celebrating 29 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (right lung) and 16 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (left lung)

And, in the end we resolve…`til death do us part…with the wedding ring block…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

**The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries is a writing and textile art project I started a few years ago. It’s based on a concept started by Mimi Dietrich and a book she wrote about diary quilts. I was so inspired by the book I started my own and decided to accompany each block with a chapter. Everyone has always said, “Bev, you need to write a book!” Well, here it is…at least part of it!”

If you’re interested in catching up, here are the beginning installments:

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries Begin

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 1 – Cupcake Block or Happy Birthday to Me

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 2: Southern Belle and Yankee Puzzle or A House Divide Will Fall…

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 3 – Compass or Where in the World is Bev?

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 4 – Paw Print or To All the Dogs I’ve Loved Before

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 5 – How Green is My Thumb? or Grandmother’s Flower Garden Block

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Filed under Around the Block with The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM), Daddy, Divorce, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, genealogy, Gomez, Life, Marriage, Photography, Quilt Block, Quilts, Susan Powell, Tall & Handsome, The BamaSteelmagnolia(TM) Diaries, Wedding Ring Quilt block

Happy Birthday, Daddy, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Jonas & Boys

It just so happens that the last few days I have been doing a little research on my East Tennessee and Western North Carolina “roots”. This picture celebrates two really big reasons I have those roots I love so much…my Papaw Hicks and my Daddy.

Of course, my Papaw is the proud dad of the three strapping lads and two of the boys are my Uncle JH and Uncle Lee. My Daddy is the youngest lad in this picture and today just happens to be his birthday and I thought what a happy convergence of timing…birthdays and genealogy research.

It is through my Daddy I’m related to the Walker/Culbertson, Dunn, Henry, Shields lines of Blount County in East Tennessee. Through his Momma those roots spread out into Western North Carolina and include the Allman/Lunsford, Killian, Whitner lines.

As I’ve explained in some of my blogs, East Tennessee was one of the places in the US that was as the Good Book puts it, “a house divided against itself”. That meant during that nasty scuffle called the War Between the States or the Civil War or just “The Wawh” there were members from some families that fought on both sides. I’m sure that cause some uncomfortable family get togethers…

And, being independent minded mountain folk that we were, that also means I have search hard, I mean really hard, and high and low to find me a bonafide CSA relative…and that’s on both sides of the family…and folks, we’re really Southern…no kidding! Just asked my southwestern husband who still has to ask me to spell what I’m saying sometimes because he’s still learning Southern…but, my search for that soldier in grey has been, ummm, I’ll put it this way for polite society…not fruitful so far…

Well, I can now say, thanks to Daddy’s Momma’s Western North Carolina roots I have now entered our name into the glorified and honored rolls of those who had kin that served the CSA. So, Happy Birthday, Daddy. And, all this time we just thought Mamaw was Indian…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Allman Genealogy, Birthday, CSA family member, Daddy, Dunn, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Fathers, genealogy, Hicks, Killian, Lunsford Genealogy, Photography, Picture of the Day, Shields Genealogy, Walker, Western North Carolina Heritage, Whitner

The Little Green Box, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The Little Green Box

By Beverly Hicks Burch

There are two months that can be particularly hard for me…June and August…and not for the reasons you might think. Although I am a true Southern belle, I hate heat and summer. Mild, temperate summers are something I am envious of say…Alaska! My idea of fun is not scrapping the summer humidity off my skin with a table knife…and this summer has been truly juicy. I am actually more of a spring, fall and winter person.

In reality, these months, June and August, mark certain events…one a birthday and one a very tragic event. They always give me pause for reflection.

I’ve been very fortunate to have some very special, important women in my life. In addition to my mother, I had two maternal aunts, Mom’s two sisters, my Aunt Korinne and Aunt LaRue. They have at different times in my life been like Rocks of Gibraltar for me…and that’s what family is all about. Some aunts are distant non-involved aunts, but not these two.

juanita-korrine-larue.jpgMom was the oldest of the three girls and I must say, they all three were lookers and bright, smart, talented gals.

Juanita Nov 1951I love my Momma. My Mom knew early on what and who she wanted…my Daddy…it was kind of love at first sight for them. Once she laid eyes on that tall, dark haired, handsome looker in a church service in East Tennessee, there was no turning back. Daddy has always said he was drawn to those “big ol’ doe eyes” of Momma’s…translate, big, soft sensual brown eyes, which she passed on to two of her daughters. My baby sister got Daddy’s big ol’ soft sensual gray eyes and all three of us got his long luxurious eyelashes. Momma was 15 and Daddy was 16. They dated four years, all through high school, got married and eleven months later I was born. At first Mom thought she had a virus, but, surprise, it was lil’ ol’ me and I think I’ve been making her sick ever since…just kidding Momma…

Daddy was the “bread winner” and Mom was the stay-at-home mom…raising three girls in the `50’s, 60’s and `70’s. Yes, it does sound a tad like Ozzie and Harriett or Donna Reed…and actually it kinda was. I have no complaints with my upbringing…it was basic, normal and I received what I needed plus I was raised to be independent, a thinker and to take my education seriously. We were raised to believe we could be just about anything we wanted to be…even if it was to be a stay at home mom or a professional.

Momma was the oldest of the girls and the “artsy” one who was kinda quiet and shy. She, like her sisters, was a voracious reader while the other two were more musically inclined. Mom dabbled in art and painting and the textile arts…she sewed many a dress for her little girls. She even took up quilting after I did in the `80’s. Mom has made sure my mentally and physically challenged baby sister stayed home with the family and lived with dignity…a decision that was light years ahead of its time. She’s had health issues and kept on plugging away. She had a way of passing on the desire to cook without making it seem like a chore and she showed us how to be furiously loyal and devoted to a husband and how to like men…yeah, we were Daddy’s girls.

Korinne McGee RoseMy Aunt Korinne was like my grandmother, the educator of the three sisters. She loved kids and taught elementary school. Little boys in her class would fall madly in love with her and hang their coat by hers in the cloakroom and try to play matchmaker with her and their single dads. She had a beautiful alto singing voice and could play the piano and organ and her classroom was the joyous precipitant of that nurturing skill. Along with my Aunt LaRue, Aunt Korinne sang with my grandfather at church in a trio and it is a little girl memory I will hold with me forever.

I was the beneficiary of her skills too, and as a result I could read and write a long time before a lot of my contemporaries thanks in part to my parents fostering reading at an early age…they started giving me books when I was a baby and Aunt Korinne was a strong supporter with her educational skills.

Aunt Korinne was always whisking me away for outings and adventures…even if it was for a ride on a bus…a big thing for a little girl, who thought the bus doors were magical. She took me to see Gone With the Wind for the first time in a theatre in Chattanooga…intermission and all…she actually lost a contact on the way to get refreshments.

I loved my Aunt Korinne. She often told me we were alike and she encouraged me and took the time to listen to me. She read a lot of my writing and encouraged me to continue and pursue it. We talked about traveling to New York and other places together when I graduated from high school. Usually, I would spend two weeks or so with her in Tennessee during the summer. I think I had pizza for the first time during one of my summer visits with her and we were known to mix it up in the kitchen on my visits during the summer. We had many a late night pajama party, sitting up talking girl talk, watching old movies, eating popcorn or snacks and just having a blast. The first time I ever saw the movie Splendor in the Grass with Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty was with her and we both cried our eyes out like two teenage girls…which of course I was… We would be sobbing then look at each other and burst out laughing and then start crying again.

Guys called her a heartbreaker, (as I was called later) but it wasn’t a deliberate thing with her…so many just fell in love with her and it took her a while to find the one to fall in love with…when she did, it was the wrong one and it ended divorce. She had one son she dearly loved from the marriage. It seemed history repeated itself we me because I later became the only sister of three to end up divorced. Yep, I had picked wrong…but, I did end up with a son I dearly loved and I did find Mr. Right when I married Tall and Handsome. She never found her Tall and Handsome…that makes me sad…

Aunt Korinne was a June baby…born on the 19th. Unfortunately, 36 years later she was taken away from us on August 21st just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to everything else she did Aunt Korinne taught a middle school age Sunday School class and they and some more youth from the church were on their way to Six Flags Over Georgia…and they almost made it. Aunt Korinne had driven a blue Ford Mustang and it was loaded with kids. Somehow, someway, a car hit her from behind and when it did her Mustang was thrown into the next lane of the interstate in a 90 degree angle…into the path on an oncoming 18 wheeler truck. There was nothing the truck driver could do. They said he stripped every gear in the truck trying to stop it, but in the end it was futile. Aunt Korinne and every child in her car but one was gone…on impact.

I was 19 years old when that hot August day infringed upon my life and changed it and I was never the same. You always miss the person you loved when they’re gone. For sometime after she was gone, I had very vivid dreams about Aunt Korinne.

Over the years we gather around each other and held on to the family that was left. So, my Aunt Korinne gave me the gift of the years of bonding with my Aunt LaRue…hurray for Aunt LaRue! She is an August baby…born on the 13th so that gives me a joyous reason to look forward to the month. I love my Aunt LaRue!

aunt-larue-28-nov-1974.jpgI could fill pages about Aunt LaRue. She was 15 when I was born…yes, I’ve grown up with young parents and aunts. She is my confidant, best friend, partner in crime, second mom, travel buddy, angel and anything else thrown into one. Like me, she suffers from many of the same autoimmune aliments…proof that they do cluster in families…so we can commiserate on treatments, flare ups, good days, bad days and medications and what not. When my son was born sick and was in neo-natal intensive care, Aunt LaRue was there…when I had lung cancer surgery, Aunt LaRue was at the hospital…

She was the first person I call when Gomez the Unremarkable walked out after 27 years of marriage for a co-worker. She was as stunned as I was because she had just been up and spent some time with us. She told me then she knew something wasn’t right with him. When we had taken her home to Florida, Gomez had spent a lot of time in her back yard among the citrus trees…on his cell phone. Phone records later showed he was calling his girlfriend’s work extension and personal numbers.

Aunt LaRue like her sisters is talented and smart as a whip…and she’s people smart and savvy, too. She’s quick with numbers which doesn’t surprise me, because she is very musical. She had a four octave range voice in addition to playing the piano. Like Mom, she’s dabbled in art. For years, she worked in the family clothing business and can make just about any alteration you need to clothing…men’s suits included.

The woman can cook!! She’s known as THE cook in the family amongst a family of cooks. Chicken and dumpling…to die for! Fried chicken and gravy…yep, to die for. Egg custard pie…yum!

Aunt LaRue and I are known for our marathon talk sessions…yes, long distance that last for three, four, even five hours…that’s why I have that one rate long distance plan…and we usually have these gab sessions in the middle of the day or late at night when Tall and Handsome is out of town on business. My Uncle Johnny says he doesn’t know how two humans can have so much to say…lol! He’s a man of few words, but we do gab and giggle like girls. We talk about books, and recipes and movies and life and anything that comes to mind. One year when Aunt LaRue came to visit, she brought a bunch of pictures for me to scan for my family genealogy files. Sometimes we talk about that. We both share a love for reading and love to read Ann Rule books.

Two of my favorite memories of my Aunt LaRue were a trip with her to the US Virgin Islands and a trip to San Antonio, TX. In the Virgin Islands we saw the second place where Christopher Columbus landed in the New World at St. Croix. We took a hovercraft from St. Croix to St. Thomas and shopped in the beautiful harbor village of Charlotte Amalie. At our hotel that evening, we sat and dined at the open air café on wonderful gourmet food and looked out down over the harbor and watched as the cruise ships quietly sailed back out to sea in the setting sun.

We still chuckle at the memory of traveling across the big ol’ state of Texas in my Explorer at the time. I tend to get tunnel vision and at times food is the last thought on my mind when going cross-country like that…at least until I pass something that really jumps out at me and catches my fancy. Way east of Dallas I heard my Aunt LaRue say, “Beverly, I’m going to have to get down in the floor board and find me some crumbs to gnaw on if we don’t stop and find a place to eat.” I knew that was her way of saying she was hungry.

I had such a blast getting to travel with her and I hope we can do more of that in the future…she deserves it.

In the 1980’s Aunt LaRue moved to Florida from Tennessee…my uncle was transferred down there. I’ve been able to go down a few times and spend a few weeks with her…once when the orange blossoms were blooming. That is a heavenly fragrance. Another time, we decided to do some painting and stuff. We had a blast. Once when she came and spent some time with me I made some of my home-made banana pudding. She said it was the best she had ever had…and coming from my Aunt LaRue, that was one of the best compliments I could have gotten.

So, my friends, are you wondering what on earth caused Bev to rattle on and reminisce like this? The answer is simple…a little green box…my Aunt Korinne’s little green recipe box. For some reason I picked it up and was browsing through…I had been thinking about her Fudge Pie recipe and the moment I popped the box open, there was her handwriting and her printing…just like the perfect second or third grade school teacher that she was…just as if she had left it there yesterday. That little green box will always be a cherished treasure of mine.

I hope you enjoy a little gem I share with you from the Little Green Box…

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under AKA Gomez the Unremarkable, Cooking, Family, genealogy, Gomez, Sisters, The Story Behind...

You Don’t Say, by Beverly Hicks Burch

You Don’t Say

By Beverly Hicks Burch

I am a hard sell. I don’t know if it’s the Scotch-Irish in me, or a touch of Cherokee. It could even be the frugal German. Better yet, a throw back to the East Tennessee Mountain roots that run deep through my veins. They were hardy, independent, self-reliant stock. My paternal grandmother never did totally trust that confounded contraption called a washing machine. Even though she could have afforded the best machine on the market, she truly believed clothes were only clean if you took them down to the local creek and beat them with a rock.

Versie Allman Hicks was born in Cherokee County, North Carolina in 1903. She was that mix of Irish, German and yes, they say Cherokee that floats in my DNA…she certainly looked the part of Native American. Once when my son was very young, pre-school age, he rode with my dad from Birmingham up to Maryville, Tennessee to visit Mamaw. When they got home, I asked him what he thought of her. He thought a moment and replied, “She reminded me of one of those Presidents.”

What? I had heard a lot of words used to describe Mamaw, but Presidential was not one of them.

So, I asked him, “What do you mean, baby?”

“You know, Mom, her face looks like one of those Presidents up on that mountain. She has a bunch of lines on her face and her nose looks like a President’s nose.” Evidently he was talking about Mount Rushmore. Humm…you don’t say…out of the mouths of babes. Mamaw was not acquainted with Estee Lauder or Clinique, bless her heart but she could pick beans, shuck corn and make blackberry jam.

Mom, as her boys called her and Mamaw as the some of grandkids called her was a formidable force. There’s an old southern saying…“a head as thick as a pine knot”…well, that means a really thick-headed or hard-headed person and that describes Mamaw to a “T”…and on occasion the rest of the Hicks descendents that sprang from her womb. Yep, that would include me.

I’m that way about ads…resistant…I absolutely despise most ads. When the VCR was invented…Hallelujah! I could fast forward through the commercials. Even better yet TiVo…oh, my gosh! How cool is that?! If I’m very, very careful I almost never, ever have to watch a commercial…did I mention ever? (And do not get me started on telemarketers!) It’s kinda funny because at one time Tall & Handsome owned his own ad agency.

So what got me thinking about this? Well this morning, I had the misfortune of hearing one of my all time least favorite commercials. It goes something like this:

“Hi, I’m real man So-in-so. (He’s a famous sports guy.) If you’ve tried other weight loss programs and found they don’t work for you, this one will. And you can eat like a real man. It worked for me. My wife says I’m not as disgusting to her anymore.” (Names of the stupid and idiotic have been changed…just because they need to be.)

That commercial makes my teeth itch. If I was as big as an Amish barn and had to be buried in a baby grand piano I would still avoid that “nutrition” program. Here’s why. It doesn’t do much for people’s heart, soul, psyche, personality and general overall better development of humanity. They’re not addressing the inner self. If that man lost “x” number of pounds and his wife still finds him disgusting AND he’s getting up on national TV bragging about that, he’s got bigger problems with his wife and he doesn’t realize the stupid program is just using him and his famous name. That’s sad.

Beyond that it points to something else. We are a nation who has lost its kindness. Instead of his wife saying, “Wow, great job! I’m so proud of your accomplishment” it was, “You’re not as disgusting to me as you use to be, but you’re still disgusting.”

Yeah, yeah , yeah, I know it was just an ad, but it’s representative of our national mentality at times. We’re enthralled with shows called Jackass and shock jocks like Don Imus and Howard Stern. Look where Imus’ mouth got him into…in the middle of a whole lot of trouble…just because he was trying to be funny and entertaining. Did he have the right to say it? Well, yeah he did…Freedom of Speech. Should he have said it? Heck no!! He took away from the accomplishments of two groups of beautiful young ladies…the Rutgers Basketball Team and unfortunately the Lady Vols Basketball Team, the University of Tennessee team who won the tournament and kinda got lost in the fray and became an afterthought of the Imus debacle. Does anyone outside of Knoxville remember they won the title? I would hope so, but thanks to Don Imus and his unkind, thoughtless words, the main memory of the game is his ugly words and the aftermath.

Just this morning there was a report on the news about a death in Greely, CO. Two teens, an 18 year old and a 19 year old bought a car, cut the top off the car and drove the car off into a watery pit. The 18 year old died while someone was taping the “event”. The “shock” of pulling of an event like this cost a kid his life. That’s more important than being a kind, caring human being in our society. Better to die being a Jackass than say volunteering time at a local animal shelter, a rape crisis center, Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan’s Purse or any other worthy cause or charity.

Kindness is a rare commodity in our world today. That’s sad. When I look around and see coeds laying dead in woods, a wrestler killing his family in cold blood, men killing their unborn infants, children and the mother of their children, missing children and abducted children…I want to scream, “Stop the inhumanities!” Kindness is not a weakness, but it is perceived that way by many today. It can be strength. Sadly, if you treat someone kind, they may think you have a hidden motive.

Jonas, Versie and J. H. HicksRemember my grandmother? Well, after a rough start in her life, she did eventually know kindness in her life…his name was Jonas Jenkins Hicks, a tall, lean, quite man who saw something worthy in her and married her. Papaw had evidently been considered quite a catch in his day and had been engaged a time or two before he settled down and married Mamaw. He was a few years older and came from good family stock in East Tennessee. His Mama’s people had been the Walker family of Blount County. That was cache back then.

Papaw was smart although he didn’t have a lot of formal education like a lot of other mountain folk of the time. He was musical, clogged (that’s dancing kids) and was a carpenter. On occasion he carried mail in Cades Cove. My Papaw was like God to me…oh, I know he had faults…he was a man, but he was wonderful and he was kind and caring and made this little girl feel special (and helped me learn my multiplication table). He use to take me for walks and tell me about the trees and sights that surrounded his place. Nothing was grander than a walk with Papaw. With his carpenter skills he made me cradles for my dolls and other toys kids nowadays would probably turn their nose up at.

Papaw put up with Mamaw’s piccadilos…I don’t know that I ever heard him raise his voice to her or anyone for that matter. They had five children, three boys who survived to adulthood. My daddy was one of them. I guess you could say, in a round about way, I’m here because of kindness.

To show you the kind of man my Papaw was…even though they had some rough years…they lived through the Great Depression, my Papaw did something “special” for my grandmother. I don’t even know the story behind the reason he did it other than he and the boys went together and saved and got her a set of silver-plate flatware. Even though it wasn’t sterling silver, it was still a big deal and a special thing for a mountain born man and his boys to do for the woman of the house. Probably by then they had moved down from the little mountain town of Townsend, Tennessee into the “big” city of Maryville. But, it was still a really big purchase for a mountain woman. I’m sure my Papaw knew what he was doing…Mamaw, well, I’m sure she was grateful in her Versie way…and then she went on to enjoy in Versie fashion. A few of the larger soup spoons she used to dig in the garden and a few of the pieces look as if they have been cleaned with Mamaw’s all time favorite, super-duper cleaner…Comet!

I inherited that set of silver-plate…and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. A few years ago I was at an antique and flea market and there was a silver dealer set up. She had an identical set to Mamaw’s. It had been sitting in an old store somewhere and had never bought and never been used. There was a certificate with it and everything. I was ecstatic. Needless to say I picked it up…for a bargain and expanded the set my sweet, kind Papaw started for Mamaw…you don’t say…

My Tall & Handsome is a kind man…he can be one of the kindest men I’ve known. I kid him sometimes about being a little formal, but, he is kind and has a huge big heart. Every morning, before I even open my eyes, he has a fresh glass of iced tea and a hot cup of coffee waiting on the nightstand by the side of my bed. He is a pleasure to wake up to and share a cup of coffee with before seeing him off each morning. He’s the kind of man you would walk on hot coals for…yes, kindness will instill that kind of loyalty a lot faster that a brow beating and fista cuffs…any real man…real person will know that and should know that…you don’t say…

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Allman, Birmingham, Cades Cove, Cherokee Co., Don Imus, Family, genealogy, Hicks, History, Humor, Kindness, Lady Vols Basketball, Life, Maryville, NC, North Carolina, Rutgers Basketball, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, Townsend, Walker

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…

Resources:

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~rjsalvad/scmfaq/muertos.html

http://www.morbidoutlook.com/nonfiction/articles/2003_04_vicdeath.html

http://historiccamdencounty.com/ccnews43.shtml

© 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

It Was Memorial…by Beverly Hicks Burch

Cape Cod, MA 1989

It Was Memorial…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Before the ravages of ill health wrapped its icy fingers around my body and started wrecking havoc, one thing I really enjoyed doing on a more routine basis was travel. I still enjoy traveling, I just don’t do it as often. I have to pace myself when I travel now and sometimes there is a price to pay for the fun and adventure. I may have a bad flare up and I may have to be confined to the bed for a few days…but, I consider it an even payoff.

I’ve often thought of words to describe myself. Mom used one once that surprised me. In January 1988, my paternal grandmother, Versie Allman Hicks died. Mamaw was one of a kind. She had been born in Cherokee Co., NC and it was said her heritage was mostly Native American…Cherokee. She certainly looked the part. Mamaw had long jet black hair that at age 85, when she died was just beginning to become salt and pepper. Her features looked like classical “Indian”. Her three boys lovingly called their mom “squaw”…and they inherited her black hair.

In doing family research and genealogy, I have learned Versie also had a good dose of Irish and German thrown in…the names Allman, Whitner and Killian are in her ancestry. I tell you that to let you know she was as thick-headed as a pine knot…that’s East Tennessean or mountain for hard-headed and/or stubborn. Her boys had their favorite Versie stories…she never quite believed a washing machine really got clothes as clean as taking them down to the local creek…she’d rake leaves in high heels…she hated to fly, so she’d take the bus from Maryville, TN to Birmingham, AL and it would take HOURS twice or more than it would to drive the distance. Daddy would brew a pot of coffee and Mamaw would bring out her jar of instant (JFG if I remember correctly) and put about three spoonfuls in a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Daddy always said she liked her coffee strong enough to stand a spoon up in it, shellac wood with it or grow hair on your chest with it. I guess you can call that multi-purpose coffee.

I tell you all of that as background. When Versie died, she died during one of the worst snow and ice storms in the South in a LONG time. She was not leaving this world quietly or without aplomb and notice.

My dad was still a project manager in engineering then, and was on the job site in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. When he got word that she wasn’t doing well and the end was near, he tried to fly from Florida to Knoxville, but the weather was so bad in the South he couldn’t get a flight. He eventually got a flight to Knoxville…via Philadelphia! He was separated from his luggage in the process.

Well, of course, those of us on the home front in Birmingham were going to get there to support him! Here’s how it is with Southern women…we love and support our husbands and usually we’re Daddy’s girls. (Yeah, I own up to that one.) So, we loaded up the van. It was me, Gomez (the ex), my son, my mother and my youngest sister who is disabled, and we headed out for East Tennessee…at the speed of about 15 mph. We were literally driving on what seemed like a glacier…a sheet of ice. I was a nervous wreck because there were accidents everywhere…and cars and trucks off the road. I was sitting in the back of the van, mumbling and I was saying something like, “This is just like Versie, dieing during one of the worst storms of the decade. I sure hope we don’t end up as blood spots on the road under a big truck…”

My mom (who would walk on hot coals for my dad, as I would Tall & Handsome) said, “Bev, I thought this would be nothing to you. You’re so adventurous.” Huh?

“Why do you say that, Momma?”

“Because you like to travel.”

“But, Mom, that’s different than dieing as a blood spots a glacier!”

“Silly girl.”

Ok, maybe she didn’t say the silly girl part…but, she did say the adventurous part…because I like to travel. I had never thought of it that way.

I have seen some pretty neat and amazing things…things off the beaten path…those are the kinds of things I like to see. Gomez had a knack for getting lost in every ghetto in any city we went to…hopefully, I’ll be spared that now. That got scary a few times…

Carlsbad Caverns were magnificent and one place in New Mexico I’ve been that hubby hasn’t been…imagine that, he’s a native New Mexican! I’ll never forget my trip to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Tall and Handsome treated me to VIP treatment at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta…a lifelong dream. I saw so many beautiful wonders on that trip…the gold of the aspens and cottonwoods in the Jimez Mountains on the way to Santa Fe. The wonderful food and the magic of getting engaged in the land of enchantment…

One goal I’ve had is to visit all 50 states and as much of Canada as I can. I’m about eight or nine states short of that goal, and I’ve seen Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec in Canada. One area I fell in love with is New England.

During Memorial Day weekend 1989, I had a uniquely special, uniquely American and uniquely Norman Rockwell experience. My family had been staying in Rumford, Maine. The ex was on a job assignment. I had decided the weekend would be a good time to take a little trip and explore, so I planned a trip to Cape Cod. It wasn’t a long drive from where we were staying at the time.

We headed out that weekend, driving from Maine to Massachusetts. After we drove through Boston, I suggested we get off the interstate and drive the rest of the way up the scenic route to the Cape. Little did I realize that one suggestion would indelibly mark a living color Norman Rockwell postcard scene in my memory for the rest of my life.

The route up the coast is peppered with quaint little New England towns. Most of them are several hundred years old and many of them are centered around a rotary…that’s a type of traffic configuration that’s confusing a best and bizarre at least. (A historical note here: on a tour in Washington DC, the tour guide mentioned the traffic rotary and said they were designed to confuse troops and troop movement! Ooo-Kay!) One little town on the Mass. Coast is Plymouth…yes that Plymouth…and I did get to see Plymouth Rock.

As we came to one little town, there was a hold up. Of course Gomez grumbled…he was never one to stop and smell the roses. This hold up couldn’t be avoided, and I’m glad it couldn’t. We were in a little New England town (I don’t even remember the name) and they were having their annual Memorial Day celebration. There were high school bands, the Shriners, and the Vets…proud old gents, mostly World War II veterans decked out in uniforms and there was red, white and blue everywhere. American flags fluttered in the warm May air. It felt like if I would have turned around I would have seen Norman Rockwell at his easel, painting the whole scene for the rest of the world to see. I felt privileged to have been able to have witnessed such a pure example of Americana…and I was truly proud to be an American that afternoon.

We went on to Cape Cod that weekend. I visited lighthouses…one of my passions, explored a cranberry bog, tasted cranberry chutney, experienced the beaches of the Cape and learned a little bit of the history of the Cape, and one of my favorite pictures of my son and I together was taken that weekend on the Cape. All in all…it was Memorial…

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Oh Henry…Rachel that Is, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Autumn in TennesseeImagine you’re speeding down an interstate. You’re traveling at 55, 65 or 70 mph on you way to work, vacation or some other desired destination. You’ve had a pretty smooth trip so far, a little bump here and there. Along the way you’ve had to use a road map or atlas to help you find your way or direction. Then, just as the trip appears to have smoothed out, right smack dab in the middle of the road you hit a big, huge brick wall. Your vehicle would most surely suffer damage and you would suffer injury to body and soul. And most decidedly, your trip would be stopped dead in its track.

If you’re a genealogist, amateur or professional, you know there are genealogical “brick walls” and they can stop your genealogical trip and research dead in its track for years…at least on one line of research at a time. I would venture to say most of us who dig into our roots have experienced this some time or another. And, if you haven’t, consider yourself blessed indeed, for the genealogy fairies have truly smiled on you!

I’ve dealt with this frustrating phenomenon at least three times, but the one I’d like to discuss here is one near and dear to me…and the one I’ve been searching for the longest. My brick wall is the elusive mountain girl named Rachel…Rachel Henry.

Rachel was born in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee, probably in Sevier or Blount County on 7 September 1830. When Rachel was born, the US Census Bureau didn’t enumerate the name of every member or person living in a household at the time a census was enumerated. Only the head of the household was enumerated by name…and that was usually a male. The bold move to list by name every member in the household on the census wasn’t made until the 1850 US Federal Census. As a result, there is no record of Rachel in a family on a census in 1830 or 1840.

By 1850, I find two references to a “Rachel Henry” in the east Tennessee area that would fit the general profile of my mountain girl. Both girls were born about the same time…and are found just one county apart. One Rachel can be found living in the Sevier County home of one Alexa. Bollinger, 88 and his family. For the time, Mr. Bollinger seemed to be a man of means because his worth was enumerated as $1,000. Was Rachel a servant…a friend or relative in this family? The other Rachel can be found on the Blount County census living in a home with what appears to be a widowed mother, Nancy, and several siblings. Living on either side are two more families that share the Henry surname, and one house down a Thomas family.

So, from the time of her birth until the time she married Abraham Hicks on 6 October 1859 in Blount County, Tennessee my Rachel’s life is a glaring mystery. I know nothing about her parentage and her life before Abraham. It’s almost as if Rachel was a wood nymph who walked out of the blue haze of the Smoky Mountains and started a life among mortals.

Whether Rachel sacrificed an ethereal life for a life of ease or a life of hardship is unknown, but I do know this much…Rachel’s son, Hughes T. (Thomas) Hicks was my great-grandfather and that makes Rachel my great-great- grandmother. Like Alice in Wonderland, Rachel’s story gets “curiouser” and “curiouser” in the circumstance of her first-born’s coming into this world. For you see, Hughes was born 3 October 1856 in Blount County, Tennessee. Yes, you did indeed read that right…1856…three full years before Rachel and Abraham Hicks were married.

Humm, you say…a hint of Appalachian scandal? Well, I’m not so sure, and yes, there has been conjecture galore I’m sure in the last 150 years plus since the said event. There are a few blanks I can fill in…and a few of the assumptions that were made over the years I can dispel.

First, when I started researching my paternal line, the Hicks family, I recalled hearing something about an adoption some generations ago…it was my granddaddy’s father I was told. I had no idea where that would lead me or stop my research…I was blissfully new. I managed to trace my roots back to my great-grandfather, Hughes Hicks, and was having a grand ol’ time doing it. And then, I came to his parents…whoa…it was not only head scratching time…it was brick wall time. The marriage of Rachel and Abraham and birth date of Hughes was the obvious place…the origin of the mystery…would no one claim Rachel because of this? Was it a scandal?

I discovered that Abraham had been married before Rachel and at first I was crest fallen. Had my great-great grandmother been a “scarlet woman” who had a child out of wedlock with a married man? My knack for the tedious hung in and with more digging I discover Abraham’s previous wife was Elizabeth Pence Blair. Abraham and Elizabeth married in 1832 and together had eight children. Some people believed that Hughes was Abraham and Elizabeth’s child, but this isn’t true because Elizabeth died 29 July 1854 of what may have been cholera, and that was almost two years before Hughes was born. So, Hughes’ birth was long after the death of Elizabeth, Abraham’s first wife…no foul there, as the kids say today.

A cousin once interviewed someone who said Hughes father was “one of those McMahan boys from Sevierville”. Is that or was that based on fact? Who knows? That statement was made years after the fact, but I can conjecture. Here are some ideas I have, but to date, that’s all they are…ideas and me just trying to fill in the blanks.

Rachel may not have been born a Henry. She could have very well have been previously been married before Abraham Hicks and Henry was her widowed name and Hughes could have been born to a previous husband. If that’s the case, then I still have a brick wall and Hughes’ biological paternal parentage is still a mystery.

The mountains and its folk were isolated from the rest of the world. That’s hard to imagine today. I can get in my car and be in the mountains in less than an hour…we can connect to the people who live and work there now by phone, and internet in a matter of seconds. In the 1800’s, it was a different story…it could take hours to go a few miles. The communities that were nestle in the nook and crannies and valleys of those mountains sometimes had to struggle to live. They didn’t have the amenities and luxuries of life we do today. We freak out if our cell phone signal drops…back then, once they DID get it, a whole community had to share one phone line. Churches were few and far in between. Many communities had to make do with a riding circuit preacher who made a route and came through ever so often to hold services and perform weddings, christenings and what not. It wasn’t unheard of for some couples to set up house “common law” style and make it official when the Reverend came through. I often wondered if this was the case of Rachel and Abraham and if Hughes was Abraham’s biological son. People had certain naming habits and patterns back then. Hughes’ middle name was Thomas…Abraham’s father’s name was Thomas. Was that a coincident?

Abraham and Rachel Henry Hicks had several more children. They were: (1) Adam born 1860 in Blount County, Tennessee; (2) Andrew Hicks, born 1863 in Blount County, Tennessee; (3) Tennessee Hicks, born 1865 in Blount Co., Tennessee; (4) Susan Hicks, born 1868 in Blount County, Tennessee; (5) Meshach Hicks, born 14 Feb 1869 in Blount County, Tennessee and possibly (6) Mason Hicks and (7) Nancy Hicks.

Whatever the circumstance, Abraham gave a mountain girl named Rachel and a toddler named Hughes a life. And as a result two of the most wonderful men who ever lived were born…my granddaddy, Jonas and my daddy, Oakley…and I’m alive and was born as a result of an act of kindness, and what I like to think of as an act of love. Right now, if I were to do a DNA test, I don’t know if the results would reveal a true Hicks link…or a Henry link…but I do know this…I am who I am…and it started in those mountains in east Tennessee…

Someday before I die, I hope to scale that brick wall and find what’s behind…

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

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About Roots…Families, by Beverly Hicks Burch

I thought you might be interested in seeing a little bit of what I’ve written on one of my genealogy websites. I recently had to write an introduction for the website and this is what I wrote…

Welcome to the Hicks-Burch Family website…from Tennessee to New Mexico and back! Within its borders you will find the families, roots and origins of Bev’s McGee/Hicks families and Reggie’s Allison/Burch families. Reggie and I merged our two families on 30 Dec. 2003 in Hamilton, AL on the joyous occasion of our marriage.

You may be surprised to know the above surnames are not the only 4 family names you will encounter. Keep in mind that in genealogy, as you go back each generation, the number of direct ancestors you have doubles. Confused? Don’t be, it’s really quite simple! You have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents…you get the point. Now, each one of those individuals has a different surname (or last name as we commonly call them)…unless of course your from east Tennessee and then you might have some kissing cousins in there!

Roots are funny, interesting things. Before my disabilities limited my activities, I was known to get my hands dirty…with real dirt. I gardened…not yard work…but gardened. Probably not many of you know I almost have an “A” degree in horticulture. Anyway, I learned about roots while working with plants. There are different types of roots. Some roots are shallow…they run on the surface…they’re not very deep…an azalea comes to mind. Other roots run deep and are strong, like some trees…or have taproots…like that dandelion you can’t get rid of in your yard. Well, Reggie’s roots are surprisingly Southern. The Burch family migrated from Georgia to Texas and later to New Mexico. The Allison family seems to have originated in South Carolina and migrated later to Arkansas, Oklahoma and on to New Mexico. So, I guess we could say Reggie’s roots are like that azalea or even better a vine…they ran across the ground and spread out in several directions. My family on the other hand is purely southern. We tend to stay put once we get where we’re going…once we got to the good ol’ USA. We have taproots. So roots can be deceiving. (I’ve often jokingly said that’s what happened to my first marriage. My ex seemed to have thought his family spontaneously procreated on southern soil. There was big trouble in little China when I found out that his family were carpetbaggers from Pennsylvania who came south to Tennessee after the War Between the States. Things were just never the same…those darn carpetbaggers! )

Anyway, jump in and enjoy the site and add your two cents!!

So…that was it…the introduction to one of my genealogy websites. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do some genealogical blogging here, too. I look forward to the possibilities. If you have any questions related to genealogy, please feel free to leave a comment. Like quilting, it’s another passion of my life.

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

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Why I Quilt, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Physically, it started in 1986 when I was a young mother, but the roots go back further. It really started with a startling splash of color…red, purple, yellow and black are the most memorable colors radiating from the center of a Lone Star or as some people know it, the Star of Bethlehem. I don’t remember the first time I saw the quilt. It was my mother’s quilt and it was made for her by her paternal grandmother, my great-grandmother Rebecca Shaffer McGee.

Rebecca, “Becky” McGee was called BoBo by her grandchildren. She was born late in 1874 in Lawrence County, Tennessee, the daughter of George Washington Shaffer and Margaret Minerva Kelly Shaffer. BoBo was quite the woman of her time…a testament that strong women have always existed. There was no need for BoBo to declare “women’s liberation”…she had nothing to be liberation from…just life to live. She was a midwife in Lawrence County, and from what I understand delivered most of her grandchildren. She had a green thumb she passed on to many of her descendents…my mom included. I have vague memories of BoBo. I was very young the last time I saw her and she was in a wheelchair by then. BoBo left us in 1971 at the age of 97, leaving behind many fond memories and a large family that loved her.

In my eyes, BoBo was an artist…a textile artist…a folk artist…call her what you want, but an artist none the less, weaving together her colors and cloth to create memories and magic. I seem to recall hearing she made a least one Lone Star quilt for each of her grandchildren. I’ve seen my mother’s and aunts’. It was my mom’s…that wonderful splash of color that inspired me at some point in my life…instilled in me that desire to quilt…so, in a roundabout, long distant way, BoBo was my muse.

So, with that said, back to my day in 1986…it was late fall. I was still living in my first house and renovations had been going on for several years. Back then I was quite the “do-it you-self-er”…maybe traces of my great-grandmother in me…who knows, but, I’ve climbed scaffolding as least two stories high to paint the outside of the house. I’ve also painted the outside of the house by droplight at night time…just to “get `er done”. One of my most vivid memories is sitting on the scaffold late one dark night, painting the frame of the living room window. The droplight was the only thing I had to share my thoughts when all of a sudden there was a loud boom and the whole house shook and the window rattled. I jumped down off the scaffold and my ex and I met each other about half way in the middle of the yard, both wondering what had happened, but not knowing. We had to wait until the next day to find out. Evidently an unusually large meteor had streaked across the southeastern US and left a visual impression and a sonic impression. We had missed the visual impression because of the generous tree canopy in our yard.

In 1986, we had put parquet in part of the house and for some reason, I decided that was a good time to learn how to quilt. Yes, Virginia, I am a self-taught quilter…kinda sorta…more on that later… I had been kind of “crafty” up to that point. I had done the macramé thing, the crochet thing and I had gotten quite good at counted cross-stitch, even to the point of incorporating some of my pieces into pillows, etc. As a result, I had some resources at my fingertips that eventful weekend. Because quilting had been in the back of my mind, I even had a book or two lying around on the subject. (I was “self-taught” in a lot of things because when you have limited resources you learn to do them yourself and save the cost of paying some one else to do it for you.)

So, I did a little research, picked a pattern I thought would be good for a first-timer and jumped in with…both feet! The pattern of choice was the Rail Fence…it seemed simple enough, and I decided on a small wall hanging size. I knew this much…I would say I had some conceptions, but knowing what I know now about quilting, I’d have to say I had some misconceptions. I knew there was a top, something in the middle, and a back part. I thought your stitches had to be big and had to be been seen (“toe catchers” as they’re called) …I have big ol’ bodacious knots on the back and I folded the back towards the front for my binding. But, when I was finished with that puppy, I was one more proud gal. I made hanging loops, attached them to the top, got a café rod and for years that wall hanging hung in my bedroom.

Years later as my quilting progressed and refined I would look at my first little project and wince…but, later, I began to look at it with a different eye. I had learned that just about everything I had done was wrong…but, it was my start, my jumping off point…and I also saw some things I did right. The main thing…I began!

I began to get involved in the local quilting communities. I began by visiting my local quilt shop and I realized that using the best tools that I could afford was to my advantage. The women at the shop were very helpful and had pointers and guidance. Next, I got involved in quilt guilds, a great resource for quilters. Then, in November 1991 I got up the nerve to enter my first quilt show…one of the best known in the area I was living in at the time. I entered several quilts and would have been delight with an honorable mention. Needless to say, I was floored when I walked in the last day of the show to view the show and be there to pick up my quilts. Hanging on all of my quilts were ribbons…and one was a best of show! Well, that was like giving drugs to a junkie…and I was hooked.

I stayed active in the quilting community for a long time…up until my last cancer and my auto-immune disorders continued to run amok. I was the co-founder and President of the Heart of Dixie Quilter’s Guild in Birmingham, AL and was the establishing editor of their newsletter. It was while at the Heart of Dixie that an old friend made reappearance from time to time…my first wall hanging. As new quilters and beginners came to the guild, I would hear them talk in awe and sometimes discouragement about their own quilting. They would say things like…”my stitches are so big” “my quilting will never look like your’s” and so on. So, on occasion, I would bring out my trusty little first project and give a talk on “Here’s where I started…and here’s where I am…” In a way that little wall hanging has kept me rooted…and kept me humble.

Quilting has given me a lot…added a lot to my life. For example, in the 1990’s when things were so unstable in the Middle East and the Gulf War started, I’ll never forget watching a war start and seeing it brought into my home, in “living color”, in real time, to the dinner table. It was surreal. Not like the radio and news reel days of WWII of my parents or even film clips of Viet Nam on the evening news of my teenage years. No, we watched as Bernie Shaw, Peter Arnett and the late John Holliman broadcast as the bombs dropped…we saw the anti-aircraft streak through a dark sky on the other side of the world…while we had chicken casserole and English peas.

I sat at a frame working on a quilt in the family room at the time, and as the news played on minute by minute, hour by hour, threat by threat, bomb by bomb, I sat at the frame…stitch by stitch. My ex was pacing the floor, popping Rolaids like M & M‘s. He finally turned to me and asked, “How can you sit there and do that?” My mind and heart were crying “How can I not be doing this?” So, I answered him, “This is what keeps me sane…what keeps me calm and normal.” The quilting had a calming, rhythmic motion…like rocking a baby. My ex decided maybe he needed to learn how to quilt and so, during the Gulf War, a new quilter was born. I found a stencil for a ten inch block, traced it off, sandwiched it together and basted it, gave him some hand quilting lessons and he was off. He quilted he way through the war…

A few years later, quilting brought me my best friend…Robin. She had seen some information on the guild, called me about it, came for a visit, liked it and the rest is history. Robin is one of those what you see is what you get kind of people and I love her for that. She’ll try anything…legal…at least once and if she sets her mind to something…hold on!! Robin’s sense of humor is one that even Hollywood couldn’t match…it’s priceless. Think…umm…Lewis Grizzard, Jeff Foxworthy, Sweet Potato Queens, Grace Under Fire and Cold Sassy Tree rolled into one wonderful package.

When I met her, she worked in surgical records, but she was going to school, and did for several years…and now she’s an elementary school teacher. Some people may wonder how we got to be friends…I guess we’re the right juxtaposition. We just clicked…I’m the self professed “girly-girly”…I’m fru-fru…I love bling; Robin has run her own dairy, and in her own words, “put on hip boots and shoveled…” well, you get the picture…the gal can clean a barn!

Robin just happened to be at the hospital the day the HMO decided it was time to kick me out one week to the day after I had had 60% of my left lung removed because of cancer. I was running a fever that day, and my surgeon had decided to go out of town and leave me a mild pain reliever…no antibiotic. The staples had not been removed from my incision and just overall, there was chaos in my room. As the nurse removed my staples, Robin couldn’t help but see the incision…I was cut front to back from just under my left breast around my side all the way onto my back almost to my spinal column. It was an identical incision I had to my first surgery in 1982 on my right side. When Robin saw what I was going through, in typical Robin fashion…and using a quilting metaphor…she said, “Well, Beverly, now you have matching seams!” I’ve told Robin on more than one occasion that she is an answer to prayer.

When I went through a difficult divorce in 2001, I found it hard to quilt at first. I had taught my ex to quilt, had collaborated with him on several projects, helped him on many of his projects, bound each of his projects for him and we had gained certain notoriety in our area as a quilting couple. After I meet my current husband something wonderful happened. We courted long distance and as we got to know each other one thing he did was to encourage me to start quilting again. I found a project I had started and got to work on it and over the course of time I finished it…with a renewed fervor for my art. I finished the quilt after we married…it took me that long…I had a few detours…but I dedicated the quilt to him…my new muse for quilting and writing. It’s the first of my finished Maverick series, entitled: Maverick I: To New Mexico.

So…why do I quilt? Well, other than the above reasons? Its part of me…it’s who I am…it’s what I do. I love the feel of the fabric, the feeling of accomplishment after I finish a project. I love the planning, the design, the color, the way the scissors cut the fabric, the way I can put on good music and think while I quilt…and with that said, I guess its `nuff said.

© Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved. maverick-i-1.jpgmaverick-i-4.jpgFrom San Atone to Y2K by Beverly Hicks Burch

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