Lillian Allen passed away while I was in the hospital and quite ill, but I hope it’s not too late to let it be known that I grew up with Lillian and, though I was a few years older, I was a neighbor and playmate with her and her brothers and sisters. Bob Bembry (my stepfather’s family) and the Will Welch family (Lillian’s) were close neighbors and friends for many years.
Many Saturday evenings, we enjoyed fried chicken and purlieu, hot biscuits, Charmers coffee, and chocolate cake in their kitchen or something similar in Mother’s kitchen. While the two women cooked and chatted, the men sat on the front porch and discussed the weather, crops and politics, and we children – Laverne, Leon, Norman and Leila Welch and I and sisters Helen and Ruby played children’s games – Ain’t No Bugabears Out Tonight, Ring Around the Roses, Tag, and chased fireflies.
Lillian’s father Will was an easy going, laid back type while her mother Edna was a dynamo, who not only was a nurse and midwife (she saved my mother’s life after she was crushed between a buggy wheel and a pine when a spooked horse ran away with her) – the doctors had given up on her.
Lillian seemed to be a combination of the two – having the easygoing traits of her father and the talented voice of her mother. Edna not only had a natural, operatic voice but played the organ. Nostalgia takes me back quite oft to the Sunday afternoons on the Will Driggers front porch when the Welch family came to visit and sing. Richard Driggers played the guitar, his sister Mary the mandolin, their father Will the harmonica and brother Dice, who could also sing anything, as well as play any instrument, usually played the handsaw. With Edna, Norman, Lillian and Mary adding those beautiful voices, the Grand Ole Opry couldn’t have been better.
Norman and I, both nine years old at the time of Mother’s accident, were best friends. One afternoon when everything seemed to show that she wasn’t going to live, Norman found me crying with my head against the outside chimney corner. He simply put his arms around my shoulder and cried, too.
Another memory has stayed in my mind all these long years. Dice and I had been married for more than two years and our first baby was a few months old. I could cook enough to get by and had learned to use the old heavy shuck mop on the wooden floors, but was not feeling well one day so Dice, on his way to work, stopped by Edna’s and asked if she could help.
Almost before I was out of bed and dressed, Edna, with Lillian, in tow, the mule pulled wagon was at my door. And like a whirlwind, they had my floors scrubbed, my laundry in the wagon and baby Joan and I out the door. She took me home with her, fed us lunch, put the clean and folded laundry in the wagon, took me home and put everything back in place before mid-afternoon! I was exhausted and had not done any work!
Edna led by example and her children were taught to work and I never heard one of them complain.
Laverne was my champion in school. I was small and two years ahead of my older classmates, having passed from the fifth to the sixth at age nine and was, for some reason, bullied by the older and bigger girls, but Laverne took me under her wing and that soon stopped.
Lillian grew from a pretty girl into a lovely woman, married and had three pretty daughters of her own. She never lost her wonderful talent, which was passed on ot her daughter, Kathy.
At age 92, I have a huge trunk full of memories, most of them good. Lillian and her family are among the best.