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One last time

There's something to be said for little old houses-- those built with patience, pride and craftsmanship; the small Southern structures which warmly housed large families, laughter and, above all, love. The houses from days gone by, where everyone gathered around the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, swapping stories and exchanging advice. Where there was front porch picking, Bible reading, sweet tea and swinging. Small houses build great people; the kind of living that happens inside their walls teaches lessons that last a lifetime. Even after we leave and move away, the love remains. A small country cottage sits behind the historical Bishop-Andrews Hotel in Greenville, presently known as Grace Manor Bed and Breakfast. It was originally built as one of two Army barracks in the location during World War II. After the war, Mr. G. Frank Andrews rented the houses out. Around that time, Clarence and Frances Green moved to Greenville and began to rent one of the cottages. People would come and go and the second cottage was eventually torn down, however the Green Family stayed, eventually purchasing the home from the Andrews in 1965. Their children and grandchildren frequented the home and it was always filled with family-- while it may have been close quarters, times were happy and love abounded.

Recently, Clarence and Frances Green's daughter, Joy Benton, came to visit the home with her daughters-- one last time. On August 4, she sat down in the familiar living room to talk about the house, her parents and the memories which fill the premises. Though 85 years old, she can remember times spent in Greenville like they happened yesterday. “Greenville was a going town back then,” said Benton. “There were hardware stores, a picture show, a depot, grocery stores, the drugstore and I think there was a hardware store on the corner. Daddy worked at the sawmill in town.” Benton's daughter's Joy Pickett and Sue Mohler have fond memories of the town as well. “There were always passenger trains coming through town,” said Mohler. “They would throw the mail out the window twice a day and mom's brother helped catch the mail bags and bring them to the post office. If the train was headed East, it was coming from Tallahassee and if it was headed west it was coming from Jacksonville.” Inside of the happening town of Greenville was a little house filled with a happening family. Joy and Sue began to reminisce. “Grandma was an excellent cook and a good part of her life she was blind or had minimal eyesight at best,” said Mohler. “She always had room for all four of her children and their families to come. There was always room at the table. The house was always so accomodating and there never was too many visiting.”

The sisters quickly began to reminisce about riding an old pushmower down a sandy hill in the yard. They smiled remembering their Grandpa Green coming home for lunch when the noon bell chimed. They would greet him outside and he would bring them peanuts. Bustling U.S. 90 was a favorite part of their trips to the Green House. The commotion of log trucks and cars travelling down the highway became a comforting sound to the girls. “We were a close knit family then and we're still a close knit family,” said Benson. “Grandma and Grandpa loved having us come to town,” added Mohler. “It was a lot of work to coordinate the laundry and we would have to work as a team to keep things clean. But I think they loved having their family with them and we always felt loved and at home.” “I think they were the happiest when they lived here,” said Benson. “They were well-liked in the community and I think they were really happy. Daddy would walk across the road and dig fishing worms. He brought them back and had a worm bed where he sold them. There were two women up town that went fishing every Thursday morning. They would come to get their worms to go fishing. It didn't matter what was going on that day, he had to have their worms out there ready for them.” The Greens worked hard and exemplified the kind of pioneering spirit their children and grandchildren would soon develop. “They didn't have a car,” said Pickett. “I think that's why Grandma did so well for so long. She walked to town at least once a day, if not more.”

“Daddy mowed the cemetery and pushed the mower up the road to do it because they didn't have a car,” said Benson. On life lessons, Benson adds, “They taught us to be kind to people-- to be kind to everybody regardless of who they were.” “I feel that I learned to live within your means,” added Mohler. “To this day I don't know how Grandma managed, because we were well provided for; the meals were wonderful when we came and I'm sure it took yearly planning financially to make that happen.” “I washed dishes with Grandma after supper and we had really good talks,” said Pickett. “She taught me how you wash a knife-- to be careful, you know. She also taught me if you held your stomach in so it wouldn't touch the sink, you wouldn't get fat,” Pickett added humorously. Clarence and Frances Green taught their children and grandchildren lessons that would remain in their hearts forever. The warmth and love they shared with their family still radiates within the walls of the small cottage-- you can feel it upon crossing its threshold. Joy Benson and her daughters were elated to visit the dwelling once more, adding that this visit would be the last one Benson will make. The family left Thursday, August 6, and made sure they stayed until the very last minute. However, it is certain that they will take the memories, laughter and joy with them wherever they go next. It never really leaves us, after all.

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1.Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo by Savannah Reams, August 4, 2015. Clarence and Frances Green's descendants stand in front of their old family home, located behind Grace Manor Bed and Breakfast. Pictured, from left to right, are: Joy Pickett, Joy Benton and Sue Mohler.

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