• 57°

Remember When: Remembering Barbara Ann & Fred

I think I cannot improve on what I wrote around the first of the year:

“When I was going to Tryon School it seemed that there was a McKaig in every grade . . . and when one graduated another entered first grade. That is an exaggeration, of course, but McKaigs still figure large in our community.

I remember when little Barbara was born and soon became the apple of everybody’s eye. I’m sure her siblings fell over themselves making sure they had a part in her upbringing. I did not say ‘spoil’ because she seems to have survived all that attention with a personality of her own.”

I don’t remember seeing her in the intervening years (remember, I was gone for forty years!), but I remember a pretty little girl, always dressed in very becoming little girl clothes. In my mind’s eye I see curly hair and a blue dress.

Lordy, now we’ve lost Fred Edwards (Sr.)! Hardly a month since Shirley left us bereft . . . guess he died of a broken heart. I have seen so many cases where the one left of a long-married couple also died soon after. Makes me ever more thankful that I still have Fran; cannot imagine life without her. I think that losing one’s spouse is the worst thing that can happen to a person, as that is the person closest to you.

I just received a copy of Lotus Bradley Plott’s book: “The 1920’s and 30’s weren’t so depressing When Living On A Farm” subtitled “An Appalachian Memoir.” Lotus is still quite pretty at 91, just like she was at age 17 when she appeared in the front office of the Bulletin building (then the Hester Building) to run the Tryon Western Union office. I was only 13 at the time, but I really took notice of that tall, slim young woman, fresh out of High School.

WWII was going strong by then, and Lotus says her worst duty was sending out the “killed in action” telegrams from the War Department. Elbert “Eb” Bishop delivered them personally to the families. She was warned, for instance, about one mother with a heart condition whose husband did not want such a message delivered to her. Sure enough, it came a short time later and she sent Eb to the alternate.

We sure are glad we got to see the totality of the solar eclipse in the 70s, as we were disappointed in the view from our yard this time. We had just moved to Hampton, Virginia, then and lived on a cul-de-sac with many close neighbors. We had a watch party, of course. I made a camera obscura from a wardrobe box which gave a good view of the progress with no glasses required. We warned all the kids not to look at the sun until it was covered by the moon; they all came to take turns looking into my box.

It was eerie as the day darkened and the temperature dropped more than ten degrees. The birds stopped singing and the crocuses closed up for the “night.” As darkness progressed, everyone, including the kids, just got quiet. I wondered what early man thought of a solar eclipse, not having the benefit of modern science to forecast and explain it.

Our son, a budding astronomer at the time, was exuberant and voluble. Our younger daughter was playing with her friend inside a neighbor’s house the whole time. This time, she was in New York helping her daughter have a happy birthday on the 20th. As we tell our fellow Lions, family must come first!