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Remember When: Remembering Lucy, Wilma and Dorothy

I was saddened by my last visit to White Oak: Lucy King was not there!

Although I had to shout into her ear to have my words heard, her hearty laugh was my reward for some inane witticism I’d offered. She often busied herself in her room by sorting her saved greeting cards and notes from friends.

When I’d go in, she would move them over and invite me to sit on her bed. When I did, she would entertain me with stories about her life.

She was one of the happiest beings in that facility, still going at 100 years of age. Several of my friends have made it to and beyond the century mark, most still very much alive and with it, as Lucy was.

Another unexpected passing is Wilma Jolley. She and Jack had relocated to a care facility in Anderson, South Carolina, some time ago.

Last time I talked by phone with Jack, they were doing fine. Wilma and I had edited Vadah McMurray’s “History of Stearns School” back in 2009 when she brought it to me to check.

We put it into the TDB for others to check, and we got some more corrections before I placed a copy in the Polk County Historical Museum. I resurrected it for the recent centennial celebration of the school; I also added it to the second edition of my first book of these columns, “A Boy in the Amen Corner.”    

Wilma and her sister, Agnes, married two of the Jolly brothers. I attended their 50th wedding anniversaries celebrated at Midway Baptist Church.

More recently, Wilma was recuperating from hip surgery in White Oak when I found Jack visiting her there. Jack was sitting calmly, but Wilma was incessantly rolling around her room in her wheelchair. I believe that lady always had to be doing something.

I received the obituary notice of Dorothy Hansen, wife of Herb, our ever-faithful cameraman for the Polk County Historical Association. My favorite memory of Dorothy is the great luncheon she prepared for us when I was president of the Polk County Historical Association.

The Hansens are representative of the integration of so many “come heres” into the fabric of Polk County; they assimilate by shouldering meaningful responsibilities toward making this little corner of our world a great place to live.

As I have observed so often, it is not only its natural beauty but the people who have chosen to live here that make “Our Area” so special.

There is something magical about the idea of a century. Oliver Wendell Holmes celebrated it in his poem about the “Wonderful One-Hoss Shay” that served very well for 100 years and then.

Has anyone noticed that we suddenly go back a century in time when the power goes off? Out come the oil lamps!

For people on wells, they must quickly draw a bucket of water to be saved to flush a toilet. The house is very quiet as there is no TV or recorded music to fill the air. The telephone still works — unless its wires also went down with the power lines — so the power company can notify us when we can expect the power to be restored.

Ah, the recollections of the people who have lived for a century. When I was a boy, there were people living whose grandfathers fought in the Civil War.

Col. Norme Frost was born with the airplane and had a distinguished career flying them, so I got to share my recent design experience as he shared his pioneering flying stories. He was standing in ranks as an aviation cadet when Charles Lindbergh landed his well-worn Curtiss Jenny in their midst, and the base commander ordered him to “get that bucket of bolts off my airfield!”

The colonels Lindbergh and Frost were lifelong friends.

I have been privileged to hear firsthand the stories many centenarians shared with me. As I approach that magic number, I am also privileged to share such stories with you. I hope you like reading them as much as I enjoy telling and writing them.