Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Brain Is in Troy, Alabama

The last dream I had before I woke up this morning was about my paternal grandfather in Troy - only in the dream he looked more like my maternal grandfather from Evergreen - analyze that! I was at some conference/retreat thing - spiritual in nature, I think - and having a rare opportunity to "get acquainted with my grandfather". In the dream we were both feeling a sadness over the fact that we'd never had the time to get to know each other(he died when I was about 4 or 5/my mother's dad died when I was 15) In the dream I watched him walk away, I guess go back to heaven - I don't know. How hard is it to describe a dream?! Very difficult. Next scene I'm walking in the front door of his house at 110 Murphree Street in Troy Alabama. In reality, the house actually ended up belonging to my uncle, my dad's bachelor brother who always lived in that house with his parents until they died and then until he died in 1985. Back to the dream, I walked in the very large front door, and a handfull of my friends were there. One was sitting on the couch in the "front hall", another to the right in the "library"; I spoke with them and walked into the dining room, speaking with my uncle Halbert about all the things in there - in the dream I knew that he was about to sell the house to some girl who I knew wouldn't respect the true beauty of the house - I was very sad. He and I walked into the breakfast room and then into the kitchen. From the kitchen I walked out on the back porch and then through the bedrooms and back again into the "front hall". (It was always called that, although it was more like a formal living room.) (Also, the back porch was more of an enclosed room - the back wall was screened with lattice covering the screen.) In my dream I can see everything in those rooms just as they used to be - amazing, the brain and what it records.

Next scene I'm walking to my car, talking to my Dad(who hasn't, up to this point, been in the dream - and all of a sudden I'm the age when I was still single (I married at age 28 - Ann just had her 3rd baby at age 28) Only in the dream Daddy is Daddy, but he's also Charlie(my husband if you are reading this and don't know me). That too is odd - but he's mostly Daddy - and I'm appealing to him, pleading, I want to own that house and I want to live in Troy - make my life in Troy - because I have a sense that I am just starting out - whatever career I might begin - And he agrees - He says, "Okay - well I'll just have to talk with Charlie and draw up the papers". Then, in that moment Charlie is in my life - but not my husband really - crazy - but the incredible sense of relief - that I have saved that house - it will be mine and always mine and knowing all the work I'll have to do and all the money I will have to earn to restore it - I was so happy and so relieved and I woke up.

That is always a shock - to wake up after a very real dream - and it was 2009, I'm living in Scottsboro - I've lived in Scottsboro for 29 years - but my brain still travels back to Evergreen and to Troy. I got up and had a cup of coffee. Love that first cup of coffee.

With Troy still on my brain, I decided that was a cue to blog about old Troy memories - and I sat in the hall in front of the cabinet where I keep the old Troy stuff - there's so much - where to begin - and I landed on an old letter written to my grandmother from a friend. The letter really has very little interest to me, since I don't know the lady - but it's a slice of life from 1911. I read it - it was important enough to my grandmother to "glue" into her scrapbook - so they must have been good friends. After reading it, I looked at the address and the date. The return address is 486 Spring Street, Atlanta, GA. The extent of the address is:

Mrs. John Wilkerson
The postmark is Atlanta, GA December 29, 1911 - and there are two green one cent stamps on it.
It's 1911, so Daddy hadn't even been born yet. He was born in 1913.
Here is how it reads
486 Spring St
Dec 28th 1911
My dear Net
You have no idea how much pleasure that beautiful picture you sent me has given us. I have it on my bureau and I can't help taking it up and gazing at it whenever I am in my room. I think the older boy is the image of John and the baby (is it a boy too?) is just like you. I wrote to Claire about the picture and wished she had one too. I think it is one of the sweetest pictures I ever saw.
We had a very quiet time Christmas. My children remembered me so generously. You know I have so many children now I am rich & I expect Delmar will marry in the Spring, a lovely girl just twenty yrs old. It has not been announced yet but I suppose it will be in April.
Gordon married a lovely girl and is very happy. Ella is living right across the street from us keeping house in her own home. Nell & her husband & baby are with us. Her husband is in business here & they board with us. The baby is nine months old and is the best baby I ever saw. We have never had a nurse for her. We are going to have her picture taken and I will send you one.
I hope you had a happy Christmas and will enjoy all the happiness and prosperity next year that heart could wish.
Remember me to John & all the rest of my friends
Your Friend
Mrs. P H Baker
Okay - so I was curious - I mapquested that address. Well, I expected it to be in some "scary" part of Atlanta, if it still existed at all - since that was 98 years ago - You know how old nice neighborhoods in cities become the "rougher" areas as people evolve and move into newer developed areas. Actually, it's in downtown Atlanta. The address is still there, but I'm guessing a lot of medical businesses - it's close to a hospital - I-75 and I-85 cross over that street.
Also - funny that while they sound as if they are dear friends, she did not know if my uncle Thomas was a boy or a girl - I'm guessing his hair was cut "long" for a boy - and he had on rather billowy clothing. He was probably only a year old - I think he was 3 years older than daddy. Grandmother must not have put his name on the picture. I wonder if it might have been a Christmas card photo situation. Remember, not only was there no email in those days - the phoning was extremely limited and even postal stuff - well - who could write all those notes to all those people who moved away - but there was no TV - so I think there were many letters written. Either this Mrs. Baker was a good bit older than Grandmother(her children were young marrieds) or she married much younger than my grandmother who actually did marry considerably late for that time. I think Grandmother, like myself, was in her late twenties when she married. Daddy was 34 when he married my mother who was 28. Granddaddy was a good bit older than Grandmother - so our generations are really stretched far apart. Daddy was 38 when I was born - so my grandfather was quite old - hence he died before I could really know him, but I have very vivid mental images of him. Very vivid and he made quite an impression on me. I think I must have been in awe of him and a little curious at his dignified air, yet warm air. I think he was a very kind and caring man - but reserved - which was common for the culture then. My maternal grandfather had a different feel - but equally kind and caring - but such a unique personality - and a bit more "user friendly".
So - that is that letter - and that world in 1911.
I need to do other stuff - but I feel like writing about a lot of Troy memories - that dream really spurred me on -
I've got to end this post. I have a million things to do.
Well, guess what?
Okay, all of this is an edit to the post I just published. Because - I got up from the computer, went to put that very old letter back into the very old envelope which was glued into my grandmother's very old scrapbook - and my eyes landed on another small old envelope which was postmarked Atlanta, GA July 8 1913 - yet different handwriting from the other Atlanta, GA note which I just transcribed above. So, I got myself another cup of coffee and a Fiber One Bar and sat down to read the contents of this next envelope.
This next envelope holds 2 different notes written to my grandmother - It would appear that Mrs. P H Baker died and Grandmother had written sympathy letters to her daughters, who had been mentioned in her 1911 December note to Grandmother. That saddened me, because it's only 2 years later - and she had written so highly of her children - now they are writing regarding their mother.
Here they are:(another little item of interest - this is July 1913 - Daddy would be 2 months old - grandmother adjusting to having a 3rd son)
My dear Nett
I want to thank you for your sweet note of sympathy. I don't know how we will ever live without Mama. She was just as young and energetic when she died as when she lived in Troy. It was a terrible blow and one that will be hard to get over. We miss her in everything we do and everywhere we go for we treated her as a chum more than anything else.
I believe Mama expected to have her little visit with you although she would always put off her pleasures for ours and there was something to keep her at home all of the time, but she often spoke of you and how she would enjoy visiting you and seeing your children.
Sister came down from New York and stayed for two or three days with us. She kind-- in a way just filled Mama's place while she was here.
Mama was digging in her flowers early in the morning and we felt uneasy and went to look for her and she was under a little tree where she had sat down and probably fell back, dead with the hoe still in her hand. Wasn't that a beautiful way to go. She would have been miserable if we had had to wait on her a day - The girls and boys also want me to thank you for your sweet notes.
Most Sincerely,
Ella B. Ruse
411 (or 471) Spring Street.
Other Note in the Very Old and Browned Stained Envelope:
Sunday -
My dear Net,
We are all so stunned and heart-broken for Mama that we can hardly think.
She has been perfectly well and just as active as ever. You know Mama could do more than anybody. Honey spent the night out with us Tuesday night and we all played the piano & sang and Mama was as jolly as any one of us. We sat up till about eleven o'clock and when we went to bed Mama said she was going to get up early and dig around her roses. She does that often and I heard her get up and walk down the drive. I dozed off and waked up at six o'clock feeling awfully anxious about her because everything was so still. I dressed and went out to look for her and found her under a little tree already gone - It nearly killed us all. Her mother went the same way and Mama had always said that she wanted to go that way. But we are so lonesome and miserable without her. We all depended on her just like we did when we were little children.
She spoke of you so sweetly the other day and said she wanted to write you. She was so fond of you, Net, and I do wish that she could have visited you. She wanted to very much, but something always happened to prevent. Sister came down and stayed a week with us. The shock was awful for her.
We all try to be as cheerful as we can because we know that Mama would want us to.
We appreciated your sweet letter so much and I wish you would write to us when you can. I would love to hear from you.
Guess you don't know about Buddie's baby girl. She is a darling and Buddie is so happy over his little family.
Give my love, love from all of us, to Miss Josie and all your family. Sister wished so much that she could see you when she was here.
Nell Baker Strong
(A small aside - on the 1913 envelope is one red 2 cent stamp - instead of the 2 green one cent stamps that were on the 1911 envelope)
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow. Ecclesiastes 1:9-11
And while this is true, it was written by a despairing Solomon - and he was reflecting on the hopelessness of our flesh and the fact that we are all a vapor - James 4:14 - "You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" - we have the hope of Christ and Eternity and that is what gives our small, repetitive lives meaning if we have truly been born again- He, the God of all Creation is working out His plans in us - when we are yielded to Him - there - we have the supernatural privilege of offering our lives to Him for Him to be glorified in us. OH PRIVILEGE!!
So our best memories, the best of homes and houses and lives, turn to dust - but when we have been raised in newness of life by the resurrected Christ, then the best is before us - in eternity.
I still find it so very interesting to look back into these lives and old cultures and see the same emotions, the same relationships, the delight of the births of new babies and the excitement of living out daily, disciplined lives. God made us that way and all generations do it and continue to move on.

No comments: