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The Child Workers of Roanoke Cotton Mills 1911

Katherine H. Purdy

These children are examples of workers who deserved Labor Day.

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;”

Ecclesiastes 9:10

 

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Faces of workers in need of help. This is who I think of on Labor Day.

When I see the pictures of young children who worked 12 hours a day, six days a week at the Roanoke Cotton Mills in Roanoke, Virginia it makes me sad for their lost childhood. On our Facebook History group, had quite a debate.

Take a good look at the faces of these precious, brave children.  See how young they were. Notice the barefoot boys? Shoes hindered their job of climbing on the machines so they had to work without shoes. I cringe to think of the dangers involved.  But they worked because they had to.

They didn’t take their pay to the local candy store, the soda fountain or to the ice cream parlor. No, they didn’t take their money to the Rialto Theatre on Saturday afternoon. They were working. They worked 12 hours a day, six days a week for low wages in order to help feed their family and to keep a roof over their head.

Parents who were in debt and couldn’t pay were sent to the Poor House along with their entire family. This is why some of the children were working. Others worked because their parents were sick, dead or failed to make enough to sustain the family so the children (as young as five years old) were sent to work. The money was turned over to their parents. Everyone in the family worked in order to keep the family together.

When I first started writing The Vision of a Mother’s Heart, I thought to break up a home was tragic and it is. However, to see children working hard in dangerous jobs at such a young age is more so. The picture with two boys standing together, the older with his arm protectively around his younger buddy makes me want to cry. Their eyes and facial expression seem “old”.   They remind me of my grandmother’s two older brothers.

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Eugene (the older boy) and James “Calvin” Minnix could have ended up in the same situation if their “Papa” hadn’t found homes for the children when he realized he couldn’t take care of them. This was often referred to as “Farming out” children to family and friends to stay (often working on farms to earn their keep) until the family was able to reunite. A story, I have found was all too common in the early twentieth century.

In Roanoke, the Poor House was in existence until 1958. It is now part of the Virginia Western Community College. It is said that conditions improved in the 1920’s and inmates of “The Alms House” helped farm the surrounding land so they had fresh vegetables, eggs, and other good food. Inmates included from infants to the elderly. They were reportedly treated well. However, it was a shame for families who had to live there.

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Things were different in that time. For centuries, children were apprenticed; they learned a trade by living under the supervision and care of a skilled business owner. For several generations, the Minnix men in our family learned to be blacksmiths and coopers. (Barrel makers) They also worked on farms sometimes in deplorable situations. My great grandfather broke the mold and decided to become a farmer instead. His skill as a blacksmith came in handy on the farm.

By the time they learned their trade, they were proud to put their name on their work. They were thrilled and proud if they could write their own name. When there was a crisis or war, these young men didn’t think twice before enlisting to fight for their country. They taught values to their children and expected their children to learn responsibility. Yes, it is difficult for us to imagine children in such a sad situation but they were precious children who grew up to be hard-working, frugal, responsible citizens.

I don’t know about you, but I am thankful for each of these children.

For more information about the history of Labor Day, click on the link below.

History of Labor Day

Writers: Facebook history groups are treasures for research. Much of my research was found in local history books and also postings from the History of the City of Roanoke group as well as several local history groups including school nostalgia groups. Most who post are happy to share their stories, pictures, and documents with others. My thanks to friends who shared their stories and pictures with us and gave permission for me to use their pictures.

Blessings,

Kathy

Story Time ~ Happy Birthday America!

Written by
Katherine Hinchee Purdy

It’s that time of year again! The time to look back, reflect and thank God for our wonderful country. Thankful for freedom! Happy Independence Day weekend!

Photo used with permission.
Photo used with permission.

“Isabel Greene, if you don’t stand still you will get stuck with a pin,” Mama said as she pinned the blue fabric with straight pins from her mouth.

“But I like to swish!”

“That’s fine,” Mama said as she removed another pin from her mouth and turned the child around to get to the back of the dress. “You may swish all you want – after I finish hemming your dress.”

“Yes Mama,” Isabel said quietly but swished her skirt as Mama bent over to retrieve the pins she had just dropped.

“Baby Maggie didn’t have to stand up to get her dress hemmed,” Isabel said as she looked at her little sister sitting in the high chair nibbling on a piece of crust.

“Baby Maggie doesn’t know how to stand yet. Now carefully step down from the stool and look at your dress in the mirror.”

“Oh Mama, it’s beautiful.” Isabel said as she swished from side to side. Ouch! It bit me!”

“That was just a pin dear. Now turn around slowly,” Mama said as she stood back to get a better view. “Isabel, you will look like a doll on the fourth of July! Just like a little sailor girl.”

Just then the screen door clapped loudly and Mama turned to see Isabel’s two older brothers racing to the ice box. “Just a glass of milk boys, lunch will be ready soon!”

“Mama,” Eugene said as he glanced at Isabel swishing in her new blue dress trimmed in red and white. “Do we hav’ta wear those silly costumes to the parade and picnic tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” five-year-old Curtis chimed in. “Those look too sissy!”

“No, they do not look sissy and yes, you must wear the sailor suits I made for you. It’s perfect for the occasion.”

“The other boys will laugh!” Eugene plopped into the kitchen chair and reached for the cookie jar.”

“If anyone laughs at a sailor suit, they should be ashamed of themselves.” Mama took the cookie jar and placed it into a cupboard. “Besides, your nephews will be wearing the same thing. After all, your half-brother Jim is in the army and Fred is in the navy. You are wearing the suits to honor them. They are fighting for freedom. Don’t ever forget that,” Mama said softly as she placed her sewing notions into her basket and put it away.  “Isabel,” Mama said as she reached for the child. Carefully take off that dress and put your play dress back on. Here, let me help you. We’ll get you changed in your room while the boys finish their milk.”

~*~

     The next morning, Isabel awoke to the sound of Papa whistling a new song they had heard on Grandpa’s radio. Over There by Mr. George M. Cohen. “Catchy tune, aint it?” Papa said as Isabel entered the room wearing her new dress. “Well, don’t you look pretty?”

“Thank you, Papa.”

“Oh dear,” Mama said. “It’s too soon to wear your new dress; it will get dirty. We’ll get you all prettied up when it’s almost time to go.”

“Yeah,” Eugene said, “Don’t want to spill milk on it” and stopped short; whispering in Curtis’ ear.”

“Boys,” Mama said sternly, “if you mess up your suits before we go, I will insist that you wear the sailor hat Jim sent you.”

Eugene and Curtis looked at each other and then quickly shoveled oatmeal with their heads bent over the bowl.

“Mama, we could make bows for their hair just like the ones you made for Maggie and me.” Isabel said with a twinkle in her eyes.

“No way!” Curtis shouted and looked at Papa for help.

“Better do as your Mama says boys, I wouldn’t want to see my boys running around with a girls bow in their hair!” Papa looked at Isabel and winked.

~*~

     “Are we there yet?” Isabel asked from the back of the buckboard.

“We’ll be there in three shakes of a lambs tail,” Papa said with an edge of impatience in his voice.

Isabel closed her eyes and imagined a fluffy white lamb shaking its little tail three times. “It shook three times. Are we there yet?”

Papa turned to Mama. “She can count?”

“She can count to ten!” Mama said proudly, “By next month, she may be able to…” Music, clapping, chatter and laughter filled the air with excitement.

“Papa, they’re playing the song you were whistling this morning,” Eugene said and began singing along with the music.

“And we’ll all be glad when it’s over-over there!”

“I hope we didn’t miss the parade,” Curtis said as he cast a sidelong look at Mama who, in his estimation, took too much time packing lunch and dressing the girls.

“Nope, the parade doesn’t start until two so that everyone will have time to eat lunch. I would like to catch some of the baseball game. How about I take the boys over to the stands? The game will begin after the band plays a couple of songs.”

“That’s fine,” Mama said, “but don’t buy any hotdogs or peanuts! We have better ways to spend our money.”

Papa made quick work unloading the buckboard and herded the boys towards the baseball stands.

~*~

     “Lizzie! Isabel! Over here!”

Mama placed baby Maggie into the pram and reached for Isabel’s hand as they followed Lindy’s voice.

“Hello little sister,” Lindy said as she picked up Maggie and spun her around. “Why, Isabel! You look like a china doll in that lovely sailor dress.”

“Oh look, little Maggie is wearing one too. Where did you buy them?”

Mama beamed at her two little girls and addressed her step-daughters and daughters-in-law. “I made them. The boys are wearing sailor suits too although it was like pulling teeth to get the boys to wear them!” Laughter filled the air as relatives welcomed them to the Fair Grounds.

“Don’t unpack your food yet,” Aunt Jenny said as she turned and reached for Baby Maggie. Cleo is checking with the vendors to see how much the hot dogs cost. They smell too good to pass up! Oh good. There she is now.”

“I can’t believe it!” Cleo said as she reached the group. “The prices are actually reasonable. You can buy two hotdogs for a nickel or a big hamburger for a nickel. Peanuts are only 2 cents per bag. What do you think? Shall we feed our gang with Fair grounds food?”

Isabel chimed in with the other children. “We want hotdogs, we want hotdogs! Pleassssssssssssssssseeeeee?”

Mama opened her coin purse and smiled. “I think we have enough – this time. What shall we do until lunch time?”

“The swings are free. Why don’t we take the children over there. They can play in the sandbox too.” Lena said as she picked up her baby Grace, soothed her and placed her back into the baby carriage. “We have so much to talk about. The game will be over before you know it!”

     Isabel ran to catch up with her nieces and younger nephews. “Isabel,” Mama’s voice rang loud and clear. “Don’t get your dress dirty!”

Just as Mama finished speaking, Isabel tripped on a tree root and skinned her knee. Tears filled her eyes as she looked down at dirt covering her new dress and a large red spot on her white, torn stockings. “I’m sorry Mama. I’m so sorry,” Isabel repeated as Mama stooped down to assess the damage.

“Oh, you’ve skinned your knee!” Mama reached into her pocket and pulled out a small container of water and her handkerchief. “It will be okay. It’s not a deep cut but it may be sore for a while.”

“But I got my dress dirty.” Isabel’s blue eyes filled with tears as she looked up at Mama’s compassionate face.

     “That’s alright dear. The dirt brushes away and we’ll just slip those stockings off and no one will know the difference. Besides, do you know why we are here today?”

“There’s a parade and a picnic and a-a-fire?”

“Fireworks. Beautiful but loud streams of light fill the sky in a beautiful show!” Mom said as she finished cleaning the scratch and blew a kiss over the spot to make it heal more quickly. “Tender loving care always helps,” Mama said with a smile. “Now about the special day. Did you know that a long time ago our land was owned by a king far, far away? The king had never been to America but he claimed it anyway by sending ships of soldiers to make sure we obeyed his rules and paid high taxes. We sent letters to the king. We sent men to the king to tell him he was being unfair; that we could work something out but the king was selfish. He wanted the land and people to do his will. Well, the reason people came here so long ago was to be free of the king and his unreasonable rules. Did you know that America was the only place people could go in order to worship God and The Lord Jesus Christ without people trying to stop them?”

Isabel shook her head and listen wide-eyed.  “Well,” Mama said as she reached for her grandchildren who gathered around, “people prayed for a solution. They prayed for the king to change his mind.”

“Did he?” a little boy spoke up. Isabel suddenly realized they were surrounded by children she had never seen before and the swings were empty.

“No, sad to say, he didn’t.” Mama said softly. “He made it harder for our people. They had to pay taxes on just about everything. Finally, some men in Boston – up north- had enough. They couldn’t take it anymore. Back then, Americans liked to drink English tea instead of coffee. Fabric from clothes were brought on English ships. Just about everything we needed came from there but we decided we would make our own fabric. We had sheep and goats to sheer and spin the fibers into wool for knitting and weaving. We called it homespun.”

“Homespun!” a little girl spoke up. “My grandma made that!”

Mama nodded with a smile and continued. “One night when the supply ship was in Boston harbor, some of the men dressed up like Indians and sneaked aboard the ship and threw all the barrels of tea into the water. To this day, we call it The Boston Tea Party.”

“Wow!” A little boy exclaimed and leaned in closer. “What happened next?”

An older boy stood up. “It started a war didn’t it?”

“Yes it did.” Mama said and took a deep breath. The king was so angry, he sent thousands of soldiers, wearing fancy red coats with lots of guns and swords. They thought our men were not very smart and wouldn’t know how to fight so they expected the war to end quickly. But they were wrong. Oh, we didn’t have fancy uniforms – except for the officers. George Washington led our men. We had “militia” which meant they were farmers, black smiths, wheelwright’s, merchants, regular men who volunteered to protect our land.

Our men fought to protect their wives, their children, their parents and their land. They fought in the fields. They fought behind trees and fought in ways the British soldiers were not used to. Very important, smart men; the Continental Congress worked together in secret so that the kings soldiers wouldn’t know what they were doing. John Adams persuaded a plantation owner  from Virginia named Thomas Jefferson to write a declaration of independence. In fact, that’s just what it is called. The Declaration of Independence. It declared we were free from British rule and were a country now with 13 separate states working together for our freedom.  The Declaration of Independence was signed by some very famous men including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock. Each man who signed represented their state. Isn’t that wonderful?

Isabel watched boys and girls nodding their heads and nodded with them. Another child stood and cleared his voice to get Mama’s attention. “Ma’am we won that war, didn’t we?”

Mama’s smile lit her face. Yes indeed we won that war and became a free nation under God. The Declaration of Independence was accepted by all of the men on July 4, 1776. Today is July 4, 1917. We are celebrating today because today is the birthday of our great nation – The United States of America!

052e928f8b898724a56027927a72ed3aOld Glory (2014_05_25 05_08_34 UTC)

~*~

     Isabel watched in wonder as the band played songs that night and men in the same uniforms her older half-brothers wore marched to the bandstand. One man in each different uniform carried a flag and one held a large red, white and blue flag with white stars in the top corner. Everyone stood. Man raised their hand to their forehead in a salute, other men, women and children stood too. Mama showed Isabel how to place her hand on her heart and whispered in Isabel’s ear, “To honor men who fought for our freedom, to honor men like your brothers who are fighting today for freedom and to show that we love our wonderful country, the beautiful United States of America!”

Suddenly, there were loud blasts causing Isabel to jump and baby Maggie to cry. Papa picked up Isabel and put her on his shoulders. The sky was filled with beautiful colors and shapes. “Fireworks,” Papa said.

“Like birthday candles?”

Papa chuckled. “Well, it’s our country’s birthday so I guess so.”

Little Isabel thought about the story Mama had told her earlier; that men died so that we could live free. “Happy Birthday, America, Happy Birthday!” she shouted.  “Thank you God for giving us a free country – like Mama said!”

 

God Bless America with Kate Smith

May God bless America. Thank you all who have served and have loved ones who gave their life that our Flag may still wave.

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God Bless America written by Irving Berlin sang by Kate Smith

Mill Mountain Poem Written 100 years Ago.

Just like the little girl who wrote the poem about Roanoke’s Mill Mountain which was published In The World News June 9, 1916, I always felt comfortable having mountains around me. Never comfortable in “flat lands.” I grew up on the back side of Mill Mountain so this poem is truly a treasure! Thank you, David Gardner for sharing this with The History of the City of Roanoke facebook group!

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Mill Mountain in the background

Mill Mountain

The following lines were written by Norene Hancock, little daughter of Police Officer Hancock

Wonderful mountain!
Who made you so high,
With your base in the valley,
And crown in the sky.

Who made the great river,
That washes your feet?
Who made your wild flowers,
So fragrant and sweet?
Who made those great ledges,
Without trowel or hod?
No man could have done it,
It must have been God.

Who made those great boulders?
Who made the tall trees?
Who made the green foliage,
That sways in the breeze?
Who made the bright mosses?
Who made the green sward?
No man could have done it,
It must have been God.

You stand as a sentinel,
Our city to guard,
While the good and the bad are asleep,
While the beautiful river,
Glides peacefully on,
To mingle its flow with the deep.

[Good-bye], dear old mountain,
May your strength ever stand,
To guard all the good,
And the bad of our land.

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[The World News, Volume 27, Number 139, June 8, 1916]

 

When this poem was written, one had to hike or ride “the incline” to get to the top.

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If you have read my novel, The Vision of a Mother’s Heart, Isabel (my grandmother who grew up in the Roanoke area would have been 4-years-old.

OLD NEWS – June 8, 1916 | Southeast Roanoke

In the 1940’s a neon Star was added to Mill Mountain. The nickname changed from Magic City (because it practally sprang up with the coming of the Norfolk & Western Railway) to The Star City.

Mill Mountain Star in 1949

Today, people come to Mill Mountain to see the star, the lovely view and to enjoy the Mill Mountain Zoo.

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For more information about Mill Mountain and the star, click on the link below.

http://www.visitroanokeva.com/things-to-do/attractions/roanoke-star/

The Watch (Part 3) Preview chapter for Hope Beyond The Sunset By Katherine Hinchee Purdy

Memorial Day is about the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice – the ones who died in battle.  Earl Hamner portrayed this side of Memorial Day when he wrote about “Ben” who made a Memorial Day bench to honor the uncle for whom he was named. When Grandpa Walton sat on the bench and gently touched his sons name, his face said it all. 

We often forget about the suffering of the ones left behind. In todays society, the sorrow and rememberance  of Memorial Day has become a day for picnics and swimming.

The story below is from a chapter from the novel I am currently working on. Hope Beyond the Sunset which is a sequel to The Vision of a Mother’s Heart. The setting is 1926 in Vinton, Virginia where twelve-year-old Isabel attended school. Miss Merrideth is her teacher who overheard boys in the classroom boasting that they would have “Cleaned the Kiser’s clock.” They learned something very important that day.

The Watch
Preview chapter from Hope Beyond The Sunset by Kathreine Hinchee Purdy
(Isabel’s Story Book 2)

Alright class, that will be enough talk about things of which you know nothing.” Miss Meredith closed the classroom door and moved slowly, deliberately to her desk, pulling out her history book and an envelope before addressing the class.

“Now, open your history book to the chapter on The Great War. How many of you completed your assignment to interview a veteran of the Great War?”

Isabel raised her hand, slightly leaning to the right, hoping the boy sitting directly in front of her hid her. I hope she doesn’t call on me!

“Fine,” Miss Meredith said as she turned to write on the chalk board. “Your assignment tonight is to interview the wife, mother, sister or child of a Great War Veteran. I would like you to copy the questions from the board to include in your interview.”

Murmurs and groans filled the room. “Don’t know why we have to ask the women,” a boy from the back of the room stated boldly, “they didn’t do nothing!”

“They didn’t do anything, Timothy,” Miss Meredith corrected, “and your statement is false. Women made the sacrifice of their loved ones as well as doing all that they could to aid our troops. Many women took over running the farm or the family business, some went to work in factories to provide for their family, they knitted socks and scarves, rolled bandages, provided doughnuts and coffee for troops on the home front and many young women joined the Red Cross to give comfort and provide nursing skills to our wounded soldiers.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Timothy said and slouched in his chair.

“Sit up straight and listen to the story I am about to share with you.” Miss Meredith lifted up the watch necklace, ran her finger gently over the raised design, and allowed it to fall gently against her high collar shirtwaist.

Isabel looked at Millie across the aisle and both girls leaned forward, sensing a good story was forthcoming.

“Many years ago, two children sat at the very desks you are using today. The young ladies sat on one side of the room and the boys sat on the other. Both children loved school and looked forward to a bright future. As they matured, their friendship grew into a deep love for one another and the young man promised to marry the young lady after he graduated from the University of Virginia. Both sets of parents approved of the couple’s plans. While the young man studied at the University, the young lady also attended college while filling her hope chest with handmade linens and other items which would someday grace the home they had planned together.

Their plans came to a sudden halt one fateful day.” The teacher paused and looked around the room slowly before continuing the story. “One terrible three letter word shattered their dreams forever. War.”

“The young lady has given me permission to share this story and a letter written by her young man with you, today. I want you to listen carefully; you may be in the same situation someday. I pray that will not be the case,” she said as she took her seat at her desk, removed a slightly yellowed paper from its envelope and took a deep breath and began to read.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My darling,

Sun is beginning to set and the smoke from a recent battle still hangs in the air. There is no way of knowing when the sound of war will reconvene so I am taking this respite to write to you as I wait in a deep, damp trench. I hope you have received my letters. I have only received one from you but I know there are more as you promised to write me every day. I know you keep your promises; you always have. Even when we were children, you hid food in your pockets and climbed the old oak tree outside my room on the nights I had been in trouble for throwing spit balls at the teacher or fighting on the playground. The punishment was always to go to bed without supper and that always broke your tender heart. You always promised to bring me something to eat and you always did. Oh, if only you could bring some of your Mama’s delicious fried chicken and biscuits tonight. A piece of your cherry pie would be like a slice of heaven now. Just thinking of the delicious fragrances takes my mind off the horrors surrounding me.

Do you remember our pal Moose? He lost a leg this morning. Pray that gangrene will not set in and take his life. He was only a few paces ahead of me. I attempted to carry him to safety but was suddenly caught up in a barrage of gunfire. Just as the medics arrived, we took flack so thick I thought it would never end. I returned to fighting and my rifle was so hot it seared the skin. I won’t go into details about the battle. I know you are praying, and that we are not alone. The Lord is with us. So I will speak of more pleasant things, my dear.

Do you remember the little cottage over by the lake I showed you the summer before last? The one we dreamed of owning some day? I know you do. You had it decorated in your pretty little head before I had time to walk around the perimeters.  The next day, you showed me sketches of the changes you wanted to make to “our” cottage. I can still see that final drawing in my head.  The cottage painted blue with white trim, window boxes filled with flowers, white gingerbread trim, a red door and ivy growing up the side. A cobblestone walkway lined with flowers, fronted by a white picket fence with a swinging gate. We shall have that as our home, dear when I return. Arrangements were made with my parents and their lawyer to apply a large percentage of my soldier’s pay to go towards the cottage and for the renovations.  We will even be able to add two rooms downstairs and up and plumbing installed. Should anything happen to me, the cottage is yours.  I can see you now, standing in the large bay window, checking the time on your watch necklace, counting the minutes until I arrive home from work. Perhaps tapping your foot, as I drive up in our motor car twenty minutes late for dinner. Can’t you just see it? This is what keeps me sane as we march along, looking for jerry’s, doing the task at hand. Waiting, watching, fearing, praying and dreaming the day when this awful war is over and we can go home.

It is getting dark and I will try and muster up some imaginative food as I try to force down the horrible concoction they refer to as rations. I will think of Mother’s pot roast tonight, I think. If you have a chance, when you receive this letter, will you please make a batch of your famous fudge and take it to Mother and Father? Visit with them for a while and please, have two pieces of that sweet delicacy for me; accompanied by two mugs of that good coffee from the store down the street?

I know I don’t have to ask. The letter I received from Mother said that you visit often and are always wearing our promise watch – the watch you promised to wear always until we meet again. I can still remember when I gave it to you. It was the night before I shipped out. You didn’t say so but I know you were expecting a ring. You covered your surprise well, my dear, but I knew you were disappointed. I couldn’t place a ring of promise on your finger under sad circumstances. I will save that joy until I come home. We can get married and live in our little cottage together for the rest of our lives. Just think of it, growing old together in our dream cottage.

Your words still ring in my ears as I remember you gently tracing the designing of the silver watch. “I will wear this near my heart and every tick of the watch will remind me of your heartbeat. Then you will not seem so far away. You will be just as near as my heart!”

I still have the locket you gave me with your image smiling at me inside and my parents on the other side. It too lies near my heart, carefully protected by my uniform and a small Bible I keep in my left pocket.

Something is happening ahead. I must put this away for now. Remember, I am only a heartbeat away. There is something else God is prompting me to remind you.

“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

We shall meet again; here on earth or in our cottage in Heaven.

Forever yours,

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Isabel dabbed her eyes with the corner of her hankie as Miss Meredith gently folded the letter and placed it carefully into the envelope.

“This letter was delivered with a box of his belongings a month later. He didn’t even get to sign his name. A German bullet pierced his heart – I am told that he never felt pain. He was immediately transported from the trenches of war to the splendor of Heaven.”

The class sat in stunned silence as the school bell alerted them that the school day was at an end. No one moved for minutes and then as the spell was broken by a girl’s gentle sob. Students quietly gathered their books and walked past Miss Meredith with lowered heads.

The Watch (Part 4) Preview Chapter for Hope Beyond The Sunset By Katherine Hinchee Purdy

The Watch
Preview chapter from Hope Beyond The Sunset
By Kathreine Hinchee Purdy
(Isabel’s Story Book 2)

 

 

Isabel waited until every student had left and softly walked to the teacher who sat at the desk, fingering the watch around her neck with a far-away look on her face.

“Miss Meredith,” Isabel said softly as she touched the teacher’s arm. “I’m sorry about your friend. He sounds wonderful.”

“He was,” Miss Meredith reached for a hankie tucked into her sleeve and dabbed her eyes. “How did you know?”

“Your watch – you don’t just wear it to tell time. You trace the design with your fingers when you think no one is watching. I do the same thing with Mama’s hankie.” Isabel pulled an embroidered handkerchief from her handbag. “When Mama died, I kept this because it smelled like her. It’s one of the few things we saved when the house caught on fire a few weeks after Mama died. Sometimes I hold it to my face and remember Mama.”

The teacher nodded and touched Isabel’s arm. “Your Mama would have been very proud of you.”

“I hope so,” Isabel said softly. “Sometimes I wonder if she would be sad that Papa gave us away.”

“It must have been very difficult for your Papa to find homes for all nine of you. I understand it is only temporary,” Miss Meredith said gently. “He was brave to make the wise decision to put your future before the comfort of having all of you under one roof.”

“If Papa could have gotten married, we could have stayed together. I hope he finds someone soon,” Isabel said as she picked up her school books and turned toward the door. Just as she reached the doorway, she turned to face her teacher again.”

“Miss Meredith,”

“Yes, Isabel?”

“Do you think you will ever get married?”

 

What Treasured Memory is Contained in This Brown Box?

The Bulls Eye Kodak No. 2 by Eastman Kodak Co.

This interesting camera belonged to my husband’s Grandparents or his Aunt Louise who lived in Clifton Forge, VA in this house.

Long family home in Clifton Forge, VA for over 75 years.

Long family home in Clifton Forge, VA for over 75 years.

Since this camera was manufactured from 1895-1913 so we think it belonged to John’s grandfather, Clarence Long. John’s Aunt Louise lived in this home most of her life. The images on the film still in the camera may have been taken by John’s grandparents or by his Aunt Louise. Would they have left film in the camera unprocessed when they upgraded to a newer style camera? Did they simply forget all about it and stow it away in a trunk in the attic? Perhaps Grandfather Long took pictures of his bride and young children. Perhaps he took pictures of his granddaughters and his only grandson before he died in the 1960’s and no one had the heart to disturb it or it was put away with his things not realizing the film was still in the camera. What a mystery! We have been told that the film cannot processed now because the chemicals and method of developing the early film is no longer available. So it shall remain a mystery. Curiosity is almost too overpowering – this familial link to the past.

My husband found the original instruction book online. If you are interested, click on this link.  http://www.piercevaubel.com/cam/catalogs/1906bullseyeinstlp850.htm

http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/librarium/pm.cgi?action=display&login=no2bullseye

Christmas 1985. Louise Long, Emilie Long Purdy, John Purdy and Kathy.

John’s Aunt Louise Long, Mother Purdy, Dad Purdy and me on our first Christmas as a family in 1985. John is on the other side of the camera capturing the moment with his fancy manual camera.

With digital cameras, video cameras and cell phone cameras, the days of waiting for film to be developed is past. We just snap a picture and within seconds, post it on facebook for all the world to see. It wasn’t always this way.

I remember as a child, we had an old brownie camera. You held the camera in front of you and looked down to see the image and then quickly pushed the gray button on the right. Our family had one like this.

Processing film was costly so we had to choose our shots wisely and the light had to be just right! If I remember correctly, there were only twelve pictures on a roll of film. Our family couldn’t afford to have film developed often so we took one or two pictures at each occasion. Birthdays, Christmas, perhaps Thanksgiving, weddings and other special occasions. Finally, when all of the film was used up, it was carefully placed in a black tube, placed into an envelope and sent away to be developed. When they arrived, everyone was excited because we couldn’t remember what we had taken pictures of and some didn’t turn out. It was a lesson in endurance. Patience. Delayed gratification.

Next, the photographs were placed into an album of black pages with little black corners holding the picture in place. Most of our family pictures were developed in January. So our Christmas pictures from 1964 have January 1965 stamped on the ragged edges.

Next came the Instamatic cameras. Instead of loading a roll of film carefully stretching the film onto a roll on the other end of the camera, these babies had film cartridges. The process was still the same for developing the film until some drug stores and department stores began offering film processing. We still had to wait. We were thrilled when the one hour processing became available!

2013-01-15 Old unprocessed film cartridge 2013-01-15 Old unprocessed film cartridge

Do you remember using these?

And then there was the Polaroid! I thought it was wonderful. The film developed immediately without a processing fee!

Christmas for Rusty 1980

I took this picture of my little dog, Rusty with my Polaroid. Not a great picture but I had the image immediately – well, almost!  This camera came in handy in my classroom. On the first day of school, I snapped a picture of each student and labeled it on the wide lower margin of the picture and hung the pics on the bulletin board. It was a great way to learn the student’s names! I took their pictures again on the last day of school and let them take their pictures home. It was amazing to see how much the children had changed in a few short months! (We also did this in Sunday School but with my husband’s fancy camera. By the mid-eighties, we had our film developed at CVS and they put the images on a CD. (I had so much fun with those images in Print Shop Deluxe!)

And then along came the fabulous digital cameras. What a joy to capture birds in flight, a squirrel hogging the sunflower seeds and pictures of flowers that I planted each year. Of course, we have hundreds of cat pictures and wonderful shots of my child care kiddos. “Have camera – will capture that moment of smiles!”

So all of that to say, that my imagination is running wild with this old camera. What memories or mysteries does this little brown box hold?

Capturing memories did not begin with a camera, pen, paintbrush or with a pencil. It began with our Heavenly Father.

In Joshua 4 after the Lord divided the Jordon river that the children of Israel; beginning with the the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant for them to cross over on dry land. Afterward, the Lord spoke to Joshua to take out of the Jordon twelve stones from the spot where the priest had stood firm on dry ground. (One for each tribe of Israel.) They were to carry them and leave them in the lodging place where they were to lodge that night.

“And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of tribes of the children of Israel;

That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, that the waters of the Jordon were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.

And these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever.

Joshua 4:5-7

“Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall praise Thy works to another and shall declare Thy mighty acts.

I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.

And men shall speak of the might of thy (awe-inspiring) acts; and I will declare thy greatness.

They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.

The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great mercy.”

Psalms 145:3-8

So you see, whenever we look at old photographs, mementos, and recite stories from the past, lets remember all that He has done for us and for the generations before us and what He will do for the generations to come.  Lets praise Him at all times and share what He has done for you with others.

Blessings,

Kathy

A Walk in a Lovely Town

 

November, 2012

We stepped inside this lovely country store and it was as if we were crossing a threshold into the past. From shelves containing books about local history, old fashioned cookware, toys and clothing. Add local music and food and this gal didn’t want to leave. I could have stayed several hours as I perused aisles for future purchases; convinced that my husband will bring me back again soon. We had lunch while listening to local musicians and bought a book with a pictorial history of the area.

Where is this lovely spot located? Along the curvy roads of South western Virginia. Floyd, to be precise.  My first impression as we pulled into the parking lot which faced the country store, I remarked that we must be in Mayberry! Why? Notice the shop beside the store.

Yep, looks like Floyd left the Andy in Mayberry and opened his barber shop in Virginia!

The gentleman sitting in front of the charming country store chatted with my husband and promised to come inside later to play some music.

Music in the Floyd Country Store

There were other wonderful shops as well.

Notice the caption on this sign – one doesn’t see the invitation to loiter very often!

“Loitering Allowed!”

We spent a lot of time in the consignment shop too. I will save my purchases for another post. I will say that I found something from the 1920’s. This is important because, The Vision of a Mother’s Heart and the sequel I hope to finish by the beginning of the new year take place in a small community in rural Virginia during the “Roaring Twenties!”

One of the things I was looking for on this trip was to see houses that may have been built pre-1920’s and may have had a wrap-around porch. I will give you a hint about the sequel. Isabel stayed with a wonderful lady near Floyd County for a while. She was a very kind woman who lived in a house with a wrap-around porch.

I couldn’t resist getting a pic of this outfit. Reminds me of the Roaring Twenties!

Within view of the town is a beautiful sight. A white Church with it’s spire reaching up to  the sky. Couldn’t help but wonder if there was a Church bell, calling citizens to Church every Sunday morning.

As we were driving out of town, I saw a blue house that will be perfect for a scene in Hope Beyond The Sunset. You will recognize it when you read the story.

For my fellow history buffs reading this blog, Floyd, VA was once named Jacksonville to honor Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States (1829–1837).

Floyd, Va is also recognized as one area ministered to by Bob Childress of The Man Who Moved A Mountain. (By Richard C. Davis and is available on Amazon.com.)

That’s all for tonight, friends. Hope you enjoyed our little journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. I know we did!

For more information about the area, click on the following link. http://www.floydvirginia.com/visitors-guide/

Searching for a nice place to visit in Virginia? Try Roaring Run Iron Furnace – More Virginia History!

Roaring Run Iron Furnace in Virginia. Pre-civil war.

I was looking through some photos the other day and found some pictures John and I took a couple of years ago of the Roaring Run Iron Furnace in Virginia. This iron furnace was built in 1834 and abandoned in 1854.

So peaceful, so serene and will soon be emblazoned

with beautiful gold, orange and red colors of autumn.

For more information, check out the following links! Great site for a home school trip!

Great information for a history report too. So pack your picnic basket and hop in the car this weekend to enjoy part of our history in a beautiful setting.

http://botetourtironfurnaces.com/roaring.htm

http://www.fs.usda.gov/gwj/

http://206.113.151.20/wildernessroad/wrTimeline.asp

http://ironfurnaces.com/wiki/index.php?title=Roaring_Run_Furnace_%28VA%29

19th Century Historical Tidbits: Soup Digester (Reblogged. Written by Lynn Coleman)

Soup Digester

Have you ever heard of a Soup Digester? Neither had I until I read Lynn Coleman’s blog, 19th Century Historical Tidbits. I believe this is an item from 1864. If you love history or historical research, be sure to peruse her blog. Fascinating tidbits and quite useful in helping us see how our ancestors lived.

19th Century Historical Tidbits: Soup Digester.