"My remembrances" is a special section where I want to share with you about my parents,
my siblings, and my wonderful childhood memories. I am very blessed in the fact that I grew up
in a Christian-oriented home. My daddy was from the "old school" and taught us respect and morals,
something which seems to be missing in much of today's world. I had the happiest childhood any girl
could have! If we were not at our church services, it was because we were burning up with a sick fever
or else gone to sing/play gospel music somewhere else. Daddy was always strict on us, but he taught us
well, and I never resented him for it, because it was taught to me with love.
My daddy, Leonard (L.L.), was the driving force in my life growing up, and me being the "baby,"
he and I were close, too. We shared our gospel music together. Besides being the song leader at our church,
Daddy was a highly respected and loved community
leader and very involved with the school board and school system in our parish (we don't have counties in Louisiana,
we have parishes). Daddy was short in stature but tall in character and strength. He was the one everyone turned to
if they had a problem or needed someone to help their child get a school grant. Besides his civic work, he was a
railroad agent for Missouri Pacific Railway. We lost Daddy in 1983 to a stroke, and that's the day my world changed.
But his memory lives on with us always!!
My mother, Thelma Rose, and I are "best friends." We have such a good time together wherever we are, and we
always have, even when I was real young! I have always been able to share my innermost thoughts with Momma and never
felt that she was judging me…she listens with an open ear and a soft, tender heart. When I was growing up, I was lucky
because my momma was always there to take care of us. And talking about a gooooood southern cook!!!! She has always
had the reputation of making the BEST homemade pie, cheese and macaroni, and chicken and dressing anywhere!! She is in
her 80's now but still as active as ever! She mows and keeps up her 2 acres of property where our family home still stands,
and I visit when I can. We often meet at the mall, which is halfway between where we each live, and folks there are used to
seeing us "hang out" together.
My oldest brother Ken and his wife Gail live near Momma, so I get to see them from time to time. Ken is a gospel singer…
he got that from our daddy…and Gail is in insurance. Ken is the best General Motors mechanic I have ever known. He owns his own
business and works very hard. But he also "plays hard," too….his hobby is drag car racing! He "hits the circuit" now and then!
My only sister, Linda, married to Hunter, was the one I always idolized and wanted to be most like. (Both Linda and Hunter are pianists!)
She was always the smartest and brightest and most talented woman I ever had known, and to this day I still feel the same! For several years she
worked in gospel music, singing and playing piano for the Singing Speer Family of Nashville, then having her own trio with Wayne Hilliard, called
Higher Ground, and she would transcribe music onto manuscript for gospel music publishers such as Rex Nelon. She is now a successful real estate broker, and Hunter
works for Revlon, Corp. Needless to say she always has had a great impact on me, and my life is much richer because of her! She and her family live
in North Carolina, a good 17-hour-drive from us, so we don't get to visit as often as we wish we could. But we share e-mail hugs every chance we get!!
My other brother, Danny, is the one closest to my age, four years older than me, so we grew up playing card and board games (this was before
computers and nintendos), basketball, baseball, and football with the other kids in the community. Because we lived in the country, we had a lot of
room to play baseball, football, and basketball with our cousins and friends. Since I was the only girl in the neighborhood, it was either learn to
be "rough and tough" enough or don't play at all. I got my first bloody nose playing football with Danny and his best friend Aflred Lee. These days
Danny is running his own business and living several hours the other direction from here, so we don't get to see each other much at all anymore.
I miss him, too!
Momma and Daddy's first child was a beautiful little girl, named Kaye Frances. But because of an overdose of ether given to Momma at her birth,
she was stillborn. But I think about her and wonder about her at times...I guess God needed another little angel in heaven!
Because I was alone so much of the time with no girl playmates, I used my vivid imagination and "made up" playmates of my very own. Since
I didn't have many dolls to play with, many of those playmates were in the form of mops, about which my family still teases me to this day. I also
liked to sketch pictures, so each mop had her own name and special personality, and the sketches gave them a face. It may sound boring to you, but
for a kid in the country who played with mops, it actually was pretty fun! Momma tells me we were kind of poor. I never thought so, and I always
felt kind of "rich," because we had lots of love and never went hungry or lacked for good clothes and shoes. Daddy sure worked hard to provide for us.
I was one of the lucky ones in that Momma did not have to work outside the home when I was little and drove a school bus later on, so it was great having
my momma to come home to every day!
We lived in tornado territory (some people called it "tornado alley"), and I can remember several bad tornado seasons where our home was threatened.
One summer evening after Ken and Linda were away, Momma and Daddy had gone into town to watch Danny play a pony league baseball game. I had begged out and
asked to stay home so I could watch my favorite TV show (the "Danny Thomas Show") and to sit there and sketch pictures. This was in the days before we had
to fear meanness in the world and lock our doors, so they let me, and during the TV show, our electricity went out, which was not so unusual for things out
in the country back then. I patiently sat there with my notepad in my lap and waited and waited, but still no electricity. Suddenly the wind outside got
to howling and the open windows was causing the window blinds and curtains to dance violently in the darkness. Well, I was about 12 years old, and I got
scared and decided to do what any 12-year-old in my situation would have done... I crawled into bed with my play clothes on and covered up to "keep the buggers"
away. Well, in about 15 minutes after that or less, the next door neighbor came over, shining her flash light, and asking was I ok. I said I was and jumped
out of bed, and she said, "Did you see what that storm did out here in your yard?" I was shocked to find out that a tornado had ripped through our yard, but
it had curved around our house, taking trees with it, but keeping me safe and secure. I just believe that God had better things in mind for my life than taking
me at that time.
My Granddaddy (Momma's daddy) lived in our home for several years. He and I were the biggest of buddies, and we sure enjoyed some great times together.
Every day when I got in from school, Granddaddy and I would get into his shiney Chevrolet car (boy, he took pride in that car!!) and he would drive me to "the
store." Remember, we lived in the country, and the nearest store was two miles away. Cokes were a huge "treat" in our household back then, but he would treat
me to anything I wanted. On my 10th birthday Momma was sick, but Granddaddy made sure I got a cake. Momma always knew we had a special bond. When I met my Jimmie,
I think he reminded me so much of my Granddaddy and his gentle ways - that was a huge attraction to me!
I hope you will read the second story at"My Elvis Connection" to read about the young man named Tony who came and lived in our home as "one of the kids" and was part of our musical
gospel trio when I was ages 12-13. (I was in 7th grade that year....he was in 10th grade.) He moved all the way from North Carolina to be part of our family trio, and I will call him my "third brother," for at that time in my life, I guess that's a good description!
Even though I love having fun and cutting up, I have always been a very serious-minded
person when it came to my spirituality. I grew up in a small Methodist church and after
Linda moved away, I was the pianist or organist, whichever seemed to be what they
needed at the time, and Daddy was the song leader. But with our gospel singing
group, it worked out that we were gone very often to singing conventions in the
four-state region. That was a special part of my life and helped mold me for the
future, I realize.
About a year after I married Jimmie and after visiting several different church congregations and Bible study, he and I were both baptized into the church of Christ. I have striven to serve the Lord all of my life, and I searched prayerfully to find where I needed to be. Two preachers in particular
have had a huge influence on my spiritual life, and I thank you
Harley Sisson, Sr., and Tom Childers for the teaching and Christian friendship.
I have always loved people and am definitely a "people person." I think my personality is a combination of both my parents, for they were always ready and available to be a friend to others. My momma and daddy were community leaders and were always the first to volunteer to help someone in
need, if it meant to sit with the sick or bereaved, cook food, or in Daddy's case, to help some struggling young person get a much-deserved college grant.
My parents taught me to
live my life well, to love the Lord, and to love people, and I have had a very happy, content life with nothing but the sweetest of fond childhood memories!! Thank you, God,
for the family you have given me, and thank you, Momma and Daddy, for what you taught me. Thank you, Jim, for being my best friend, my confidant, and the daddy of my kids, and for the wonderful life we have shared !!
Leonard ( L.L.)