Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lula Sue Simmons

My Mother,
Lula Sue Simmons

My Mother, Lula Sue Simmons, the daughter of Woodrow Wilson Simmons and Susie Johnson, was born 13 February 1941 in Baxterville, Lamar County, Mississippi. Baxterville was then just a small village in the rural outskirts of Columbia, surrounded by acre after acre of pine trees. She was the second child born from the union of her parents. The family would later settle in the Pinebur area, not too many miles from Baxterville, and it was there that Mom spent much of her youth. As she aged, Mom often talked about her memories of her childhood in Pinebur and of the relatives she grew up around and loved. Her mother was the light of her light, a strong-willed woman who worked hard to provide necessities for her four children. The family was very poor and depended on their farm land and each other for survival. Many of Mom's memories can be read in her memoirs, see "Memoirs of Lula Sue Simmons".

At the age of 17, Mom married Charles Laverne Stogner, the son of Lewis Edward Stogner and Iva Louetta Peak.  Their marriage rites were solemnized in Marion County, Mississippi on 17 May 1958 and performed by a the Justice of Peace.  They had one daughter- Susan Gail Stogner (me).  Their marriage was brief, however, and eventually Mom and I moved in with her mother, Susie Johnson.  

Mom later met and began dating Frank Dalton Powell.  He was stationed overseas while serving a term with the United States Navy.  Their relationship began when they became pen pals, writing back and forth to each other while he was away, see Oceans Apart.  Upon his discharge from the Navy, their relationship developed further and they married on 08 December 1960 in Columbia, Mississippi.  Their marriage was kept a secret for a couple of weeks because their families disagreed with their relationship.  I wrote about this in some of my Sharing Memories posts, see Coming Home, Dilemmas, Secret Vows, and Their Secret Revealed.  Mom and Frank (whom I call "Dad") had three children together- Frank Dalton Jr, Sandra Rennae and Tony Duane.  They eventually moved to Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and remained there until 1976, when they moved back to their native home in Columbia, Mississippi.  

While in Louisiana, Mom worked at the A&P Meat Processing Plant in New Orleans for several years while Dad was a meat cutter with A&P Food Stores.  They were active parents and maintained a busy schedule between working and raising their children.  Mom enjoyed cooking and having company on the holidays throughout the year.  I remember her working all day in the plant and coming home to do housework, laundry and cooking.  She often stayed up late at night during the holidays for meal planning and preparations.  She would prepare feasts on holidays, particularly during Christmas.  Our home was the center of family activities during those special times of the year.  

After moving back to Mississippi, Mom worked at the Jitney-Jungle Food Store in Columbia for many years. She briefly owned and operated her own small restaurant in Bassfield, Sue's Country Kitchen.  After deciding to close the business, she became deli manager at Bassfield Texaco.  She remained there until her health forced her to retire.  

Mom loved to travel better than nearly anything else.  Each year she planned and mapped out a new trip with the help of my brother Frank Jr, who was a cross country truck driver.  She had traveled through almost every state in our country.  Her favorite trips were to Colorado, Wyoming and Canada.  She brought home many memories of her adventures on the road and I'm fortunate to have a few videos and several photos of her trips.  The one place she desired to visit but didn't make was Alaska.  Her health steadily declined after she retired and she gradually became homebound.  

Mom passes away following a brief illness on 14 November 2007 in Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi while in Marion General Hospital.  She was laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery, Columbia, Mississippi.  I will always miss her, however, I am grateful for all the wonderful memories which remain. 

See also:
Birth Record- Lula Sue Simmons
Marriage Record- Charles Laverne Stogner
Marriage Record- Frank D Powell Sr
Death Record- Lula Sue (Simmons) Powell
Photos- Through the Years:  Childhood Through Teen Years
Blog Post- Tombstone Tuesday:  Lula Sue Simmons Powell
Blog Post- Mama's Apron
Blog Post- Mama's Bourbon Balls
Blog Post- Treasure Chest Thursday: Quilted Memories
Blog Post- Sentimental Stories: Fading Away
Memoirs:  Part 1, Early Life in Pinebur
Memoirs:  Part 2, Musings of a Mischief
Memoirs:  Part 3, Crossing the River
Memoirs:  Part 4, Time to be a Child
Memoirs:  Part 5, Adventures on Little River
Memoirs:  Part 6, Love Carried Us Through
Memoirs:  Part 7, More Memories of Grandpa
Memoirs:  Part 8, Homemade Remedies and Weather Predictions
Memoirs:  Part 9, Hog Killing
Memoirs:  Part 10, Memories of a Poor Child's Christmas
Memoirs:  Part 11, Grandpa Took Care of It
Memoirs:  Part 12, Circle of Friends
Memoirs:  Part 13, Everyday Miracles

Sharing Memories: (Week 26) The Huey P. Long Bridge

Aerial view of the Huey P. Long bridge

Opened in 1935, the bridge was named for an extremely popular and notorious governor, Huey P. Long who had just been assassinated on September 8 of that year. It is a cantilevered steel through truss bridge that carries a two-track railroad line over the Mississippi River with two lanes of US 90 on each side of the central track.

The bridge is a favorite railfan location and is the longest railroad bridge in the U.S. Most drivers in the New Orleans area hate it because of the narrow 9-foot wide lanes without shoulders. Also, the two vehicular roadways shift inwards when approaching the superstructure on the East Bank side. The high volume of traffic on the bridge makes things worse at times considering how narrow the lanes are.

When there is a train crossing, it can become quite frightening when approaching the superstructure at the peak of the monstrous bridge. The noise is horrid and the structure becomes shaky.

I have been across this bridge countless times as a child. I despised it. I feared it. It was like a huge monster that terrorized me. A monster that I could not run from nor hide from. I had to face it everytime we crossed the riverbank. I have had nightmares about the mighty monster, even after becoming an adult. This may seem a bit crazy but it's true. Fortunately, it's been a long time since I've had such a nightmare. Although writing about it may bring the haunting back. Yikes!!!

One would just have to experience it to know what I'm talking about. If you're willing to take a dare, get in your car or pick-up truck and cross it on a weekday about 5:00 p.m., at the peak of traffic. Hopefully there will be a train going across as well, so you may experience the full effect of the entire trip across the Huey P. Long bridge. Wait... the "full effect" would also include a traffic accident on the bridge while you are stuck there for nearly an hour with a train crossing over. The "shake, rattle and roll" effect will make you feel like you've just boarded a small wooden vessel in the midst of a tropical storm (okay, just a tiny bit of exaggeration here). If it's your first time, you may want to take your Xanax at least 30 minutes prior to crossing it... or have a pint of Jack Daniels, that may help :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sharing Memories: (Week 25) Brownie Girl Scout

About 1966-67, Brownie GS
The Brownie Girl Scouts was an outlet for me to use some of my creativity and meet others my age. I truly enjoyed attending the meetings and going on fun trips with a bunch of other girls. The Girl Scout leader, Mrs. Betty, lived right up the street from us and she had two daughters close to my age, Theresa and Debbie. After getting to know them well enough, I was allowed to sometimes spend the night with them and we had a ball! We were allowed to stay up a little late as long as we behaved ourselves and kept the noise down. We would get a big plate out and fill it up with snacks from the fridge or the cabinets. Then we would pile up in their bedroom and watch television or listen to the radio. We played card games, board games or did crafty stuff such as creating pompoms from yarn. They had a few cats and a dog and sometimes we would play silly with them, dressing them up in doll clothing.

However, we were NOT always good. Theresa and Debbie had a few little tricks up their sleeves sometimes. For instance, they would make prank phone calls to people. Yep, the famous "Prince Albert in the can" joke was just one of them. They also enjoyed experimenting with their mothers makeup. We would try on eyeshadows, rouges, and false eyelashes. We would find one of her bras and slip it on, then stuff it with toilet paper. Next came the clamp on earrings. When we were finished dressing up, we looked like miniature hookers from Bourbon Street. We then turned on some music and danced around in their bedroom, acting like silly little girls. Oh, but what fun it was!

If we got a little too loud, we would hear their mom call out... "Okay girls, what are you into?"
"Oh nothing, Mom... sorry, we'll turn the music down", one of them would reply as we all snickered.

We went on some great field trips with our Girl Scout troop. Some of them included a trip to the the Shrine Brothers Circus and a camping trip in Slidell. Mom and Dad were very supportive of our troop, helping us out with field trips and such when they could. They came along on the camping trip to Slidell. We stayed there the weekend... swimming, learning how to build a campfire, roasting weiners and marshmallows, splitting into teams and playing games.

Those were the "good ole days"... just pure simple fun. So why did I have to grow up???

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sharing Memories: (Week 24) My Friend Lois

 The Mystery Date Game was popular with Lois and I

My friend Lois lived across the yard from us in a duplex facing ours. She was about 2 years or so older than me but only one grade above me in school. We usually walked to school together and spent a great deal of time together... until her family moved. Her father was an alcoholic. I remember that he stayed gone a lot and when he did come home, he usually had a beer in his hand and also smelled like one. Her mother drank too, but I don't think she drank as heavy or as often.

Lois was a very pretty girl with tan skin and long black wavy hair. I admired her long thick hair and often wished mine was like hers. She was an only child and had a bedroom of her own filled with all sorts of games and such. She had a record player and we often sat in her room playing games while listening to music such as tunes by The Beatles and The Monkees. One of our favorite board games was Mystery Date. Another was Hands Down. We shared a lot of girl talk, Lois and I. She seemed to know a lot more about things than I did. While talking about my new baby brother one day, Lois told me some surprising news.
"You know where babies come from, don't ya?", she asked.
"Ummmm, Mom said she got him from the hospital", was my uneducated response.
"Yea, but first she had the baby in her stomach..."  Lois went on to give me the gory details of how babies are born.  I was stunned and shocked with disbelief.  

I was still very much skeptical of whether Lois was telling the truth or not. I wanted to find out for myself. I would have liked to have proven Lois wrong, since she always seemed to know so much anyway. I decided I woud ask Mom about it. But first I had to work up the nerve to ask her. That night just before bedtime, I meekly walked into the living room where Mom and Dad were sitting.
"Mom.... is it true that babies come from your stomach?", I hesitated...
"Where did you hear that?", Dad asked sternly, looking over his eyeglasses inquisitively at me.
Mom interrupted. "Frank, if she is old enough to ask, then she needs an answer." He hesistantly nodded in agreement.
Mom gave me a brief explanation that went something like this: "Yes, it is true that babies grow in their Mommy's tummy. When they are big enough to suck a bottle and breathe on their own then they are born in the hospital."
"But Mom, Lois says that a baby comes from...," I hesitated and sort of turned a little red. I couldn't say any more.
Mom promised to tell me more when I'm old enough to understand.  That was the end of the discussion.  I went to bed thinking about the whole situation and how it would be possible for a baby to be born the way Lois described it. Just the thoughts of it scared me to death!  Now, I am laughing as I remember and write about it... 

When I heard the news that Lois was moving, I was sad and depressed for a while. She and I had become close friends, mainly because we lived within a few steps of each other. I missed her greatly when she was gone.

A few years later, I was at another friends house... and I saw a girl playing next door whom reminded me of Lois. As I walked closer to her, I realized that it was indeed Lois. She didn't recognize me because I had grown quite a bit since she had last seen me. We talked a lot about our old times together and laughed about the truths she had exposed me to. Her mother had remarried and was doing well. Lois was attending school and doing just great. She agreed to keep in touch with me after that, but she didn't. I have sometimes wondered whatever happened to her.

Hands Down was a popular game in the 1960's

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sharing Memories: (Week 23) Fourth and Last

Tony Duane Powell

Mom stood near the door with her big suitcase at her feet. She summoned us to her.
"I'm gonna be gone for a few days but when I come back I will have a new baby", she explained while reaching down to give us a hug.
"Where are you going to get the baby?", I asked curiously.
"Well I'm going to the hospital. But don't worry, Mama will be home soon", she said with a smile.
"Is the baby sick?", I asked.
"Well, no", she replied "but that's where they keep babies until they are ready to go to a new home".
"Oh", I said. I asked no further questions but my curiosity was still hanging on.

Geez, here I was nearly 7 years old and still didn't know the truth about where babies come from! What does that say about how much things have changed in our society? We were not prepared for the addition of another baby in our household... it was a sudden announcement. We were not informed that Mom had a baby growing in her "tummy", therefore we didn't experience the touch of our hands on Mom's tummy while the baby moved or kicked. We weren't given the opportunity to participate in the excitement of choosing baby items for the nursery or making up names for the baby. Matter of fact, we didn't even have a baby nursery back then. Our new baby would sleep in a baby crib next to Mom and Dad's bed. So Mom disappears for a couple of days and shows back up with a new baby? Yes, that's the way it was back then. It was just accepted that way. I don't know if I even heard the word "pregnant" by the time I was 7 years old. I personally think that siblings should be prepared for the arrival of a new baby and should be given the opportunity to participate in the excitement of it while the mother is pregnant. This gives siblings some idea of what to expect when the time comes.  But, back then it deemed inappropriate to discuss pregnancy with children.

The next day Mom spoke with all of us on the phone, telling us about the new baby. She named him Tony. He had a little bit of blonde hair and blue eyes, just like the rest of us. She would be home in a couple of more days with our baby brother. It was February, 1966.

As promised, Mom arrived home a couple of days later with our new baby brother. We were all excited about him. The following months he would grow quickly and we spent a lot of time after school playing with him while Mom cooked supper. When Tony was eleven months old, he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis and became a patient in the pediatric isolation ward at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. I will write more about this in a future post.  Mom and Dad went through some very difficult trials during this period in their lives and their marriage. I will always believe that Tony's recovery was delivered through the power of our mighty God.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cristina Fae "Crissy" Bourgoyne

Crissy with husband Ryan and sons,
Matthew and Nathan
Cristina Fae Bourgoyne, my eldest daughter, was born in Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Mississippi.  We call her "Crissy".  She grew up and attended school in Columbia School District, Columbia, Mississippi.  She graduated from Columbia High School with honors in May 1995.  She attended Jones County Junior College in Ellisville where she received numerous awards and academic scholarships and was on the Dean's List each semester during attendance.  Crissy then attended the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg where she majored in Paralegal Studies with an interest in Criminal Justice.  While attending USM, she was a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Golden Key National Honor Society, Gamma Beta Phi National Honor Society and the Paralegal Society.  She was on the President's List each academic semester.  She received the Frank D. Montague Jr. Paralegal Studies Scholarship and was the recipient of the Paralegal Studies Book Award, presented annualy to the most outstanding senior in Paralegal Studies.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from USM in 2001.  After graduation from USM, Crissy was employed with the law office of Pamela Castle in Hattiesburg.

Crissy married Ryan Wesley Curry on 16 June 2001 in Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Mississippi.  Ryan is the son of the late Ralph Garland Curry and Rebecca Jo McGaugh.  Ryan is a 1993 graduate of Warren Central High School in Vicksburg, Mississippi and a 1998 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Psychology.  He received his Master of Arts degree (Art Education) from USM in May 2000.  

After moving to Natchez with her husband Ryan, Crissy was employed with Mulhearn & Mulhearn, Attorneys at Law.  After the birth of their first child (Matthew Wesley)  Crissy was employed part-time with the Employment Services office in Natchez. While residing in Natchez, Ryan was employed with the Natchez School District and Copiah-Lincoln Community College.  

The family later moved to Tupelo where their second child (Nathan William) was born.  Crissy presently choses to remain at home with her two young sons.  She is an active runner and has participated in various 5K events as well as a half marathon and a marathon.  Her husband Ryan is also an active runner and he is employed with Tupelo School District.  They are also actively involved in their local church.

Photo Gallery:  Cristina Fae "Crissy" Bourgoyne, 1977-1995
Birth Through High School