Friday, December 23, 2011

The Ghosts of Christmases Past

There is something about middle-age that causes us to reflect. The past few weeks I've been remembering past Christmases.
Except for the silver tinsel tree years, we always had a live tree.

I never knew there were artificial trees until I was an adult! Now having a live tree, didn't mean we always bought one. Oh no,  we went tree requisitioning. Many a tree found their way to our little house, from the side of the road, fence row, backside of a lonely was an adventure!
We also had the obligatory silver star tree topper. What a thing of beauty!

Of the 20 Christmases spent in Mississippi, here are a few of the gifts I remember most:
  1. Barbie dream house and white Go-Go boots (the same year!) SCORE
  2. Banana seat bike
  3. Cameo ring from my dad - still have it. Wore it on my wedding finder until I became engaged.
  4. Sherlock Holmes style wool coat and fedora. (Don't ask, it was the 70's)
We also have crocheted stockings for a few years. Products of Mama learning to crochet. Do you have any idea how long a crocheted stocking will stretch with an orange in the toe??!

There were several years when Daddy would disappear for a few hours. When I was older I discovered that he was NOT helping Santa as I thought but was secretly delivering fruit baskets to several of the area widows.

Reflection on these years helps to keep me focused on CHRISTmas! They were simple, but filled with love!

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      Sunday, October 23, 2011


      There was never so magical a place as "The Crystal Grill" in Greenwood, MS.

      The pies were to die for. Mile high meringue - coconut - chocolate. This is how I remember it. There haven't been many changes over the years. To enter the diner, you had to have this special card to insert into the HUGE door. There was a slot in the middle of the door in which you placed your card. I'm sure it was a discrimination issue in the begining, but as a little girl - it was so absolutely special!

      Friday, September 16, 2011

      You Are My Sunshine

      Saw this and remembered by Daddy singing it to me when I little and sick.

      Sunday, September 4, 2011


      Asthma (from the Greek άσθμα, ásthma, "panting") is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm.[1] Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath (Wikipedia)
      Asthma = elephant sitting on your chest
      I have had asthma for as long as I can remember. I think I was diagnosed when I was around 6 months old. My mama said I had started turning blue. Imagine being 18 and trying to figure out what's wrong with your baby and knowing that she can't breath.
      From that point on until I turned 15, I would spend a part of almost every month in the hospital. I have no idea how my parents manage to pay my doctor or hospital bills. I do know my doctor was an incredible family friend, Dr. Gene E. Crick. I will always be grateful to him. I would eventually go to school with his oldest son and work for him during the summer when I was in college.
      When you suffer an acute asthmatic attack and live 30 minutes from the hospital, you feel like you are going to die every time. It seems I would always awaken around 2 am. I would walk to my parents' room and tell them I couldn't breath. Events would then goes as follows:
      Call Dr. so he could call the ER.
      Call Grandma so she could come sit with baby sister.
      All this while parents get dressed.
      Rush to Greenwood-Leflore Hospital ER
      Get a "bee-sting" a shot of susphrine.
      Every 3rd visit or so, I would be admitted to the 4th floor, pediatric, for a few days under the oxygen tent and breathing treatments.
      They would wheel in this 4' tall 2' wide machine with a plastic tent that had a zipper. It was really cold underneath there but it worked a miracle. I could breath again. Nothing like cold saturated oxygen to shrink your bronchial tubes.
      When I was older my mama and daddy would go to work during the day, but Nurse Haybig was always there to make sure I was OK. She worked 7 am - 3 pm and checked on me before she left work every day. During one of my visits I had this really mean night nurse, I told Nurse Haybig about it and I didn't have to see that mean ole nurse again.
      There were a few perks to having to stay in the hospital. A new word search book, cheese and crackers from the vending machine and a Napco head vase arrangement. Sure wish I still had those ladies. They are quite collectible. The cheese and crackers were my favorite, you know the kind with the captain's wafers and spreadable cheese with the little red spreader?
      Anyway, this was my life for pretty much the first 14 years. As I approached high school the attacks came less frequent which in itself is a miracle since both my parents smoked and I lived in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, surrounded by soy bean and cotton fields. I was also allergic to EVERYTHING and I do mean everything.
      When I was five I went to Jackson for allergy testing. Out of the 100 scratches on my back I was allergic to 98. The only 2 non-allergens were meat and potatoes. We stayed at the Admiral Benbow Inn across the street. When you're five that is a high class hotel. I remember my daddy read me a Bugs Bunny book while the allergens were working and I had to blow my nose into wax paper. Even at five, that is just gross.
      So being allergic to practically the entire world, living with smokers and in the Delta it a wonder I wasn't sicker.

      Saturday, August 27, 2011


      I am the blonde on the front row.
      For the first two years of my school career I attended Webb-Swan Lake School. It was a big square, red brick building with huge trees and metal slide a mile high. At least it seemed that way when I was there. The bathrooms were in the basement and led out to the playground. The auditorium had those wooden seats with the fat seat cushions. Then there was the cafeteria with the lunch line and melamine trays. It's also where I went to Brownies.
      My first grade teacher was Mrs. Cash and I thought she was beautiful. She had an Easter Egg hunt at her house that year and I found the Queen's Nest. It had a GOLDEN EGG. Oh my, I thought I had discovered a million dollars.
      Mrs. Hood was our bus driver and after dropping off all the students would work in the West Tallahatchie High School cafeteria. She then drove us home in the afternoon.
      She would pass by my house at 6:15 every morning and blow the horn. That meant I had about 15 minutes to get ready before she was back to pick me up. Some mornings I would get on the bus with my hairbrush, barrettes, headband or other hair accessories for my cousin, Ann, to finish my hair. Then there was the hour long ride to school. I had a big lunch box into which would be 2-3 PB&J sandwiches, chips, fruit and milk in the thermos. That was lunch and snack for the ride home since it would be after 4 when I finally returned home.
      Most days I would eat my sandwiches and take a nap for the ride home. I guess I was blessed in that I had 2 older cousins on the bus and most of the other kids where from our little town.
      Just gotta love "Dick and Jane"
      Mrs. Cash had me tutor 2 of the boys in our class. Wendell, the boy sitting to my right in the picture and the other boy on the front row to the right of Wendell (don't remember his name). Anyway she would take me and one of them down the hall to small room, possibly a closet, and I would help them with their reading. I can't remember how this arrangement came about. I have feeling it was as much to help them as it was to keep me busy. Seems I was a little more advanced than the other 1st graders. Not too shabby for a girl whose parents didn't finish high school. I do know that I have loved to read as long as I can remember.
      Second grade brought Mrs. Shaw and cursive writing. I remember the huge chalkboard with the cursive examples above it and the big pull down maps. This is the year I became Mopsy in our play about Peter the Rabbit.  My mama made my entire costume out of some sort of stretchy polyester complete with powder puff tail and coat hanger stuffed ears. I LOVED that costume! Don't think I had any lines, just remember being on stage a lot. This would be my last year at Webb-Swan Lake school. The next year, my year I would begin attending Pillow Academy in Greenwood. I didn't find out until years later that it was because Webb was to be integrated in the Fall of 1969.
      Thinking back on those two years reminds me of the innocent times in which I thought I lived. It's amazing to realize how sheltered my life was and how naive.

      Friday, August 26, 2011


      I really don't remember too much until my sister was born in March 1968. I was almost 6, asthmatic, extremely precocious and terribly skinny. Rumors have it that I had quite the potty mouth, what with my parents rebelling from being dragged to church their entire lives and a daddy that was a sailor. Thankfully I grew out of the "pottiness". Don't think  I outgrew the "mouthiness" though.
      Anyway, there are bits and pieces that hang on in my head. I remember our little white 2 bedroom house in Greenwood. I remember walking to the park. I remember moving into the house in Phillip. I have a vague recollection of being in Big Mama's pantry hiding. Although I'm not sure from whom. I remember staying with my older cousins and their maid Cora Mae for Big Mama's funeral. My, did I love Miss Cora. Cora Mae was itty bitty, dipped snuff and I loved her dearly. I only got to see her a when I was at my cousins. I thought she was the best thing in the whole world.
      I remember my daddy's baby blue 1964½ Mustang.

      According to a lot of my family and friends it was also known to strike fear into their hearts when seen approaching their houses. The rally cry was unleashed: "OH NO, HERE COMES VICKIE LYNN!" To which I'm told there was much scurring about for places to hide. I, of course, have NO memories of these incidents. If I did, I'm sure I would be much more unbalanced than I am now.
      They kept that car for a very long time, until after my sister was born for sure. My mama spun out on a gravel road and took it in and out of a barbed wire fence. She was headed to my aunt's house to do laundry. She would have been in her early 20s and I'm sure she was speeding on the gravel road. As you will see later, my mother had an affinity for very unique car accidents.
      I remember that it snowed the day my sister was born which was the first day of spring. I remember bringing her home from the hospital. I sat in backseat of my grandparent's car with my grandpa while he held my little sister. She had a TON of hair. He held her on his legs and talked and talked to her. I was snuggled up as close as I could get to him. Not a seat belt in sight for the entire 18 mile ride from the hospital!

      So here it goes...

      My 83 year old friend suggested (strongly) that I should begin writing about my life. She did the same for her daughter. I laughed and told her that she remembered more about her 83 years than I did about my 49. She assured me that the more I remembered and wrote, the more I would remember.

      As the poem states, "Thursdays child has far to go." I was born Thursday, July 12, 1962 at General Hospital in Greenville, MS. Kermit, the Frog, was also born in Greenville. His daddy was born in Leland, right down the road. My parents were 17 1/2 & 22. They had been married one year and 11 days. 
      My daddy, Robert Cecil Parish, worked at the carpet mill. My mother, Mildred Dianne Pernell Parish was home with me. I do know we lived at 331 Mulberry Dr. for a while before moving to W. Barton Dr. in Greenwood. My daddy went to work for Midwest Farms and my mom worked at the picture frame factory. We lived there for a few years before moving to Philipp to live in my paternal grandparents' house. My "Big Mama" died and my daddy and his older brother were the only family still living in MS. The house was orginally left to my Uncle Norman. He in turn sold it to my daddy. I lived in Philipp until 1984 when I moved to Tyler. I haven't looked back or regetted it one bit.