Monday, January 30, 2012

A Sad Sweet Place

Almost a year ago, I decided to try again to finish an essay I had been writing for many years about my great grandfather. At the same time, a stranger in California had found my website Down on the Farm with Sue Glasco ( and wrote me inquiring about Martin ancestry.

She was not a Martin descendant but her teenage grandson was, and she was researching family history for him, which I thought was a delightful gift. Our family here knew that one of my father’s first cousins had gone to California many years ago, but that was all we knew. I’d had a local lady phone and inquire about him years ago as she was arranging a school reunion at a country school where he had once taught. I had to tell her no one had his address. This new California friend and I had quite a bit of email correspondence, and I learned a lot about my great Uncle Jim’s only child and the great grandson, whom she loved so much.

My efforts to finish that long essay last spring were aborted by life’s busyness. Recently I once again dug out family notebooks to try and end this project of many years. (Never mind that now the article is much too long for publication in area genealogical magazine; and if I ever finish it, I will have to shorten it.) I wanted to include this new information about Uncle Jim’s family. I also wanted to check the local cemetery where he was buried and make certain his wife (who had finished her life with her son in California) was buried there too.

The rain had stopped, and Saturday was a beautiful sunny day despite the temperature in the low 40s. I had some afternoon time to spare before I was supposed to show up at my daughter’s house at 4. After Gerald’s and my lunch, I quickly cleaned the kitchen and phoned my cousin Dick in Goreville to double check where Friendship Cemetery was. I had been there once many years ago, but I wasn’t sure I remembered. I really wanted to run by and see Dick and his wife Irma while I was in Goreville, but there was not that much time.

Dick gave me excellent directions and even told me this rural road was actually a loop that would take me to the Interstate and a quick way back to Marion and my daughter’s. Sure enough a cemetery sign on the first road going west from Goreville pointed me onto Friendship Loop road just as Dick had described it. I was glad the cemetery was far enough from the main road to allow me to enjoy the hills and hollows, which now contain many attractive new homes built by people who must enjoy that lovely rustic scenery as much as I do.

I wondered if Friendship General Baptist Church would still be there by the cemetery since so many rural churches have died when former populations moved away and newcomers prefer larger churches in town. A large welcoming sign beside the small well-kept church building let me know that this congregation is still functioning. I parked in the parking lot there and felt a little dismay at the size of the cemetery, which also was still being well used. I wondered how I would find the one grave I was looking for when I had no idea were it was located. Shivering, I closed up my winter jacket and wished I’d brought a hat to keep out the bitter cold that was more obvious than the sunshine once I got out of the car.

Obviously many of the graves were quite old, but most were much newer including a grave still covered with fresh dirt and the many flower arrangements which were just beginning to wilt away. A gravel road down the center beckoned as I tried to decide which side of the road to explore. Immediately I saw many tombstones for Stanleys on the north side, and I wondered if these were graves of Dick’s paternal family. Then I figured that probably the oldest part of the cemetery was that directly in front of the church building and that would be the most likely place for 1940s graves. So I decided to explore that south side first.

I headed out on the very damp and thick matted grass and was grateful that despite the rains the previous two days, the ground was not muddy. Some long ago graves were marked with small carefully shaped rocks probably from a nearby creek, and a few of those were not even shaped but just left in their natural state to mark where someone’s loved one lay. Some older style tombstones were elaborate and especially interesting with information on all four sides of tall shaped spikes.

I was seeing names familiar to me from my childhood summers on the farm near Goreville: Maze, Jenkins, and then several Joneses. Uncle Jim’s wife was a Jones, so I walked in that direction and found her parents Louis G. and Sarah buried with their children Oscar and Cordelia beside them in their plot. After a moment of sadness for these children lost so many years ago, I glanced up and quickly saw one Martin tombstone near the Jones’ graves. There it was where Great Aunt Viola Jones Martin, whom I never knew, had buried her husband James Wesley in 1942. In less than five minutes, I was standing by the grave I was looking for. The name and birth year (1872-19) for Viola, who was called Ola in one old census, was there with Uncle Jim’s name (1867-1942). The final two numbers for her death year were never completed, but since her granddaughter remembered that as a very young child she had made a long long trip to bury her grandmother, I was certain I had found her grave beside her loved ones.

I continued to walk around the silent cemetery looking at familiar sir names and some not so familiar. In the older part, there were so many graves for infants and young children, and I felt the gratefulness we all feel for more healthful times. A cemetery conveys grief and sorrow, but there also is evidence of loving family relationships. Walking back to the car on the gravel road, I was gawking at gravestones and did not notice I was walking through a pool of accumulated water. Thus, my feet were wet and chilly when I got into the car, but my heart was warm. From inscriptions and wreaths, I was able to once again sense the sweetness of family love and the deep sadness experienced by others who had trod there before me.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Recomending Jim Loewen and Sundown Towns

In a waiting room before an appointment, Gerald picked up a Carbondale Times and read about Jim Loewen’s upcoming lecture at the John A. Logan Museum at Murphysboro. He commented that he’d like to attend. We seem unable to do many such activities, so even though I knew I would also like to hear him, I did not think much about it although I did fold the Times and put it in my purse just in case we needed the information. Then on Sunday before last, a longer even more enticing article appeared in the Southern Illinoisan. Again I figured we would not make a night event.

But at noon last Wednesday, we decided there was really no reason we could not attend. I had been to the museum only once a few years ago, and I knew Gerald would enjoy the displays there as well as the lecture. What Mike Jones has accomplished with this museum in his retirement is very fine, and he is definitely not one of the history teachers Loewen had indicted in Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong.

Our friend Marilyn Schild had introduced me to Loewen when she loaned me Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. I was surprised when the first chapter started out with some very ugly examples from my home town of Anna-Jonesboro. I knew as I grew up that people sometimes said that there was an unwritten law that no blacks were allowed in town after dark. But I never heard it said as if that was a good policy—but simply a statement of historical fact. (Other than that occasional comment, I do not remember hearing many overt racist remarks as I grew up.) But I grew up many years ago, and I assumed attitudes had changed. And I think the attitudes of the majority of people there are quite accepting of all races.

Nevertheless, Jim Loewen not only explained the beginning of that racist sundown rule in Anna, but he made me realize that among some people, attitudes may have gotten worse. Some smart aleck had used the word Anna (named after Anna Willard Davie whose husband started the town) as an acronym for the sundown rule that ain’t no blacks allowed. Evidently this tickled enough people’s fancy that the saying took hold. I do not know when that explanation for Anna started, but I don’t think it existed in the 1950s when I lived there. (I may be wrong. Maybe it was just the scum bums who said it, and I was blessed to not know those folks.)

Lowen’s thesis was that by the turn of the 20th century, many communities joined the common pattern of refusing to allow blacks to live in their midst. This was often spurred by some violence or imagined violence by a black resident. This would be an excuse to forgo a trial and cause a town to drive out all people of color and forbid any others to live there after that.

In the case of my home town of Anna-Jonesboro, a young local woman moved to Cairo and was raped and murdered, and a black man there was accused (probably falsely) of the deed. At least a sheriff trying to protect him from a mob became convinced he was probably innocent. But he was lynched nevertheless, and people of Anna attended that social event and raised money for a fine tombstone for the victim in the Anna cemetery. (We cannot blame her that her tombstone became a instigator of prejudice. I feel so sorry for her not only for having her life cut short by a terrible crime but then having emotional frightened non-thinking people use her death to create hatred. Oddly her first name was Anna.)

What the book makes clear is not the sordid story of the real rapist still uncaught while likely the wrong man was hung, but that all over the nation this pattern was repeated. At his lecture last Wednesday night, Loewen said there were 500 or so communities in Illinois that could be classified as sundown towns. The rich suburbs with excellent schools but with their un-American racist injustice were revealed for what they are just as Lorraine Hansberry told us.

Loewen’s lecture was announced as centering on the lies that were told about the Civil War. He used the original documents to show that states declared they were withdrawing from the Union because of their fear that slavery would be abolished. (These same states were definitely against new states having the right to be allowed to decide whether they would be free or slave.) He explained how the text books much later started claiming that states rights was the cause of the war and how that misinformation was carried from one edition to the next, so that many in the audience admitted with raised hands that they were taught that.

It was a stimulating evening with a record crowd, Mike Jones said when he welcomed Loewen. It was interesting the next day to read my favorite local reporter Linda Rush’s account in the Southern. I need to get Marilyn's book back to her and acquire my own copy. I definitely recommend it to help you understand why our inner cities are in such distress.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thinking about Answered Prayer on MLK Day

So much seems to be going on all the time that I have had trouble blogging twice a week. Today Gerald took Katherine to have some teeth pulled, and so I ran by her house to see if I could help afterward as I had gone to Sam’s Warehouse to buy some Greek yogurt for her and stuff for the Angel Bags our church is doing this month. I couldn’t resist taking her one of the pots of bright yellow tulips there. I figured she could use the encouragement that spring will come. So do I. By the time I left her house, it was 8 o’clock when I carried in a boxed supper from the DQ for Gerald.

Kim Barger suggested that I post the devotional I gave last night at our women’s class meeting. The middle part was excerpts from the prayer journal my sister gave me, and I read directly from the journal some of the answers to prayers that our congregation prayed for people we all knew back in 2004 and 2006. I thought they might bring back memories to others just as they did to me when I re-read them recently. So I can’t really post those. Then I closed by reading briefly from the last speech Dr. Martin Luther King gave before he was assassinated the next day when he had the honor of going to glory on Good Friday. So here is the first part of the devotional:

Remembering that last year I talked about unanswered prayers in my devotion here at Carmen’s house, I quickly decided a few weeks ago that this year I would talk about answered prayers. Last year I quoted from the prayer journal my sister gave me that there is not such thing as unanswered prayer: “God always answers our prayers, but He may say ‘No.’ Some things are outside the will of God…” Last year I talked considerably that God does not always answer yes or no immediately but often says, “Wait.”

Although I originally thought the topic of answered prayer would be an easy topic, I found it difficult to know what to say tonight. Just Saturday I thought about today’s holiday being in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, and I thought maybe my devotion should be on his ministry.

I realized I really need to do considerable more study on prayer than I have had time to do. And I always remember a long ago sermon, where a pastor warned that often we do more talking about praying than actual praying. As I thought about prayer, I ended up wondering exactly why and how we are to pray. Jesus knows everything we need before we ask. Jesus made it clear in his sermon on the mount--my favorite sermon of all time--that we are not to pray publicly for the purpose of impressing others. He advises us to go into a room and shut the door. He advises us not to just babble like pagans as if by much repeating we can force God to do our will. Yet he also told us that the persistent widow who kept asking is an example of what produces results when we pray. In this sermon, he gave us the model prayer that like his sermon was not long in length but powerful in educating us on proper prayer. Let us say it now in unison together: Our father …

I think it is terribly important that we pray as Jesus did in the model prayer that God’s will be done. So it goes without saying almost, that we as Christians should not want things outside God’s will or to pray in that way. We have all sometimes had a no answer, which turns out to be a beautiful thing in our lives and we understand the no. Other times a no confuses us and we have to assume it will work for the kingdom of God to come in some secret way that we cannot understand but that we must accept on faith is a beautiful thing. And so I continue to struggle as I pray that my daughter might walk again, but I watch her body deteriorate and her struggle in life become harder and harder. Somehow I have to reconcile these two realities with faith.

When I first starting thinking about answered prayers, I realized that God blessed Gerald and me early in our marriage with answered prayers probably to encourage us as young Christians to seek His will and know He would take care of us. Although Gerald was still a student at SIUC when we married, he had savings from his work in the Air Force, and I had a small savings account from my one year of teaching. He owned a car, and I owned an ironing board and iron, clothes left over from high school and college, and not much else. Gerald had a family friend that would allow us to go to St. Louis to a warehouse and choose furniture at that store owner’s discount, and so we started married life with a new bedroom suite that it still in use at our house today, a couch that wore out long ago but the chair recovered several times is in a classroom at Center, and a table and chairs that also wore out long ago. We acquired a new gas stove. a refrigerator, and wringer washer for our tiny four-room house with no bathroom or running water. Our rent was $10 a month.

I felt very rich with all this new furniture. This puzzles me as I look back on it because I was definitely one of the lucky ones who believed it was romantic to start life on a shoe string. I have been thinking a lot about this belief lately and am concerned that we may have let that concept of living on love for newlyweds to slip away from our young adults today. They deserve to know that a lack of material things need not destroy happiness and often a lack enhances happiness. Nevertheless, I simply followed Gerald’s direction that we should start life with new furniture.

He finished his degree and we ended up going to Urbana to get his masters, where he had a fellowship stipend to add to his G.I. bill. A professor showed us around the town to try and find an apartment we could afford. The four rooms in our rented rural home were all tiny rooms, but they held our furniture. As the professor took us to the listed vacancies, none of the one bedroom apartments, sometimes on the second floor, would hold our bedroom suite even though it was not hugely bulky and had a standard size mattress. Kathy‘s crib loaned from Gerald‘s mother was quite small.

We were growing alarmed. What would we do with our new bedroom furniture? (No storage businesses in those days.) The idea of being penned up in those tiny apartments was giving me claustrophobia just walking through them. Finally, as a last resort, the professor told us about a listing of a big old house not far from campus. There we met Carl—I have forgotten his last name--who was just finishing his PHD in chemistry, and who had rented this house for his family to live in the three rooms on the first floor: a tiny kitchen but with a small walk-in pantry, a dining room area to be used as a bedroom that would hold our bed, dresser, and chest—all three, and a very large living room that provided space for whatever you wanted including plenty of space for a crib and for a toddler to play.

Carl and wife had bought cheap make-do furniture to sublet the three upstairs rooms to three quiet grad students, who shared the bathroom on that floor with the family below. Carl showed us his record books for their three years in Urbana, and how the rent, utilities, and other expenses when reduced by the $30 room rent from each upstairs renter plus $10 from the neighbor who rented half the outside garage ended up costing Carl and family only $90 a month--far cheaper than any of the tiny apartments we had looked at.

We had a yard and a garden out back to share with Gerald’s cousin Pat and her husband Bill Tweedy, who was studying for his PHD. We had a full basement for my washing machine and lines for winter drying, steps going to a third floor full attic for any storage we needed. The house was very old but had been a fine house in its day. (Someone told us a rich man had built it for his mistress.) We went through that year in what I considered pure luxury. Like Carl’s wife, I kept the shared bathroom clean and vacuumed the three men’s rooms once a week. We knew it was God’s will for us to take over that house from Carl because when he showed us his records, we observed that each month, he had tithed his small assistantship income to his church. God had taken care of Carl’s family, and now he wanted our family to have this comfortable place. We knew we were blessed by God answering our prayers for His assistance.

Gerald finished his course work in nine months and was almost through with his thesis. That summer he had the opportunity to start a training program right there in town while he completed his masters work. By then I was pregnant again, and I walked toddler Kathy all over town in a borrowed stroller from a dear church friend and prayed for a son if that were God’s will. We were also praying that we might rent a farm in the Mississippi River bottoms that might or might not be available.

Suddenly at the end of summer, the farm was offered to us, and Gerald needed to resign his job quickly. But the farm would not be available until January. What would we do? Where could we live? And on what?

Within one or two days, Gerald was offered a one-term appointment at Illinois Western at Macomb that would not only support us but allow us to save a bit. Summer term was over and the grad students were gone. We had to clear the house, so we quickly gave away or sold the upstairs furniture. We rented an apartment in Macomb, which was half of a sweet divorced woman’s home and shared it with her two year old and teenage son. I marvel now that she was willing to rent it to us for just three months, but as I thought about it, I realized that we might have been an answer to her prayers also. Bill Tweedy helped Gerald load our furniture on a rented truck. Gerald and I went to bed with little Kathy on a mattress on the floor.

In the middle of the night, she became sick with a very high fever. No one could sleep. Gerald called Bill and they took off for Macomb. Somehow I got a taxi to the train station to go down to Anna as planned to my parents’ home for the weekend. I found myself sitting on the train with one of Gerald’s favorite professors coming down from Chicago, who happened to be childless. My live-wire toddler was so sick that she was a perfect child and the professor kept bragging on how quiet, calm, and well behaved she was. I did not tell him any difference. I think I got a cab from Anna to Jonesboro. Mother was through her day’s work across the street at the school, and we raced to Cape Girardeau for Kathy’s former pediatrician to see her before closing hours. With an antibiotic for her tonsillitis, we were able to be in Macomb for Gerald to go to work on Monday.

I was young and conscientious and I did fall housecleaning on that apartment and cooked three meals a day for Gerald, who could come home for lunch. I took care of little Kathy and prepared her for Halloween since I expected to be in the hospital and did not want her scared by masks. We had our son Gerry in McDonough County hospital. Gerald’s teaching career and salary were over in early December, so we spent a few weeks at Gerald’s folks and my folks until we got into the cold cold house on the rented farm by Christmas. To avoid drafts, I put Gerry’s little cradle off the floor and on top of the couch by the nearby heating stove.

This was the cradle my great grandmother bought for 50 cents for my grandmother when my daddy was born after his mother had lost two baby girls. I like to think that Great Grandmother Louisa said a prayer back then for all the babies who might sleep in the cradle. And there have been many. I continued praying for the babies sleeping there in our lifetime. We studied Sunday in Deuteronomy that God promised to show love to a thousand generations to those who love Him and keep His commandments. I am not sure what generation our family is in right now, but I am grateful that God has answered prayers said long ago.

After reviewing some answered prayers in our congregation, I closed:

In closing, I want to quote from MLK’s speech--made in Memphis where 1300 sanitation workers were struggling for rightful treatment. This was the day before his assassination as it turned out, which happened on Good Friday, which I feel positive was no coincidence.

MLK taught us that if we pray believing, things can change. We can see the substance of things hoped for. And if we want to do God’s will, death is a victory--a victory that overcomes the world.

(If you want to read Dr. King’s speech, google “I’ve been to the mountaintop.”)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Rainy Day Ride

Although we share the same house and usually lunch and supper every day, with all the busyness of Christmas and family coming and going, Gerald and I haven’t really spent much quality time together. So I was pleased when he invited me to go with him to Carbondale yesterday for the standard check-up for his new hearing aid. Then we were to meet friends Bill and Mickey Tweedy for lunch at Denny’s.

It had started raining lightly at midnight the night before when I went to bed, and it continued damp and soggy with light rain all day long. At supper last night, Gerald went out on the deck and checked the rain gauge and found we had accumulated nine-tenths of an inch.

As usual we had trouble getting away from the farm precisely at 9:15, our planned get-away time; it was more like 9:25. Nevertheless, we made it to The Hearing Place at exactly l0 a.m. right on time for Gerald’s appointment. I didn’t join him for a few minutes because I was in the car putting in my own hearing aids that I had grabbed as we left the house. I’d learned on our last visit that it helped one adjust and profit from the aids if they were worn every day, so I have been trying to do that. I have trouble remembering to take that extra two or three minutes to put them on after I have combed my hair and before I put on my glasses and dash away from the bathroom mirror. So just in case someone asked me if I had them on, I lingered in the car to finish my day’s attire.

Of course, they didn’t ask; and after we hurried to get there on time, there was still a 30 minute wait before Gerald was seen. That was okay. They have great magazines, so I thoroughly enjoyed the wait while he was seen and wished it had been longer. I hadn’t quite finished the National Geographic article I was reading.

We had an hour before lunch time, which was also fine since we needed gas and I had loaded the trunk down with all the Christmas cardboard and other recyclables the night before. Southern Recycling at 300 West Chestnut Street is the most comprehensive recycling business in our area because they take glass, electronics, and almost everything. They are even open on Saturdays from 8:30 in the morning until 1:30 in the afternoon. I had a terrible time finding them when they first relocated, and no one I knew could tell me where they were. It is easy to get there. After the railroad tracks as you arrive from Marion, turn right and go north on Route 51 just a little ways down the road almost as far as the Southern Illinoisan office. There’s a sign there on left.

You get to drive your car right in the building to unload, which was certainly nice on a rainy day like yesterday. They do not pay you for aluminum soda cans, and I was surprised yesterday that they had changed the labeling on the huge cardboard holding boxes so that you are asked to put tin can and aluminum cans in the same bin. Hmmm. I wondered why. (I usuallly take our empty soda cans to Cimco here in Marion out on Route 148 and feel smug for the few dollars I receive for my efforts.)

It had been too long since we’d met up with Bill and Mickey, so that anticipated lunch-time visit was very enjoyable. Because of Denny’s nearness to the hearing aid place and the Carbondale Clinic (which now has a silly new name not nearly as succinct as Carbondale Clinic), this was the third time since Thanksgiving that we have lunched at Denny’s after years of not being there. When we took Katherine after a recent doctor’s appointment, all the Christmas decorations were up and she thoroughly enjoyed it reminiscing about her socializing there back in her college days—just as Gerald and I do from our decades earlier times.

Bill was telling Gerald about his grandson in the Marines and now in Afghanistan sleeping on a cot without a mattress. Naturally Bill was torn up about this young man and all the others over there. It was great last night to see grandson’s new-born son in the Facebook pictures that its grandmother—Bill’s middle daughter Glenna Orr--had posted. This new little Billy was an exceptionally beautiful newborn, and both his mother and his grandmother Glenna were quite beautiful as well. I wish his daddy could be back in the States enjoying this time in his baby son’s life.

Reluctantly we ended our noon-time visit, but not before Mickey had given us a bag of yummy home-made cereal snack mix and another plus a pretty tin of candies for Katherine. We had accidently parked side by side, so we were tempted to linger longer visiting in the parking lot, but the damp weather probably encouraged us to get inside our cars and go on with afternoon duties.

Next Gerald and I headed down Route 51 to Anna and beyond as he had to take some more papers to our farm management field man, who is already working on our taxes as well as others in the Illinois Farm Management Association sponsored by the University of Illinois.

The winter landscape was dark with barren leafless trees along the hillsides of the highway and the constant rain on the windshield, but it was warm and cozy inside our car making the ride seem snug and pleasant. We arrived at Doug and Beth Hileman’s lovely farm on top of a high hill looking down on pleasant meadows. We were greeted by their friendly dogs when I opened the car door briefly to better grab hold of my book at my feet, which I’d brought to read while Gerald went inside to converse with Doug. The bigger dog escorted Gerald in. This was strictly a business visit, and Gerald had said he’d be quick, so again my reading was cut short when he was back in the car and we were again driving country roads.

I had commented as we drove to Doug’s that I did not think I had ever been to Balcom although I had heard about it all my life when living in Union County. So Gerald took us out through that tiny cluster of houses just so I could know I had visited Balcolm. If there was ever a post office or village store there, you could not tell it now, but I imagine that once upon a time there were both and probably a country school house also.

The day was pretty well spent by the time we arrived back at Woodsong and I fixed us a bite of supper. Gerald commented that it probably would be snowing when he got up this morning, but he expected it would have quit before I woke up. He was almost right. It started snowing on him as he walked down the lane to the mailbox—his first activity every morning. But it has continued snowing all day long, so I have been able to enjoy it also. It is truly beautiful and was quite slick out when I took Thursday night supper into my daughter’s family as I try to do each week. I was glad to be safely back home to enjoy the beauty looking out the windows with inside comfort.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Starting the New Year at Woodsong

The half boxes of child-friendly cereals bought for the great grandsons’ holiday visit have been passed on to a friend with a little one in her home along with the extra gallon of milk I somehow ended up with in the garage fridge.

The New Year’s Day black eyed peas are all eaten up. (They made me remember little Jeannie from long ago who couldn’t remember their name and called them “cockeyed peas.”)

With all the holiday decorations boxed and put away in deep closet hidey holes and high closet shelves for another year, the house seems very plain right now. Perhaps especially so because we have had unusually warm winter weather this week, and the sun shines so brightly into the living room that it seems to highlight its emptiness.

I’ve gone through the addresses on the envelopes of the Christmas correspondence to make note of any address changes. I still look forward to a leisurely day when I can go through the basket of cards and re-read and really enjoy them. For many years it was my tradition to do this on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, but in recent years I don’t seem to get around to it. Maybe we will be snowed in soon, and that will be my special time for this pleasure.

I have caught up with the laundry, and as of today, the larger serving dishes used during the season are finally off the buffet and back in the china cabinet. At the first of the week, Gerald folded up the little table that held the desserts and Christmas treats, The ones we didn’t eat were passed on to Katherine’s house since Sam and his friend Josh might eat them after school.

Three books I ordered from Amazon arrived yesterday, and today I have sampled a bit of all of them. Evan Hayden Pullins’ slim collection called Blogging Through Life contains his beautiful and searingly poignant sharing of the mental illness he has suffered for many years now into his young adult years. His talent is enormous and his health difficulties are huge. We can only hope and pray that he can find peace with living with this disease and that he can continue to share with us his vision of the world. If you have a loved one with mental illness, you might want to order a copy to understand what they are suffering.

I am working again on the story of my great grandfather William Felix Grundy Martin and his wife Louisa Craig Martin. This endeavor has continued for many years, but I had not touched it since last March. I can only hope I can finally finish this and get on to the other essays I want to write for future generations about loved ones I have known. Especially I wany to write about my parents’ lives. The only thing I have written this past year were four short essays on Martin family members for the new Johnson County Historical Society book to be published in 2012. I always like to imagine how someone a century or so from now will happen onto my stories about my ancestors, who are also theirs, and how thrilled and appreciative they will be of my writing it down for them. Since I won’t be alive for them to thank me, I just enjoy their gratefulness with my imagination.