Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thoughts of Gloria Jean, John F Kennedy and Me

Every year this time I always think about Gloria Jean and me.

When the mention of John F Kennedy comes up, I think of how lucky Gloria Jean and I was when he came to town in 1960.

There was a rally and parade down town and John F Kennedy was running for the office of President of The United States. 

We were more than excited because we got to get out of class and go see this man who our parents were so bent on voting for.

Besides we were excused for the rest of the day from school and had visions of going to Woolsworth and hanging out in the basement.
The basement was where we all hung out until Cowboy the security came and ran us out. 

When we reached the route to the parade we looked up and saw the car that John F Kennedy was riding in. 
I reached out and shook his hand.

I was taken aback because this man's hand was so soft and at the same time, I had a calm feeling come over me.

I asked Gloria if she noticed how soft his hands were. She said she did and wanted to shake his hand again. 
We took off running ahead of the car and waited for the car to pass by again. We reached up and got another handshake.

I had always wished that I had gotten another handshake after John F Kennedy became President but it was not in the cards.

People often ask me where was I when John F Kennedy was killed. 

I remember that day well; I was laying across my bed at 720 West Wright in Altus Oklahoma.

From the living room I heard breaking news that the president has been shot.

I jumped straight out of bed, went to the living room, sat down and waited. I was hoping I had heard wrong. My hurt turned to sorrow.

As for Gloria Jean, I wish she were here. We could laugh and talk about the times we had. 

When you can remember and smile about old memories and laugh out loud so hard, you cry good tears, then those were the days. 

Perhaps she has already told John F Kennedy that she got to shake his hand, not once but twice.

Rest in Peace both of you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Arizona's Wonderful Women Hall Of Fame

Many memories hang on the wall of the Historical Carnegie Library on 11th Street and West Washington.

 A bit of history:  The Carnegie was the Phoenix library from 1908 to 1954 and has the name of Andrew Carnegie a philanthropist from New York. 

Since its restoration, it is now a center for community based organizations and meeting places and speaking engagements.

One such meeting I attended was to hear a speaker talk about DNA and Genealogy and also a talk about writing and journaling.

When the session was over I went to view the exhibits throughout the building.

The center houses beautiful quilts that highlight women who have made a contribution in the betterment of Arizona and have been inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame.

The quilts were all custom made with the help of the Arizona Quilters Guild and also created and donated by three members of the Phoenix Quilters Association, Patricia Bliss, Sara Friesen and Nellie Lopes.

I swelled with pride when I spotted Ms. Laura Heron, my Physical Education teacher when I attended Phoenix College many moons ago. 

If I remember correctly Ms Heron was up in age then but full of spunk. 

As I moved over to see the rest of the images, my heart really swelled when I saw one of my heroines Ms. Coleman who we all know resurrected Juneteenth here in Phoenix. She also helped so many others, as she used her voice to relay what tenents of the Matthew Henson Projects wanted the City of Phoenix to address.

When Ms Coleman talked, they listened.

 However I cannot help but let my mind wander to her mother Ms. Bertie Bryant. 

Now that lady was my savior when my kids were small. As a single mother who had to work and needed someone who cared about children Ms. Bryant was the answer to my prayer.

She was a gentle soul and my kids loved her. My daughter Tish and nephew Anthony always were anxious to hit those steps to her house on West Madison.

They didn’t fool me;   I knew that she could cook way better than me and they knew it too.

I wish I could tell her today how much I appreciated her. Instead she will always remain in my thoughts and my heart. 

When I came home from the presentation I wondered where Ms Bryant came from. I was surprised to learn that she was actually from Henderson Texas, a city not far from Marshall Texas, my grandparents home.

Ms Bertie Bryant came from Henderson Texas and was first married to Robert Myers.
They lived on Railroad Street in 1920 according to the Rusk Co Census records.

Here is the excerpt view

I was curious to see if there may be a common name that shows up because I search all around that area.
I am hoping this 1900 census holds a clue

The wheels are turning in my Harrison County Texas mind. Where are you with this McLemore name? 

In the meantime, continue to Rest In Peace Ms Berta Bryant!