Tag Archives: culture

Family visit and a nice surprise!

My cousins Nancy, Mary Ann and Theresa from Meridian MS and beyond came in the shop yesterday for a brief visit. I have not seem them in many years so always good to see family faces, familiar cheekbones, eyes and smiles. They brought me gifts. Press photos of my Great Aunts Neill and Jane, along with vintage newspaper clippings from the 1930s and ’40s. Along with all this was a stack of love letters that Jane and her husband Frank (Marine Corps General Frank Loomis) wrote to each other during their separation because of WWII – tissue-thin typewritten carbon copies, dated and numbered.

Both Aunt Neill James and Aunt Jane Loomis have been important to my existence – not just because they are my family – because they were strong courageous independent women at a time when women were encouraged by culture to be seen and not heard. Aunt Neill James was celebrated in her day (the ’30s & ’40s) as a writer, world traveler and amateur anthropologist of sorts, and I have written several essays about her life that have been published. She was my hero when I was a child. I did not get to know Aunt Jane until I was an adult and my husband Robert and I visited her, along with cousins Thomas and June Snowden, in San Diego in her home on Sunrise Circle. At that time, Jane was sinking into Alzhiemer’s and eventually needed an assisted living arrangement. Thus, Thomas and June stayed at length in Jane’s home to begin closing it up and settling where Jane’s and Frank’s belongings should go. While assisting them clean out the attic there, we found the stack of letters, still in envelopes and tied together. These were eventually stored in the Snowden’s home in Meridian. June has since passed from this world into the next and wanted me to have these letters.

jane neill lettersReading these letters was (and still is) somehow a feeling of violating Jane and Frank’s privacy. On the other hand, Jane saved these letters for a reason – perhaps to let the family know how they lived, what they did, where they traveled, and how much they loved each other. Like Neill, Jane was a world traveler and experienced cultures that most small-town girls (born in Gore Springs MS) did not.

Attic treasures. Threads of commonality. Story material.

What’s in YOUR attic?

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Moving Towards Christmas

This year seems like it has flown by like a “galloping group of giddy greyhounds” (term borrowed from Anne Lamott). As soon as I’ve become accustomed to writing 2014, in about a week it will be the year 2015. Where does all the time go? My mother once said that time goes faster the older you get (I think I was about 15 years old at the time, and probably whining about waiting for something to happen). She was exactly right. I can only imagine that she had a few regrets in her life. I remember asking her once about the one thing she never did that she wished she had. “I always wanted to be a dancer,” was her answer. The only dancing she ever did (of which I am aware) is that she and my father danced to the Mitch Miller Show dance tunes on Friday nights in the 50s or 60s. Two months have passed since I made the decision to jump off a cliff with no financial net. Things are progressing at the shop. Each day there are new visitors who say they are thrilled that the shop is there, and that they love what we have – fabrics, vintage items, workshops, handmade things. I enjoy meeting each person. And each person has a story. Most of the customers are locals and live nearby. Several older women have come in and we’ve had some great conversations about what I’ve done. And I’ve said to each one that I did not want to be 80 years old and regret that I never took the leap to open the shop I have now, and that is one reason why I made the decision to take the risk. So far so good. I love the location and the physical space of the shop. It is really beautiful. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. Merry Christmas!

And please share the thing that you are most afraid of doing, but you know somewhere deep inside that you really want to because it brings you such joy.