Column for 06 23 05
Margaret Collier

By the time you read this column,
the Leisure Learning Group from
Pensacola will have toured the
three museums in The James
Houston Jones Historical Park.
Undoubtedly Jerry will giveyou a
detailed report on that event as
well as on the June meeting of
the Society. Hopefully, this will
inspire those of you who haven't
made the tour yet or joined the
Society to do so pronto!

Last week, Ethel, Jessie, and Pearl (three of the former Brown sisters from Oak Grove) came to show Jerry and me the progress on preparing Ethel's book for the printer. Jerry is our #1 computer honcho so has been giving Jessie tips on using the computer program. We are amazed at how Jessie has taught herself, added Jerry's suggestions and my cheerleading to come up with what we are sure will soon be ready to be printed, bound and offered for sale.

Whether logical or not, we believe that encouraging others to share their history is part of the business of any historical society, because much is to be learned by all concerned. Let me suggest that you start saving your money now for when Ethel's book, "The Mind Still Sees, The Heart Remembers," becomes available. We have used some of her work in our latest Scrapbook and we'll use another excerpt in today's column in order to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

Mr. and Mrs. Dean was Mama and Daddy's friend. They had two girls, one about Estelle's age, the other Jessie Mae's age. They had moved to Oak Grove after we moved from the Mason house. They came to see us lots of times together. If Mr. Dean was working, Mrs. Dean and the two girls, Betty and Lucille, would come.

I think Mr. Dean had been in the Coast Guard. Might have been the Navy, but I think it was the Coast Guard.

Mr. Dean was a preacher and a teacher. One day he told us about Jesus, and the streets of gold. It seemed if we loved Jesus when we died that we would go to Heaven! We could do all the things in Heaven that we wanted to do here, but couldn't! We could walk on the streets of gold.
There would be no rocks to stumble over to hurt our feet. Jesus just took care of it all!

I was so excited! I would be able to swim! I never could swim. Mama said that I sank like a rock. Now I would know how to swim. I was going to swim all over God's Heaven! What excitement, I was gonna swim at last!

There was a catch to it though. I'd have to be good. When I would do wrong, I would have to ask Jesus to forgive me. I felt I could handle that. Sorta like telling Mama everything, only Jesus was so much bigger. I didn't worry cause I would be able to swim. That alone was worth anything I had to go through - just to know how to swim!

Every night when I went to bed I felt "This could be the night!" Mr. Dean said that it could be most anytime. I"d wake up the next morning disappointed I wasn't dead yet, thinking maybe next time, maybe tonight!

I wanted Jesus to approve of everything I did. I'd try harder to be good. I was always having to ask Jesus to forgive me. I thought maybe He would tire out hearing me ask. I was always talking back. I thought about what Mama said about my mouth getting me into trouble. This made me determined to keep it shut.

I felt like Jesus was one great eyeball, with ears. As He looked down on earth, He saw it all! Sorta like, "I SAW THAT, ETHEL" or "I HEARD THAT, ETHEL!" So, I asked for forgiveness even if I didn't know what I had done. Surely I did something to be forgiven for. Every night
and through the day, "I"m sorry, forgive me, Jesus!"

Mr. Dean said that if I wanted something bad enough and prayed hard enough and long enough, my prayer would be answered. I wanted it to snow. More than anything, I wanted snow. I had seen a picture in a book of a bunch of younguns sliding down a hill on a sleigh. One of the little girls had long blond hair. She was so pretty. Her hair blowing in the breeze caused by the wind she made in moving on down the hill! I had blond hair. I knew I would be just as pretty. Lord, I
wanted it to snow!

I prayed faithfully for it to snow. The hill I had in mind was on the old road through the woods to Grandpa's house. I was gonna sail on down that hill, pull my sled back up and go again.

I prayed for snow. I prayed for the right sled. Then I found the very thing for sliding down hill - a car hood. I watched for the snow and kept praying! Still there was no snow. So I hid the car hood and prayed and watched for snow.

One day I went to check the sled and it was gone. I asked Mama about it. She thought I was crazy, so I didn't mention the snow. Let her be surprised like everyone else would be, 'cause it would snow. I was praying hard!

We were playing in the woods one day, and I found my sled! Woodrow had used it to make a shelter for some baby pigs, so now I knew where it was and when it snowed I'd get it back. I found the car hood first. It was mine! (End)


I didn't think to ask Ethel if she ever learned to swim or had a chance to coast down the hill in the snow on her sled, but, I suspect, her faith has never let her down. At any rate, this is just one more sample of life in Oak Grove a long time ago.

- Between the power house and the dry kiln -
Photo courtesy Ed and Frances Spann (ca.1940)