26 Feb

I love books that take me to faraway places and new experiences. One of the unexpected delights in writing “Elsie” has been meeting readers from faraway places. This last week I was honored and privileged to meet Mary Campbell and her 92 year old mother Edith Cox. As soon as we met, Mary explained that everyone calls her mother “Granny.” I was drawn to Edith, and to call her “Granny” during our short visit was a sweet privilege. Mary had written a year ago explaining how she had grown up on a 22-acre apple farm near Hendersonville, North Carolina. I was intrigued when Mary described how her life growing up in N.C. was similar to Elsie’s first Arizona year. Mary shared with me a 1969 newspaper article written about her family farm. The article described the farm as having no indoor plumbing, no electricity and must be reached on foot. It said “Looking down on the old two room cabin it seems time has rolled back at least 100 years.” The article spoke of light from kerosene lamps , the wood stove for cooking and water being carried from the spring for drinking, bathing and washing dishes.

Edith Cox, Barb  and Mary Campbell

Edith Cox, Barb and Mary Campbell

Mary showed me the beautiful antique butter churn she used as a girl. We viewed the smoke house still in use. Edith still uses the classic wood stove for heat and cooking. Her other daughter had prepared greens and beans that sat atop the stove ready for the day ahead. Edith demonstrated her electronic Bible, a small device that she could both hear and see. Mary had written me a year ago and I knew we would be kindred spirits. Mary wrote telling me that “Three days after I turned 18 I left farm life. No more hoeing and picking beans and apples for me.
The barns are larger buildings to the top of photo. The white roof to the front is where Granny now lives. The small two room cabin where Mary grew up is small building in the center right of photo.

The barns are larger buildings to the top of photo. The white roof to the front is where Granny now lives. The small two room cabin where Mary grew up is small building in the center right of photo.

Hendersonville (4)weblgI joined the Air Force in Aug. of 1970. In April of ’71 I married an AF sergeant from Ohio. I am so honored to have grown up in the little cabin and have the wonderful memories of a time long lost to modern technology. My Uncle Daniel (Dad’s brother) built a small house for Mama and Daddy in 1973 that replaced the 2 room log cabin.” When Mary’s husband retired from the Air Force they came home to Mary’s N.C. farm and her Mama.
Mary also wrote this fun story:
“In days past it was normal for farmers in the area to drop by and have lunch with Mama and Daddy unannounced. It never seemed to bother Mama, in fact, she thrived on it. Daddy always bragged on Mama’s cooking. One of my favorite stories is back in the 80’s a car pulled up in the yard and dad hollered, ‘Come in.’ A man appeared at the door and said, ‘Well, I can’t, my wife is in the car and has no legs and we don’t have her wheel chair.’ Daddy took a chair from the table and together Dad and the man placed the lady in the chair and sat her at the table. They all four enjoyed a great meal and fellowship and after an hour or so they left. Daddy said to Mom, ‘Just who was those people?’ to which Mama said, ‘Well, I don’t know. I thought they were your friends.’”

Granny still cooks on this classic wood burning stove.

Granny still cooks on this classic wood burning stove.

As I left Granny called me back inside because she wanted to offer me a gift. I will treasure the small thimble and cute little dragon-fly garden ornament that says “God Bless You.” It is clear God has richly blessed Edith with daughters that love and care for her. I felt blessed for having been privileged to visit this family.
I appreciate so much the many that have taken time to write saying they appreciated “Elsie.”

16 Responses to “STEPPING BACK IN TIME”

  1. Miriam Klopfenstein February 26, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    What a lovely encounter with a delightful lady. Your description was such that I felt I was right there with you. You are using your writing talent to enrich all of us.

    • Barb Waite March 1, 2014 at 7:17 am #

      Thanks Miriam. Writing and connecting with readers has been such an adventure!

  2. Cassie Carson Crandall February 26, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    A trip to the past. I enjoyed the photos & the story.

    • Barb Waite March 1, 2014 at 7:18 am #

      Thanks Cassie. I am featured on a blogpost this week and she is having a drawing for one free copy of Elsie for those who comment. It is :A free copy of “Elsie” being offered this week for one gal who comments. http://elainestock.blogspot

  3. Kaye Parker February 26, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    I also enjoyed the story. I grew up in NC and had 2 aunts that always cooked a huge lunch and any body was invited. Both of my aunts always had enough food for last minute guest or anyone who wandered in. My mother didn’t like to cook so I often ate with them. I ate with my Grandmother usually every night. Last minute guest were always welcomed. She would just go out in the backyard and kill another chicken. She considered last minute guest as a blessing.

    • Barb Waite March 1, 2014 at 7:20 am #

      Thanks Kaye. The “art” of hospitality seems to be a dying art in many areas. Thanks for this cute note.

  4. Diana Jackson February 26, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    I love stories like this Barbara. It’s living history. Heartwarming experiences which will always live with you

    • Barb Waite March 1, 2014 at 8:16 am #

      Thanks Diana- I am sure I will always remember this living history visit. Truly heartwarming. We all went to lunch together at my nephews great restaurant in Hendersonville. West First Wood Fired Pizza has the most unusual and tasty pizzas I have ever had. Enough to make me want to go across country for dinner!”Elsie” bought lunch for all of us- she would have loved that.

  5. Rita Covalt February 27, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Well, I finally got home to my computer so I could read this interesting account of your visit which you shared with me in Roswell, GA! I love reading of your encounters. Keep them coming!

    • Barb Waite March 1, 2014 at 7:21 am #

      Loved being together again. Old friends are best- but new friends are rather amazing.

  6. Machele Harrison March 3, 2014 at 1:15 pm #


    This is my family. My mom, Elaine, spent many nights on a straw filled bed in the front room of Aunt Edith’s house with the sisters. “Uncle Daniel” is my grandpa (mom’s dad)and I remember him taking us over to visit when we stayed with him during summer break. To say that aunt Edith is a good cook is beyond words, she can work that wood stove like a pro. I remember one of the funniest things in her kitchen was a microwave. It seemed so out of place. My mom and my uncle DeWayne love aunt Edith as if she were there own mother and our family has been blessed beyond words with her love and kindness. Thank you so much for this wonderful article.

    • Barb Waite March 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

      Thank you for sending me a note. I am so pleased that you enjoyed the article Machele. I am so thankful Mary suggested I go meet Edith. I think Mary could write a book, she wrote me some delightful stories in her letters. I sent Edith and Mary some photos of the wonderful stove and the butter churn. I was blessed to be able to make this visit.

  7. Donna &Chuck Robertson March 4, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    What a great article. I married into the family and from day one I heard stories about Edith. My husband (Chuck) loved eating her cooking from that old wood stove. He still to this day tells people that no one could beat his cousin Ediths baked beans. She is such a loving caring soul and strong in her faith. We love to go sit and talk to her and hear the fabulous stories of way back when. We think her visitors that day were angels sent by God because she has to feed everyone that visits her. Still at her young age of 92 , and even though she didnt prepare it heraelf, she insists on you eating. Her kids are very supportive and care for her very good. She raised them right! I enjoyed your story on her.

    • Barb Waite March 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

      I am so thankful Granny’s family have enjoyed my article. If you scan down through the “tidbits” on my webpage you will see some fun historical posts about the Wild west of 100 years ago. You also might enjoy looking at column:Journal Excerpts. It is Elsie’s letter written to her family in California 100 years ago. She describes herself as a “bit of a snob” because suddenly this literature loving collage grad finds herself living and coming eventually to greatly admire the simple lives of the farmers whose children she taught. I hope someone is recording Edith’s stories. I too felt like the visitors might have been visiting angels sent by God. Edith is a woman rich in the things that matter.

  8. chuck Robertson ( Leeroy Pettits grandson) March 4, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    I have visited since I was a child, I loved the old cabin that they used to live in, and when I was there they had moved into the “new” home …she cooked (cooks) on a wood stove and those memories have stuck with me, today as a 44 year old man, me and my wife still visit, not much has changed, just more houses, she still has to feed you no matter if you just ate.. I love her dearly, she’s as sharp as they come and honest.. she knows all of our history and to sit with your elder and listen to it is read this was just wonderful, people can know a great woman as so many of us do..

    • Barb Waite March 4, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Thank you Chuck. It is fun to see that my “tidbit” about my visit with Mary and Granny has generated so many responses from folks that enjoyed the story. Attitude is so important. Clearly, Edith’s family treasures her and that makes her rich. Make sure one of you gets an old fashioned tape recorder or video recording Edith’s memories. Thanks for your note.

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