Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stories, Tall Tales and Anecdotes

One of my friends called one night last week. She asked had I read the obituaries in the Sunday paper. Since I rarely make a habit of doing so, I answered that I hadn't. "What did I miss," I asked?


I've written about my love of the book Cold Sassy Tree before on this blog. It' a story set in a South that can really only be read about in books now. A story filled with characters that remind me of my grandparents and great grandparents. The author, Olive Ann Burns, draws from family tales about her great grandfather who remarried three weeks after his wife died. Olive Ann recalls her father quoting his grandfather as saying that he "had loved Miss Annie, but she was as dead as she'd ever be and he had to git him another wife or hire a housekeeper, and it would just be cheaper to git married."

In Ms Burns biography, which was written after the author's death from cancer in 1990, her friend and editor Katrina Kenison notes that when Olive Ann began Cold Sassy Tree she relied on the family history she had complied for her children. She also tried to work in bits and pieces from her large collection of authentic expressions, anecdotes and funny stories which she had jotted down for years. She was a lover of colorful country names, superstitions and amusing phrases. It is this authentic touch that more than makes the town of Cold Sassy Tree, Georgia and the people who live there come to life.


The friend who called to inquire if I'd read the obits is always telling me that this or that tidbit is one for the screenplay that we should to write one day.

" Mildred Noland Peake, and her beloved canine companion, Matilda, died within 3 weeks of each other. Mildred was 88 years old and Matilda was 16.
Mrs. Peake lived her life in Birmingham. She was born September 23, 1920, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbert Powell Noland. Her secondary education was at Shipley School in Philadelphia. She graduated from Vassar College and received a Masters Degree in nursing from Yale University.................
Mrs. Peake was a serious history buff....She was an active member of the Society of Colonial Dames, Nineteenth Century Book Club, LInley Heflin Unit, Trowel Garden Club and at one time served on the Board of the Children's Hospital.
Funeral services will be held for those who loved Mildred and Matilda at St. Mary's-on-the-Highlands on Monday, July......"

My friend came to know of Mrs Peake through her daughter. On Emily's first Sunday singing as a mezzo soprano with the St. Mary's choir she caught a glimpse of a black miniature poodle making his was to the front of the church along with other worshipers coming to take communion. Since my friend's had their own black miniature poodle at the time, Emily was confusedly thinking that somehow 'Bogey' had stowed away in the car with her and was now wandering down the aisle of the church. Then she saw that the dog, Matilda, was accompanied by an elderly woman who stopped and handed the poodle off to a friend in the choir while she took communion. Then she gathered her dog and they went back to their seats. Matilda faithfully attended St Mary's along with her owner each Sunday.

I wonder if Mrs Peake grieved herself to death for her Matilda. I think so.

So you be the judge, don't you think Mrs. Mildred Noland Peake deserves to be remembered as an original? Are you a lover of stories? Do you jot down the sweet or funny things you don't want to forget? Maybe we all have a book in us.....what do you think?


  1. This is an adorable story. And, hey, you have a new look over here. I like. :^)

  2. I believe everyone has the contents of a book locked away in them. Find the key, unlock it and type away.Could the be your key? It's a wonderful story!

  3. Every person is a book. Someone just has to take the time to read it before we know it.

  4. Yes I think the shock of Matilda's death had a lot to do with Mrs Peake's passing and yes to the book within us all. Have you started writing yet?

  5. Robyn, only on this blog. I do have a plot for a book, but I don't have any idea how to make it come alive. I told a pretty good story to my granddaughter over the phone today. The Lonely Fox.

  6. oh, yes, this is definitely a story. A beautiful sad story

  7. You have a book (or two) in you, that part is certain.

  8. What a great new design to your blog.;))
    The story is so sentimental and touching; yes I believe that we can die from missing someone. Particularly if we are old and have very little to look forward too. I believe that our mind is as powerful as any medication, when it comes to our health. The saying "the will to live" is so very true.;)

  9. Yes, you should definitely be writing a book. Ilike the new format of your blog.

  10. I suspect you are right ... that poor woman missed her best friend ... and I do think we all have at least one book in us ... some of us just need a push to get it out .sort of like giving birth but less messy

  11. This story is ABSOLUTELY makes me tear up just thinking of how this little lady grieved for her dog!!! I am so pleased that no one objected to having the sweet little poodle attend services with her owner!
    I just love it!

    YOU have been redecorating here! Looks nice!

  12. Stevie, often, when I speak of my extended family or experiences working as an RN in a city hospital, I tell my friends "I could write a book but then no one would believe it."

    I have great admiration for authors. I personally don't think I have the talent.

    This woman seems like she was quite a charming character -- she would be a wonderful protagonist!

  13. I often read the obits. They are a gold mine of stories and lives like this special one. One special lady and one special dog. I love when obits get personal and really give a glimpse of a person's life beyond their birth, family names and where the funeral is being held.

  14. hey, thanks for writing in! Not Jesus Christ exactly, but I just love God... from all that i have read till date, i clearly deduce that there is no difference in Jesus or Allah or Krishna.. except for name and country of rule.

  15. My mom reads the obituaries regularly in the B'ham news, I'll have to ask her if she saw this one. What a great story!

    Cold Sassy Tree is one of my favorites, without a doubt.

    I am a lover of stories and often jot things down, but to be honest I'm not sure if there is a book within me.

  16. What a wonderful story ...and yes I think it would make a good book...certainly one that I would like to read...How I wish I had a talent for writing!


I'm glad you stopped by and I look forward to your comments. As Dr. Fraser Crane would say, "Hello, I'm listening."