Gladys McCullough Alexander:
Looking Back at the Long Ago


Memories on Parade

Meet the Family

A Town is Born

The Growing McCullough Family

A Church Becomes a Reality

A Closing Word

The Man Called Guelcksie

A is for Arthur

The Coffin House

Poet and Philosopher -- Aged Seven

The Two Room School House

Open the Windows and Open the Doors

Sixteen Girls in White

Four Girls and Five Boys

The Poet in Hot Water

Windows Open for Edith

The Great Decision

Bo Peep




I have enjoyed looking back on the long ago, and the review has strengthened my appreciation of my parents their physical stamina and moral courage. They loved life and knew how to live it fully.

As I wrote my memoirs for you, I tried to select those that would be of greatest interest, but many more touched my shoulder and pulled at my sleeve, begging to be included. Although my story is long enough, let me add these little memories before I close. And may the descendants of such sturdy stock get a glimpse of life in a small Mid-south town at the turn of the century.

The bitter cold of the upstairs bedrooms in the big house. There was no source of heat. Picture several teenagers jumping out of cozy featherbeds and blankets to race downstairs, their arms full of clothes, to dress around the big stove in the room used by their parents and babies. It was Hugh who showed me how to get my shoes on the right feet, and lace and tie them.

Picture Lynn, when I was sent back upstairs to awaken him one morning, still in nightshirt, sitting on the side of his bed. He was holding a mirror in one hand and a comb in the other, enjoying his reflection wearing his derby.

Picture big pans of popcorn on the sitting room floor in the evening, children gathered around them. Mama sat near a kerosene lamp, mending, knitting, shelling peas -- always busy.

Picture Papa with us, sometimes sitting with his tired feet in a bowl of warm water.

Picture the beauty of a black mail train, whistling as it sped through town on schedule. A metal arm stuck out to grab the big mail bag that hung on a steel pole, directly in front of our house. At the same time another bag was ejected, to roll to a stop in dust and weeds, until the postmaster came for it with his wheelbarrow.

Imagine a telephone -- a box on the wall. It had a mouthpiece on the front. On the left side there was a receiver on a hook, on the right side a small metal handle for making short and long rings, and at the bottom a little recess to hold the directory. People talked while standing. There were no secrets. By holding the receiver people could listen in to every call in town.

There were no cars. There was no electricity, no radios, no television. We had a phonograph and records at the general store.


I am glad that I grew up in a small town. I am glad that I played with natural things, mud pies, seed pods, and long curly shavings from a carpenter's table. I pinned the shavings in my hair to make a wig. I am glad that I climbed on the pasture gate and called the cows at close of day. And I am glad that I rolled over a well-kept lawn in a sugar barrel, fed the chickens, enjoyed puppies and kittens. I am glad that I climbed to a high seat in a flowering plum tree and shared the fragrance with honeybees as they searched for sweets. I found sweets, too.

The progenies of the McCullough family, now scattered over eleven states have a rich heritage in simplicity, integrity, and courage, and bounteous physical health -- treasure it.

YESTERDAY is a cancelled check. TOMORROW is a promissory not. TODAY is all the cash you have. Spend it carefully.


Gladys M Alexander

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Copyright 2011 Ellen Wilds, all rights reserved. Redistribution and/or reuse terms of license. Disclaimer for this document: "Gladys McCullough Alexander: Looking Back At The Long Ago is published here with the permission of Ellen S. Wilds and transcribed by her, December 1999. The materials published here are presented "as is", without warranty of any kind to the extent permitted by applicable law, and without any promise of validity and/or accuracy."