Gladys McCullough Alexander:
Looking Back at the Long Ago


Home

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

Epilogue

Notes

THE GREAT DECISION

Gladys, 7 -- Maibelle, 4 -- Edith, 10 -- Bo Peep, 18 months

This was a lonely period for me. Edith had left the two-room school. Maibelle had not started to school. Marguerite was a baby. I went along, enjoying every day, but always feeling that I would leave it as the others had done. Little did I know that my mother was thinking along the same lines and trying to decide what plan would keep her little girls with her and also provide the school opportunities best for them.

She knew that young people who drop out of school too early are not often equal to the task of self education, even when they have a foundation in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and often waste many years in idleness. Whe wanted more than that for her "four little girls".

The matter came into sharp focus in November 1903 with the sudden death of Papa. He had gone back to the cotton gin to help Arthur repair a piece of machinery, leaving Mama with the four girls in the kitchen.

She was holding the baby when Arthur came to tell her that Papa had fallen to the ground and could not breathe. She gave the baby to Edith, picked up a blanket from the near bedroom, and went out into the darkness. Doctors were called from New Port and Walnut Ridge, but they had to wait for trains on the following day. By that time my father had died of a paralytic stroke. (See MEMOIRS NO. ONE)

For some time the home world we loved seemed to fall apart. I was only seven and did not know what plans were discussed by the adults.

A cousin of Papa's came from Illinois to show sympathy and was deeply concerned about the future of young children in small towns in the South.

She was a teacher. Under her helpful attitude Mama was led to decide to move to a bigger place where schools were graded and well-managed. The choice was Little Rock -- one hundred miles away.

Lynn and Hugh and Mr. Guelck would stay in Alicia and manage the multiple business ventures Papa had founded well.

Lizzie would go with us into our new world. We would return to Alicia each summer, if Mama wanted to do that.

We moved to Little Rock in the fall of 1906, when I was ten years old. We were normal, healthy children and reacted to death and loss as normal children do -- accepting the changes happily, a big church with organ music, streetcars, indoor conveniences, music in school, new friends, etc.

Lizzie was my help and guide in everything new and strange. I shared her room until her marriage in 1913. She showed me how to write a note of sympathy when a new schoolmate lost an uncle by drowning, and took me to the requiem mass in a Catholic church. When my Jewish friends at high school were confirmed I received several invitations to attend the service at the Jewish Temple. She made a dress for the occasion, finished with a beaded collar, and went with me on a summer night that I will never forget. She helped me to grow up. I adored her.

Both Lynn and Hugh married Alicia girls soon after we moved away. Later Lynn moved, with his family, to Alexandria, Louisiana. Hugh remained in Alicia until his death in 1945.

With permission, Hugh razed the big house and built a modern home on the site. He had footstools made from the discarded materials for his sisters (probably by Arthur) and upholstered with carpeting from the old stairway. Mine is in the living room of my present home. I cherish it.

We returned to Alicia in the summer several times, but lost interest as the years went by.


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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."