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



Notes and Additional Information

One story of Gladys' childhood that is not recounted in her memoir, but was a favorite tale to her grandchildren recounts her trip to a neighboring town for medical treatment.

Little Gladys (Grandmere) was about 7 when she had an accident. She was riding a pony and dashed under a clothes line that caught her in the throat. Her mother felt the damage was bad enough to require care by a specialist and Gladys went with her mother on the train to a nearby city to see the doctor.

The doctor examined the child and prescribed a course of several treatments, requiring Gladys to visit him in his offices over the next few weeks. Mother Mac was far too busy to attend each time, so Gladys had to travel by herself. Her brother Lynn was familiar with all the train personnel and could assure her that she would be looked after. Her mother gave her a little bit of money with the instructions, "At noon go to the hotel and give the money to the lady at the desk. Say to her, 'Please give me a good dinner.' In the afternoon Gladys was to board the train for the return trip and her brother Lynn would meet her at the Alicia depot.

The first few visits went smoothly, but one day after she had finished her dinner Gladys returned to the the train station to wait for the train. And she waited. And she waited. The train did not come and the child felt a rising sense of panic. Then there appeared on the platform a beautiful lady -- the most beautiful Gladys had ever seen. The lady was dressed very fine with feathers and lace and smelt of perfume and she was very beautiful. "Little girl," the beautiful lady asked, "Are you waiting for the train?" "Yes," Gladys answered, "but it hasn't come and I'm getting worried." "Oh," said the lady, "there was an accident up the track and the train is late. Would you like to go to the hotel for an ice-cream?" Gladys gratefully accepted the beautiful lady's offer and they went to the hotel. After they finished their ice-cream, they walked down to the river and the beautiful lady handed Gladys her lace-edged handkerchief to dip in the cool water. She wanted to put it on her head because she had a headache. When the beautiful lady felt bettter Gladys followed her back to the train station and soon the train arrived. Gladys boarded the train with the beautiful lady and shortly thereafter fell asleep in her lap.

As the train pulled into Alicia, Gladys' brother Lynn came looking for her and when he saw her he scooped her up out of the beautiful lady's lap and carried her off the train. Gladys was very upset because she had wanted to say goodbye and thank-you to her new friend, but Lynn would not hear of it and rushed her home. Once there Gladys was subjected to a bewildering array of questions. How did she meet the lady? Where did they go? What did the lady give her? What did the lady ask her? Did anyone see you with that woman?

You see, unbeknownest to Gladys, she had been in the company of Mary Orth, the county's most successful hooker.

Naturally, one may wonder how Lynn knew about Mary Orth ... but that is perhaps another story.

A tale of Alicia courtship

Lizzie had a young man sitting with her on the farmhouse veranda one evening. Her four little sisters, already upstairs, knew she was on the porch, but not that she had a beau with her, when they shouted down from above,"Lizzie, you better pee before you come up here because this pot's running over."

One of the favorite activities in Alicia considered suitable for mixed gender gatherings was a hymn-sing. On Sunday evenings, all the young men and women would gather on someone's veranda and sing hymns. As the light began to fade they would mount their horses for the trip home, and still singing, depart into the shadows. And with that romantic image in mind, here is the story of one such hymn sing.

On this particular evening Uncle Lynn returned from the hymn-sing in high humor, hardly able to contain his laughter. It seems that he was helping a young lady mount her pony as they were singing "Come Thou Fount of Many Blessings." He held his fingers locked together as a "stirrup" and meant to lift her to the saddle. But just as the singers reached the line "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it" the young lady's foot slipped and Lynn caught her square in the crotch. Ever after the hymn provoked the most undignified giggles from members of the McCullough family.

In 1937 the now scattered family gathered again for a solemn occasion. Their beloved friend Julius Guelck had died after a long and painful illness. Grieving, they assembled in the church to bid farewell to the faithful retainer. Lynn had a brief word with the minister. When it came time for the hymn they rose to sing and as that memorable line filled the hall, they couldn't help smiling -- to the bewilderment of the minister who only picked that hymn because Lynn had requested it.

Mother recently shared this gem from Grandmere's past
-- the occasion of her high school graduation.

Grandmere graduated from high school in Little Rock, Arkansas about 1912. The class valedictorian was one of those pushy females who just insisted that all the girls in the class had to carry bouquets of white flowers. Finally all the girls agreed -- just like a bunch of brides maids.

Naturally, enough, the girls were just a little ticked off when Miss Valedictorian arrived with a bouquet of pink roses...

Justice did, however, prevail. During her valedictory address the elastic in her knickers broke, causing her underwear to descend gracefully to her ankles. The poor girl had no choice at the conclusion of her speech, but to step out of her drooping undergarments, pick them up and run offstage in abject humiliation.

She wanted to be noticed, to be remembered. And so she is -- here immortalized on the world wide web. Be careful what you wish for ...

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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."