My Tennessee River pearl was found in a tub of cooked mussel meats headed home with Mama to be used as hog food. It was 1945, soon after my brother, Dale, was killed in action by German artillery fire in the Battle of the Bulge in December of ’44. Mama was in need of a distraction. To fill that need, she joined other women who were cooking mussels in vats on the river bank to separate the live mussels from their shells.  Continue reading



Twenty-nine-year-old Capt. H. H. Macurdy, USAF always knew how to get his way. I gave in to his urgent insistence, by agreeing to go as far as New Orleans with him for the weekend, when he was really pressing for marriage. This was my small way of compromising.  I was a 22 year old first grade teacher at Eglin AFB Elementary School in the Florida panhandle.  My teacher friends would lie for me, telling the school principal I would be back to work on Tuesday. Continue reading


My mother was neither socially refined nor culturally polished, but she was good with flowers. She was a jewel with rough edges, and her flaws were many. Her domestic talents lay in growing wonderful garden vegetables, making hot biscuits from scratch before daylight on a wood-fired kitchen stove, wringing the neck of a chicken and turning it into mouth-watering chicken and dumplings. She yanked feathers from the bellies of squawking ducks to make us feather beds, and canned homegrown fruits and vegetables using a pressure cooker on top a red-hot, wood-burning stove in July or August with no air conditioning or electric fan. She ordered fabric from the Sears Roebuck catalog to make dresses for herself and her four daughters, using a foot-treadle-powered Singer sewing machine and made beautiful quilts from the scraps. Continue reading