Digging up the past with Haley

Thanks to all who have expressed how they have enjoyed my articles thus far. I am delighted to be writing and would like those that have been following me to know that my January plans are spilling over into February because I have been on fulltime Amma/grandmother duty. My mother and I have been sharing the honored task of babysitting my brand-new grandson since my daughter went back to work in December. Recently, my Daddy-o tested positive for COVID then my mommy followed suit a few days later. So I have been getting in a lot of quality grandson time. Now, on to the blabbing.

As I was gathering information to help fulfill my plans made in January, to outline interesting similarities and stark differences between the elements shaping the world in 2022 compared to the past,  I first realized that my time in the archives room was going to be heaven, as I sat amongst these old newspapers, and the life stories that they tell through real time documentation of days gone by. This exploration made yesteryear feel more authentic and sparked a wide array of emotions within me. I am sure the folks in the office heard me giggle with each mystifying discovery or instance of my finding evidence further suggesting that I do indeed live in the cultural past and only exist in the present day, or as I often say, born into the wrong generation.  I am also sure my friends quickly got tired of me sending my euphoric snaps, euphoric to me that is. 

I do love genealogy, but the stories and the way life was way back when, as outlined in the old newspapers, is the source of my passion. I have always wondered why this is. I’ve been labeled weird a time or two for one thing or another and although I wave my eccentric flag high and will always be just who I am, I am often perplexed as to why I am so drawn to bygone times. 

As my exploration in the archives room continued, and my desire to live in another time grew, I may have unraveled just a small bit of this mystery.

Good and evil have always existed and always will until thy Kingdom comes. As society has advanced, and equality, and the understanding of why we need equality has begun to bloom, evil happenings have morphed with the times, nevertheless the frequency and depth of maliciousness has widely expanded. 

The steady increase in corruption does not fully explain my love for the often more virtuous days of old, but maybe my yearning for humanity to turn back to some of the old and more compassionate ways provides a clue. 

When I first heard the news that I was soon to be a grandmother, as appalling as it may sound, my first feelings were not of extreme joy, although pure delight did immediately follow.  My initial reaction was fueled by fear of my precious grandson, who is laying on a pallet staring and cooing at me while I type this, growing up in a world that is so different from even just a few years ago.

My concerned thoughts that rapidly began to swim surrounded the uncertainty of how the world will be for him, my three children, and my nieces and nephews in 10 more years, 25 years, 50 years, etc. 

Is the slightly old-fashioned, sometimes more tender demeanor really that far gone? Can’t we grab a few of the primitive and more favorable characteristics of the past and drag them into the rest of 2022 and beyond? 

We have a choice on what tomorrow will be. We can leave the less desirable baggage behind. There is a lot of stuff I need to leave there myself.

From my viewpoint, it seems that the way people treat each other is really the source of all this contemporary conflict. Are we moving backward? Or are we just rolling with the punches of this new day and age? 

I say we are certainly going backward! When did it become commonplace to loathe someone solely because of varying opinions or one’s disagreement on certain subjects?

The viewpoints that my late soul-sister, Reba, and I shared often varied greatly. We enjoyed a loving debate. Letting the other know why we thought what, even if our deliberations brought up something we bumped heads on, was always a great source of amusement for us both. 

On occasion, one would sway the other simply through cordial and factual conversation and our chatting regarding any deviation in opinions certainly always resulted in a positive, learning experience. The friendship between Reba and I was one in a million, and I fear our nature of debating is as well. 

Reba Colleen Liller Boswell & Haley Elizabeth Mitchell Godwin

Perfect isn’t even on my radar and, oh, how I wish I’d listen more closely to my own advice. However, I must say that I am unregrettably seeing an unplanned theme here in my columns. I say again as I did in a previous column, we do not live in a one size fits all world and I wish the idea of there often being no right or wrong opinion or solution were heavier on our minds. 

We must get closer to that point or all is lost. We must only take actions and speak words that improve all situations and enhance all elements of existence regardless of any circumstances. Lift others up, and never contribute to bringing anyone down. It is only then; we will truly progress as humans.

The second thing to appear on my radar during my expedition in the archive room was the blunt contrast between today’s fast-paced living and yesterday’s unhurried tempo. 

Forty-five years ago, in 1977, the headlines were mainly happy and laidback. The newspaper pages were filled with cheerful social blurbs and notable commemorations like the 50th golden wedding anniversary celebration for Mr. and Mrs. J.T. Richburg of Brantley held on Feb 13, 1977, at the Spring Hill Church Fellowship Hall, where “the registry table held a yellow rosebud and was presided over by Andy Adams,” according to the March 1977 issue of The Luverne Journal.

Another tidbit in this issue stated that “A stork shower was given March 7 at Luverne Elementary School for Mrs. Ed Beasley, first grade teacher, Mrs. Gerald Clark, kindergarten teacher and Mrs. Wayne Powell, kindergarten aide. Hostesses were the kindergarten and first grade teachers, Mrs. Steve Linton, Mrs. Dale Sasser, Mrs. Helen Young, Mrs. Judy Morgan, Mrs. Bill Norman, Mrs. Jimmy Morgan, Mrs. Jerry Purdue and Miss Daisy Sankey. The refreshment table was centered with a stork and white tree decorated with baby toys tied with ribbons.”

Also found in the March 9, 1977, edition of The Luverne Journal’s Society Section was the following content: “Mrs. Lee hosted the Thursday Morning Bridge Club Luncheon with arrangements of camellias, daffodils and narcissi. Attending were Mrs. Lewis Segrest, Ms. Ben H. Lightfoot, Mrs. W.F. Watts, Miss Rachel Lightfoot, Mrs. JAmes Kendrick, Mrs. Lewis Gholston, and Mrs. Travis Windham. Mrs. Lightfoot won the high score prize.”

The very same issue also made the readers aware that  “Miss Becky Daniel of Bainbridge, GA spent last weekend with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Daniel.”

We are blessed that our small-town newspaper is still most often headlined with mainly positive things when compared to breaking news from other areas. Nonetheless, if reading “a good time was had by all,” as often put in the old southern society section of newspapers, was again common, I think we might see some improvement. 

“a good time was had by all” or some variant was once often published in social sections along with the happenings being announced

A social blurb I found printed in a January 1997 issue of The Luverne Journal sure made me smile. 

“Luncheon guests of Mrs. Ruth Warrick on Christmas Day were Edward Warrick, Mr. and Mrs. Billy Godwin and Shan, Mr. and Mrs. Joey Warrick, Erica, Jody and Ryan, Mrs. Dionne Warrick Stone (Johnson) and Will Stone of Brundidge; Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery Warrick and daughter of Goshen, Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Register and family of Highland Home.” 

I’d like to think that if joyful announcements, once regularly seen in newspapers all across America and the societal demeanor they represent, were a common component of modern-day life and a regular occurrence, blissfulness and peace would be found more often. 

Stay tuned for some more reminiscing and keep an eye out for some where are they now highlights.