Monday, December 26, 2022

Milliron Monday: Meme's Musings Part 5


Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith. 

"I slipped under the horse's head and I still remember it took forever for the four legs to pass over me. My friend kept yelling, "Let go!" which resulted in a dislocated shoulder and broken arm."
― Virginia Wurl Rhonemus Haley 

Monday greetings! Meme's Musings Part 6, Virginia (aka Meme/Gigi - Jody's mother), writes about her teenage years, including high school graduation and her journey to college.

Olden Days

Mrs. Huellet, our neighbor, had a special cookie jar with my name on it just inside her porch door. She kept it full of cookies, all different kinds. My grandmother only made sugar cookies and I liked Mrs. Huellet's the best. Trity Thursh was a natural when it came to playing the piano. We went to the movies to hear Trity play. There were no 'talkies' or sound. Lines flashed across the bottom of the screen telling the conversation. When the horses galloped on screen, Trity played real fast and loud. When it was sad, she played softly, almost had you crying. For years she played at the movie theater and I'd go just to hear her play.

At home every Friday, it was a great day when the iceman bought a 50 lb. piece of ice that fit in a box so we could keep milk and meat in it for a few days. Also the milk was delivered by the bucket and was nice and fresh. By the next Wednesday it wasn't so good. Ice had melted in the ice box.

We had a basement but not a root cellar which was cooler. When we lived downtown, as many people did back of their stores, we had a house beside the stores. We had a storm cellar which we had to crawl in. Fortunately, we never used it in my time.

My grandfather owned the building which has his grocery. There was a variety store and hat store. The Honeymoon Apartments were above. (It's all torn down now with a filling station and parking lot there). I used to go with Mrs. Waltermire (my grandmother) to get the rent. She would knock on the doors calling out "This is Mrs. Waltermire." Sometimes they would open the door and hand out $5.00 for the months rent. It was a lot of money in those days. Remember there was no running H20 nor washrooms but we had the best six holer in town, with cloth wipers (which, of course, were burned daily), put into the corner, cup of lime, no toilet paper. Folks from the country came in town on Saturday which made the Waltermire Corner a busy place.

1925: I graduated from Forest High. Since I'd been gone all winter I didn't have anyone to walk down the aisle with to get my diploma - so I thought. The new editor of the Forest newspaper had a "ne'er do well" son who didn't have a diploma, so to take up his time he returned to high school - it seemed he was very popular as he was 20 years old - that's a lot of difference from 18. All the girls wanted to down the aisle with him. He said he would rather take a chance with the girl coming back (that was me). They told him how short I was but he said, "Great". He was nice and very attentive so my return was easy and pleasant.

When I decided to go South to college it became a huge adventure. First of all, Mother said, "Anywhere you want to go and accepted, I will see to it you can go." So, I took all the college addresses from Good Housekeeping and other magazines and wrote for information. As the letters came back, I'd save the ones I was interested in. I was accepted at the University of Penna, Agnes Scott, Brenau College, University of Colorado, and a couple more. For two years I had written for information on schools that were advertised in magazines. Finally, I had to make a decision. (Ohio really had the best schools). I put the brochures from each school on the bed, closed my eyes and stabbed one with my grandmother's long hat pin. The hat pin came nearest Brenau College for women in Gainesville, Georgia. We didn't know how to pronounce Brenau - I didn't know anyone who ever went there.

The trip to Brenau in Gainesville, Georgia, was a little scary. Two train changes: a different train at Cincy and Atlanta. Mother had someone meet me in Cincy and Atlanta so I got along okay.  The girls that met me at the railroad station said, "Welcome, little Damn Yankee - let's go get a 'dope'. So when it was served, I said, "This isn't a 'dope', there's no ice cream." Their 'dope' was like a 'Coke'. So I got the name added to Damn Yankee - Dopey - but they were seniors and always remained friendly. 

I lived in the ZTA house. You were supposed to walk to town on one street. One time when I was downtown a woman was walking in the street with a huge bundle on her head and in each arm - a car came way too close to her and she jumped and dropped the bundles. I said, "Poor Soul, let's help the lady." Soon after she showed me a paper that gave her permission to be on that street which saved her two miles to get home. Soon after that, at the drug store, a Senior came to me and said, "You are to get back to Miss Austin's office, now." She was the Dean of Women and took messages and, of course, I thought something must have happened to my Mother or Grandmother. When I got there I was told to sit in the hall so I sat there through the dinner hour. Finally, I knocked on the door and asked why I was there. She went into a long reason that I didn't understand, but I was put on Campus stay for two weeks because I disgraced Brenau by helping the lady in the street. 

So my four years in the South was an extra education. Some of the different ways they said things was weird - I was asked to walk to the banket (curb). You trim a pencil (sharpen). Friday was always a big day, in school and at home. At school, ending various chapters in the books, if we hadn't finished it was up to us to do so. Many times we didn't do it, which made the next chapter less interesting. I always skipped through the chapter so I knew what was coming up. And it paid. 

Things that happened to me

Am told when I was about three years old, a pet rabbit tore the end of my third finger of my right hand off when I was feeding it. I still have the scar.

I was with friends up at Lake Erie and we were wading - hand in hand - they let go of my hand when I slipped into a hole. Not knowing how to swim I got a lot of water in my lungs. I was rescued by a life guard when he could grab my hair and pull me out of the hole. I've been afraid of swimming ever since and I used to love it.

I was always a Tom Boy, climbing trees, getting on top of roofs. I had a swing in the cherry tree and one time the rope broke and I was twisted around the trunk of the tree. Uncle Doc made a brace out of yardsticks and leather which I wore for months to keep my back straight. Remember, there was no drug store and one had to make do.

One Sunday, after church, I went out to a friends home in the country. We decided to ride the horses - farm horses - no bridles or saddles. When they rang the dinner bell the farm horses made a b-line for the barn. The only thing we had to hang onto was their manes. I slipped under the horse's head and I still remember it took forever for the four legs to pass over me. My friend kept yelling, "Let go!" which resulted in a dislocated shoulder and broken arm.

I was about 12 when I fell 32 steps and landed on my neck. Mother was with me and she thought I was dead. The result for a year, my fingers twitched all the time and a rib was pressing a nerve in my neck and back. During the summer I often went up to Lakeside to visit Uncle Beecher (my grandfather's nephew who lived with my grandparents as a 16 year boy after his parents died out West, my grandparents had been married only six months when Uncle Beecher moved in. I think my grandmother resented it). They took me to a friend who was an osteopath (unheard of in medical terms in Forest). I'll never forget the relief he gave me when he pressed his fingers in certain places in my back. He said, "Do you want to jerk again?" as he pressed. "Oh, no!" I yelled. I was cured. He said I would have to be careful because of the length of time I had to wear the yardsticks. 

And then there was Phyllis Diller!

At a high school reunion Phyllis asked that her favorite English teacher and Drama Coach be there for sure. My Mother, Jessie Waltermire Rhonemus, a teacher for more than forty years, was that person.

Phyllis arrived in a long car with a hair dresser, driver and secretary in tow. The perfect specimen of a person that had made the "big time". Of course, she was the whole show and never relinquished the stage to anyone else.

When she met me, she made a very off-color remark as she didn't know that I existed and even a worse word was used when she saw the picture of Mother's family. But years later when Mother was in a nursing home and Phyllis was the main attraction at a fundraising musical event (she always had her own piano with her and played for relaxation before going on the stage) she spent several hours visiting her. And she arrived in all her glory as before. Mother said, "But you don't look like Phyllis." And Phyllis replied, "Of course I don't as I've had all the years of aging removed." She has had many facelifts but that laugh is still there.

Mother always remembered her as the one causing disturbance with remarks made under her breath and getting the kids around her in an uproar. Mother usually had her sit up front of the classroom.

The students called Mother "The Bull Dog" as she made sure they got their assignments. When the students entered the Ohio State schools and it was known that Jessie Rhonemus had been their English teacher, they were excused from some Freshman test as it was known they had had good preparation. And Phyllis was very verbal in her praise of Mother's teaching. Bringing her gifts of flowers, candy and a record of her music.

~ ~ ~ ~

The final episode of Meme's Musings will post next week. Enjoy the journey to 2023! Happy New Year 💓!

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.


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