Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Frances tells of her trip to Memphis

This is a very long letter in which Frances tells of her Easter weekend trip to Memphis with Monty and Emily.  They went up to see Maj. Gillham's mother, Effie Tucker Gillham, who is now 74 and living in a private home for the elderly.  They stayed at a cousin's house in Whitehaven, now a southern suburb of Memphis near the Mississippi border, and also visited Kerrville, the boyhood home of Maj. Gillham, about 20 miles north of Memphis on U.S. 51.  I will update this introduction as soon as more information about the various cousins and friends become available. 

April 23, 1946

Dearest, My Love,

There is so much to write to you. First I will tell you of our trip to Memphis. Then I will thank you for the lovely things you sent.

Suddenly Tuesday morning I decided we'd go to Memphis over Easter weekend. We left Thursday morning about 10:00 AM, as the children had Thur., Fri. and Monday holiday. All of us were well at once!

We drove to Florence, Ala., and spent the night there. The next morning we drove on into Memphis and arrived there at noon. I had not written to Elizabeth as she had said she might go out of town at Easter. However, I called her up as soon as I reached Memphis. Mary was here and asked us to come out anyway. Eliz., Joe and girls went to Hot Springs on a fishing trip, so the children and I stayed out there with Mary.

Grandmother is better than I expected. Addie is very fond of your mother and calls her Effie all the time. Grandmother doesn't like to do anything without Addie. She calls Addie "on general principles" all the time.

Addie feeds her, insists that she use the bed pan regularly, kids her and loves her. She buys her ice cream whenever she goes out.

They have cut Grandmother's hair because she is in bed all the time. Whenever they put her in a chair, she cries until they put her back in bed. She very seldom wears her teeth and never bothers with her glasses any more. Her appetite is enormous. She eats everything they bring her and never complains. She is about the only patient who has a regular BM without a laxative.

Mrs. Richardson and Addie both said that Grandmother was the best patient they had. She was uncomplaining. They said you could tell that she had been a good Christian lady because she wasn't mean and she never used profane words.

The first day Grandmother didn't recognize any of us. Emily, Monty and I told her who we were. She repeated everything we said but showed no sign of recognition. Her head was turned toward us, but her eyes weren't focused on us. We took her some ice cream and she was more interested in that than the children. I took Martha up to her and told her that she was "William's baby." She just repeated what I said and didn't notice Martha.

The next day she recognized the girls and told everyone that Martha was William Gillham's baby. She said she thought the baby was cute and then laughed her old natural laugh.

The only thing she does is to sit up by herself. When she did that we all told her that she was smart. Her face brightened up and she laughed again. When Emily told her that she loved her, Grandmother brightened up again. Emily said she was glad we'd gone back the second time to see her for now she had a nice thought of Grandmother laughing happily.

When I talked to her I told her that you sent your love to her. She had one of her clearer moments and seemed like herself again, because she replied, "Is that all he sent me?"

The first day we went there we didn't see many of the other ladies. However, the second time we went, we saw all of them. They had heard that Effie's grandchildren were coming back and they all wanted to see the children. Emily said that all the ones on the porch took on over Martha and one of them wanted to keep Monty. Children were a rare sight to them.

Addie gave me all of Grandmother's things because they were floating all over the house and Grandmother doesn't need anything except gowns. I brought the tablecloth she was making for Emily, the radio, clothes, satchel, etc., away. Grandmother had previously given Addie her lovely black purse and Addie likes it. I left the walking sticks for others at the house, gave Addie the red quilted robe, gave Mary some hats and dresses and brought the rest of the clothes to Mother Ki.

The only thing I didn't get was Grandmother's watch. Addie said Mrs. Richardson took it and sold it. Mrs. Richardson claimed it had been stolen or misplaced. I told Mrs. R. that if she found it, I wanted it for Monty. However, I don't feel like making an issue of it, since they are certainly lovely to Grandmother and we couldn't find a nicer place for her to stay. The place is clean and orderly and they serve nice meals.

The heart attack she had recently was over in a short while. The doctor came and checked her. He gave her some medicine and a shot, but she isn't taking any digitalis.

Addie is looking forward to the present you are promising to bring her back from Japan.

I drove out to Kerrville and saw Mrs. Wright and Cora. I met Mr. Gardner, who rents the two rooms. He has bought some screen wire and will put it on the two porches for $11.00, a month's rent for him. He is a carpenter and works at the Navy Base. When he paints the wooden strips he is going to paint his windows and door trim, too.

Lev is renting Miss Kate's place and pasturing his mule in our lot. The pasture fence in falling down and the roof of the old house is leaking. I am going to write Lev and get him to patch the roof and maybe patch the fence, too.

I went up to see Alf Mason to settle for the recent windstorm damage to the roof. He sent me to his farmed out insurance man and I signed a waiver on their estimate of the damage.

They estimated $7.50 for materials and labor for patching, as only one roll is needed.

Just as I was leaving Kerrville, Cora told me Anthony wanted to see me. I had a dinner engagement with Cousin Emmie and couldn't see him. I will write him and find out what he wanted.

Cora has a wristwatch and a new set of teeth. She is working at the Navy Base and looks fine. She had on the stockings you sent her.

Ben Bateman is back and will start to school in June at Tennessee. He is terribly broken up about Henry Fielding. However, he enjoyed the children and me and talked more than I've ever heard him. For Easter he bought Cousin Emmie a little black cocker spaniel. After keeping the pup for several days, the vet told Ben he had eczema and rickets. So Ben has started in to nurse it back to health. I think it will help Ben, too.

Cousin Ruth and Nancy had us over for lunch. Nancy's boy Skipper is darling, well trained and quiet.

George and Rosemary are back in Memphis now. He is working for a wholesale grocery concern, Caradine and -- something. They drove out to Whitehaven to see us. Their little boy, Butch, looks like a Jew, is lively and bright. He is nearly the age of Nancy's child.

Williford is back with his former company, but is in Fort Worth. Grace hasn't gone out as he doesn't have a place for her to live.

Nadine and Rogers, Allen and Jane were all in Memphis and came out to see us at Whitehaven. Allen is trying to start a practice in Memphis, but can't find an office. He is considering going back to the Sanatorium. Their two children are nice.

I finally went by Manhattan Bank and told them for the five hundredth time that I wanted the bank statements of Mother's account. They had been going to Mrs. Richardson and everyone was opening them.

I stopped by a minute at the telephone company. I saw Mitchell, who is office manager. Flournoy has an office on the seventh floor. Bratchey and Humphries are still there. I didn't have time to see them.

When I returned Monday night, April 22, I found the roses you ordered. They arrived on April 19 while I was away. You were such a darling to send them to me. I surely appreciate them more than you know. To think you remembered the day we met and wanted to send me a token of your love pleased me beyond measure. Mother said that they were beautiful and they added so much to the house at Easter time.

The box for everyone arrived this morning and everyone is very happy. I am simply delighted with the white flower silk you sent me. It is the loveliest piece I've ever seen! I like the powder box very much as well as the Hiroshima vase and table cloth. The girls were charmed with the dolls, fans and paper dolls. They had a quiet undisputed settlement of the fans and dolls and all were happy.

Mother Ki seemed delighted with the tea set. She said over and over that you sent her the one thing she could use and that she wanted. We used the tea set at dinner tonight, but we had more than 3-1/2 swallows to a cup. Besides the tea was hot to hold and hot to drink. How do the Japs manage?

Mother has wanted a table cloth. She selected the green one. I took the yellow one. We are saving the white one for Bryant when she comes tomorrow with Carl.

Elizabeth surely appreciated the scarf.

I like the books you sent, especially the primer. The Japanese attempts at learning English are interesting, too.

Darling, your letter concerning your promotion came today. I appreciate your telling me about it. I had decided that I wouldn't question you about it even before your letter arrived. As far as I am concerned it has been a closed book already. I know how competent you are. All the men and officers you have been associated with realize you are a superior officer. If the army is so bungling and stupid that it lets one week and miles of red tape stand in the way of promoting one of its finest officers, I think it is high time you asked for a discharge.

I am glad you have had this experience of living in a strange country and learning of its culture and tradition. I know you have received more knowledge and benefit from your sojourn in Japan than nine tenths of the Americans there have. However, I am more than delighted to realize that you are planning to return to us again soon.

Most of Lawson General handles amputees, but I surely hope they will let you come out there for your hospitalization. It would be so nice to have you there. Please, please talk them into it. I'd just die of loneliness if they put you in hospital in Tokyo.

I love you very much, darling. It is such a pleasant thought to think of your return. I love to consider that each day brings me nearer to the day you will be back.

All the love I have is for you, lovely.


No comments: