One hundred forty-seven years ago Reddick Smith and Mary Ann Wolstenholme married in Goodlettsville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Reddick had served in the Union army during the just-ended Civil War. Apparently, he met Mary Ann while stationed in Tennessee and elected to remain there after the war. Shortly after 1870, however, they moved to Hardin County, Illinois, where Reddick had been reared and where his family lived. They settled into life on a farm and remained there except for a brief time in the state of Washington.
Reddick died 14 April 1913 and Mary Ann died 7 January 1933. Both are buried at Central Cemetery, but Mary Ann has no tombstone.
After my parents married in 1937 and moved across the Ohio River to Illinois, Mother's father kept in touch with her through notes and post cards. Some of these notes said little more than he was thinking of her and hoped she was well. Other times he wrote about the rest of the family, their illnesses and their day-to-day life. As I read these notes today, it strikes me that no great event was ever mentioned, but these notes were important enough to my mother that she saved them. This was the way my mother and her father anchored their connection when they could not be together.
When I married and moved away, I stayed in touch with my parents through long letters in which I told of life as a newlywed in a large city and with a new job. After the children were born, I wrote about their activities, from their first words to their first steps and to their first days of school. After my mother died, I found a stack of these letters that she had saved and I have a few letters she wrote me. These letters were our way of staying connected even though we lived far apart.
It is sad that the art of communication through letters has been lost. Because we all seem constantly in a hurry, we dash off an email or send a text message to our loved ones. But it isn't the same. Maybe I am showing my age by mourning the loss of what used to be?
Somewhere along the way, we lost our sense of humor. What used to tickle our funny bone ceases to amuse us. What formerly made us laugh out loud no longer brings a grin to our face. What happened?
Since everything appears to relate to politics today, it seems natural to blame it on the Republicans ... everyone else does. Or should we blame the Democrats? Which shall it be?
The way I figure it, politics was still fun when Bill Clinton asked us to believe that he never had a relationship with Monica of the Blue Dress fame. We all knew he had his fingers crossed behind his back when he said that. So, we laughed and wondered how he would next entertain us.
Then along came George W. Bush with his wicked little boy grin and habit of saying the wrong thing. Who wouldn't be tickled by our 43rd president? The animosity between the two political parties was increasing, but there were still fun moments, even after 9-11.
But when the Bush family left for Texas and the Chicago Crowd took up residency on Pennsylvania Avenue, the mood changed. Fun was out. Humor vanished. Jokes taboo. Now people of different political persuasions don't talk or laugh or even attempt to have a good time.
Life is dull. Where is the humor? We miss Tim Russert.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of my father, John Morgan Joyce. He was born in Sharp County, Arkansas shortly after his family had moved there from Hardin County, Illinois. The family didn't stay long in Arkansas and returned to Hardin County.
He graduated from high school during the Great Depression and, because there were no jobs and there was no money for college, he continued attending high school classes. He used to say that he was the only person he knew who had five years of high school Latin.
On the 24th of July 1937, my dad married my mother, A. Lavern Croft, in Crittenden County, Kentucky. They lived in Rosiclare, Hardin County, Illinois, New Harmony, Posey County, Indiana and Salem, Livingston County, Kentucky. His life was not easy and he had many health problems.
My dad passed away on the 6th of December 1975 at a hospital in Paducah, Kentucky and was laid to rest at Salem Cemetery, Salem, Kentucky.
He's been gone now more than 37 years. May he Rest in Peace.