Source: 100th Birthday for Ima!
ON JULY 20, 1917, beautiful twin girls, Ima Irene and Ina Mabel, were born in West Virginia to James Harrison and Mamie Jane Fox Walkup. (Ina was my mother.) The twins two brothers, George and Steve, were delighted to be big brothers. When they were told they had two baby sisters, George said, “Oh good. Daddy always did get us two of everything.” Other babies born in 1917 who had an impact on the 20th century in various ways were John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Ella Fitzgerald, Indira Gandhi, Andrew Wyeth and Louis Zamperini .
WHEN THE TWINS WERE in their first year of life, the 1918 Spanish flu hit hard. Their mother remembers folks pouring lye all around the perimeter of their homes and property in an attempt to protect their families the only way they knew how. Their family was spared. When the pandemic died down, 1/3 of the world’s population had died, with 500 million infected in most every corner of the world.
THE TWINS were the apple of their father’s eye. He loved to show off his girls. They remember him proudly taking them for ice cream. The first time he bought them a cone of ice cream, the twins quietly ate it out of the cone, and then asked, “Can we keep the cone?”
IMA and INA were inseparable until the day that Ima left home to marry. They slept together, played together, had the same friends, did chores together and even sat beside one another at the same desk in school. They always wanted to dress alike and never disagreed about what they were going to wear, as long as it was the same.
Mamie Jane Walkup and James Harrison Walkup
THEY GREW UP IN WV during the roaring 20’s, although they did not see much of the high life. Their mother was a talented dressmaker and made all of their clothes. Their home was in a coal mining community. They lived as well as any family in the community, with always plenty to eat. James Harrison Walkup was a skilled Master Carpenter who maintained the wooden coal tipple and all the company houses, along with two other carpenters. They used company script to buy groceries at the company store.
WHEN THE STOCK MARKET CRASHED IN 1929, the town began emptying out, as work in the mines screeched to a halt. The Walkup family stayed as long as they could, on promises from the mine owner that “things would turn around soon”. The Walkup family witnessed hardships in many of their neighbors. Ima and Irene frequently saw men they called hobos passing through the town begging to work for food, and knew well the story of the “stone soup”. James was able to find some work for small pay, although he had to walk miles and miles to find it. He often was away for weeks. The twins remember he had cardboard and newspaper in his shoes to cover the holes in the worn out soles.
EVENTUALLY, TIMES IMPROVED. The twins rode the train to Gauley Bridge to attend high school. The school administration in their wisdom of the day, believed it best to separate twins, so Ina and Ima were assigned to different teachers for the first time. They were not happy about this decision.
THEY WITNESSED so many changes in their lifetimes, two world wars, political and economic changes and scientific and technological advances beyond imagining. They saw the first “moving picture” the Jazz Singer with Al Jolsen. Ina attended the inaugural for FDR in Washington with her sister in law Shirley. They each married and had families, but always stayed in close touch. And in later years, they still wanted to dress alike.
WE CELEBRATED THE TWINS 90TH BIRTHDAYS with a ride in a limo and a reception at the Hilton. They were thrilled! The photo sculpted in icing on the cake was from one taken when they were 18 years old. They lightly swiped their fingers over the likeness to to see if it was really a cake.
INA AND IMA REMAINED CLOSE until Ina’s death in 2008 at the age of 91. Their mother Mamie lived into her 90’s and their grandfather Fox lived until he was 99. Our dear Aunt Ima is the first family member to celebrate a century birthday.
PLEASE JOIN US in wishing her a Happy 100th Birthday! We will celebrate her 100th birthday on July 20th. She would be thrilled to receive cards of best wishes during her birthday week (or the month of July)! Her address is:
Mrs. Ima Whately
4428 Pheasant Ridge Drive
Roanoke, VA 24014
Sue Marquis Bishop, July 2017
CHRISTMAS TREES decorated with booties, elves, and skeltons! Really? There are as many different ways to decorate a tree as imagination dreams up. On a recent visit to Novant Presbyterian Hospital to visit a family member, the lobby was full of dozens of decorated Christmas trees. All were theme trees likely decorated by the various departments in the hospital, and were to be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the hospital.
Sue Marquis Bishop 2016
LUNCH AT THE SUGAR HILL BAKERY AND CAFE’ is a foodie’s delight in an atmosphere of fanciful decorations that brings out the child in all of us.
ON A WARM FALL DAY, my sister Nancy invited me and her friend Debbie, to one of her favorite new places for lunch. And want a delightful adventure it was!
THE RESTAURANT IS LOCATED IN SUGAR HILL, GEORGIA, just a frog’s jump north of Atlanta. Parking is available. We approach the bright blue building with painted sunflowers, pumpkin doormat, and a bicycle by the front door. It’s obvious we are not going to dine in a traditionally decorated milieu.
AS WE STEP THROUGH THE DOOR, we are greeted by a big panda hanging over a chair.
We enter an unusual environment reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, and find a cozy table nook to occupy. The large bakery cabinet across the room dominates the room, brightly lit up trumpting all kinds of sugar confections and desserts.
The menu is simple, but varied, and includes healthy options for lunch. That is a good thing, because we all want to save room for dessert.
WHILE WE WAIT FOR OUR FOOD, we look over the fantasy created all around us with colorful and unexpected items on display, …stuffed animals, fur coats, jack-o-lanterns, trees, and lots of glitz, bling and twinkling lights on walls and ceiling.. The women’s restroom, an entrance to “the lion, the witch and the wardrobe” is imaginative. Unmatched vintage wood chairs are pulled up to tables scattered throughout. There is much to see in every corner.
THE THREE OF US ENJOY the choices we make for lunch, including Georgia sweet tea, chicken salad and sandwiches that are fresh and tasty. Finally, the time comes to select OUR dessert. Such a decision! We aren’t prepared for the large size of the dessert serving that is delivered to each of us, especially the one Debbie orders. Some of the desserts necessitate asking for a box to take some home to savor later. And good! …. Sweet, flaky, custardy. smooth! Oh yes.
THE FOOD IS THE BEST REASON TO VISIT the Sugar Hill Bakery and Café, but the décor is the second best reason that makes having lunch here a respite from a busy life and the usual luncheon fare. It’s a quirky place for girlfriends to meet and chat, a place to take your children to be dazzled by the whimsy, or even for a couple to enjoy a cool drink to begin a romantic evening, in out of the ordinary surroundings.
A CHARMING WOMAN named Nancy (in the middle below) created and manages the Sugar Hill Bakery and Cafe’. If you stop in for lunch, ask for Nancy and tell her what you appreciated about the experience.( Two Nancys and Debbie in photo below.)
Sue Marquis Bishop 2016
“THANK YOU for being there.” “Thank you for your support.” But what do you say then when thank you is not enough?
IT ALWAYS FEELS GOOD to do something to help another person in times of stress or need. I am not as comfortable, however, being the recipient of caregiving.
Agatha Christie said that “you cannot give to people what they are incapable of receiving”,
(Funerals are Fatal, 1951).
A RECENT EVENT requiring major surgery brought unexpected assistance and loving support to our door…and this big sister learned an important late life lesson to accept my younger siblings generous offerings of presence at a special time of need.
WE DID NOT IMAGINE anyone needed to stay with us during my anticipated hospitalization. However…, my sister and two brothers and spouses arranged among themselves (a surprise!) to plan a week in our home (at different times) just to be available to do what was needed.
MY HUSBAND AND I thrived on such loving care. I let go of organizing in my mind what needed to be done (meals and this and that), and accepting the proffered gift that all was taken care of, I focused on my single task to get well.
THEY WERE THERE FOR BOTH OF US when I was in the hospital, and when I returned home. I know the surgeon’s skill and medical care made my recovery possible, but I am confident that my recovery was hastened by the emotional proximity of loving family, great meals, and laughter at stories and happenings that can only be fully appreciated by family who have been together for many years.
THEY HAVE NOW RETURNED to their own busy lives in Georgia and Florida, and we are all back into our normal lives.
“It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but there is more grace in receiving than giving. When you receive, whom do you love and praise? The giver.” Jessmyn West, The Woman Said Yes, (1976).
Thank you Ed, Sue, Nancy, Milt and Ann!
EACH OF YOU BRINGS SPECIAL TALENTS to our family , and as a family, we re richer for it (including my sisters by marriage). You are loving and caring individuals who are living productive lives and making a difference in your worlds. I remember well your births and witnessed your growing up years, and I still occasionally see your young faces in your adult expressions..
I couldn’t be prouder to be your sister!
Sue Marquis Bishop
The Dressmaker’s Legacy
Grandma Mamie’s hands were always busy
creating beauty where there was none –
from threads, potato sacks, fabric scraps and wool,
she designed, tatted, crocheted, knit and sewed.
She had magic in her hands.
She might have been a famous dress designer
in another time – with other opportunities.
She could envision a garment,
make a pattern from newspaper,
cut the fabric and sew the new creation.
When her twins were two, she made
a white cotton dress with crocheted yoke and sleeves.
her daughters kept the yokes all their lives,
as a loving reminder of their mother.
When her twins were 15, they sketched a dress
with a hem longer on one side than the other.
They said it reminded them of a shirt untucked
on one side, so they named it the “shirt-tail dress.
Grandma designed it and made two.
Classmates at Gauley Bridge High School
wanted one too, so grandma made more, and
started a local fad in West Virginia.
The shirt-tail dress, ahead of its time,
a dress with an asymmetrical hem.
Grandma believed clothes for her twins
should be ready to wear at the same time,
(no favoritism here), so she cut out sleeves for one,
then sleeves for the other, bodice for one,
then bodice for the other, and so on.
Cutting and sewing parts in tandem,
both dresses were ready to wear – at the same time.
She crocheted elegant tablecloths,
intricate feminine collars for dresses and suits,
flat doiles for the arms of her chairs;
fancy ones with starched ruffles for her tables,
and bedspreads of pleasing patterns;
tatted delicate lace for trims;
knitted afghans to cuddle under in winter,
soft booties, hats and small quilts for
new grandchildren and great grandchildren.
She used scraps of leftover material and old clothes
to design and sew beautiful quilts by hand.
She worked magic with those hands.
Grandma’s hands were always busy,
Even when she sat at rest and her sight grew dim,
there was piecework in her lap.
In her 80’s, she was happiest when family visited,
eyes bright with anticipation,
especially when children were coming.
Her wrinkled face with thick glasses greeted us in smiles.
She held both our hands and looked into our eyes when she talked.
I remember staring at her slender hands – with age spots,
blue veins and arthritic joints – tenderly holding mine
and hoping a little of her magic rubbed off on me.
Grandma’s art is in my home now,
fruits of her labor all around.
A favorite quilt pulls at memories
each time I see it, or touch it,
made of fabric swatches from clothes
my mother, sister and I wore in years past.
Sleeping under the warmth of this quilt
brings comfort from the past beyond measure.
I treasure too, my babies quilts,
the kitchen napkins with crocheted edges,
her doiles I have framed, and
the white crocheted bedspread
I drape with care each Summer
on the white bed in the guest room,
as a artist displays a valuable art piece.
Her legacy is greater than treasured items.
Grandma Mamie passed on the value of work,
and the will to create beauty in practical things –
that comfort – and make a home.
Sue Marquis Bishop
A prose poem reflecting on the accelerating pace of losses in the years beyond 50, is shared on the 20th anniversary of April’s National Poetry Month.
Someone Left the Window Open
Someone left the window open and they are slipping through,
One by one, and two by twos –
Loving grandparents – drum majors of a parade –
Uncle Don who drove everywhere looking for little pink pigs like ones in my storybook;
Betty Davis, dear childhood friend, named for a movie star, who survived polio to be felled by its re-awakening in later years;
Uncle Frank, who told scary ghost stories, loved Florida and lived life his way;
Uncle William, who lived a formal life as Presbyterian minister till he retired and put away his suits for blue jeans and bluegrass;
Aunt Ermal, who was dietitian at Cumberland College, loved playing Sorry, and made memories with her fruitcakes;
Aunt Verna, who cared for her town as county public health physician;
Aunt Maggie, who liked brandy alexander’s, managed her own business and parachuted from a plane in her 80’s;
Aunt Shirley, who enjoyed taking care of her home and sang country songs while she washed dishes;
Aunt Fanella, twin sister of my father, who kept kinfolk connected and her faith strong;
Dottie, my 6 foot tall college roommate, who had a big heart, a hearty laugh and was a wonderful nurse;
Sweet Alice, my Indiana University officemate, loyal to her friends, who found love in later life;
Mother-in-law Nora, loving mother and grandmother, who taught first grade for 52 years;
Brother-in-law Don, who went at life in a run, and took good care of my sister;
Dad, a talented and happy man who lived life well, but left under the veil of dementia; and
Mother, who loved Christmas, her family, and her home in Madison, and lived to 91.
Someone left the window open, and we keep slipping through.
Sue Marquis Bishop
THERE ARE MANY BENEFITS to living fully in the years beyond 50. One of the hard knocks we experience with increasing age, however, is the accelerating pace of loss of significant others in our social networks.
I CONTINUE TO FEEL the presence and influence of loved ones who are no longer here, in so many ways – in funny family stories re-told, sage advice remembered, family talents and traditions passed on. My life has been enriched by knowing them. I feel gratitude and joy, that they were part of my life.