Monthly Archives: January 2018

A Kid Named Hershey

She’s not brown; she’s black. Still, Hershey is a very good name for her. She really is sweet!

Hershey became a part of the Evans family when Charles realized she’d been rejected by her birth mother, a nanny who had twins one dark night and, for whatever reason, decided to put all her efforts into only one. Charles called Amanda to see if she would like to raise a kid on the bottle and Amanda (always the nurturing one) didn’t hesitate.

Now that kid is so much a part of the family she eats, sleeps, and plays with someone all the time. One she particularly loves is Jared. She follows him around when he’s home, nipping at his trouser cuffs, piling on his chest when he tries to kick back, seeking kisses every chance she gets.. Maybe that’s why Jared recovered from the flu so quickly–so he could get back to work and leave Hershey behind. Jared isn’t big on sweets anyway.

I believe Candi is the one who said Hershey lay between her feet while she washed the dishes, which wouldn’t have been bad if she just wouldn’t nibble on her shoes.


Charli with Hershey

Hershey reminds me of our first little kid. We had not yet acquired a flock of sheep or a herd of goats. Charles helped that nanny to deliver and, just as Hershey was abandoned, so that little kid found no favor with her birth mother. So Charles brought her home. That kid was the greatest entertainment for William and for us. She was so cute, bleating for all the world like a human baby, cuddling up under my chin. One night I had the bright idea (may have been April 1) of teasing my sister in North Georgia about our kid. She knew we were on a waiting list to adopt. I would tell her we’d just gotten a kid and let the little one cry on the phone.

It worked. Suzanne was on the other end of the line screaming with excitement as the little kid bleated in my arms. When I finally told her the truth, I was the one who felt most let down, I think. The joke was on me! No matter how sweet that little goat, she couldn’t take the place of the human baby I longed for.

Amanda and her children have snuggled this baby, given her a bottle on a regular schedule, wrapped her in blankets, cleaned up her messes and practically taught her the English language. Amanda has reported proudly her weight gain, how she sticks out her tongue, her cute lovable ways. Hershey loves to run around the house, leap onto the couches, and untie everyone’s shoe laces.

But Hershey isn’t potty trained. That is becoming more and more of a concern. I’m beginning to hear war stories on her sloppy behavior. So I think soon Hershey is going to be re-introduced to a pasture. Though it may be a shock to her at first, it wont take her long to learn what to do with lots of grass and leaves and hay instead of measured amounts she’s offered. She will love sporting in the sunshine, becoming acquainted with occupants of the outdoors–birds, turtles, field mice, and the wilder side of the dogs she’s grown up with.

It won’t take her long because she was born for the outdoors, the larger space.

Hershey has been treated like a human baby and probably has been a little confused, what with dogs and children surrounding her, as to who she really is.

But, to put it simply, she’s wired as a goat. A goat she will be. And, I predict, a very happy one.

And I think Jared will be a very happy man not to have to shove Hershey out of the way in order to take a shower!

By the way, I think we, when we splash into the glories of heaven someday, will be ecstatic with our new wide open spaces, room to run, a chance for a chat with our Creator, blessings everywhere we turn including new friends and very old ones. We were born for feasting in heavenly pastures! We were wired for communing with Jesus.

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It’s All About Life

Sometimes several slices of life happen within a few hours. For instance, this weekend was like that, a celebration of life in different stages—birth, death, and some in between. See if you agree.

When we watched and listened to President Trump speaking so forcefully at the Pro Life gathering in Washington we wished he could hear us clapping at the breakfast table in our kitchen. Millions of babies have been sacrificed on the altar of selfishness and women’s rights but now the tide is turning. The cause for Babies’ right to life has a host of strong advocates including the President.

That was Friday.

On Saturday Charles D went to Home Depot with the two of us and helped us pick out new LED lights for the kitchen as well as a pretty new chandelier for the breakfast room. Then he installed all of those with his Grandaddy being the helper. At one point Charles D was trying to connect the chandelier but having difficulty because of the weight of the thing. When he realized Grandaddy was having trouble holding it high enough, he said he’d hold it and he’d tell Grandaddy how to connect—a thoughtful act noticed by his Nana.

Now. What does the chandelier installation have to do with the celebration of life? Two things. First, Charles D would not be alive to learn to be an electrician if his adopted mother had been aborted instead of given up for adoption. We would not have had the joy of being her parents or grandparents of CharlesD and his sister Amanda, who now has two children of her own. Second, it was really exciting having new lights put in! We were in a spirit of celebration as we went to Maryland Fried Chicken for supper.

When we came home, we turned on the gas logs, Charles read to me from our Rick Bragg book, and I knitted on a little blue hat. The hat is for a great great nephew about to be born in California to David and Grace Tassa. How exciting is that!

On Sunday, Sanctity of Life Sunday, we studied Psalm 139 in Bible study. It was my privilege to teach one small group of ladies. The main point was that each of us, each human life, is “remarkably and wonderfully made.” In church we were touched by the strong testimony of a graduate student in international business who was adopted at birth by one of our families. Annie Ross and her parents, Kevin and Rachelle, are living proof that God works in mysterious ways. Annie quoted some shocking statistics and eloquently praised God that she was given life.

Sunday afternoon saw us grieving at the funeral of one of our older members. Mary Ellen died at the age of 87 on her birthday. We knew she was a Christian so, as our pastor Chris Allen reminded us, we didn’t mourn as do those without hope. We know where Mary Ellen is.

Also Sunday afternoon, our youngest great grandson, Kaison, celebrated his fifth birthday with a party at the skating rink. All the cake and friends, fun and gifts were great but the best thing to him is that now he can hold up one hand and count off all fingers and thumb in giving his age.

Today we had two mighty water oaks cut down because they were rotten inside making them a hazard. It was quite a show watching the operation. There were about five men on the job all day cutting limbs and roping them down, cleaning the debris, etc. I hated to see the trees go because I do love big old oaks. But it was very interesting to watch the men working as a team to take them down with very little scarring of our yard. Thomas Tree Service is very careful and thorough. As Charles and I surveyed the cleared space, he said with anticipation, “I could plant a garden here.”

Do you agree we’ve seen a lot of Life the last few days? What’s been happening at your house?

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Cow Who Couldn’t Stand

Through almost fifty years of veterinary practice, Charles brought home some mighty interesting things. I never knew what he might have in his hands or his truck. If he’d been to Barry Lee’s on a late afternoon call he’d often have a pound of butter or a dozen brown eggs. If he’d been to Mr. Ready’s on a September day he might have an exam glove full of grapes. From any number of generous farmers and their wives he might bring tomatoes, peas, potatoes, onions, corn, squash, cabbage, greens. But one of the most unusual loads he brought home was a paralysed cow.

Former governor of Florida, Leroy Collins, had a herd of thirty or so cows on a modest parcel of land in Grady County and would call for a veterinarian from time to time to castrate calves or give inoculations. He was very tenderhearted, Charles said, and couldn’t stand to watch when the calves were being cut, would wander off to inspect a fence or something while they did their work. He was in his eighties probably, a tall slender elegant man who spoke, as one might imagine, with authority. There was no doubt he expected his requests to be filled.

One day he called and Dr. Maddox responded. Governor Collins said he had a cow who had calved and was no paralysed. Dr. Maddox gave her shots and said normally a cow with nerve damage following calf delivery would get up in several days but it could be weeks or even months.

A week later Governor Collins called and said the cow still wasn’t up. Dr. Hall, our bright red-headed veterinary employee straight from Auburn, went to help. He saw the cow up and gave her more shots. He reported that the cow was find, just couldn’t move. One night Charles told us at the dinner table that Governor Collins had called again and this time he was the large animal veterinarian on call. He told us how Governor Collins instructed him by phone to “Come down and euthanize that poor cow and dispose of her.”

“So is that what you did, Dad?” asked William slathering butter on hot homemade bread.

Charles reached for another fried pork chop and cut into it before he answered. “Not exactly. Well, see, I got there–just while ago. It was late and I had nobody to help me. The cow looked bright-eyed so I sat her up cow fashion with her feet in front. She looked good. I mean–sure, she’s losing some weight and her hide’s sort of skinned up. But, really, she looked good. So I gave her an anti-inflammatory shot and pumped her up with vitamins, refilled her watering tub and checked that she could reach her food, and left her there.”

“Did you call Governor Collins?” I asked.

“Oh, sure. I told him not to give up on her yet. At least give her a few more day.”

The next time I heard about the paralysed cow was about a week later when Charles drove into the barnyard with her. He and Noah, a big strong dark-skinned fellow who worked for us then, had managed even in a slippery light rain, to pile that cow on a little low two-wheeled trailer and bring her home.

“Did Governor Collins give you the cow, Dad?” quizzed William as he tried to help sliding her off the trailer.

Charles didn’t answer until the three guys had managed with great groaning and maneuvering to move her to a nice place under a pecan tree. Our pasture was already dotted with ten half-grown calves which Charles had taken on his half of a payment for a veterinary bill. He set the cow up “cow-fashion,” as he called it, and then leaned against his truck to catch his breath.

Taking off his hat, he ruffled his sweaty hair. “Governor Collins called and asked if I knew of a farmer who might want to fool with this cow. I told him most farmers didn’t have time to nurse one this long. But I’d see what I could do.”

Charles was the farmer who took the cow. He nursed that cow so tenderly. Well, someone who works with small animals might not perceive his actions as very tender because it takes a lot of energy and oomph to move a cow from one side to the other twice a day. He’d hold her by whatever handle he could, sometimes with William’s help, and he’d heave-ho. He’d set food and water in her reach. He sprayed her to keep insects away. And he talked to her. For six weeks.

The day that cow walked, Charles really was jolly as he told us about finding her down the far side of the pasture grazing as if it was the most normal thing to do.

When Charles tells this story he says he never charged Governor Collins for “disposing” of his cow, but neither did he report that he kept her himself. He just wanted to see if he couldn’t nurse her out of that paralysis. And, he says with a sheepish grin, when he took her along with those calves to market, he didn’t make a penny above the cost of the feed they’d all eaten!

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. Psalm 50:10

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A Lady Named Vertilee

I was reminded of Vertilee Brewer recently when one of her most faithful employees attended my sister’s 50th wedding anniversary party. I hadn’t seen Phyllis in almost sixty years but the reconnection was pure fun. She was one of my heroines back then, being just a little older than I and so knowledgeable and efficient. In my mind, she reigned as Queen over all the soda jerks at Brewer’s of whom I was one. She put up with my immaturity, yet treated me as an equal. I realized Mrs. Brewer trusted her implicitly and that was impressive. But, more than that, she was a good friend and one who had an infectious sense of humor.

But this article is about Mrs. Vertilee Brewer.

I knew her first as one of my mother’s dearest friends. On rare occasions she came to our house for a visit and Mamma was always so glad to see her. Dad had enjoyed her husband, too, until Mr. Brewer died, leaving a lively drugstore business to “Miss Vertilee.” After my Dad died they had even more in common. Mamma admired her friend for being such a successful business woman. I think Miss Vertilee admired my mother just as much for being the mother of ten.

She was a very short little lady with a piquant face and a gentle smile. She reminded me of a mother wren even though she had no children. I didn’t know until years later that she had tried to adopt one of my older sisters. I think she really wanted a child and thought my parents might have more children than they needed. Apparently, there were no hard feelings on either side over her failed attempt. Mrs. Brewer simply continued to be involved with several of us and I am one of the ones who benefitted.

When my brother Orman was preparing to go to the Philippines as a missionary he and his family lived for an interim period in the big Brewer house near the Clarkesville cemetery. Mrs. Brewer had moved over on Main Street to a smaller house. Being sixteen at the time, I was chosen as babysitter for Orman’s four kids. The oldest was ten and the youngest eighteen months, truly a challenge when Orman and Margaret were out of town for two weeks. Mamma sent my brother Stan to help me when he got off work at night. And Mrs. Brewer came at least once every day, just to see about us.

I didn’t think at the time about why she came. I was just glad she did. Her little face decorated with freckles was a welcome sight at the back door. She helped me sort the small problems (like little Joe pulling the sugar bowl over into his hair) from the big ones (like the washing machine flooding the laundry room). Much later I realized she was aware that Mamma couldn’t come into town to see about me and my flock so she would do it herself.

But I was to get to know Mrs. Brewer on a much deeper level after she gave me a job working at the soda fountain at Brewer Drug Company.

Mrs. Brewer was small in stature but she was a quiet force all the same, and when she spoke everyone paid close attention. Dr. Hardin ran the pharmacy but Mrs. Brewer ran everything else. Her office was an open one on a second half-story. She could look down from her loft and see everything that was happening in the store, from the bustling soda fountain to the magazine rack where often a Trailways bus client waited, to the long counters and handsome high cases full of merchandise, to the café tables and the television area.

It was 9:00 of a morning when Mrs. Brewer arrived at work. She came in the front door walking briskly, her valise in hand. With a smile for each she moved through the pharmacy and up to her office where she went right to work on her books. She seldom spoke from upstairs. But she would come down if she saw the need.

When she came downstairs, most often she had a particular mission in mind. A few times when I was late arriving, I became her mission. I don’t know who told her I’d been past 7:30 getting to work, but she found out. My ride to work was with my brother Charlie in his big loud logging truck and usually I was early, sometimes so early I had to wait outside for the store to open. But there were those tense times when I was late. Once, when I tried to explain to my boss that I had no control over my time of arrival, she stopped me in mid-sentence. “There is no excuse for being late,” she said and headed back upstairs.

Another lesson I learned one day during court week. The drugstore was directly across the street from the stately old red brick Habersham County courthouse. When court was in session we were flooded with coffee drinkers at break time and with luncheon clients at midday. It was quite hectic keeping up with the court crowd of attorneys in their somber suits and the many folks “come to town” over some legal matter or just to see what was going on. Particularly daunting to me were the gentlemen who would ask for “the usual.” How was I supposed to remember all the “usuals”?

So–down came Mrs. Brewer from her loft to tell me in no uncertain terms that I needed to speed up and I would have to do better remembering every person’s preference. That’s what I was there for, she said.

I worked harder.

I tried to be friendlier to the clients, get to know them better. That brought on another reprimand. Mrs. Brewer came down one day after a certain Mr. Trotter left the store. “Brenda,” she said, “don’t be fooled by gray hair and wrinkles. You don’t need to be flirting with old gentlemen. They’re more dangerous than the young ones.” I was appalled. My friendliness had been perceived as flirtation? My goodness! This thing called Life was more complicated than I’d realized.

I worked at the drugstore a couple of years between high school and college. I have fond memories of working with Phyllis and others–of trying to write tickets using the great thick Trailways bus schedule book, of learning how not to blush when ladies asked for private female supplies, of digging deep in the five gallon ice cream containers and making scoops stick firmly on the cones, and of taking inventory in January of thousands of little bottles and things.

It was a very big day when Mrs. Brewer gave me a raise so my weekly check was $20 instead of $15. And I enjoyed wearing my smart white uniforms. With my discount I was able to buy a set of luggage for going off to college and it seems to me I can hear the cheers of other employees the day my luggage arrived. Leaving the drugstore was like leaving a second family and for several years I enjoyed dropping in to see how everyone was doing–especially Mrs. Brewer.

She came to my small home wedding. After marrying a South Georgia boy and then having a baby, I had fewer and fewer chances to see Mrs. Brewer. Then Mamma let me know that her friend Vertilee was very, very sick. My husband and I went to see her. She had become even smaller. But her smile even in her pale face was warm and welcoming. We talked a few minutes about old times. Before we left she said something like, “Be good to each other.” It wasn’t long after that when Mamma told me Vertilee had died.

When my husband and I visited the restaurant called Taylor’s Trolley which at one time was located where the drugstore had been, I was glad to see the wonderful old wood cases still there. But when I looked up, there was no little Mrs. Brewer peering down from her perch.



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