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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Twice Told Thursday? / Food for Thought.Thursday via a Story


I told you the last time I posted, that I was not going to read those books about ladies, who wore hats and wonderful gowns that I had gotten at the book sale. And now I tell you it again. I am not going to read an entire book from the book sale. Oh okay, you got me!. I looked at one and carried it to my chair. It was devoured by the big overstuffed chair.

Well making a trip to the 'you know where' I decided to carry another one along rather than my lap top. Intending to leave it by the tub for when I would be in for a soak and relaxing read later with something that was okay to absorb a little soap bubbles; I changed my mind sitting there bored. I read the first page and well, I am now at page four.


The book is called Fancy Strut by Lee Smith an author of five novels from North Carolina State University. On page one the proper society dame Miss Iona is strutting along on her way to work with a hairdo that she has had since 1934. The town grew around her home. So that means it's been many years now since she was very young. She is descriptively described in great detail, that is why it took to page four to reach food for my thoughts. which I will tell you real soon.

I am going to give the passage from the book on page four, because I it found slightly humorous and well it put me 'on the edge' enough to cause me to stop further reading. I will give you bread crumbs or clues to gain your clues. [ Oh oh no you think that I'm going to spout social issues of some kind. ] Any [ ] s with comments are supplied by me, of course.


Sitting behind her father's old desk, [ I can picture her now from the descriptions given earlier] Miss Iona nibbled delicately at a slice of candied orange peel and mused upon her destiny. She saw her self as the custodian of beauty and truth in Speed, [ her town that she lives in] the champion of the pure and good. As society and ladies' editor of the weekly Messenger she controlled the public life of Speed.

She announced the births of babies in her column " Hello There" and she wrote all the obituaries. In between she took care of the Weddings and Anniversaries and parties and club meetings, [ This author left out all the other commas not me.] and all the other important events that marked the passing of time in Speed.

*What was the good of having a party if Miss Iona didn't write it up? You might as well not have bothered. What was the good of wearing a silver lame' dress if Miss Iona wrote you up in beige lace. The truth is what you read in the paper.

Sometimes Miss Iona was incomprehensible. Once she put Grecian urns of bougainvillea in every home and at every wedding for months on end. sometimes she draped everyone in mink regardless of the season. She decorated tables to suit her fancy, and put peau- de- soie slippers on whom she chose. Owing to these penchants, Miss Iona was a figure of much controversy in Speed. [ Well how would one guess that]. In the woman's pages of the paper, everything was elegant, Brides came down the aisles in beauty grace and light, and sometimes their dresses weren't mentioned at all, so that if you wanted to sit down on your sofa at home and read the paper and review the whole thing in your minds eye, you had a hard time with nothing but beauty and light to go on. [ Laugh,- I love this author]

Some people didn't like the way Miss Iona did obituaries [ oh no ], but there were others who held that they were beautiful. For one thing the obituaries never read, "So- and- So is survived by, " They read, " left in sorrow to mourn the passing of their beloved are ..." And there were many other differences between the style of obituaries in, say, the Mobile paper and the Speed Messenger.

Miss Iona was exactly as old as the paper. She had become ladies editor when her father was publisher, and she herself was a young girl, all those years ago. Now her father was dead, his successor had retired and there was this new editor, this progressive young man who was active in all the civic doings of the town. His name was Manly Neighbors, and it was surprise to all that he kept her on....... But Manly Neighbors was still a young man, and he had been taught to respect his elders. Besides, there was a gentleman's agreement in the past. So he kept her on and often didn't even attempt to edit her copy. Her copy was beyond him, and beyond hope, from Manly Neighbors' point of view. He wrote his pages and she wrote her pages and that was that. ............ Manly was decent, but he was progressive.He hoped Miss Iona would die or retire soon, but he never voiced these thoughts.




So what do you think it was in this story that made the known

to be genealogist Ms. Meyer

halt in her reading to come here so quickly to post?





My comment:
Let's see what is it about the article that causes me to laugh and to be slightly disturbed. Is it possible, was it possible, an editor could have such leeway. Did they? I have admired the flowery obituaries, and wedding reports, party reports of the older newspapers. I have even enjoyed the plain and simple gossip news of the old home paper. Which said so and so visited so and so. They all contained the clues and were the Bread crumbs left behind by my relatives [ Who were not always in the full knowledge of the true facts] for me to find; which could help me to further in any little search.


Note: Sliightly different here than the story but a valuable lesson all the same that I had to learn the hard way, was to be careful of reporting speculations. .

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