Stirring up memories
A Christmas bride visits Bainbridge
December 24, 2003
1927, seventy-six years ago, dawned cold.
But the happy young bride at the Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia
didn’t notice. She climbed into the car
beside her brand new husband and headed out on life’s adventure.
wedding the day before at the Vineville Methodist Church in Macon had been
small, just the bride and groom, the minister, his wife and two friends. But things were about to change. The first day of married life was going to
be anything but lonely for Linda Lee Penn and Turner Barber (Sr.).
pointed the car south and headed for Bainbridge where his family waited to meet
the bride and welcome her to the family.
And what a family! Turner, the
youngest child of Joseph and Lovie Barber family was not just taking Linda home
to mother but to twelve older brothers and sisters as well—not to mention all
the brothers- and sisters-in-law and the nieces and nephews eagerly
anticipating her visit. Probably, some
aunts, uncles and cousins would be there as well, for plenty of Barbers lived
in Decatur County. The family had been
here since at least 1830.
All of them gathered for Christmas Dinner in
the Fowlstown home of Turner’s sister and brother-in-law Annie and Reuben M.
Reynolds (Sr.). Linda remembers that
dinner well—so much food, so many people.
She can’t recall every name—every one of those happy faces was new to
her. But the festivities ceases too soon, for Linda and Turner both had jobs in
Macon. They had to head on back. Work
began the next morning.
Before the next
Christmas rolled around, Turner, Jr. joined the happy couple. The three moved to Augusta in 1930 when
Turner Sr.’s employer, Collins Baking Company, transferred him. It was the tough times of the
depression. The family did not even get
to move their furniture; they left it stored with Linda’s family in Monticello. But soon things were looking up.
(Jr.) still owns and treasures the letter from Reuben Reynolds Sr. offering his
brother-in-law a job as bookkeeper for R.M. Reynolds Naval Stores—a business
association that continued for 44 years.
The letter states that the job will pay “$30 a month, a house, wood and
water.” The house was at the company
headquarters location at the Twin Lakes turpentine operation just east to the
railroad track on Whigham Road (now Martin Luther King Boulevard).
remembers it and recalls moving in.
Water may have been provided, but it wasn’t running water. She didn’t like this at all.
I had to go into Kwilecki’s Hardware and ask for a tub big enough to bathe
The family later
moved into town and got that running water.
They moved into the family home on Japonica Drive in time to welcome
daughter Linda Lee.
enjoys reminiscing about the days gone by, but she is also eager to talk about
what’s going on right now. She’s
particularly excited about a gift she received for her ninety-seventh birthday
this past October 28.
her ninety-seventh! Linda Lee was born
in Monticello in 1906 to Joseph Linwood and Fannie Davis Penn. Like Turner, she came from a large
family—five girls, Linda was the middle one, and two boys. (Many folks may recall her brother Chili
Penn who for many years was the coach in Mitchell County.) After Linda graduated from Monticello High
School in 1925, she headed out for the city lights of Macon where she went to
Southern Business College and, later, had a job with American National Insurance.
That’s about the time she met Turner and her life took a swing toward Decatur
year, the family—two children, five grandchildren, and nine
great-grandchildren—celebrate Linda’s big day.
This year her granddaughter Marci Robinson let her know that the
Robinson gift would be a few days late.
Linda didn’t worry. She figured
that she was going to get some German bread.
So she waited.
one day the postman arrived at Bowerland, where Linda now lives, with an
official looking box. Very official—it
didn’t even have a stamp.
When Linda opened the box, she found an
American flag, a very special Stars and Stripes. This flag had flown over the
United States Capitol in Washington D.C. on Linda Lee Penn Barber’s
ninety-seventh birthday! A certificate
signed by Alan M. Hartman, the Architect of the Capitol, told the tale. Marci and her husband, Dan, arranged this
through their Congressman, Tom Davis of Virginia.
Out of ninety-seven, Linda can’t recall a better birthday—or a more
treasured memento to help her recall it.
may not remember all the names and faces of that important Christmas,
seventy-six years ago, but one thing that she knows for sure is that this cake
was on the menu then, and many, many times since in the Barber family.
Layer Cake for a wedding party
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 scant cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking power
1 teaspoon vanilla
butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add well-beaten eggs.
Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add to the egg mixture.
Stir in milk.
four or five layers depending on the size of the pan.
didn’t specify, but I put the oven at 350 degrees and baked each layer for
about 20 minutes. But watch carefully,
the time will depend on the thickness of your layers.
Barbers’ favorite nut filling
Beat together 2 tablespoons flour,
enough cold water to make a paste, 2 eggs and 2 cups sugar. Beat this well and then add 2 cups milk and
cook in a double boiler until thick.
Add one cup finely chopped nuts and one teaspoon vanilla; spread between
layers. You may cover the outside of
the cake with white frosting.
remembers that on the farm and later at the turpentine still, good cooks often
used what they had around the house—even the cream that had gone sour—and
turned out some wonderful dishes. All
that a cook needed to make this pie was a cow and a couple of chickens. Linda shortcuts using prepared pie shells
and commercial sour cream, but this is still a wonderful pie.
Sour Cream Pie
1 tablespoon flour mixed with
enough water to make a paste
1 cup sugar
yolks of 3 eggs, beaten until
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
pinch of salt
1 carton sour cream
all ingredients together, pour into a piecrust (Linda prefers Pet-Ritz) and
bake at 400 degrees for the first few minutes, then lower the heat to around
300 degrees. Cook until the custard is
set, about an hour.
Beat the egg whites until stiff;
then add 2 tablespoons sugar for each egg white, spread over the pie, return to
the oven and brown. Cool and serve.
Merry Christmas to
all, most especially to Linda Lee Barber on the anniversary of her wedding day!
Do you have some
memories to share?
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network