Stirring up memories
I do! I do! I do!
September 29, 2004
29, 1934 was a mighty big day for folks at Calvary Assembly of God Church near
Donalsonville. It would have been a
mighty big day any where. That Sunday
morning saw quite a celebration on the front porch of the minister of that
church, Willie Cumbie and his wife Ada. Three of their children got married.
never may have been a wedding day quite like it.
one end of the porch, Pansy Cumbie held the hand of
Rufus Scott while Preacher Rice said the words over them. Then it was the turn of Emma Loyless
and the son of the house, Nathan Bernard Cumbie. Emma’s uncle, Henry Cloud, did the
honors. Finally, at the far end of the
porch, Preacher Ellis tied the knot for Margaret Cumbie
and Donald Adams.
a hundred folks gathered in the yard to watch the handsome couples. Then they all packed up and “about a thousand
people,” Emma Loyless Cumbie
remembers, helped them celebrate, for it was the fifth Sunday meeting and
dinner and members of all the churches in the district got together and this
special Sunday they joined up at the Calvary
also remembers that this wasn’t planned long in advance. It was one of those funny coincidences that sometimes
happen. She and Bernard had been
courting for a while and decided it was time to take the plunge. Bernard went and told his dad the plans. Within just a couple of days, Donald dropped
by to talk to Willie and ask if he and Margaret could marry…on that same
Sunday. Then here came the mailman with
a letter from Port St. Joe, and you guessed it!
mother, Minnie Cloud Loyless didn’t let the rush
deter her. She took her daughter into
Donalsonville to shop for a wedding dress.
Today, sitting on the sofa at her home at the Four Seasons Personal Care
Home, Emma remembers every detail. It
was a white crepe dress with silver buttons and topped off with a navy blue
cape. Emma wasn’t the only one who was
all decked out. Smiling Bernard wore a brand
grins when she recalls the details of that suit. Bernard had come into the bank in Bainbridge
and borrowed twenty five dollars to have a new suit for his wedding day and, by
the way, to pay for the marriage license.
don’t know how long the suit lasted, but that license was certainly a good
investment, the marriage flourished for
sixty-five happy years as the family welcomed three children—Mary, Jimmie Ruth
about that wedding day—and what followed.
Pansy and Rufus headed back to Port St. Joe and Margaret and Donald set
out for Donald’s home in Virginia. Emma and Bernard? They stayed put. They spent that first night in a “shed room”
right there on the front porch where they’d taken their vows earlier in the
The next morning? Well, it was a Monday morning in late
July. They had breakfast, grabbed two
sacks and headed to the field to pick cotton.
Emma still laughs about it. She’d
grown up farming and knew a thing or two about picking cotton, while Bernard
had been raised in Apalachicola where the
family had a butcher shop. He could cut
up a pig, but didn’t know much about this cotton picking. “I could pick rings around him,” Emma
young couple didn’t live on the front porch long before they moved. But where they moved! Yes, it was the 1930s, and a struggling
couple made do with what they could get, and what they could get was a nearby
hay barn. It has its good points—they
could look right out those wide open windows and watch the stars. Cooking was not much fun, though. Emma had to cook on a fireplace until they
scraped up a little of the cotton picking money and bought a little stove. But Emma assures me, they were in a house by
the time the first baby arrived in October of 1935.
didn’t mind the hard work and scrimping.
She was used to it. She was the youngest of five children, and her
father died when she was only a year old (the oldest child was but ten),. The father left “a little insurance. Mother got $50 a month for about ten years.”
it?” I asked. Emma nodded. Except for what they earned working in the
fields. And Emma learned to pick cotton
when she was a very little girl. Rough
going for Winnie and
those five children in Floydtown a little bit north
of Colquitt. But they made it.
family made their brooms out of straw they gathered up by the road, and Emma
recalls, at least once they stuffed a mattress with straw.
had to cook what we could afford. But we
never went hungry!” There were always
the chickens living under the house.
“You’d have the water boiling before you went under there to get
one.” The chickens were good for more
than just eating. Emma gathered and
saved eggs. She sold them for a quarter
a dozen and put those quarters away so there would be money for Christmas.
When Emma was almost grown the
Loyless family moved to Donalsonville. Emma started to attend Calvary
Church, met the preacher’s son, and you know the rest of the story.
September 15 this year, Emma had another celebration—her eighty-eighth
birthday. In fact there was lots of
celebrating over at the Four Seasons all through the month of September. They had lots of birthdays. Emma’s fellow residents Oletha
May Tutcher and Lonita Erpelding also celebrated along with owner Sheila Brock,
Lacy Brock, her niece and helper, and Four Seasons special friend and across-the-street
honor of so many special days, I made some cookies for the ladies. My resident taster says that these may be the
best cookies in the world. Even better
than chocolate chip and that’s saying something!
1 cup sugar-sweetened orange
powdered drink mix
(Kool-Aid or Tang)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose floour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups white chocolate or vanilla
the butter and eggs together; add the vanilla and sugar and mix well. Combine the flour, soda and baking powder and
gradually add into the egg-butter mixtures.
tablespoon sized balls 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes or
until the cookie tops are a light brown.
Allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and then remove.
going to experiment one of these days and try some other flavors, maybe
raspberry or lemon. I’ll let you know.
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network