Friday, June 17, 2005


(Originally run 4/10/04 on our old site)

Harold Gene Sullivan

I remember Mady Armstrong well. In fact, within the last few days I had been thinking about her. It must have been the same Davenport story that jogged both us. One year, when the county fair was still held on the grounds where the gym was built and Birdseye went in, so it must have been in the late-40’s, I remember her chasing the high school band majorettes all over because she though the skirts were too short. Also, she lived on Vine or Academy just east of Main. It was all grown up around it, looking just like one would expect of such a character. Her house was always a favorite to hit on Halloween night.

Across from my house at 1212 W Race was an old man, Mr. Hall. His house was deep, and I mean deep, into some bushes so that little could be seen of it. Patsy Gail Forrest Fain’s house is on that lot now. We had all sorts of stories about him, mostly very weird. We never saw him as he seldom came out of his lair. We believed that he was real mean and it was always an argument who was going to retrieve the baseball that was hit over in his yard. I don’t remember him ever fussing at us but that didn’t stop the tales. Anyway, he got sick and his daughter, Mrs. Ratcliff, came to help him out. My mother got good friends with her and I started going over there with my mom, the first time with much trepidation. Anyway, it turned out he was a friendly old guy who had lots of stories to tell. I don’t know how our weird stories ever got started.

I too enjoyed the picture of the old gas powered Maytag. I remember my grandmother, my dad’s mother, had one. She lived out in the country between Monticello and Warren. A long ways from any electricity. I often spent most of the summer down visiting her. She lived by herself and would still climb in the hay loft to pitch hay out to her cows well into her 90’s. Anyway, on Monday morning one of my uncles would come by the place and get the thing started, I remember it being a real chore. Also, he would get the fires started under the wash pots, as described by Dan. Then all the nearby neighbor women, there were 5 or so within a mile, would gather in the barn lot where the wash house was located and would spend the day washing all their clothes. The water was very hard down there, she had one of the few wells that wasn’t so bad. But she kept rain barrels under each of the eves to catch soft water they used for washing, also. There would be laundry hanging on all the fences around the lot.

We had a wringer Maytag washer but it was electric. One time my brother and I were left a tub of peas to shell. We heard about people shelling dried peas (black-eye, field, purple-hull etc.) by putting them through the ringer and the shelled pea would end up in the tub. Well, it didn’t work too well but I remember for months after finding shelled peas all over the screened-in back porch.

Ramona Palmer Riddle (aka "Baby")

Do I ever remember Mady Armstrong. She lived on Vine close the Rodgers home, in a house grown over with vines and stuff. It was rumored that she built the house with dimes she had saved. We always ran as fast as we could when we passed her house. She always threatened to cut your shorts off if she saw you. Carried that big ole knife in her boot or whatever. She was a scary one for sure. Her name has come up in conversation several times lately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Mady because, when my sister and I would play house imn the yard, she would come by and grab all our rags we washed our dishes with and said she needed them worse than we did. We readily agreed because we held our breath the whole time she was in our presense. But, did you know she was invited into some of the nicest homes in town once a week to enjoy a good meal? God takes care of all of us.
Margaret Owen Allen

9:22 AM  

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