Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Sybil Thornton Moody (1923)
On several days around the end of January/beginning of February 2004, we got a flood of entries about sisters Lois Thornton and Sybil Moody. Thought it might be a good idea to sum them all up so that they’re immortalized in one place, the correct and the incorrect.

Becca Van Patten Smith

I had always been told that Mrs. Moody & Miss Thornton were related to us, I think on my mothers side.

Also, that Miss Thornton was so sour because her sister, Mrs. Moody, had taken her boyfriend away from her and married him, then he either died or ran away. I think he left.

Mrs. Moody died just last year, and had been real sharp of mind until the last 9 or so months of her life. I went to visit her at Oak Dale once, while mother was out there.

Mildred Wilbourn

I enjoy reading every entry, but had been out of pocket the last couple of days and was mystified when Anita mailed me to set them straight about Lois (Thornton) and Sybil (Moody). After reading the entries of the 30th and 31st, I do see the necessity.

While we were not related to them, we were close. Lois was maid-of-honor in my mother's wedding, and Sybil told me that Mother and another friend were the first friends they made when they moved from Beebe to Searcy around 1914.

Mother told me that Lois was very much in love with a young man who went East to college. She thought that, when he came home for Christmas, he was bringing her an engagement ring. Instead he brought his new fiancée. Lois was bitter: she thought he jilted her because her parents were recently divorced, and you know how scandalous that was in those days.

Sybil married George Moody and they lived happily in Marianna for several years. Unfortunately, George developed a drinking problem and, in later years, was a mean drunk. The night that he came home and put a loaded gun to her head and said, "I ought to blow a hole in that pretty little head!" she waited until he left and called her father to come get her. The next morning, when she and Mr. D.D. were trying to get her things out of the house before George returned, Sybil fell out the back door and broke her ankle. Because they didn't want to stop, and she needed to have her car, she drove from Marianna to Searcy with a broken ankle. She moved in with Lois and Mr. D.D.

She and Lois lived together, until Lois went to the nursing home. They were very close and their only differences were minor ones, from differences in personality. Lois was very plain spoken, and I can remember Sybil saying, "Now, now Miss Lois, I didn't give you your milk in a saucer this morning." Lois could be infuriating at school but, away from school, she was funny and a lot of fun. I have pictures of both sisters from about the time we are talking about and, when I learn to use my new scanner, I will send them. Thanks for all your good work.
(This was a year-and-a-half ago, Mildred: where are the pictures?)

Like so many of our peers, I’d heard that “Sybil took her boyfriend away” story while I was still in school, so it’s nice to know what REALLY happened. Those two ladies left an indelible mark on the lives of those of us who were lucky enough to pass through their hands and, at the least, they deserve to be remembered correctly, if not always warmly.

They, themselves, would have insisted on that standard of intellectual honesty. -tlp-

Jo Ann Roth (Cooper)

I worked in the office for Mr. Yarbrough my senior year. I was co-editor of the annual, and real close to Miss Thornton, but wouldn't have called her by her first name for any amount of money, out of respect for her.

Elois Bleidt was walking by in the hall, and I said something to her. About that time, Miss Thornton walked into the office.

Mr. Yarbrough thought I had called Miss Thornton “Lois,” which was her first name. He called me on the carpet about it. I had to explain that “Elois” came out “Lois.”

Roland King

I enjoyed Mildred's write-up on Miss Thornton and Mrs. Moody. It answered a mystery for me that had its beginning years ago. In 1955 we had a "This is Your Life" for Miss Thornton. (By the way, I graduated in 1955, rather than '54). Someone had heard something like this, but the way it went was that Miss Thornton and this fellow were deeply in love and that Miss Thornton's parents were against him. As a result, he left Searcy, went east and, at that time (1955) was a General in the Army.

As we were reading letters and telegrams from well-wishers, someone thought it would be a good idea if we made one up from this person. I didn't think it was a good idea, because I thought it might embarrass her and, after reading Mildred's explanation of what did happen, I'm sure glad we didn't.

The show went well and I think she really enjoyed it. However, before the program started (it was held during assembly), I noticed Mac Angel had come in and sat down in the back. Mac was one of my first and dearest friends. He lived on the corner of South Line (now Woodruff) and I lived around the corner on Spring Street next to Gowan's store. Mac had been president of the student body in 52-53 before me in 53-54 and 54-55. So I went back to talk with him. When I got back to the front and we had about two minutes to start, I discovered I had misplaced my note cards, which contained the whole show. You can imagine the panic I was in. However, I found them and away we went.

The show was rolling and people were bringing me letters and telegrams to read and I was reading them as soon as they were handed to me. One was given to me, I opened it up, glanced at the name, saw it was from “the General?” (I don't know if he was or not.) I looked at it, I think I said "thank you" to the person who handed it to me, and stuffed it in my pocket. As I said, I am sure glad we didn't read that, and thanks to Mildred for setting the record straight.

I wonder if anyone else remembers that story about the General and where it came from? At least it was a romantic story.

I always felt that Miss Thornton was one of the best at preparing us for college.

Becca V.P. Smith

I am glad the truth is out, and I wish that I hadn't repeated what I had heard so long ago, knowing that it was just hearsay.

I always liked Mrs. Moody best; she seemed to be nicer. Miss Thornton, when our class came along, mainly just liked the football players, and wasn't fond of the girls or band members.
My first husband was Tommy Quattlebaum, and he was a rebel of sorts, and Miss Thornton really liked him; he was also very smart, and that could have helped too.

Ernest Simpson

One more comment, old friend, if you don't mind:

The last time I saw Mrs. Moody was late in 1962. I was in Searcy one weekend to see mom and dad, and happened to be in downtown Searcy. Mrs. Moody came out of a store on Spring Street. I spoke to her and she asked me what I was doing since leaving Searcy, and where I was living. I told her I was a band director in a little town in southeast Missouri, and was really pleased to be able to tell her that my superintendent had thought well enough of my work to grant a $300 a year raise. She was really glad for me and said, "That is wonderful, Ernest, and you know, that's a lot of why we work as teachers, isn't it?"

I felt her approval of my efforts gave me to know I had achieved a milestone in teaching. Her use of the words "we work as teachers" has been worth a great deal to me over the years.
I wrote a comment in the 40th reunion reflections of '57: "Thanks for: Mrs. Moody and Miss Thornton, true ladies in every sense of the word, who challenged us all beyond our capabilities."
Ann Shannon Snodgrass

I had been told the same story that Becca heard -- that Lois and Sybil were our distant cousins.
I also remember that story about the boy friend.
Do you remember how it felt to encounter a teacher outside of the classroom and discover that she was a real person? In the 1970's, Lois and Sybil were either sharing a place with another cousin of ours (although we called that cousin Aunt Betty) or visiting her, when my mother took my husband and me to visit them. All three of the ladies were outside in the side yard belonging to the old house. Pigeons were flying madly around the yard, and some were scrambling desperately, trying to perch on the curlicues of the porch roof. Sybil was feeding the pigeons; Lois was batting at them with a broom, and Betty was cooing at them, giving encouragement, I suppose. I was speechless, seeing these "rulers of the classroom" acting like that. Then, I looked at my husband, and his face was beet red from holding back laughter. Good memory.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Excellent memory, Ann, thanks.

If you’d care to make a submission, you can send it to me directly at
tompry@gmail.com .

One of our readers was afraid this would turn into a “bashing” site: nope, our memories are too precious for that. Were I into that, you’d have seen a few people dished here before now.

C’mon, folks, empty out your brains. Aren’t you getting tired of Summer Reruns? –tlp-

Lois Thornton (1956) Posted by Picasa


Post a Comment

<< Home