“All these people will live as long as you remember ’em” Ninny Threadgoode of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Although this Whistle Stop Cafe is from 1920’s rural Alabama, I think the threads of families and communities is probably universal to rural American culture at the young times of our David and Emily.
This post is meant to be a one-stop capture of the thread links in order as well as all of the audio files. My hope is that if David and Emily’s baby girl (hello there if this is you reading!) is interested in my posts, sending her one link will be easier to follow than eight. Also, I am whistling today and eating a tomato-based veg dinner. Building up before the Thursday mashed potato throw-down of the year! THIS this this is how my brainiac works.
Anywho, again, THANK YOU ALL and I am sending you the very best wishes for a safe, healthy, and joyful start of the winter(or southern hemisphere-ites, summer) holiday seasons!
“Oh, we’re going to talk about ME, are we? Goody” (goodie, goodey?). A quote from Ms. Tracy Samantha Lord in The Philadelphia Story. Ms. Lord is portrayed by Katharine Hepburn and Grace Kelly in film versions based on the 1939 Broadway play written by Phillip Barry. The play starred, and was financed by, Katharine Hepburn. Phillip Barry specifically wrote the character Tracy Samantha Lord, based on his friend, Philadelphia socialite Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, to be played by Katharine Hepburn. I also happen to love this movie (Hepburn’s film directed by George Cukor is the best). And I adore CK Dexter Haven, along with Mr. Connor, Ms. Imbrie and of course sassy little Dinah Lord!
My point being that I wanted to title this “ME” for “Meditations Epilogue” and instead titled it as is and added a favorite (or favourite) line from The Philadelphia Story which is from the same love era as our David LS and Emily BA.
Confession – I tried to write a sonnet and failed.
On June 30, 1942, in expectation of another wan moon that night, Emily B Anderson and David Lee Stewart were married in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. David, a dashing 40-year-old southern gentleman, and Emily, a southern beauty at 27. David probably wore his very best seersucker suit, white short-sleeved shirt, summer fedora, and tie. Emily probably wore a pale colored smartly satin-belted strapless dress, sassy little lace fascinator, with a modesty shrug as required by those who cared about that sort of thing. They were married in the church by a Baptist minister. Emily's paternal grandparents were witnesses, along with Ms. Pearl Fisher. The wan moon most likely saw the new Mr. and Mrs. Stewart dancing away to Moonlight Cocktail by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. Couple o' jiggers of moonlight and add a star ...
In 1942, the United States was involved in World War II and had recently banned the sales of new cars in order to conserve steel for the war efforts. Coffee and gasoline were also rationed.
About 55% of U.S. households had indoor plumbing (defined as a flushing toilet, a sink with faucet, and a bathtub or shower).
The U.S. President was Franklin D. Roosevelt.
He ordered the seizure of all Japanese-American's properties and opened Japanese-American internment camps.
He ordered the military to define and guard "exclusionary zones" on the West Coast, where any Asian looking person was not allowed, and on the East Coast, where German and Italian Americans were not allowed.
The Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, and used a submarine to bomb Ft. Stevens, Oregon.
Bambi and Casablanca were released that year, and Bob Hope was very popular. Bing Crosby starred in a little film titled Holiday Inn, and released a recording of the hit song of the year from that film, White Christmas.
David Lee Stewart registered for the military by completing a United States World War II Draft Card.
Not long after their wedding, David and Emily Stewart moved to Norfolk, Virginia. There is a naval yard in Norfolk, so perhaps David was assigned somewhere near or around there. His brother, Paul, was a mechanic, making it likely that David was called to the war effort to fulfill his draft obligation as a mechanic.
The Stewarts lived in the Washington, DC/Norfolk, VA area for six to seven years. During this time, Emily worked for a large department store. On July 2, 1945, two months before President Truman declared the end of World War II, Emily gave birth to a squeezy squishy bundle of love baby girl, Nellie. It seems as though they must have had a very loving, high regard for and tight relationship with David’s former childhood neighbors, the Hunters. Both the grandmother and granddaughter were Nellie Hunter. Nellie Hunter, the granddaughter, was about 6 years younger than David, and lived nearby with her grandparents throughout David’s childhood. I love the idea of loving memories being bequeathed to the future with namesakes. This is so very poetically sweet.
A few years after the war ended, the Stewart family returned to Edgecombe County where Emily worked in a local sewing plant. With cotton as a staple crop in the area, I imagine our Emily was busy with a variety of cottony softness items. David’s story is proving to be more elusive.
In 1986 there is a deed recording of transfer of property from the estate of Emily’s mother, Fannie Bond Anderson, to Emily and David.
Sometime in 1990, 88 year-old David became ill, relying on Emily for his care-giving.
On October 20, 1995 there is a deed recording of David and Emily transferring the Anderson property back to Emily’s remaining siblings.
Two days shy of seven months later,
on May 18, 1996,
David Lee Stewart,
beloved husband to Emily Bond Anderson for 54 years,
while waiting for a waxing crescent moon in Gemini (which manifests itself by the need for change),
crossed the Tethys sea back to the land of dreams
as his soul left his body and he died.
After nine more Valentine's Days
(or 8 years, 10 months, and 20 days later),
on April 7, 2005,
back to the Aries wan moon (which manifests itself by uncertainty and quick problem solving),
Emily Bond Anderson Stewart
also crossed the Tethys sea back to the land of dreams
as her soul left her body
and at 90 years-old,
she joined her David in death.
As described in her obituary, "Emily truly exemplified the meaning of steadfast, unfaltering love and care," and I believe it. The second child in a family of ten children, a life partner, a mother, retail professional, seamstress, caregiver to her mother, caregiver to her husband - all steadfast and full of love.
David and Emily’s little Nellie Nell grew up, married, had children and grandchildren. I am carefully packing up the little book as I found it with the sonnets inside, and sending it to Nell with a note and regards. I am grateful that it came to visit me. I am grateful for the moments of magics and imaginations. I am grateful to hold space for the witnessing of big feelings, deep love, creativity, and moving human souls.
Thank you for witnessing with me.
Go, lamp of the night - go to the West,
And take your joy, and your pain:
But the doubt and the hope that stir in my breast
Will linger, to struggle again.
(MEDITATIONS Series to E. p.5, David Lee Stewart, 1936 1:00 am In the Country)
For catching up, please take a hop, skip, graceful leap over to Meditations part 1, Meditations part 2, and associated links in those post toasties, as your needs must… my current need? Tea. Always tea. And a generous in-ground heated saltwater pool, cabana with composting toilet, and outdoor shower, natch. YES, even in the winterings. (please and thank you) Other stuff too – but, for now, onwards with the things.
Series to E. 3
-Fears I have yielded to a force
My heart but not my reason guides;
and on the sea of life, my course
Is strown with rocks and counter-tides.
-Fears that my heart has grown too fond
Of one whose world is not my own:
Who could not to my soul respond,
Leaving me lonely and alone.
Fear too list when we come to part,
So fondly she has thought of me,
Pain like a sword might pierce her heart,
For what she might have hoped would be.
If I should break her heart, O God,
Let burning shame consume my breast!
Let grief become my chastening-rod –
But give her own heart peace and rest.
O why, why did I ever come
To rest in this quiet country place?
Why not have wandered far from home
And never seen this maiden’s face?
‘Twas but a few short weeks ago
I went in peace where’er I would:
No thoughts like these disturbed me so,
Nor did I mean they ever should!
O God, I trust thee: good thou art,
And only merry thy design:
If there must be a broken heart,
The guilt, the blame, alone is mine.
O let the pain be all my own,
And all the loneliness she must bear!
Let her be happy when I am gone -
This is my hope, and this my prayer.
End page 3
Now we know that David met Emily a few weeks prior to the writing of this sonnet. Maybe they met at a 4th of July celebration! Maybe he wore breezy light linen pants, a short-sleeved white shirt with red, white and blue paisley patterned bow-tie, a seer-sucker jacket, pale blue socks, dusty brown shoes, and a straw bowler with plain blue ribbon. Maybe she wore a sleeveless pale red dress, with tiny blue ribbons on the pockets and scattered on the neckline, with a matching blue ribbon in her hair to hold it up and off of her neck because of the heat. I’m pretty sure she left her shoes somewhere and was barefoot on the porch swing, drinking lemonade she’d secretly slightly spiked for her own amusement. Their initial conversation might have been about the community’s annual 4th of July scavenger hunt, Carole Lombard, William Powell, and My Man Godfrey. Plus phases of the moon, which was an absolutely glorious full moon on Saturday, July 4, 1936. I’m sure that was what happened. Love at first sight by the light of a full moon and dreams of the treasures promised by Lombard and Powell.
"A scavenger hunt is exactly like a treasure hunt, except in a treasure hunt you try to find something you want, and in a scavenger hunt you try to find something that nobody wants."
"I wish I had a sense of humor, but I can never think of the right thing to say until everybody's gone home."
both quotes from Irene Bullock (portrayed by Carole Lombard), My Man Godfrey
"Godfrey: May I be frank?
Molly: Is that your name?
Godfrey: No, my name is Godfrey.
Molly: All right, be Frank. "
Please, please, please watch My Man Godfrey. If you can, as you can. It’s delicious (well, the lovely bits are, but the times were different of course).
If you would like a catch up : Meditations part 1 with lead in links at the top of that post.
To sum up: 85 years ago, DLS wrote EBA a 5-page MEDITATIONS sonnet, found folded inside an EBB book of sonnets.
Series to E. 2
Cold silent orb that from the sky
Hath watched a hundred thousand years,
Hast thou learned wisdom to reply
To one poor doubting mortal’s fears?
For surely since ascendant man
First felt his soul within him burn,
You have found why, in that eon-span,
The hearts of men and maidens yearn?
Yes! Forty thousand years ago
Some fierce barbaric man of yore
Lifted his mute eyes to your glow
As he trod the sands of the ocean shore.
O fierce and mute and savage man
Beating your breast by the Tethys Sea.
Whose blood with fiercest passions ran, -
I am come from you! you are come to me!
All the wild longings in your blood
As you stood on that moonlit shore
Came back again like a mighty flood
And surge – in my breast – once more!
Wan moon! Could but thy beam impart
The answer to my spirits tears,
And lend some solace to a heart
That burns with longings and with fears!
Tethys Sea is lovely to think about imo. Not only is it an ancient salt water sea from hundreds of millions of years ago, but also carries the name of the sister/consort of the Greek G-d Oceanus. Tethys and Oceanus were Titans, children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Heaven). Back in the day when the Earth was thought to be flat, Oceanus was the river flowing around the Earth, separating Earth from the underworld and the land of dreams. Tethys was the Greek G-ddess of all freshwater – rivers, lakes, streams, rain, clouds and could manipulate all water forms at will, natch. Tethys birthed 6,000 children and was the grandmother of the G-ddess of war, Athena. I do NOT have an unusual obsession with Stephen Fry or his books or listening to him read or listening to his podcast appearances or anything like that at all never ever ever… ever… maybe just a teensy passing brainiac admiration.
Apropos of nothing related to this, I welcome you to pizza Friday with 85% potential screaming sonnets on tonight’s set list.
I feel the need to all cap MEDITATIONS, to honor a man of certain distinction: Mr. D.L. Stewart
Series to E.
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 1936, 1:00 A.M. -
In the Country
Rise, golden orb of the midnight skies,
And show me with your mellow beams
The window where a maiden lies
Dreaming sweetly - pleasant dreams.
'Tis one o'clock: your golden rim
Reflects its final-quarter glow
And lends a mystic radiance dim
To the tired sleeping world below.
Sleep, tired world, both beast and man!
The hands of yesterday need rest:
And sleep your tired bodies can,
But, not the struggle in my breast.
Thou silent orb - whence comes the power
Inherent in your mystic glow?
And why do you, in this dim hour,
Disturb my throbbing spirit so?
Is it because in former tide
Beneath your full-resplendent charm
She walked, so meekly, by my side
So soft her hand within my arm?
End page one, y’all. Sheesh to the woosh. Mr. DL gots the pinings of the heart loves something fierce for Miss EB. At 1 am.
to be continued… but first I must digest page one.
ps I KNOW that I just lost any librarian credibility by using a few (out of approximately bazillion) rocks from SonHerisme’s rock collection to gently hold the papers open. I know. I know. I know. I also know that most likely I will continue to make sketch decisions like this, so if this image burns your librarian curator conservationist historian sensitive eyeball brains (which I ADORE but blatantly disregarding consideration for atm), then now you know to avert your eyes on at least the next four MEDITATIONS posts. Fair warning and you’re welcome.