I've been gone for almost three weeks. I've missed you, my friends. I hit the ground running after ISAAC'S HOUSE published, with a great signing amongst all my Trinity friends here in my corner of the world.
Early in March, I headed for Union County, Mississippi. Imagine that, a Confederate Daughter in Union County! It was an incredible run. What was to have been a single signing in New Albany turned into much more than I expected. Here are some highlights.
I arrived on Monday evening, and on Tuesday, I was heading to Oxford for two big signings. They were both arranged by one of my Clarksdale High School classmates, and we go waaay back! Thank you, Emmie Lou Mooney Green! It was unbelievable.
Our wonderful host had arranged something like nine or ten vignettes, in the true sense of the word, small alcoves in the nooks and crannies of her grand home, each beautifully set for several ladies in true southern fashion. Some of the ladies had prepared a gourmet bar of exotic soups and seafood bisque, salads, bruschetta, soft cheeses, home baked breads, and scrumptious desserts. Someone had laid fantastic claim to Southern Living's current delicacies and we were the recipients. Also, delicately arranged on a lovely silver tray were some tiny little "peppy" drinks, of which I did not partake! But the others kept raving about them. Everything was just so, so beautiful!
I had the pleasure of speaking to these ladies about my heritage in the Mississippi Delta. A lot of them were originally from the Delta, so I felt right at home. Jan Humber Robertson, I will never forget how I felt when I saw you, Delta Girl! It was a very emotional moment for me. Took me past the mimosa trees, down the long green trail to the Indian Mound. Thank you for being there. The memories overwhelm me, and that gives opportunity for a post all its own.
I talked about my TRIFECTA! And I sold books! Thank you, Cedar Oaks Guild, for a grand time!
After the meeting, some of us left and went back to Phillips Grocery for another signing. That's where so many of my classmates from CHS joined us, and did we have a blast! Just reminiscing. We went back fifty-four years. It was an emotional time. Made me want to gather those friends around me forever. Emmie Lou, Glenda, Kathleen, Peggy, Carolyn, Jan, Woody and Billy! Those guys are so darling. I can say that now over fifty years later! It amazes me how we can just pick up where we left off so many years ago. You know that feeling!
Emmie Lou was not done yet with her surprises. She was keeping someone outside awaiting that special moment when in walks my very best friend from that era of 1957-58. Daisy Boehm! I cried. That really took me back, for I had not seen her in that many years. Daisy and I were two of three or four in our graduating class who finished out our senior year married to our sweethearts! Daisy and I were inseparable. Such great memories! I understand Carolyn "drove Miss Daisy" across the State of Mississippi to be there with us! Splendid!
On Saturday of that week, the main event came around in New Albany. Dewey Davidson, my nephew, who is incredible, had prepared for a huge signing at his antique store. As you walk through the main entrance of the store, there is a long wide hallway filled with antiques. Tables each from a different period, were elegantly set with china, silver, and crystal. At the back of that long room was my table, set for signing with a bouquet of gorgeous copper-colored roses placed there by my beautiful sister, Caren Hall. So elegant!
I have to stop for a parenthetical... my brother, Mike Bennett, is a Vietnam combat veteran. One of his brothers-in-arms reviewed my ISAAC'S HOUSE and agreed to join us in New Albany for the signing and to sign with me. Ric Wetherbee and his lovely wife, Jacqui, from Athens, Georgia, became a part of our family that weekend (and forever), and we couldn't let them go home. They arrived on Thursday and we kept them until the following Monday!
But that was not all, another brother in Vietnam combat, Tommy Whittemore, and his lovely wife, Dora, joined us for the day. And one more beautiful event... one of our cousins, a WWII hero, Dwight Hellums and his son, Larry, made our day. Wait, two more cousins, Vietnam veterans Sonny Crocker and Larry Bennett topped it off.
I know I am going to forget some who came, but I must try not to. Along with all my local family in New Albany and Oxford and Sherman and Jackson and Canton and Batesville and Calhoun County and other close-by places, and there are a million of us, were many of our friends, some as far away as north of Memphis (thank you Marta and Tommy for making the drive). And my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Nichol and Holly and their families drove down from Memphis. My son, Peter, my grandson, Harrison arrived early in the day, also from Memphis. My brother, Charlie, came all the way from Vicksburg. My Angie was with me for the duration. Without her I would be but a shell of myself!
I signed books in New Albany from 10:00 till after 1:00. Then we all went to Hillcrest Church for a cousin's reunion and lots of delicious food prepared by my brother, Steve, his wife Jenny, and my sister Weesie. Our matriarch cousin, Charlotte Brown, from Canton talked briefly about our heritage and prayed the blessing. We ate. Lots. We sang around the piano. We enjoyed great company. And I signed more books!
Thank you, Dewey, for this great and special and successful day in New Albany!
With a few days to recover, I spent some time with my sister, Pat. She was in the hospital, unable to enjoy first hand all the festivities. She is recovering nicely at home.
Eight of my nine siblings and their families were there. We missed you, Lynn!
The grand finale was on Saturday, March 24. I was so excited about this event. My first time ever to attend a UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy) meeting. My sister-in-law, Gloria Bennett, is a member and she had arranged for me to speak to those ladies and promote my books. Well...
I have to tell you, just when I thought it could get no better... it did. It was one of the most touching experiences I've had. I am proud to be a great-great granddaughter of Confederate Captain Thomas Goode (T.G.) Clark—killed in action at Gettysburg—though I'm not a UDC member. I think I was most impressed with their solid love for our forebears who gave all for what we Southerners know as The Greater Cause. To understand better, you might want to read The Mississippi Boys. Those UDCs were excited about that book, especially the cover.
And I sold my books! Thank you Gloria and General M. P. Lowrey UDC President, Pam Mauldin, for a great time in Ripley, Mississippi!
Thanks to all my friends and family who supported me in the two-week book tour. I will never forget...
Jane Bennett Gaddy