Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lura, Part 1: Dresses

I've talked about her a lot, especially here on this blog.

You see, I can't go even a day without little things here and there reminding me of her. She was my grandmother, one of my very best friends. Her name was Lura.

She is very much alive in my heart (and others' hearts) and in memories, but she is no longer here on this Earth with us. She and I have a scheduled 'tea' when we're in Heaven together. We will have iced tea and her amazing lemon chess bars around her kitchen table.

Lura (or "Mama" as we called her) was a sister to *SEVEN* brothers. Her father (a real live mailman who rode a horse around to deliver the mail) passed away when she was only 7, so her savvy & resourceful mother had to figure life out from there. She ended up being raised in the Masonic Home for girls in Meridian, Mississippi with visits from her mom whenever she could afford it.

Mama was, understandably, devastated to be torn from her close-knit family and her beloved seven brothers. She was in the middle in the order of their ages, so she felt especially lonely when the boys went to the Masonic Home for boys (hours away) and she went to the girls home by herself. The year was 1927, & the recession was soon upon the U.S.; little did she know that growing up in the Masonic Home was a huge blessing in the midst of financial ruin around the country. She remembered times when Masons (members of the male service organizations that funded the Home) often gave to the Masonic home in their community, remembering the orphans to the point that their own children went without any 'extras.' Families like these sacrificed for families like mine, the social orphans of the Masonic Homes.

The headmaster and his wife soon saw something in Mama that they did not see in the others girls. She was a caretaker, a compassionate leader; therefore, she was assigned to be a houseleader at the young age of 8. She took care of 20-something younger girls, including bathing them, washing and ironing their dresses, getting them ready for school each day and even teaching them manners and life skills. I remember one Masonic home reunion where I met a lady in her 70s telling me that my grandmother taught her all she knew back then. She had so much gratitude for Mama's care. They were only 5 or 6 years apart, but Mama had love and wisdom beyond her years to embark upon 'her little girls.' Can you imagine that? Mama was a little girl who was grieving the separation and loss of her family and home, yet she mustered up the love and maternal instincts that those little girls needed. Through her time at the home, she helped raise dozens and dozens of little girls; she would come back from college to visit them and keep the relationships with the girls going.

Speaking of girls, one of the few moments that Mama had 'social time' with the Masonic home girls her own age was on the school bus. Each girls was given one dress ONLY, and it was handmade by the headmaster's wife. The girls had their own bus to get to school and would tell the bus driver to turn his mirror so the girls could switch dresses on their way to school. One girl would keep guard while the others would scurry into a different dress. Then, on the bus drive back to the Home, the girls would switch back so they wouldn't get in trouble with the headmaster's wife. I suppose fashion was important to them, too.

Funny, even when she was well enough to voice her opinions, she liked it when I wore a dress. She was a classy lady. My mom taught herself to sew at a very young age and, EVERY SINGLE MOTHER'S DAY, she would make my grandmother a dress or suit. Amazing. And I know they looked incredible on her. Nothing wrong with a dress every now and then, right?

Happy eating! Laurel

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