“So Sweet and Kind and Good”

“In September I entered the sixth grade at Whitfield School. I was especially happy with school that fall. Our teacher, Miss Carrie Trussell, had asked me to be the one to go out in the hall and answer the phone when it rang, which I thought was a special honor. I was making good grades, enjoying my friends, and loving to get home in the afternoons to see Son and Tricia.

“I was invited to a Halloween party at Cecil’s house and was looking forward to that. Then early on the morning of the 31st of October the doorbell rang. A friend of Daddy’s had come to tell us that our Daddy was dead. He had been gone that weekend.

“Our whole world crumbled. Mama was left with five children ranging in age from five months to fourteen and her mother. We were devastated and could not imagine life without Daddy, who had always been so sweet and kind and good. He always kissed us when he left the house and hugged us when he got home. I only remember one time when he scolded me. We were at the supper table, and I cried because he had never really fussed at me before.

“The Stotts came down and helped Mama make funeral arrangements. Only Mama and Tiny went to the funeral, which was held at Wilson Funeral Home in Greenwood, and the rest of us stayed home with Bama. A lot of people came to the house, and all our little friends were sweet to us. I remember three little boys in my class sending me a bouquet of flowers they had picked. Miss Trussell offered to pick me up and take me to school every morning.

“I still could not comprehend that he would never be coming home again. When they brought his suitcase home, I remember picking up one of his shirts and holding it close because it had the familiar smell of his cigarettes. An empty candy box was sitting on the table, the last box he brought home when he returned from a trip, and I picked it up and told Big that was the last one he’d ever bring, and then I started crying. He had never gone anywhere that he didn’t bring us either candy or gifts.”

Howard Evans was only 38 years old when he died on that Halloween weekend, 1932. Some may think that he leaves Sara’s story at this point, but that would be a wildly inaccurate assumption. His absence and her fond memories affected the rest of Sara’s long and generally happy life, and just talking about him could bring on tears, decades later. Theirs must have been a glorious 2009 reunion, as she tells him of his eight grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren, and eight great-great grandchildren, with yet another now on the way. His short life imprinted a legacy of gentleness, dignity and kindness on all five of his children and my generation reaped the blessings left by this much-loved man. 

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About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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2 Responses to “So Sweet and Kind and Good”

  1. Melanie Liles says:

    It always amazed me that Mamie still loved Halloween. It was a big celebration at our house. Maybe that helped her forget the sadness of that day in 1932. I wish we could have all known our grandfather, but that would have changed everything. Melanie

  2. sec040121 says:

    Halloween was a huge deal at our house, as well. Cupcakes and decorations and parties with spooky things upstairs, and trick-or-treating ’til we dropped. Mama never mentioned that it was a sad day for her, so maybe she had blocked out the connection.

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