Baby Boomer #1

“Cathy was due the first of February. Russell was still gone most of the time during the week. The Gwin house had not been finished so I had no one next door.  He had gone to Cleveland on Monday, January 29th. Ada and Willie Haynes came over and picked me up and took me to the Stotts to stay in case I should go into labor.

“The snow continued to fall, the temperatures dropped, and then we had more ice on top of the snow, making it one of the worst winter storms on record in this area. The lines were all down, and I could not even get a call through to Russell nor could he call me. So on Wednesday he managed to get home with no trouble until he hit the alley behind our house and got stuck in the snow. We were afraid to stay in the house since we did not have chains on the car, so both of us moved in at the Stotts.

“The day she was due the temperature went below zero. Russell was so nervous he started craving a Mounds candy bar (and he was not a big candy eater) so he walked to town that night to get a Mounds bar. It wasn’t a good time to be expecting a baby. There was still snow on the ground on Sunday, February 4th, but we came back home to spend the day. We rode around on the streets, which were still very rough, hoping it would rush Cathy up.

“Back over at the Stotts’ house at about eleven p.m., the pains started. We got Big, who was still nursing, up and she went with us to the hospital. Cathy was born at 4:05 on February 5th in the morning. Dr. Lucas delivered her, and Mary Ross Smith, my nurse, was on hand too. Things went smoothly even though she backed into the world. Russell got on the phone at daylight to let everyone know he had a girl named Cathy Olivia.”

Cathy Olivia Criss

Can you imagine? Sara, who can barely drive and doesn’t have a car anyhow, is alone on a snowed-in dirt street, with no neighbors, two miles and one wide frozen river away from her mother and family, nine months pregnant. And Russell is trapped an hour away in Cleveland, with all the phone lines down. This is either an episode of Little House on the Prairie or I Love Lucy, depending on the outcome. I suspect Russell utilized every curse word he knew on that slippery, white-knuckle drive across the Delta (and he was very proud of the fact that he could curse in English, Italian and Chinese….go figure). But he came through, as he always did, and saved the day. Cathy arrived safely, if breach, never taking the easy path and giving all involved a run for their money.

For Russell and Sara, life was complete. Or so they thought. The roller coaster motor is just warming up.

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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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