Room mothers and Relatives

Bunny Hopping through 2nd grade, Miss Eubanks' class.

“While the children were growing up there were swimming lessons at the city pool, a short stint on the swim team, fun at the city playground at Little Red School House. There were school programs where Cathy was the Queen of Hearts one time and Gretel another and Mary Carol had the lead in a second grade program about a lollipop and another where she played an Eskimo, wearing one of Melanie’s coats with a big fur collar.

Cathy as Gretel, center

“I was often a room mother, a job I like and which most mamas didn’t, so it was really no honor for me. I always took cookies and cupcakes on special occasions, and I am sure was called ‘pushy’ by some of the other mamas. We were always proud of the girls when they won honors, and to us a history medal or a good citizen’s award was just as important as a gold medal in the Olympics would have been and later, when they were both awarded college scholarships, we were especially proud.

“We made trips to Pensacola and Columbus, Ohio, to see Mary and Howard and on to Pittsburgh to go through the Heinz plant.

Howard Bartling and Russell, 1957, in Columbus, Ohio

We went every summer to Lewis Grocery Company conventions at the Broadwater Beach Hotel on the coast.

The Broadwater Beach train, Biloxi

On one of our trips to Ohio, Son and Betty Jane called to tell us that Susan had arrived and we could hardly wait to get home to see her. Two years later Trey was born.

Jessie and Susan

Jessie and Trey

“In 1959 Claude died of Hodgkins Disease, for which there was no cure at the time. He was sick most of the time he and Tricia were married but kept on trying to work.

Russell and Claude, Christmas Eve, probably 1957

After he died, Tricia decided to build her duplex and move Mama in one side. Several years later, she married Gray Evans, who had been working in Washington as an aide to Congressman Frank Smith, and in 1969 [their son] David arrived.”

Gray, Tricia and David, November 1969

Have you noticed that images of Sara have disappeared from these postings? Her voice is there, but her face isn’t. That’s because she was always, always the one with the camera, behind the lens, snapping away at swim meets and school parties and family get-togethers and joyous occasions. She was the mother who always made the best party favors and the best treats and managed to do it all with a heavyweight camera around her neck. Just amazing.

Susan and Russell, no doubt up to no good

With the arrival of David in 1969, that generation of the Evans clan was complete. It stretched all the way back to Bill Roberson in 1941, so it took us more than the average amount of time to complete the circle. And that’s OK. It just gave Sara more years and more subjects to work with, a total of three nieces and three nephews that she adored. And for those of my cousins who are plugged into this blog, please know that I have by and large protected you from dissemination of the most embarrassing photographs.

Melanie, me, Cathy, in Ohio, 1957

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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4 Responses to Room mothers and Relatives

  1. Nancy Webb Phillips says:

    Wow! I don’t suppose I have ever seen that picture. It is priceless!!! I don’t think I have a picture of me in my Brownie uniform. You are right. I am front and center!!! What a cute group of girls we were!!!
    Also I wanted to say that looking at those pictures of Susan when she was little is like looking at Austin when he was the same age.

  2. Susan says:

    I love that picture of your dad and me. He was incredibly entertaining and funny. So many indelible characters in our family! One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting on the steps of the back porch at Christmas listening to “Criss,” Howard Bartling, Uncle BJ and Daddy tell stories and giggle…all the while keeping the bar in constant motion! To this day I still gravitate to the men’s conversations at a party, because the women pale in comparison.

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