A Positive Negative

Norman Strickland circa 1947

I love technology.

I love scanners, and computers, and on-line software, and blogs, and pack rat ancestors.

Oh, they are not technology. BUT I get to peek into their lives BECAUSE they were pack rats and I have technology.

Within a brown envelope of the Roanoke Photo Finishing Company, Roanoke, Virginia (just opposite the Post Office), saved by my father, were negative images of my dad, his brothers, his parents, and a little girl, just able to stand at her daddy’s knee.  That dates the group portrait with my eldest cousin to 66 years ago.  Now, IF all the other negatives belong to that same roll, the above image of Norman Scott Strickland was taken by a friend in 1947, presumably one of these folks:

Norman S. Strickland (19), second from left.

Norman S. Strickland (19), second from left.

Norman S. Strickland (19), with friend

Norman S. Strickland (19), with friend

Anyone have any clues about the photographers’ identity, please leave me a comment!  And anyone knowing about 1940s cars, what make and model do I have here??

 

Norman Scott Strickland — Family Birthdays: Wordless Wednesday

Norman Scott Strickland, born September 14, 1928 in Chase City, Virginia, and pictured here as a high school senior in about 1945.

 

My father would have been eighty-three years old today.  The fourth boy of George and Florette Sayles Strickland, Norman grew up on the family farm outside of Chase City, Virginia.  When the eldest brother, Sidney, got to seventh grade, George decided to buy a bus and transport his children and those of his neighbors into the city schools.  Within a few years George had at least four buses and was responsible for closing several area one room school houses.

During high school Norman drove bus #3; his pals Charles Duckworth and Grayson Mullins also drove buses for my grandfather.  Charles related in a June 8, 2010 letter that all the guys had nicknames — Norman was “Chick”, a kick off from Strick; Charles was “Duck” and Grayson was known as “Moon”.

After Chick, Moon and myself had finished our school routes, we each had two routes, we would gather in one  of the buses to wait for the bell to ring.  On one morning it was noticed that I had on mismatched socks.  The three of us decided to wear our socks mismatched the next day.  We did and with in a few days all the high school was dressed in mismatched socks.

My father was a good kid, quiet, reserved and never in trouble.  In fact, those are adjectives that probably described my dad every day of his life.  Norman was also responsible, smart, caring, and ever ready to lend a hand and share a smile –

 a true friend to a host of people.

Wedding Wednesday: The Marriage of Marilyn and Norman

This yellowed newspaper announcement was carefully preserved by a relative, and sent to me when they cleaned out their clutter.  Fortunately.  My parents divorced when I was a young adult, and their wedding momentos became casualties of the fight.  I am grateful to pack rats who unload their goodies to subsequent generations of pack rats.  And to those of you who are divorced, a tiny plea to preserve memories of your relationship’s beginnings.  Someday your children and grandchildren will want to see where they came from.

Tombstone Tuesday/This Day In Family History: Norman Scott Strickland’s Birth Day

Looking from Hunter's Lane across the fields of the Old Dodson Place, Mecklenburg County, Virginia

Travel south from Chase City, Virginia on the Boydton Road about 15 minutes, turn left at Dodson Corners onto Hunter’s Lane.  Follow the bend to the left, through a grove of pine to the meadows shorn of their grass by cows now shunning the noon heat among the shade of oak trees. Sitting on your left will be the headquarters of the Butcher’s Creek Hunt Club.Site of the Old Dodson Place, "Oakview" This house marks the site of the Old Dodson Place, the homeplace of George and Florette Strickland’s family during the depression, and where my father, Norman, grew up.  The youngest son in a family of four boys, Norman was born this day 1928.

This past spring I returned to this land, to breathe some ancestral smells, look out on rolling land my father once walked.  Had it not been for the company of coon dogs who rushed to greet me, I would have tramped through the long grass, risking contact with some very healthy poison ivy, to look for crumbled buildings and civil war trenches, farm garbage dumps and Grandfather-dug watering holes.  The air was hot and muggy, heavy with the fragrance of wild honeysuckle and white wild rose.

Oak Trees of OakviewTowering above me were oak trees, just acorns on the ground when my dad shot squirrels out of their predecessors. Thick brambles of poison ivy, honey suckle, rose, and pricker bushes grew at their base.  It would have been along hedgerows like these that rabbits hopped out, to eat by the road’s edge. And my father with buddy Charles D. would slowly approach in his daddy’s 1938 Ford pickup truck.  While one boy drove, the other would lie on the huge front fender, flat on his belly, rifle in hand.  Spot the rabbit, catch it in the scope, pull the trigger. The rabbit went from being vermin to being dinner.

Norman Scott Strickland grew up to leave this farm, to leave Chase City.  He was coworker to fellow General Electric electrical engineers for 35 years, a choir member of countless church groups, a community leader, a good neighbor; a gardener, a bird watcher, a dog lover. Most of all Norman Scott Strickland was a gentle friend, ever ready with a smile, particularly for his wife, and six children, and two grandchildren.  After losing a third battle to cancer 16 July 2006, Norman returned to the red soil of Mecklenburg County, where I can come and leave a stone in remembrance of his life well lived.

Fathers’ Days

When you are a parent everyday is a father’s day or a mother’s day–for the rest of your life.  If you are lucky, you get to live long enough to suffer your children’s travails, survive their adolescent brain storms, enjoy your own descent into ignorance as they ascend into their young adult superiority, and, finally, celebrate the goodness of life, together, as friends.

My father was that lucky.  I was that lucky.

I could spend time today reflecting on all of my regrets, those visits thought about and not planned, the plans made but not pursued.  I don’t think my daddy would take kindly to that wallowing.  “Life is good,” he would say.  Over anything.  Tomatoes ripening on his vines–life is good.  Enough basil to cut and share with the whole neighborhood–life is good.  Phone call with granddaughter–life is good.  Our walks in the Duke Garden–life is good.  Squirrels at the bird feeder–life is good.  Absolutely.

This Father’s Day I remember all the days I had my father here, a phone call away, and I remember all the ways I carry my father’s days in my heart.  Life is good.