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February 2007 Edition
Jennie Rhodes


Jennie and Son / "These Are Days"

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There are several adjectives that I can think of to describe my Mom. Among them are: she was kind, caring, compassionate, competent, sympathetic, intelligent, pleasant, faithful to her religion, humble and independent. She loved visiting with friends and neighbors as well as family get-together's, and always had a kind word for everyone. Although she had strong opinions about how things should be, she never tried to force her ideas on others. Rather, she always thought others were smarter than she was, even though the opposite was true. She was compassionate in that when she saw a problem, she was the first to jump in and fix it. She was very capable in knowing what to do and having the knowledge and strength to fix problems.

Mom had great sympathy for anyone who had problems and she loved caring for people. She was intelligent and understood the world about her far beyond her formal education. I think she knew her capabilities, but would never put herself above others. Mom had a firm faith in God and in the Christian way of life, but she rarely would take part in church activities, simply because she didn't want to be in the limelight. She was a very independent person; not in a confrontational way, but she depended primarily on her own capabilities.

She dearly loved her "papa", Joe Hughes, and thought he could do anything. He was, actually, a very capable person in many fields and was not afraid to try anything that he though was worthwhile, so Jennie did depend on him to guide her along. He depended on her also to help him during her teen years on the farm. Since I was her first child and a male of the species, after I became a teenager she depended on me a lot too. She always told me that I was just like "papa" and could do anything she asked of me. I always tried to please her by trying to help her, but since I hadn't yet developed all of the capabilities that she credited to me, there were some times when I let her down and I always regretted that, but when I failed, she always jumped in and fixed things herself.

Jennie Belle (Hughes) Rhodes was a great lady. I'm sure she now lives in a large mansion in heaven that she built during her 92 years on earth. It is a great privilege for me to be her son and I very much appreciate that Mom's descendants carry the strength of her character in their hearts and memories.

Robert Rhodes / 2006


I have to admit that I think of myself as the lucky one. I lived in Decatur until May of 1983, and was able to spend lots of time with Grandma. Thanksgivings, Christmas, Birthdays, and more, all included Grandma. Even the Christmas before she died, I was able to spend time with her. I will be forever grateful for who she was, and the lessons that she taught me, even though I was not aware of those lessons at the time.

My first memories of Grandma are at the little apartment that she had on Eldorado. I remember the stairs that led up to her apartment, and the neat kitchen with the "booth" that was her kitchen table. I don't remember anything else about the apartment. The stairs, the kitchen and Grandma...that's it.

I remember playing dominoes at that kitchen table. I didn't know how to play dominoes (actually, I still don't), but Grandma and I would make neat patterns with the dominoes, and stand them up on end only to watch them fall over. She kept me entertained for hours.

Grandma took me on my first city bus ride. How exciting and scary that was for me! We only went a few blocks, down to Elam's Root Beer Stand. We had root beer floats in the big glass frosted mugs, and then we actually walked back to her apartment. Grandma was the only "babysitter" I ever had. I never stayed with anyone but her.

I remember when she told us that she was marrying Ben Trimby. Mom was not really thrilled about that, but Grandma was determined that she wanted to marry Ben, and no-one was going to change her mind. After Ben died, Grandma moved into a first floor apartment on South Water St. There was a big front porch, and a nice big bay window. She loved violets, and I remember her growing violets in pots in that apartment.

After I graduated from high school, I worked in a clothing store in downtown Decatur. Grandma used to walk from her apartment to the store, to sit and visit with us. Everyone in the store knew who she was, of course, and even some of our customers knew her. She would sit by the front window, and enjoy watching us. Grandma was always a special occasion at the store. Sometimes she would ask me to walk with her to the bank, or up to Osco Drug Store, to pick up a few things. Wherever we went, and whoever we saw, she always made sure that they knew that I was her granddaughter. Even when she moved to the Anna B. Millikin Home, she continued to walk downtown to visit me. By that time, she'd walk to the store, and when she was ready to leave, we'd call a taxi to take her home. The one way walk was enough for her.

I remember how adamant she was that she was going to take care of herself. She did not want any of her children to have to take care of her. She was so proud of her position at the Millikin Home, taking care of the old ladies, paying her own way. She got a discount on her room because of her responsibilities there. When Grandma had her mind set, she was very strong willed. There was no changing her mind. But she was also so very sweet and very kind. She was so proud of her children and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She never tired of talking about how proud she was of all of us. And everyone loved Grandma.

I remember Grandma's extreme gentle side. She was always very soft-spoken. She had a beautiful smile.
I remember how fascinated she was with the space program in the 60's. She was fascinated with the moon landing. She thought that was just amazing, that we could send a man to the moon. I bought her a commemorative plate of the moon landing, and she kept that displayed wherever she lived. I believe that it's because of Grandma, that I've developed a rather strong will. I believe I inherited from her the willingness and ability to do what it takes to get through the rough times. She was a very big influence on me. And, I didn't appreciate all that she was, all that she went through, and all that she taught me, until I was much older.

I have many more wonderful memories of Grandma - but wanted to share these few with all of you. I feel very lucky to have had Grandma in my life.

Grandpa Rhodes was a thin man with dark hair and glasses. He always wore a blue chambray work shirt and smoked a pipe. Thus, his blue chambray work shirt always had a fine pattern of burn holes across the belly. I remember this from a time when I was pre-school and could still see pretty well.

They lived in a four square workman's house situated on a brick street. The milk man delivered on that street in a horse drawn milk wagon. As he ran from house to house, the horse just waited and walked up when he needed to.

Off the brick street, there was a grass strip, then the side walk then the walk up to the front porch which had a porch swing on the right. Once saw Mom and Opie (I think it was) bring the porch swing down with a crash.

Through the front door was the living room. To the left of the door grandpa's rocker then on to the left wall a couch. There was a window on the front and the left wall. At the back left corner of the living room the bathroom. At the right wall of the living room the door to the front bedroom. At the back right of the living room the opening to the kitchen. Going through to the kitchen there was a wall hung sink with counter space and a curtain under on the left. Stove to the right and what I recall as a giant table in the middle. On the right kitchen wall to the rear was the door to the back bedroom. On the back wall to the left, the ice box. And I mean an ICE box. The ice man brought a block of ice through the back door and put it in the ICE BOX. The back door was to the left of the ice box. There was a little mud room in from the back door. If you walked through the kitchen passed the ice box on the left and into the mud room, Your left arm toward the front of the house you could reach out that left arm and point to the cellar. Don't know about the cellar. I guess we weren't allowed there.

Out the back door was a step and a small back yard that stopped at the alley (dirt). Just this side of the alley and to the left a rhubarb patch ran parallel to the alley. Out there was (in my limited experience at the time) the most wonderful smell possible. It was, of course, a small potato chip factory.

In my limited recollection, Grandpa was always in his rocking chair and Grandma was always in the kitchen making either a rhubarb or butterscotch pie.

Don, I think you have the layout of the house about right. I do remember several other things though. I think there were some stairs going down to the back door. I remember them because I think I fell down them several times. I think there was a landing near the back door where you could go straight out of the back door or turn right and go down some more steps to the basement.

Speaking of the basement, I think the walls were dirt and there was a shelf at the top. This was because the basement was dug after the house was built and enough soil had to be left so that the foundation would be supported.

In the living room there was one of those old floor model radios. It sat on the front wall that was along King St. I remember we all gathered around it to listen to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth of England. Dad said we had better listen to it because that is something that may only happen once in a persons lifetime.

Don, you mentioned the rhubarb patch in the back. I remember some rhubarb that was planted on the right hand side of the house as you were facing it. We use to pull a stalk, cut the leaves off, and dip the end in sugar to eat it raw. That was with Mom’s permission of course.

I don’t think the back of the lot that they owned was right on the alley. It seems to me that there was a vacant lot or at least some un-mowed property until you got to the alley. Across the alley a man had a welding shop. You could see the bright blue-white light from his arc welding rig from grandma and grandpa’s back yard as the man worked on something. The neighbors next to them had a mulberry tree in their back yard. I remember that the birds sure liked those berries.The big tree in the front yard was a maple and the roots had caused the side walks to bulge up as maple trees often do. I remember playing with the whirligig seed pods in the spring or early summer. We would throw them in the air and watch them auto rotate to the ground.

As you went out of the house and turned right on King St. you would come to where King St. ended at Van Dyke street (actually King doesn’t there but it makes a jog to the north by about a half a block so that King appears to end at Van Dyke). There was somewhat of a hill in King St. at that point. I would go down to that end of the street and watch the Inter Urban trains travel on the tracks across Van Dyke St.

If you turned right on Van Dyke St. and went down a ways there was a barber shop on the right. I think we may have gotten our hair cut there sometimes.

If you went down even farther and came to where Van Dyke St. ends Eldorado St. that is where the Polar Ice company was on the left. Grandpa had a balloon tire bicycle that he use to ride everywhere since they didn’t have a car at that time. I remember one time he brought a block of ice for their ice box on the back carrier of that bicycle home. I guess that was after the iceman had stopped making deliveries. He was pushing the bicycle with the block of ice strapped to the carrier up King St. from Van Dyke St. I guess he had gotten the ice at the Polar Ice Co.

I think the ice cream company where Dad worked was to the right at the intersection of Van Dyke and Eldorado. I remember Dad use to point it out to us as we went by there.

If you went out the front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house and turned left for that is where you came to the corner grocery store that you are talking about. I finished the second part of kindergarten at Garfield School. When we lived on Lincoln St. I was taken by bus to Washington School but when we moved in with Grandma and Grandpa for awhile until Mom and Dad could get our garage house built I had to walk to Garfield school. I would go past that store every day as I went to school.

I remember that summer Don and I would walk up to Garfield Park which is right next to the school. They had a summer program where they had us making things out of “bondoogle” I think it was called. They were things like bracelets and whistle lanyards. There was part of the program where kids made streetcars (I think it was) out of old shoe boxes. Then one night they would take them to the pond in Fairview Park, put lit candles I them and tow them across the pond. Some how Don and I weren’t able to do the making of the streetcars. Either we were too late to get in on it or we didn't’t have the materials or something. We went the night of the big show at the Fairview Park pond though and saw all of the other floats.

The basement had a coal furnace I'm pretty sure, and I think grandma had a wash tub down there with one of those old crank ringers. I'm fairly sure about the ringer 'cause I think I left part of my fingers there.

In the front yard on the right facing the house was a big tree with a really big rock at its foot. The tree is still there but someone stole the rock. You know anything about that Phil?

The apartment grandma had with the long stairway was just around the corner from Gastman School. Don and I went there sometimes while we waited for someone to pick us up

I can tell you I have exactly two memories of being at Grandma and Grandpa Rhodes' house on King Street, I was probably 2 1/2 or 3:

1. One time I came running through from the back of the house through the living room area towards the front door (I was probably just let loose to go out and play with you guys); anyway, Aunt Opie was just picking up a baby (Ginger I assume) from the couch so I came to a screeching halt to stop and look at the baby, then I proceeded at top speed out through the door; in that memory I remember what Don describes as the living room, particularly the couch and the front window; but that's all I remember of that house...except the front porch with the swing, of course.

2. also, at various times I remember kids walking down to the end of King Street, to some kind of store I guess, and coming back with popcicles...I think Mom let me go with you guys once to do that.

That's about all I remember of their King Street house. The next residence I remember was Grandma's little apartment with the long outside stairway up to her front door.

Well, even I have a few little memories of Grandma. I have one special one that I've shared with you guys before, I think.

She was a pretty old lady by then, but she came down to spend a week or two with us in Chattanooga when I was in high school and living with Mamaw and Papaw. She happened to be there when the "wedding of the century" happened, and Prince Charles married Lady Diana. She was very excited about the wedding, bubbly almost. She and I talked about it in the days preceding, and it really bridged the generation gap. I was equally excited about all the pomp and circumstance at that time because, well, I was 16 (I think) and still picturing myself finding my prince. Little did I know that both Lady Di and I would have a rough road with that one.

Anyway, she set her alarm for what had to be about 4:00 a.m. and got up that morning to watch the wedding in real time. I, being a sullen, lazy teen, did not. However, she and I watched the endless reruns together all day long, as well as all the fashion commentaries, etc. These are the strongest memories that this great-granddaughter has of Jennie.

They are meaningful to me though, and represent some quality bonding time that I had with her. As you all may recall, me bonding with any adult at that time was almost non-existant. All most adults saw of me at that time was a closed, locked door. Grandma Rhodes breached the barrier.....

Yes, I remember that. I came up for the weekend during her visit that time and sat through a round or two of re-runs with her. In spite of how it turned out, it was a 'fairy tale' wedding with all the beautiful pomp and circumstance. I know that us girls, from Grandma to Mom to me and to you (4 generations), enjoyed watching it several times.

10,000 Maniacs

"These are days you’ll remember, never before and never since I promise, will the whole
world be warm as this. And as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true, that you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are days you’ll remember, when May is rushing over you with desire to be part of
the miracles you see in every hour, you’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true, that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are days, these are the days you might fill with laughter until you break, these days
you might feel a shaft of light make it's way across your face. And when you do you’ll know
how it was meant to be - see the signs and know their meaning. It's true, you’ll know how it was meant to be.

Hear the signs and know they’re speaking - To you, to you"

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