Growing up in Louisa – Pillars
Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn
We’ve all heard the expression that someone is a ‘pillar of the community.’ Even as a young kid I immediately conjured up a word picture of those large columns that held up the façade in the Louisa Methodist Church. My family and I attended that church for all of my growing up years. The big cement structures were massive in my mind, and necessary I’m sure, lest the roof fall to the pavement below. In fact, as I grew older I always felt that columns were rather ‘showy’ and were meant to send a message of prosperity. In the case of that church, the earliest pictures of the building that I’ve seen proved these great stone pillars had done their job for more than a hundred years.
So making a claim that a particular man was a ‘pillar’ was a clear message that they were made of the stuff that kept the town from falling. Never mind if it was the dark ages or financial ruin, or moral bankruptcy, it was clear we needed those persons solidly in place. As a kid I was only aware of that to which I was exposed so it took a while to learn about the nature of men. My view was from a lower perspective than other, older, wiser people and my idea of important men was colored by my own limitations or understanding. After all, for the most part my time in Louisa, I was just a little boy struggling to find my place.
Even to a kid it was obvious that the mayor and sheriff were important, as were the several preachers about the town, and doctors, and those that I later called merchants, or businessmen, but many others also come to mind. Of course I remember the teachers because I had occasion to study under them, or at least to speak with them from time to time. From reunions and prior articles I’ve written it is very clear that everyone remembers Bascomb Boyd and Bill Cheek. I also remember Kenneth Hayes and Frank Webster, Pete Armstrong, and Richard Wilson. But beyond rattling off the names of all my teachers, there were others that I figured were pillars. I remember Ed Bradley, Bill Keeton, H.H. Curtright and Byron Young. I remember Edgar ‘Tootie’ Vanhoose, Doc Skaggs, and Doc Carter. I remember Proctor Lyon, Eddie Boggs, C.B. Wells, Andy York, Mack Crutcher, Funny Miller, Luke Varney, Edwin Rice, Bill Elkins, Sr., Lou Wallace, Sheepy Queen, Joe Young, Eldred Adams, Ben Patton, Doc McNabb, Homer Wright, Ed Land, Wayne Wooten, Doc Burgess, Russell Dobyns, Leon Compton, Dee Moore, R.C. Wells, Giles Simpson, Russ Wheeler, J.R. Miller, Quincy Childress, Pat Brown, ‘Lighting,’ Doc Sheley, Tom Hinkle, Jim Smith, Arch McClure, Ern Compton, Jim Moore, and Rev C. Perry.
These are some of the names I was taught to revere, but I’m sure I failed to list another fifty or so. It’s one of those things that you can just sit back and allow your mind to pull them out. Family names jump out too, like Cyrus, Kelly, Turner, Buskirk, Chapman, Clayton, Weaver, Bromley, Sparks, Cain, Jordan, Rice, Walters, Jones, Henson, Davis, Adkins, Hatcher, Spears, Hughes, Young, Jackson, Webb, Ball, Perkins, Cooksey, Shannon, Elswick, Holbrook, Justice, Preece, Nelson, Caudill, Heston, Kelly, Riffe, Chambers, Berry, Damron, Diamond, Ferguson, Hager, See, Bailey, Weeks, Thompson, Wellman, Vinson, Elswick, Bussy, Perry, Roberts, Branham, Meade, McGuire, Maynard, Skaggs, Hayes, Burgess, Ewers, Berry, Burns, Sawyers, Pack, and Hinkle. Whew! That’s a mouthful, but nearly every one of those conjure up a memory, or two. Oh, I don’t necessarily mean stories, but faces in the background, or pleasantries passed, or a helping hand here or there.
If your name isn’t there it’s just that my poor old mind blocked it, or I got sidetracked and typed another name while meaning to do yours. Right now, I see these names as the players I saw while growing up in Louisa. I didn’t name the ladies since back in the day it was ‘supposed’ to be a man’s world, but only on the marquee. There is little doubt that the woman behind the man often had more to do with the real workings of the community. In fact, I can think of several that pushed and prodded their husbands, or just dug in and took over the proceedings. Some took pride in who their husbands were, while others left little doubt as to who wore the pants in the family.
I remember this lady I knew in the Air Force that was well-known for pulling her husband’s rank. One time she informed another lady in line at the commissary that her husband was a colonel. The other lady replied, “Yes, I know. My husband is the sergeant that just saved his life.” Whoa, that’s real rank. Not to defend the snobbish wife of the colonel, but historically it was the women who raised the kind of kids that made this nation great. They also helped their husbands be more than they would have otherwise been. Too often, they are forgotten, and not called pillars. Maybe that’s wrong.
So I’m thinking I will try to draft up a future article naming some of the women who made a difference in the Louisa of our day. That would be an honor roll of mothers, teachers, and real movers and shakers. It would be helpful if you would drop a note with suggestions or nominations for the list. Write me and suggest some favorites as a way to remind me not to forget. Some taught school, some worked in retail, or handled phone calls, drove taxies, sang in the choir, was cub mother, a nurse, and just as importantly, a homemaker. Together they were the glue that made us one. Let’s honor them together.