By Loretta Humble/Around the Town
It is deadline time and I need to write something quick if I’m going to have a column for this week, so I guess I’ll resort to telling you today (June 19) is my birthday.
Precisely 80 years ago I was born in a house in the middle of those pecan trees across the road from where I live now. It was Father’s Day. They told me that everything on the place had babies that day. Story is baby chickens hatched, the cat had kittens, a cow had a calf, maybe there were even baby pigs involved. Surely this is an exaggeration, but all the people who were there other than me are gone now, so I guess I can tell it, however, I want to. I like to think there was something weird and special about my arrival, so I keep telling it.
I’ll bet I’ve told my family history at least a half a dozen times in this column through the years. But it is kind of interesting and it has been useful for filling space.
My parents, Walter and Ruth Sims, met through a Lonely Hearts advertisement. He was 44 and she was 22. Joe Faulk, Bill Faulk’s dad, told me everybody snickered about Daddy getting a mail order bride until they saw her. Then they shut up. Joe said she was a beauty. Daddy had four children stair-stepping down from 18 years to 12 or 13. After a respectable passage of time my sister Mary was born. Over the next 12 years they lost two babies, and then on Juneteenth and Father’s Day 1938, I and a bunch of farm critters showed up.
Daddy had one daughter, Bessie, who everybody loved. But she grew up, moved away and died before I was big enough to remember ever seeing her. They used to tell me I was just like her. She was a teacher, and I heard lots of times how everybody, especially Bessie, scrimped and sacrificed in order for her to go to college. They all seemed to remember it as an excellent time. There were three boys. Willie Sims, who was well known in Malakoff years ago, and who left that big model train set up to the Malakoff Historical Society was the oldest. He and Catherine never had children. Grover, the youngest son, was good-looking, adventurous and funny. He had one daughter, Gayla, who lives way off in Washington State and keeps in touch with us on Facebook. The middle son was Rupert, who had three daughters, my half-nieces, though all were born before my arrival. One is Jeanne Hampton, wife of Wade, who was also very active around Malakoff for years. In later years they became the children Willie and Catherine never had. They now own the home where I spent most of my high school years. Just a couple of years ago we lost Rupert’s middle daughter, Betty Fontenot, who with her husband Leonard owned the Fontenot Acres Trailer Park near me, on part of what was once part of the old Sims farm.
I had already been planning to tell you about Hilda Anding, Rupert’s oldest. She just checked into Cedar Lake Nursing Home a couple of weeks ago. I never thought she would do it. She is just 85. She has lived such a vibrant, upbeat life, and has been so healthy I expected her to live to be 100 and then drop over from exhaustion. In short, she has always been a well-loved, always-entertaining favorite of our family. She has slowed down a little, now getting around with a walker, but still full of life and great to be around. Somewhere about 55 years ago, Hilda and Roy Anding bought the part of the farm where I grew up. Later Hilda passed it on to Wesley and Lisa Anding, the folks I keep bragging on who have created Anding Acres, a really cool first-class Wedding and Event Venue, across the road from me on the part of the property that used to be Wesley’s Aunt Bessie’s portion of the place.
We five Sims children were given 50 acres of the old Sims place. I live on mine. Gradually all the others sold theirs. My sister Mary sold hers after her home there burned. Rupert lived away from here most of his life, so it is kind of interesting that all of his kids, one by one, and then some of their kids, one by one, came back to make their homes here. Of course Jeannie and Wade live in the house in town, but it is still a Sims place. None of Daddy’s sons had sons, so there nobody left named Sims, but thanks to me and Rupert’s kids, there is still a lot of Walter Sims bloodline roving around on the property he first took ownership of a hundred years ago.