Emily Williams Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2008

First daycare visit triggers memories

I drove down Memory Lane on my way to work this morning. It was my third day back at work after having my baby boy Bailey. He is the new love in my life, but six weeks cooped up in a house saying “goo” and “ah ga” all day can make a woman stir-crazy. As cute as he is, I had to return to my second home, work.

As I drove, the  Supremes were singing “Baby Love” on the radio. “Cause baby love, my baby love, been missing you, miss kissing you! Baby Baby!”

Oh, I cried and sang. I am sure the song was written about a man and not a baby, but it didn’t matter.

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Bailey’s first babysitter was my dad who suddenly has turned into a “mama daddy” as they call Jeremy at church. He gooed and gahhed so much that he tuned other adults out. I have never seen this side of Dennis Darby, but it is cute and hilarious at the same time.

Well, dad, too, had to go back to his job patrolling the highways. So I took Bailey to another babysitter…the same lady who had kept me 28 years ago.

Debra Stewart Sanders (who looks just as good today as she did back then) took care of me on Pollard Street when I was a baby. She was another mother figure to me, along with neighbor Carol Ann Lightsey. We were a close street family.

Members of our Pollard Street clan grew up to become: Dr. Sandra Lynn Bright, Coach Brad Lightsey, Stephanie Stewart Saine and Eric Avery.

Dr. Bright could make a mean mud pie. Believe me I know!

As I drove along I remembered that supposedly Martha Margaret Perkins Bailey once bit me at Mrs. Debra’s in a dispute over a rocking horse. (We later turned out to be best friends.)

Within days of that episode, I’m told, my granddaddy Bill Bailey bought me my own rocking horse. It seems he didn’t want me to be deprived of anything. So intent was he on spoiling his granddaughter that a few years later, even though he lived in town, he bought me a real horse and had it delivered to his Baker Street yard. He did this without my mother’s approval and had to send the horse back to its owner a few hours later.

“Wonder what granddaddy would have called you?” I asked Bailey softly.

My dear Granddaddy Bailey passed away on a rainy day in my senior year in high school. Naming my child after him was my way of keeping his memory alive.

“Well, I call you Popeye, but that’s what granddad called Cici Carver,” I told Bailey.

As I entered my old Green Acres neighborhood, memories of the “Chain Gang” popped into my head. The “Chain Gang” was a group of 10 – 15 local kids, mostly Pollard kids, who stayed with Mrs. E. G. Sutherland. She kept us in line by having all of us hold onto a rope as we walked along. Everybody had a knot to hold. Sometimes we would take that rope and attach it to a red wagon so we could pull her husband, Mr. Red, who was probably 70, around Green Acres. Very good exercise and I am sure Mr. Red enjoyed the ride. We loved it.

I remember Mrs. Sutherland teaching me everything from good manners to my ABCs. I remember the horrible day that The Challenger blew up. I was seven years old and Mrs. Sutherland told all the children to come into the TV room (we weren’t usually allowed in) and told us to watch because it would be a day we would never forget. I remember it as if it were yesterday.

So, as I write this column during my first few days back at work, I realize how special this little town is and how positive influences from childhood can last a lifetime. I know Bailey will be in good hands as Mrs. Debra helps raise the next generation.