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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Tom and Isabel - - A Love Story




I want to start this story by telling you that Paul Smith, my lifelong friend was born on Saturday, February 12, 1944, and at about 3 months of age he was just an infant when his sister, Faye Isabel Smith managed to muster the nerve to tell her father she was going to marry Tom White. It took a lot of courage for a young girl to do that in those days for several reasons, but chief among them was World War II.

Scattered about the State of Kansas there were seventeen Army Air Corp Bases, a couple of Naval Air Stations and a number of auxiliary fields during World War II.

In April of 1944 Thomas B.White of Camden, South Carolina was in the beginning stages of B- 29 flight training at Walker Army Air Field near Victoria, Kansas which was under the command of the Second Air Force. It was during a break in his training that Tom sent a Western Union Telegram that would change forever the life of a young woman from Bishopville, South Carolina

Women who did not join the military during the war filled the void left by the men who were either in training or were fighting battles in some far away setting. These women became masters at stinginess; carrying groceries instead of using the car thereby preserving tire rubber and going about bare-legged so that nylon could be used for the war effort; they grew the family food in ‘Victory Gardens’ and learned to sew and repair clothing rather than buying new clothes. Some went on to fill previously men only roles as advertised through ‘Rosie the Riveter’ publicity. In short these women contributed to the morale of the war effort through sacrifice and strength.

At 17 years of age Isabel Smith was newly engaged and a graduate of Bishopville High School. She supported the war effort by taking a job as a telegrapher in Columbia, South Carolina. With Tom away in Kansas Isabel had a lot of time to think and had been distressing about their engagement for some time. So one day in mid-April, 1944 she penned a letter to Tom calling their engagement off!

Dropping the letter off at the Post Office she went on to her telegrapher job where she received this message:

QA78
CA64 NL=WA VICTORIA KANS 14
MISS ISABEL SMITH=
145 SOUTH BULL ST COLUMBIA SOCAR=
GETTING HOME MAY 4TH FOR 11 DAYS IF YOU STILL WANT TO BE MARRIED GET LIST FROM MAMA HAVE EVERYTHING READY I LOVE YOU=
TOM.

Without hesitating and with fingers flying on the key, Isabel sent the following message:

IGNORE LETTER READY WILLING AND ABLE=
ISABEL.

There is a lot more to this saga that needs telling, but in keeping with my long story short policy, Tom had come home much to the delight of Miss Smith, and the two having discussed their plan went hand in hand, to the family grocery store to face her father. They needed his permission to marry because Isabel was three months shy of her eighteenth birth date, and the law required one to be eighteen in order to marry.

J. Manley Smith, whom many of you will fondly recall as the local grocer who placed out-of-the-norm highly opinionated ads in the local paper, surprisingly wrote out the following words on a permission slip without a whole lot of to do:

“I hereby consent to the marriage of my daughter Fay Isabel to Mr. Thos. B White

May 4th ’44 Signed--

J. Manly Smith

While Isabel continued with the wedding arrangements, Tom went on to the Court House to get the Marriage License signed by J Martin Smith, Judge of Probate for Lee County.

That was Thursday, May 04, 1944. The next day Friday, May 5, 1944 they were married at the First Baptist Church in Bishopville.

Isabel remembers that she wore a white lace dress that she had purchased for Easter. My Aunt, Mary Freer Reames (Mrs. Melvin “Shine” Reames) sang for the couple at the wedding.

The fact that these two young persons came to be united in Holy matrimony was an act of providence to me. I believe that had it not been for certain prevailing defining circumstances this wedding would not have occurred.

On May 5th, 2008 Tom and Isabel will be with members of their much-loved family somewhere near South Carolina’s beautiful coast as they celebrate their sixty four years of marriage.

Join with me as I raise my glass in honor of their long life together.

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. White.

After the wedding and a short honeymoon Tom returned to Kansas. Isabel returned to her telegraph job in Columbia. Germany would not surrender until Monday, May 07, 1945. Japan lasted a few months longer surrendering Sunday, September 02, 1945 aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

The newly weds had a long wait before starting their family, and you can bet that that is another story waiting to be told.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Native Learns of Promotion in an E-mail!

Congratulations Becky! We are proud of you and of your service to our country.

Here is the good news e-mail Becky forwarded to us:

-----Original Message-----
From: RADM Casey W. Coane
To: CDR Crichton, Rebecca
Sent: Fri, 2 May 2008 2:07 pm
Subject: Congratulations on Selection to Captain


Dear Commander Crichton:

I believe that the day that you have been waiting for is here - your promotion to Captain in the Navy Reserve. We believe that we've matched up your name and last four of your SSN with the same information on the ALNAV. Because computers and people (like me) make mistakes, I want you to see it with your own eyes - so go http://www.navy-reserve.org/default.aspx?tabid=1930 or to the NPC web site to confirm.

Sincere congratulations! I'm sure that it has been a long climb up the promotion ladder; one that I know you worked very hard for. Enjoy the moment, and all that it brings to you in the next few weeks. I wish you every success at this new level of responsibility and know that you will continue to work hard in your new leadership roles in the Navy.

Many thanks for your membership and service to the Navy and this great country of ours. I hope that this promotion will put it all in perspective for you and your family. Carpe diem!

Best regards.
Casey W. Coane
RADM, USN (Ret)

Planter of the Mystery Tree Has Green Thumb

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I motored out to visit with Mickey and Anne McDowell in their lovely rural home located south of Bishopville on highway 341 recently, and discovered that the planter of that now famous Cork Oak Tree does indeed have a green thumb. Take a look at the picture above… Mickey planted that majestic oak too!

Mickey and Anne have a fantastic vegetable and flower garden complete with greenhouses, raised beds, irrigation; everything that a gardener could hope for. They have strawberries, blue berries, grapes, corn, cabbage, etc. and all sorts of flowering plants. I’m so ‘green’ with envy; if you will pardon the pun.

Mickey has had his eye on this one succulent looking tomato and is looking forward to slicing into it in the near future. I thought it was ready to be shared then, but what do I know; my tomato plants are barely three inches tall. Mickey is the expert.

If you know this charming couple then you know that wherever Anne is, you will find Mickey close by. And it’s been that way since their days in high school.

Mickey and Anne graduated from Bishopville High in 1949, raised three wonderful kids; Vicky, Cindy, Lisa and David. If you get a chance drop a dime and call them. Be sure to tell them that this Native thinks they are the greatest!

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