Santa Returns

December 6, 2018

As is often the case, my best laid plans have been postponed. I’ll tell you the story of a certain Santa, his long sojourn in the south and his quiet return to Marion, next week. He’s been here since April.

I have to toss in a couple of personal things about Jim Lithen’s book. First up is a news item from the Evart Review I found in Jim Lithen’s book, The Road to Marion Town. His diligent research, note taking and the inclusion of this item in his work,

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

reminded me of a long forgotten childhood memory of my Grandma Berry.

In 1912 Fern Beebe represented her school, Highland Dist. #4, Frantz-Beebe, at a township wide spelling bee held at Park Lake. This was noted by way of introducing Fern and her contribution in recording the history of the area. It does not say that she won that contest. This was something she liked to point out to her grandchildren and would have pointed out to Jim too, should she have had that opportunity.

Should anyone ask her to spell a word and then question her spelling, she would come back with a not so subtle reply which went something like this.

“You know, I was a district spelling champion when I was your age. You are asking me for the correct spelling since you do not know. Are you sure you want to question me?”

The answer was either yes or no or something totally feeble, which led to more discussion about the word we were questioning. Before the conversation was done we had retrieved her well used dictionary, knew exactly what the word meant, how to spell it and correctly use it. Of course she had been right. Spelling Bee winners love words. She was always a consummate wordsmith.
Secondly, I must confess that I did what  probably 95% of you will do when I received my copy of Road; I checked the index for my family names and read about them first.  We are included by virtue of our ancestors Raymond and Jane Hall Beebe, who staked a claim in Section 34, Highland, in 1871. Indulge in a bit of local family history and name dropping.

The Jolly Old Elf has returned.

The Jolly Old Elf has returned.

One of the witnesses when Raymond Beebe finalized his 160 acre claim in 1876 was another early settler, Isaac Hall. His neighbors were George Frantz to the West, and the well known Charles Barlow just across the line in Hartwick. Both were also Civil War veterans. Raymond and his sons operated the first upright water powered saw mill in Osceola county behind a dam of their making. The mill was erected on Frantz/Beebe creek which ran through their Section 34 property in 1882. Raymond’s oldest son Milt erected the second barn in the township with lumber sawn at their mill in 1885.

The buildings of Milt Beebe’s farm, where Fern and her siblings were born and grew, are sadly long gone. A couple of rocks mark the old mill site, if you know where to look and some of the old Beebe apple orchard still survives. The big white pine which stood over the tiny grave markers of three babies was seriously crippled by Mom Nature quite some time ago.

The coming to Osceola stories of Isaac Hall, Charles Barlow, George Frantz and items about so many more old families are included in Lithen’s book, not to mention the story of the founding of our girl, the Village of Marion. IF I did not already have a copy of The Road to Marion Town it would be at the top of my Christmas list.

*   *   *

I am so sorry to learn of the passing of Oral Rockafellow. My mom and Mrs. Rockafellow, which was how she always referred to her, were friends for as long as I can remember. The family lived on Blevins Street when I started Kindergarten with her twin sons, David and Douglas. I attended school with the boys and their siblings until we left Blevins Street after 5th grade. In the interim Doug passed away. I returned to graduate with David in 1968.

More than 10 years ago Mrs. Rockafellow stopped by Christie’s Potting Shed to give me a small houseplant with scalloped leaves. It was in a white planter, just right for a kitchen windowsill. I knew the plant instantly, although I had not seen one in quite some time. My mom had grown them in her kitchen window, years before.

She said, “You know, your mother gave me this plant years ago. We never knew the name of it so we called it our Friendship Plant. If mine died I knew I could get seeds from her and she knew she could always count on me.”

“We were kindred spirits you know.” I did.

Mrs. Rockafellow, at 96, was the last survivor of my mother’s old, close friends; the last of that little social group of 1950’s moms who talked over clotheslines and kitchen tables. I’ll bet these two old “girls” are catching up over a heavenly cup of tea and talking about children and houseplants.
Most sincere condolences to her large family.



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