This Here House was the oldest house from the Alabama line to the Mississippi River, and it was located in Oktibbeha County at Maben.
Two best friends sitting on the front porch, “jest a visiting” as they did at least once a week. “Miss Stella Mae Azwell Pilkinton, age 82, “jest a swinging” in her swing, and her “bestest” friend, “Miss Maudine Fulghan Henry, age 76, “jest a rocking” in her rocking chair..both enjoying the gorgeous May 19, 1995, early morning and into this very afternoon.
I discovered, “This Here House,” and who owned it so that I might ask... may I come to Maben to meet you, and to paint “the oldest house from the Alabama line to the Mississippi River” tomorrow.
Miss Stella Mae Azwell Pilkinton graciously said to me over the telephone, “Happy to have you come down to see me tomorrow, Miss Carole...be looking forward to meeting and having you visit me, and “This Here House!”
I could hardly sleep waiting to get a very early start towards Maben, at daylight. I knew that this would certainly be an “all day” and into the afternoon painting...and after all I was painting “The Oldest” house in our Oktibbeha County as well as “The Oldest House from the Alabama Line to the Mississippi River!”
I kept thinking after I hung up the phone with my lovely invitation to “come down” from Miss Stella that I ... without a doubt... had a wonderful experience waiting for me tomorrow! After I finished talking with Miss Stella, I decided to phone my dear and wonderful friend, Miss Mary Lou Tuck, who was the mother of our distinguished, Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi, Miss Amy Tuck!
As soon as Miss Mary Lou answered, and I told her who I was on the “other end of the line,” she said, “Oh, Carole, I can hardly wait to see you tomorrow, and I’ll drive up to see you and Miss Stella Mae, and then Miss Mary Lou...ended our phone visit with her “million dollar hearty laugh!”
Miss Mary Lou’s laugh was almost a “giggle,” and I think her laugh was her greatest “trademark,” and did she love her daughter, Amy Tuck, and her son, Al Tuck.
Amy and Al’s daddy and Miss Mary Lou’s husband had been the postmaster for the Maben, area for years and years. There is not a family more loved and well known any more than the Tuck family.
Miss Amy Tuck had decided to get into Oktibbeha County politics very early in her life, and I often wondered... “what if Miss Mary Lou Tuck had been our Lieutenant Governor instead of Miss Amy Tuck?” The entire Tuck family has loved politics for generations, and I considered Miss Mary Lou Tuck, “The First Lady of Mississippi Politics!!!” Oh, I knew that for sure tomorrow, Miss Mary Lou Tuck would drop by to see me, and welcome me to her town, Maben!
As my car headed towards my destination for the entire day...my heart skipped a beat or two... as I thought silently, “Oh, my goodness...I am so excited about creating this painting that I can hardly wait to get my art supplies all out of this car, and get “set up” for my day of “heaven on earth!”
As soon as I arrived, I saw could see a face that must belong to, Miss Stella Mae Azwell Pilkington as she began to come towards my now...parked car. The house was located on sorta a hill, and she was slowly making her way down this hill to greet me with her words, “so happy to have you come by today, and I “welcome” you to... “THIS HERE HOUSE!”
Immediately Miss Stella Mae had given me her gift of a title for my “painting to be!” What a perfect title! As we got acquainted as native Mississippians, and headed back up the tiny hill that the house “was planted” on...I suddenly noticed another wonderful lady standing in the shadows of the early morning sunlight on the old porch. Quickly I was introduced to “my bestest friend,” Miss Maudine Fulgham Henry from down “the road a piece.”
“She drops by to see me jest about every day or so, and we are all going to have an old-fashioned vegetable dinner at ‘dinner time!’...we want you to join us, will you?”
My answer, “YES”...I’ll be delighted to join you two ladies for “dinner time!” In our Deep South... ‘dinner’ is 12 noon time, and “supper” is our “night dinner”...Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper!
I walked up the old wooden front steps, and visited a few minutes, and then told the two ladies that I must leave them for a little while to begin my painting for this day, and “I would see them both in a little bit!” I had suddenly met two wonderful new friends, and had a kind invitation for “dinner time!” They both showed their “welcoming nature” and very gracious “Southern Hospitality” to me.. a perfect stranger ...however we had the “thread that bound us together from the start”...we were all three... “native Oktibbeha girls,” and let’s say, we knew the same people and “spoke” the same language...” why I was just “down the road” from Maben... in Starkville!
I looked at my subject in front of me, and said, “Okay, Carole, get busy sketching cause this is going to be quite a painting that you must start and finish today!” I must “re-build” the old house step by step and oh the front yard with all those plants. As I walked up the hill to the porch earlier, I noticed that all the flower pots had been “buried” into the ground. They each had their own pot inside the dirt. I had never seen this done before! It did not take me long to become “lost in my own world” and I blocked out all of the traffic on the highway coming and going to and from work.
I especially could feel the vibration of the many large logging trucks carrying those freshly cut Mississippi trees...heading to the “lumber yard.”
Forestry is one of our biggest industries in our great state of Mississippi, and we have so many “loggers” as well as “logging trucks” out in the county. When they would pass me, many times I could hear the ‘ole logger, “pull his horn”..as we say...and this sound was definitely not the sound of an ordinary car passing by me!
I had positioned myself down at the bottom of the little hill near the “old highway” ...This “old highway” was about to be changed to a “new highway” and guess what was about to happen to this “treasure” on top of the tiny hill?
It was scheduled to be torn down to make way for our “new four lane highway!”
This was so sad that this “Oldest House from the Alabama Line to the Mississippi River” would be torn down for progress.
How could “we” possibly destroy this beautiful home that had stood with dignity and with honor sooooooo long? It made me very sad, and I kept sketching and sketching quickly as if “it” might happen even today!...
Soon “it” would be gone forever, and I would only have it sketched and painted on my canvas to save forever this very day and this very moment...I must keep sketching and then painting before this day was over!...I felt a very urgent calling...to do a great job on this particular painting...because none of us would see “This Here House” much longer nestled on the top of the tiny hill in Maben.
Progress moves on...but this scene will be gone...but..I shall save it on my canvas today for future generations to look at and enjoy “her” beauty and “her test of time” shall not be in vain!
Together, lets look at the house. It has a wonderful tin roof. Really you see the main roof, and the roof that is the “over hanging” one that covers the front porch area. The old brown wood has “aged with grace,” and it is “lovely!”
See the wonderful double windows across the front of the old porch. Look at the cute “tied back” white curtains especially to the right of the porch.
There is a an old bench type of a “two seated” chair, and you’ll see Miss Maudine Fulgham Henry sitting on one side of the front entrance way in a rocking chair or is it a second swing? By the way...her maiden name, Fulgham, is a well-known name in Oktibbeha County...I could say, “we have a lot of Fulghams around Oktibbeha County!”
Her little face with her blue/grey hair looked so sweet, and she came week after week to “spend the day” with Miss Stella Mae Azwell Pilkington...They would rock and swing for “hours on end, and then go inside for a delicious “melt in your mouth...homegrown vegetable dinner!”
Let’s closely look at the front porch...see the wonderful clothes lines that droop up and down across the front porch from post to post with the clothes pin wooden hangers still in place for Miss Stella Mae to hang out her day’s wash! She loves growing flowers...look at all the sizes and shapes of those green flower pots to the left of the porch. t
The entire house has a foundation of “sagging” brick pillows holding it “sorta straight” and “standing up!” Five wooden, creaky steps lead up to the porch and it front door.
Let your eyes go from the two end posts holding the porch which is “clinging” to the roof. The right post is leaning slightly, but those two strong pieces of wood are “holding”” the porch to the rest of the house! The front yard “landscaping” is “to die for!” Pots put into the ground with flowers and plants “thriving” and doing “quite well” in their plastic containers. I wondered to myself, is this why there are so many plastic flower pots lined up as if they were “soldiers” ready to “march” out into the front yard...to be “buried” into the dirt to become the “contained home” for a flower or a plant? I just had never seen this done before!
There was one big and beautiful old tree with its largest limb which fell slightly over the end of the left side of the roof line of the porch, and I could see trees in the back yard of the old house, and a leaning tree on the right side yard. You can see a “piece” of a scarecrow dressed in one of Miss Stella Mae’s old tattered blue dresses to the far right side in line almost with the house itself! “She” is an “outside...piece of yard art!
It was getting nearer the 12 o’clock dinner time hour, and I suddenly heard a car driving up right besides me. “Hello Carole...we are so happy to have you down this way...the driver’s side...of the front door opens...and I could hear her special laugh even before I knew who it was... Miss Mary Lou Tuck”...of course...she had “promised that she would drop by to see about me..and how I was doing!!!”
I put down my brush, and gave her a great big hug! We both looked up, and spotted Miss Stella Mae coming towards us from the top of the tiny hill. She said, “now y’all both come on in my old house...it’s 12 o’clock...it’s dinner time...so happy to see you Miss Mary Lou...y’all come on now!”
In we all three went, and were greeted again by Miss Maudine who had been helping Miss Stella Mae set the old kitchen table with one light bulb...hanging from the ceiling over the round oak kitchen table which was set beautifully with her everyday china and in the middle was a beautiful tiny vase of flowers cut from her front yard “potted” flower pots...buried in the ground. The flower arrangement was very colorful and pretty.
I can say without a doubt this was one of the most delicious vegetable dinners I have ever eaten in my life! We had hot cornbread with butter “dripping” from the side of the bread, sweet tea with lemon, and vegetable after vegetable bowl was “passed” from guest to guest that day at noon time, dinner time!
The chandelier was that wonderful..dangling one light bulb above the kitchen table. The straight back oak chairs with the soft “homemade soft cushions in the seats were oh...comfortable. I had been standing all morning long, and I really needed to sit down and rest my legs. What was for dessert?...Why, freshly baked apple pie with ice-cream on top. The freshly sliced tomatoes, the butterbeans, corn on the cob, were three of many more vegetables that I enjoyed the most.
Dinner was over, and we all four felt very “stuffed,” and each one of needed to take a “cat nap”... however, I hugged and “thanked” the two hostesses, and heard the front door slam behind me as I went back down the tiny hill to “my painting spot” to complete my painting for this day.
Mary Lou Tuck stayed behind to talk, laugh, and visit a while with her two old friends. Soon Mary Lou came back down to “my spot”...we hugged each other “good bye,” and I remember saying to her... “now, tell Amy, Al, Linda, and Bethany ‘hello’ from me, and...” I love you, Mary Lou Tuck”...and I heard once more her wonderful...special... “Mary Lou Tuck laugh” as she drove away.
I finished my painting, “This Here House,” hugged Miss Stella Mae” and Miss Maudine... “good-bye”...telling them how very much I had enjoyed getting to meet them and “thanking” them over and over again for their delicious dinner meal and for their wonderful very southern hospitality...I ended with “I love you both!”
“This Here House,” the oldest house from the Alabama line to the Mississippi river was torn down for the new four lane highway to be built. They call it “progress”...but “progress”.. “won” out... over ... “history!”
We all ride now on a brand new four lane highway, but when I pass by this very spot...in my own mind and in my imagination as I glance up on to the tiny “use to be hill”...I can still see... “This Here House” with two good “bestest” friends... Miss Maudine Fulgham Henry rocking in a chair and Miss Stella Mae Azwell Pilkington “jest a swinging” in her white swing, chatting and telling each other secrets...the two clothes lines from post to post with the wooden clothes pins still on the line...”waiting” for the next wash to be hung up and dried from the breeze of a summer’s day...the pots on the left side at the end of the porch...the double windows across the porch...four windows...with the “tied back”...starched and simple white curtains, the five “creaky” wooden steps leading to the front door which lead us that day into the “bestest” vegetable dinner iI had ever eaten in my life.
All prepared by two good friends to serve their guests that day for dinner...and oh that yard with the buried flower pots filled with “thriving well”...plants and flowers...and the one “Miss Scarecrow” to the right of the side yard... “sporting” one of “Miss Stella Mae’s old blue dresses as a touch of yard art, as well as to keep the birds away from her apple trees.
“This Here House” is gone forever, but on my canvas “she” lives forever in my heart and soul! An artist tries hard to see... and then paint... from her heart and soul, and when she has accomplished what she wants to ...with each painting...or when she feels that it is completed...then the artist gets to share what she saw that day and what she experienced in each and every pencil mark and brush stroke with you... “the viewer”...there is no money in the world that can buy inspiration and creation from the heart of a real artist...there is absolutely “no price tag” because it all came from the soul of an artist! My paintings are... my “special gift” to you!