Friday, December 16, 2016

Stepping into history: A conversation with Jo Beach.

Joe holding newborn Clara in May of 2015

I had the privilege yesterday of visiting with a member of my church, something I do as often as I can for those who have difficulty in getting to church.  I went to the home of Jo Beach, who is in her 98th year and has been a member at First Baptist for over 80 years.  In our conversation, Jo talked about the past quite a bit, which is always fascinating to me as a lover of history.  Three things in particular stood out from that conversation: (1) That Jo's grandfather was a POW at the notorious Andersonville, Georgia prison in the Civil War.  Jo's grandfather never got over the horrors that he witnessed there, and was unable to work the rest of his life.  My grandfather was in the merchant marines in WWII which was 75 years ago, what an incredible step back into history that Jo's grandfather was a Civil War veteran, that war having ended 151 years ago. (2) Jo herself was born 16 days after Armistice Day, the end of WWI on 11/11/1918.  Her father was not yet conscripted, but would have soon joined the army to be shipped over to Europe, but the war ended. (3)  Jo was born near Cook Forest and her father worked at one of the lumber mills there.  The lumber mill only paid its employees with script redeemable at the company store.  One day, Jo's mother went to the store and demanded a portion of her husband's earnings in cash, to which the company employee replied, "What do you want cash for?"  Jo's mom made her husband quit his job, presumably after an interesting conversation, and the family moved before Jo started school here to Franklin where several of their extended family members already lived.

The next time you have a chance to talk to somebody who was born sixty years or more before you, take it, you won't regret the chance to get a glimpse at the window into the past that they can provide.

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