A Visit with Dorothy Eady
By Sara Hope
“Life is what happens when you are making plans.” I have used that phrase on numerous occasions when things didn’t go as I hoped they would. Last week, life happened to me.
When I started writing these weekly articles, I had several folks in mind that I wanted to interview. Wednesday of last week was a busy day. On my “things to do” list, I had a note to call Mr. Claude & Miss Dorothy Eady, to ask if I could interview them for a “Hope” article. Like the quote says, life got in the way. I was distracted, and I didn’t make the call that day. The next afternoon, I heard that Mr. Claude was in the hospital. My heart was heavy and filled with regret.
We attended Mr. Claude’s visitation on Wednesday, and visited his family, and paid our respects.
Friday morning, nothing was going to stop me. I was on a mission. I drove to that sweet little brick house on Main Street, that everybody knows as Mr. Claude and Miss Dorothy’s house, and knocked on the door. “Miss” Dorothy welcomed me into her pretty little house like I was one of her own.
Here is my visit with “Miss” Dorothy Eady.
In 1930, Dorothy Hall Eady was born to Willie Matt & Omah Hall, in Lincoln County, Tennessee. She had 3 brothers, Oundell, J.D. & Roy. The family moved to Moore County when Dorothy was 3 years old. They lived in a small white house across Mulberry Creek. Miss Dorothy shared with me, that Mr. Claude was born Sept. 28, 1924, to Morris & Ella Whittaker Eady in Moore County, Tennessee. They both attended Highview School, for the 1stto 8th grades. Because of segregation, Dorothy had to attend High School in Lincoln County. “I remember that Rosie Bailey and I had to cross a log bridge, across the creek, to get to the road. I call it a log bridge but actually it was just a big log with a plank on top, so we could get good footing. We had to get to the road, where Mr. D. Gray (Lucille Gray’s Daddy) would give us a ride to Mulberry, every morning where we caught the bus to Fayetteville.” Mr. Gray was the mail carrier and let them ride, in his car every day. “We rode the Cherokee Bus line back home every evening.” Dorothy graduated from Lincoln County High School in 1948. I asked her what it was like, growing up during that time. She said, “We didn’t have all the things available to us, that kids have today. Mostly we just gathered together, talked, and listened to music. On Sunday afternoons after church, we would play ball or we would go to Sis Eady’s house.” That brought a smile to our faces because there was always something fun happening if Sis Eady was in the crowd.
Dorothy and Claude started dating when she was 16. She called it Date night. “He would come to our house and we just talked. I asked if he was a romantic and she smiled and said, “We did hold hands.”
Dorothy started college at Tennessee State in Nashville in 1948. She would come home to Lynchburg, once a month. “Mother and Daddy would pick me up from the bus station in Shelbyville, and Claude would take me back to the bus, on Sunday.” Dorothy came back to Lynchburg and started teaching at Highview School in 1951. She taught 1st to 4h grades. After the school hired an additional teacher, she had 1st to 3rd grades.
On Friday night, December 5, 1952, Dorothy and Claude, along with Clara Hall, went to a Minister friend of the family, in Shelbyville, and they were married. They came back to Lynchburg and moved into a little house that was next to what is now John and Joan Nolen’s place, on the Lynchburg Hwy.
Three months later they moved to Cobb Hollow (She said it was Cobb Route back then) until 1959 when they built their home on Main Street. Their son, Kevin was born in 1971.
She taught at Highview until it closed in 1967, and started teaching 4th at Lynchburg Elementary School. “I always knew I had the support of parents.” “When I had 1st to 3rd grade at Highview, there were never more than 22 children in my class, and then when I went to LES, I had 40 students. How did I do that? I loved being a teacher and would do it all again.”
Claude started at the Distillery, first kicking barrels then on to “doing whatever needed to be done.” Dorothy said, “He helped Mr. Lem Motlow and worked cattle that the distillery had at that time. The Distillery has been very good to us.” Claude worked for Jack Daniel for 40 years. Dorothy taught for 15 years at Highview and 25 years at LES. They retired in 1992.
Dorothy and Claude have been members of the Berry Chapel Church, their whole life together. I asked her if she helped with the monthly County Building dinners that Berry Chapel Church, had for so many years. She said “those dinners, helped pay for our Church. It was a blessing for us to feed people and keep our church going.” She said, “We all worked together. Everyone knew what to bring and we always had enough to feed everybody.”
As we sat there reminiscing, my mouth started to water, thinking about the green beans and fried chicken and banana pudding. I also smiled when I remembered the wonderful fellowship with everyone in town. As we talked about the County Building suppers, Dorothy also told me about Claude and Curtis Dismukes, Ham Daniel and Jack Hobbs, cooking chitterlings as a fundraiser for the Volunteer Fire Department. She said, “I know I never cooked chitterlings, so it must have been them, or maybe Dill Dismukes, cooked them. I do know they always had a lot of fun.”
I asked Miss Dorothy if she had a memory to share about life as a 4th-grade teacher. She said “I have so many, but I do remember one little boy came into my class one morning, with a big grin on his face. He said he had a gift for me. He brought a jam jar from behind his back and placed it on my desk. There was a snake in that jar and I remember hollering and telling him, to get that snake out of class.”
She said he laughed and assured her it wouldn’t bite.” I asked if she ever sees that little boy. She smiled and said, “Yes, he stood at Claude’s casket, representing the Fire Dept. during the visitation. He came up to me after the service and told me he loved me.”
Miss Dorothy shared that she was proud of all the children she has taught over the years. She mentioned that several of her students had become ministers and that made her very happy.
I asked one more question of Miss Dorothy, “What helped you succeed in your life?” She said, “Put God first and pray. Love one another. Respect one another. Be mindful of things you have and be thankful for them. We are all so blessed.” She also had some advice to share from her Mother, when she and Claude got married. “You are going to disagree, but don’t bring it home to Mother and Daddy. Work it out. Always share, it’s not what’s mine is mine, it’s what’s mine is ours.” Then Dorothy added a little to that advice. She said, “Life is not a Fairy Tale, you have to grow up, and most of all you have to just Get Over It !!” Miss Dorothy is a very wise woman. We could all use that advice, today.
Before I left, Miss Dorothy said “I want to thank everyone for being so good to us. The calls from people and students, the flowers, the kind words, mean so much. I want to thank my son, Kevin. I don’t know what I would do without him.” She shared that the last few months have been difficult for Claude, to get around to his usual stops. “When he went to check the mail and make bank deposits for the church, we worried about him falling.” She smiled and said, “The girls at the bank and at the Post Office would see him pull up and come out to his truck to help him.” She smiled and said, “Only in Lynchburg can you get curbside service to check your mail.”
It was time for me to leave, and I told Miss Dorothy, “Every time I saw Mr. Claude, he sparked something in me. I knew he was on his way to do something nice for someone, or he had just come from doing something nice. Seeing him made me want to be a better person.” After my visit with Miss Dorothy, she too has inspired me to be a better person. To sit with a lady who is 91 years old, and probably seen and had hardships that most of us can not relate to, not once, in our conversation, did she complain or speak unkind words about anything or anyone. She makes me want to be just like her when I am 91 years old.
I will always regret that I missed my interview with Mr. Claude. I was looking forward to watching him and Miss Dorothy, sitting together, smiling at each other and finishing each other’s sentences. I told Miss Dorothy, how sorry I was, that I missed getting to interview the two of them together, and she sweetly said, “Well, God just had other plans.”