A visit with “Miss” Marie Bobo
By Sara Hope
She welcomed me into her pretty little house, and I was eager to hear her story.
She was born in Bagley Hollow 8th District of Moore County on June 11, 1926. She was named for her Grand Mother, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Womble. Her given name is Marie Elizabeth Petty. I have always called her, “Miss” Marie, along with most everyone else here in Lynchburg.
She was the middle of three girls. They were 2 years apart. Her Daddy was a tenant farmer and she said, “I was a country girl Tomboy. Daddy needed our help and we shucked corn and slopped pigs, as good as any boy. Mother taught us to cook and clean and embroiderer. She made all our clothes and gave us our imaginations.”
There was no electricity or running water, and they cooked on a wood stove, so chopping firewood was another skill she acquired.
I asked her if they had indoor plumbing. She smiled and said “Oh Heavens, No. My Mother built our outhouse on the side of the chicken coop. She put aside panel up so there was privacy from the road. We didn’t have to have a door, but she put one up for us, anyway. We also had a Sears Roebuck catalog in there too.” then she tilted her pretty head back and laughed out loud and said, “You haven’t lived till a rooster has pecked your hind end!!!”
“We had a creek at the back of the house, and most times, we were told not to get our clothes wet, but the rocks were slippery” and she smiled and said “we always seemed to fall in.” and then we played all day in wet clothes. “Daddy fixed us a little cookstove, made from stones, and it had a metal top. We actually would start a fire in it, and we would pretend to cook, using dirt and sticks and whatever we could find.” She remembered her Mother, given us bacon to cook for ourselves. “We loved to make pretend cakes and pies.”
A mischievous smile came over Marie’s face and she said, “I’ll tell you this, but you can’t print it.” I gave my word, and could not wait, to hear what came next. She said “sometimes we would go into the pasture and scoop up a snuff can full of sheep manure. We would put it on our little cookstove, and stir them and stir them and pretend we were cooking pinto beans.” After several minutes of us laughing, till our cheeks hurt, I pleaded with her, to let me share that memory with our readers, she smiled and said, “Go ahead and tell it, if you want to.”
“Mother would give us the old, zinc canning jar lids, and we pulled the white plastic seal off of them, and used them as our dishes.” “I remember one time we surprised ourselves, when we knocked a bird out of a tree, with a rock. We plucked it and stewed it in that snuff can.” She smiled and assured me it was just for fun and not to eat.
“We had a radio that ran on a “wet battery”. Daddy had to take the battery out of the car and hook it to the radio in the house. We listened to the Grand Ole Opry, every Saturday night.”
“My Grandmother was so dear. She would cook us dinner, and if there were leftovers, she would keep them in a big glass bowl that sat in the middle of the dining table.” Marie smiled a sweet smile, and said, “I wish I still had that bowl.” “Grandmother would slice cucumbers and onions and soak them in vinegar. She would give us a cold biscuit and we would put those cucumbers and onion slices on it and it was so delicious!!! As I sat across from “Miss” Marie and listened as she shared that memory, my mouth was watering and I longed for one of those cold biscuits.
I didn’t have to ask her the next few questions, her memories just kept coming, and I was loving every minute. She said, “I remember the first make-up I ever got. Grandmother had a friend that sold Lady Ester face powder. My Grandmother gave me a dime, and I bought a little tin of that face powder. I remember smoothing that powder on my cheeks. (As Marie described this moment, she rubbed her hand across her cheeks and smiled the sweetest little girl smile.) That powder made me feel so grown up.”
Marie went to Mt. Herman elementary school. She and her sisters walked 1 ½ miles to school, “rain or shine”. She remembered mornings when it was so cold, “we would walk backward, to block the wind, and try to stay warm.” She started the 8th grade at Moore County. “The bus would pick us up and turn around in our yard, to head back to Lynchburg.”
Marie played basketball for MCHS and was Salutatorian for her Graduating class of 1943. Reagor Parkes was Valedictorian, that year. 54 students began their senior year together, but only 39 graduated. Several boys were drafted or joined the military, during that time. J.C. Church was their class president, and he left school, to join the military. At the graduation, J.C. was missing in action in Europe. They placed an empty chair on the stage for him at the Graduation ceremony. He was buried in Italy. Marie said, “He was so handsome and a wonderful boy and all the girls loved him.” Marie was offered a scholarship at Tennessee Tech, but times were hard and her family could not afford it. She went to work at the Farmers Bank, making $50.00 a month. She said, “I was 17 years old and thought I was the luckiest and richest girl in the world.”
Marie had a downstairs apartment, in the house that is now the Lynchburg Pickers Antiques.
The old gym at the elementary school had been renovated, and it was turned into a skating rink. The young people in town would gather there. Marie said, “I would meet Mary Kay Holt and Wilma Poe, and we would skate often with friends.”
“I remember the night I looked up and saw Neece Bobo, coming in the door of the skating rink. He had just returned from his service as a bombardier in WWII. He had some heavy skates over his shoulder. It was announced that it was “couples skate” and he asked me to skate. When he wrapped his arms around me, I still remember to this day, that my heart just melted, and after that “it was Katie bar the door!!!
Neece would take Marie to the movies and they would go to the bowling alley in Tullahoma. “He would always carry my heavy skates at the skating rink. He was so handsome.” She smiled when she volunteered the fact that, “Neece, was Church of Christ and I was Baptist, but it was no big deal. We got along just fine.”
Marie and Neece were married in August 1946. Marie said that she worked at the Farmers bank until noon on the day they got married, and then they went to the First Christian Church in Tullahoma at 2:00. It was a small wedding with a few friends and family attending. I asked her what she wore, on her wedding day. She sat up in her chair and her eyes brightened and she shared every detail. “My suit was white linen. I got it at Millers Department store in Chattanooga. I had a black patent leather purse and shoes, and I wore a black straw hat. Neece wore a suit and tie, and he was so handsome.” They Honeymooned in Gatlinburg, then back to Lynchburg, where their first apartment was on the lot where Dollar General is today.
He was farming and he bought a service station that was located where the Barrel House BBQ, stands today. He later had a Gas station on the Square and worked with Doc Spencer. Marie worked at Farmers Bank until their first baby, John T., was born in 1948. Then they welcomed Bobby in 1950, Richard in 1951, and David in 1961. Neece had his Gas station, and then he was a rural mail carrier. He took the Post Masters exam and was sworn in as Post Master in 1971.
Having a house full of boys, meant that they walked the fence at every football game, and when Neece bought a station wagon, Marie said “people would bring their kids to me because they knew I would get them to vacation bible school or 4-H or cub scout events.” Their house was the gathering place and was always full of kids.
“We have had a wonderful life here in Lynchburg. Neece provided for our family and took very good care of us. I am so thankful for all that God has given me. I have lived from horse and buggy times to the space age.”
I asked “Miss” Marie if she had any words of wisdom for the young people of today. She said, “Be patient, and let love take care of it all.” “Be thankful and count your blessings.”
She looked out the window, and the hummingbirds were dancing around the feeder and she said, “look at that, all those little birds and that beautiful bouquet of flowers that God gives me every day, I have had such a wonderful life.”
She wanted to share her favorite scripture, Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know I am God.”
As I came back across the creek, to Hope Street, I was counting my blessing, and having “Miss” Marie Bobo as a friend, was near the top of my list of blessings.