The Soul's Path and the Old Homeplace
My Soul's Path and the Old Homeplace
Do you spend time trying to define your purpose here on Earth?
The business leaders would have you to believe that it is to make money; to accumulate material "stuff".
Now I do understand that this is a very powerful message. I was the first woman sales-manager for a large insurance company for many years. We always had monetary goals, known as "carrots" within the company, which were of themselves suppose to motivate us to "go out and sell, sell, sell."
Not only did I have personal goals, but I was expected to help five to ten other men and women decide upon their own monetary goals on a weekly, quarterly, even yearly basis.
But within myself, I always felt that I was to help others in many different ways and the money, or the things I needed, would come my way. My faith was deep and hardly ever waived. I had the confident assurance that what I needed was waiting for me eventho' I could not see it.
Growing up without any money for the "things" of life is referred to as "being poor" within our society.
As a girl growing up poor in the South, I knew that we did not have many material things - not even a fan for those hot, sultry days - but I always found comfort in the fact that we had a modest home sitting on one hundred acres of land. The house had been handed down within my mom's family for five generations.
Our home may have been considered a "worn out house" by society's standards, but it had been built with good materials in 1865 and stood as a landmark for almost one hundred years when I was in grammar school during the 1950's. The outside had been neglected due to lack of monies and was in need of many repairs. From then on, I felt as if I was suppose to "fix up" this sturdy house. I would day dream about some of the things I wanted to do.
On the east side of the home-place was a space that had been a nice screened porch in the 1920's, but was in such need of repairs that it was not used from the 1950's until after the turn of the century in 2000.
When I was about ten years old, I remember telling my mother that the "old screened porch" would make a perfect place for a bathroom as it was next to her bedroom. Mother did not share my desire to remodel the area for a bath, and the porch sat useless most of my life.
When I was in my sixties, both of my parents died and the old home-place was willed to my sister and me.
Under the direction of my very capable and goal oriented sister, we set upon a path of bringing the one hundred, forty year old house into the twenty first century.
My heart and soul was caught up in remodeling the old porch and creating a new bathroom which would be located next to "my" bedroom.
The bathroom is charming: not "modern" looking, but modern in function..
The walls are of boards painted white, with tile as the back splash behind the sink mounted in an old fashined dark wood cabinet. The tile wraps around the tub area which features a lovely lace shower curtain which was given to me by my close friend, Lane Arrington Poole. She also helped me clean floors in 2007 during the time I was actually moving into the old homeplace. Friends Mona and Leslie Bhimull, originality from Trinidad, cleaned and shined the windows and put the final touch on the wide plank, heart of pine floors.
The small crystal chandelier dresses up the bathroom as it hangs in the center of the ten by ten foot space. The beveled glass window is the focal point of the quaint bath and was given to me by a carpenter who worked on the total remodeling of the home-place.
I did not spend hours looking for certain items for the house, but I just let what was suppose to be there find their way to me. And this happened continually during the remodeling.
But first, let's go back in time to the beginning of the home-place.
1864 was a devastating time in the South. General Sherman's Union Army had burned Atlanta, Georgia to the ground, and the troops were burning and pillaging all that was in the way down to the Savannah, Georgia, a beautiful city located near the coast. History calls it the "March to the Sea."
The home of my great, great grandfather, Gideon Tyler Burdett, was in that path of destruction. His house was burned down, the livestock confiscated, and the fields scorched.
Being a man of courage, Mr. Burdett immediately started constructing another place in which to live: a simple thirty by thirty foot structure with three bedrooms and a parlor built around two strong brick chimneys, with a fireplace opening into each of the four rooms. The floors were made of heart of pine and were cut from the timber that was remaining on the land.The kitchen was built away from the small home-place due to the danger of fire from the cook stove.
Mary Jane was twelve years old when her daddy built the home-place in 1865. At his death, in 1879, Mr. Burdett willed the home and all of the land to his daughter, Mary Jane Burdett Jones, who was then twenty-six.
During her lifetime, Mary Jane gave birth to numerous sons, and only one daughter, Carrie Laura Elizabeth Jones, born in Savannah, Georgia on July 8,1881. They all lived at the home-place sometime during their lives.
Mary Jane died on April 9, 1921 and her body was shown in the "parlor", later known as the living room.
Upon her death, the home-place was willed to her only daughter, "Carrie", who was then forty years old.
During the early 1900's, my grandmother had a porch added across the front and around the sides of the house.
Carrie married Granville Bevill and gave birth to a daughter, Bernice, on October 12, 1912 at the homeplace; her next child was Thelma Lucy, who arrived on "Tuesday morning 9:50 o'clock", Feb 16, 1915; she was my mother.
Carrie's husband was an electrician and wired their home for electricity in the 1930's.
After I was born, when I was about three, I remember sitting on grandmother's bed and helping her count the money that she had made during the day at the "Five Mile Bend General Store", which she owned until her untimely death of a heart arrack on March 29, 1945. I was only four years old.
My grandfather, Granville Bevill, died of throat cancer three years later on February 6,1948 when I was seven years old and my brother, Herbert Granville Thorpe, was a seven month old infant.
After the funeral, Bernice Bevill Hicks, her husband, Thomas R. Hicks, from Oklahoma, and their two sons, Tommy and Richard, lived in the old homeplace.
My mother, Thelma Lucy Bevill Thorpe, my brother and I moved into an upstairs apartment in Nashville, Tennessee that our dad rented for us iafter he found work at the Nashville Photo Engraving Company. We lived in the capitol of Tennessee for three years, then moved back to the homeplace in 1951.
In 1952, mother's baby girl, Thelma Terri Thorpe. was born and came home to the Old Homeplace. During these years, I would "babysit" for both my brother and sister during the happy years we lived there.
In 1955, Herbert, found work in Birmingham, Alabama, so the entire family moved once again. I was a freshman at Phillips High School. During these years the Old Homeplace was rented out to a family named Ammons.
The time in Birmingham, Alabama, moved quickly as TIME does, and in October 1960, Thelma, Herbert, Terri, and Herbie moved back to the Savannah home.
I graduated, worked at WYDE Radio then Alabama Gas Corporation, married James Durwood Watkins, bore three sons and lived in Alabama for about twenty years. Then we all moved to Garden City,Georgia, a near-by community about eight miles away from the Homeplace in 1973.
During the 1970's, mother updated the electrical wiring, adding some lovely light fixtures through out the house. Sheet rock also replaced the original plaster; the three fireplaces in the bedrooms were closed up when central heating was added.
Mother became a true servant of the Lord and in 1984 founded "Faith Christian Retreat, Inc" and celebrated "God Bless America Day" for eighteen years. It was free and opened to the public.
A gazebo was built to overlook the five acre lake in 1984 by James, Jared, Trace, and Brad Watkins, my husband and three sons. The Homeplace became a part of Faith Christian Retreat. Many folks attended the joyous Fourth of July gathering, featuring gospel music, a children's parade organized by Terri, and delicious hot dogs and hamburgers cooked by Woody Watkins.
When mother and dad entered their eighties, their health began to fail, so the uplifting celebrations were discontinued.
Thelma Lucy Bevill Thorpe lived until July 2002; Herbert Lester Thorpe lived until the age of 95 and was buried in Bonaventure Cemetary next to my mother in 2007.