Memorial Day brings out the best in Americans, and oh, how we need it now, remembering all that makes our nation so special,  during this nightmare of a presidential campaign. At least for one day we feel connected and sing “God Bless America” together, for many of us not just a song but an urgent prayer!.

Strangely, there was no Memorial Day when I grew up. Instead we honored veterans on Armistice Day, November 11.  Some of us got out of high school to sell red paper poppies in downtown Orlando, to benefit the  American Legion. My post was in front of Yowell-Drew-Ivy Department Store on Orange Avenue. The only veterans we knew were from World War I.  World War II was underway, but Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Isis, and other future war horrors were never imagined then.

So my May Memories begin just remembering the fragrant, lovely warm air of Maytime down South. (I lived in Gainesville, Georgia in grammar school days.)   A delicious scent came from dewy  new grass, pink, red, and yellow roses spilling over garden fences, the heady sweetness of gardenias, and so many other fresh, growing, blossoming things. They combined in a delicate, delicious fragrance blown on the soft May breezes. Better than any perfume in bottle. I can still detect that wonderful scent today, when I go out in our yard, slow down for a few deep breaths – and for an instant am a child again in May..

Another May Memory: permission from Mother to go barefooted (we didn’t say  “barefoot”). Off came our stodgy, tie-up Buster Brown school shoes. Hooray!  At first I would mince along gingerly, like a sissy. But when my feet got a little tough, ah – the ticklish, delightful feeling of tall grass cushioning your feet in games of  Kick The Can, Hide and Seek,  Mother, May I?, and Snake In The Grass. We’d wash our dirty feet at night before going to bed, sitting on the side of the bathtub.

I need to back up. I forgot to tell about the very first day of May – May Day, when two really Big Deals happened!

First ,May Day Baskets. Do children still do this? I confess I didn’t with my five little Ryles. But  I loved doing it as a child. Under Mother’s guideance  my little brother and I would  cut colored strips of construction paper and weave them into a little  square basket, one strip glued across the top for a handle. Mother would put a few pretty flowers inside. Then came the really fun part. We would sneak up on a  neighbor’s porch,  hang the basket on the doorknob, knock or ring the doorbell, and scoot away to hide and spy on them as they opened their door. Wow – mystery, surprise! I felt almost like Nancy Drew.

The other really Big Deal was  May Day at Brenau College, which was just two blocks down the street from our house. I don’t think any little girl ever enjoyed anything more than I did that beautiful event each year. The audience sat under the big oak trees on the campus, around a stage platform. It always began with the  march from  the opera Aida, (a recording), trumpets royally sounding ta-ta tah, dum dum dum ta ta ta.Then the beauties of the May Court appeared two by two,  almost floating in their long gorgeous dresses  under the trees to the stage. They wore the most delicate pastel colors: two in lavendar, then pale pink, daffodil yellow, sky blue.  Finally, the May Queen herself, as splendid as any bride in her white frills and lace. To entertain the court, girls holding colored ribbons then danced around the May pole, until it was covered like a tall upright rainbow. And little Nancy Dendy felt I’d been right in the middle of a Fairy Tale come true!

One last sweet May Memory: wearing a rose to honor your mother on Mother’s Day. In our church (First Presbyterian at the corner of Green Street and Brenau Avenue) just inside the door was a huge basket of cut roses, red and white. The elders and deacons would help us choose one. Being a little girl so imaginative and romantic it was ridiculous, I remember feeling so, so sad for every person I saw wearing a white rose…wondering when and how their mother died, so sorry they were part orphans (even though they may have been  gray- haired oldtimers!)

The poet wrote “What is so rare as a day in June?” But he was British. What did he know? It SHOULD be “what is so rare as a day in May?” And what is better as we grow older than happy memories to live through again?








21 thoughts on “MAY MEMORIES”

    1. Thank YOU so much! I have written you so many “thank you notes” in my head that never got put on paper, each time you sing or play a solo in church. You are SO gifted, and you always remind me of your darling mother. Love you, Nancy


    1. You are the dearest friend, always cheering me on, no matter how trite my effort. Hope to see you tomorrow morning, and learn all about your visit to Statesboro and little Madeleine. love you, Nancy


  1. Lovely memories! I remember the roses on Mother’s Day. We would go outside and cut one from my Moms bushes before church.


    1. Thank you, Charlotte! What I remember about Mother’s Day at MFB is that Nell Claire ALWAYS was the honored mother with the most kids there! I loved her so much and miss her. I love you too. Nancy


      1. Charlotte, i am such an idiot with this computer that I don’t know if you got my message, so here is another. Thanks so much for your note I loved Nell Claire and always miss her. Love, Nancy


  2. Lovely thoughts, Nancy. Up North, we called it Decoration Day and decorated all the graves. I can still see my parents gathering armloads of lilacs and taking them to the cemetery where my grandmother was buried. My father would clip the grass and neaten the area while my mother told us family stories. (So glad Dixie promoted your blog on Facebook. That’s how I found you.) Write on, my friend.


    1. Thanks, dear “Rue.” Right now I can’t get on Facebook and feel SOOO frustrated..Have to wait til Dixie or another kid can help me out of this morass called computer language! Thank you so much for your memory – lilacs are so divine. I wish they did well down South. Love you, Nancy


  3. Oh Nancy, so good to hear your “notes” again, miss y’all so much. I replied right away, but, it didn’t go through, I had to get Bibb to help me. Technology is sure difficult for ‘ol folks 😊 Much love to you and all your family,
    Diane & Bibb


  4. Nancy, it’s so good you are doing your “notes” again, love keeping up with you. I did FB and got hacked twice, so, won’t do that anymore, but, I miss seeing pictures of all our friends in Marietta. Love to you and all your family,
    Diane and Bibb


    1. Thanks. So good to hear from you. I don’t undertand how to “do” Facebook at all, OR to blog. I sort of stumble along and end up with several different ways to see the same thing. Anyway, thanks for writing and love to both of you!


  5. Nancy, you brought your May Day to life for me, such a special memory. We wore white flowers to church for Mother’s Day and usually ours were Nerines. (Also attended a Presbyterian Church) Thank you for sharing such vivid memories!


  6. I’ve been meaning to e mail since Emily,s wedding when I realized Dixie and husband were there and then we ate the same table for dinner. she not only looks like you but is LIKE you also. it just brought back childhood memories of us together. they are both so much fun. All of my children were there as well as Wilkes’ so it was the next best thing to a family reunion. On Sunday, my children and I rode down to Griffin to see the house we lived in there. we parked one of our vehicles on a side street and all piled in a Van (8) and rode around. when we all got out in front of our house(on the street) a man came out and we told him we had lived there once but he was NOT impressed and went back inside. It was amazing how much I remembered after 60 years there. We ate at a restaurant up town and then drove on to Atlanta to see the house Jack grew up in and which all but Beth remembered. A couple was out on the street next door and was so nice and told them the couple living in the house was gone but knew it would be alright just to walk all Round, which we did. that was a fun day!!! The Emerson house is on Peachtree Hills Ave.- just a block off of Peachtree and the Emersons built it in 1923. We looked up the appraised value of the house now and it is over $500,000!!! Its about halfway between the city and Lenox and I guess it’s location, location!!! I still see Mary Ann pretty often, mostly at music things. she is not a member of the Music Club but brings one of the members to various things quite often. She tickles me so. Hope all is well with you and Dallas. Love, Joanne


  7. I don,t know HOW I forgot to mention your Memorial Day memory because that was the main reason for writing. I forwarded it to all my children and had great responses– as well as to one of my best friends here who was N English major and loves to write also. she was most complimentary. It really brought back memories– especially the poppies on Nov. 11 and that we didn,t even have a “memorial Day celebration until after more wars. I had not e en realized that. Love again Joanne

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Joanne, loved hearing from you. Dixie enjoyed seeing everyone so much at the wedding, and brought up your family picture on email for me to see.
      How wonderful that so many were there! WE’re doing okay, Dallas about the same. Love you so much, Nancy


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