“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 23, NO. 17&18 – MISS SOPHIE PHILIPS
By my friend, Ben
Lookin’ at Miss Sophie layin’ there in her casket, I had to admit she were as perty in death as she were in life. She were. Nobody knowed how old Miss Sophie were. There were a tale told by youngens that she’d found the fountain of youth an’ that she were at least three hundred years old. Well, iffen that were so, I reckon her fountain had done dried up. It did.
Miss Sophie were thought by most folks round about to be a witch. She were. Now Miss Sophie didn’t call herself that, just folks here an’ there. As I heard it, Miss Sophie called herself a naturalist. She did. I reckon the witch label got on there cause she were a sight different than everyone else in Hickory Ridge, an’ I reckon, Morgan County. She were.
She lived about a mile outta town on the ol’ Tanner place. She just showed up in town one day an’ paid cash at the auction. She did. She stayed to herself an’ didn’t seem to have, or want, any friends. But she were right friendly when she came to town, smilin’ an’ greetin’ folks with a nod of her head. When she spoke it weren’t like the rest of the folks around here. It weren’t. She sounded all refined-like, like them ladies what are rich an’ live up north in them big cities. She did. It weren’t like she were snooty, just refined.
I reckon, since when she did talk, it were talk about how everything in nature was alive an’ needed to be treated with care an’ love, that made folks think she were a witch. I do. She were one a them vegetarians what don’t eat no meat nor nothing what can be alive. She were. She raised most of her food an’ the rumor were that she used all kinds of herbs an spices in her potions to cast spells. There weren’t nobody what actually said she put a spell on ‘em, ceptin’ ol Dan Post. He claimed that she gave him the evil eye when he cut her off at Mason’s Corner an’ he blacked out an’ hit a tree. He did. When I asked ma about that she reminded me that ol Dan were known to enjoy his white lightenin’. She did.
One time not long before ma got sick, me’n her was walkin’ in town doin’ the Saturday shoppin’. We were. An’ Miss Sophie came outta Jacob’s mercantile store an’ almost run us over. She did. Well, she were all polite-like an’ begged our pardon, which ma gave her. She did. Then, outta the blue ma asked Miss Sophie iffen she might drop by for a visit some time. She did. Miss Sophie raised one eyebrow just a tad, smiled an’ said ma were welcome anytime. She did. I asked ma iffen I could go with her, but she said not on the first visit. I reckon she were rememberin’ when Emma Watson’d called a town meetin’ to see what could be done about the reports that Miss Sophie cavorted about her place in little more than nothin’ an’ sometimes not even that.
Now the ol Tanner place were way up a holler what opened up to a perty meadow of several acres. Big Indian creek ran along the edge of the open land near the woods. To catch a look at Miss Sophie, a body’d have to do a lot of hikin’ through the woods to even see the property, cause Miss Sophie had a good view of the road and the holler from just about any place on her land. She did.
Emma wanted Miss Sophie run outta town, an’ I reckon she had a perty good followin’ until ma stood up an’ asked about all the skinny dippin’ what went on at Taylor’s bend in the Blackwater River. She said she reckoned it made more sense to tell the young folks to wear swimming clothes than it were to dam up the Blackwater. She did. She said folks what didn’t have no business at Miss Sophies should stay away. That ended Emma’s attempts to get rid of Miss Sophie. It did.
Since Miss Sophie didn’t have no phone, I reckon ma weren’t sure but what Miss Sophie might be doin’ one of her dances to nature when she arrived. So I stayed home, but I noticed pa seemed more ready than usual when takin’ ma on one of her visits. He did.
When they got back ma, had several jars of jelly. Some were mint an’ wine berry, an’ the others ma said were made with all natural, but secret fruits an’ berries. She did.
Miss Sophia continued to come into town an’ folks continued to look at her like she were strange, long after ma died. She always looked like the wind in her loose-fittin’ light colored outfits. She did. Fact is, she stood tall an’ healthy lookin’ till her mailman, Clyde Carter, noticed her mail hadn’t been picked up, an drove up the holler an’ found her dead in her bed. He said she looked like a sleepin’ princess. He did. There weren’t gonna be no funeral. A sister of Miss Sophia’s came to town to make the arrangements to have her cremated. A red maple tree were to be planted on her property an’ her ashes used as fertilizer. Her obituary said it were to be her way of livin’ on in nature. It did.
After ma’s visit, I asked her why folks didn’t take to Miss Sophie. I did. Ma said most folks were afraid of anything they didn’t understand, or were different. She said that made her sad, cause iffen we was all alike we’d never learn much about each other. She did. She said the worst time for folks were when there were fear and superstition. She said all the bad things she could think of in her life an’ in history were caused by fear and superstition. She did.
As to Miss Sophie cavortin’ about on her own property, ma said it weren’t nobody’s business what a body did as long as it weren’t agin the law, especially in their own home or own their own property outta the public eye. She did.
I took one more look at Miss Sophie an’ told her goodbye. There weren’t nobody there but me, not even her sister. When I signed the guest book I saw that Sara Jane an’ her husband had been there. That didn’t surprise me none. I reckon that’s why I loved Sara Jane so much, she were a lot like ma. Fact is, along with Ida Murphy, another good soul from town, there weren’t no more names in that there book. There weren’t. It made me wonder iffen there’d been a guest book at the tomb of Jesus, how many woulda signed it. It did. Cause he were sure different. He were.
CONCERNS: Eleanor Crush has stopped treatment for her cancer. As noted inside, Wilma Cullum has been moved. She will need nursing care for some time to come. Hold off on visits until further notice. Two of Connie Crites’ brothers are being treated for cancer. A friend of Judy McWhorter’s has a daughter who is having severe headaches. Her name is Tooney. Bud McWhorter cut several of his fingers on a saw, but they were able to stitch them up and he is healing fine. Erma Williams now has a job and will start soon. Randy Conner came through radical cancer surgery at UVA Medical Center. Remember Alma Martin, Helen Nicklas, Joni Beach’s mother (cancer), Connie Crites’ father (heart problems) Mike Breeding and his wife, Jenni Cullum, TimElder, Health Talents and the work at the Ezell Clinic, Bread For A Hungry World and the needs of the hungry across the world.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 18-23
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 23
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 25-30
Monday: Isaiah 6:1-13
Tuesday: Matthew 13:1-23
Wednesday: John 6:1-15
Thursday: Luke 15:11-32
Friday: Genesis 39:1-23
Saturday: Psalm 66:1-20
It was announced last Sunday that Nick Bolin and Mary Willa Foy were baptized into Christ. Nick was baptized by his father in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday, July 1, and Marry Willa was baptized here at the building on Saturday, July 2. We are thrilled with the decision these two young people have made to serve the cause of God with their lives.
Vivian Dugan has moved in with her daughter Kathy and her husband. Her address is 7735 Autumn Park Dr. 24018. Her phone # is 540-904-2990. Please update your directory.
Today, July 17, is Super Sunday. These Sunday’s are not just about eating, although that’s a very good part of it. But they are also about fellowship. It’s a great time to catch up with what’s going on in our church life.
PEANUT BUTTER FROM HEAVEN
Feeding America Southwest Virginia, formerly known as the Southwestern Virginia Food Bank is once again having a peanut butter drive. Because it is a high source of protein, it can be used as a substitute for more expensive meals. It is also one of America’s favorite foods, and satisfies hunger when nothing else is available.
The drive is through July, but since we were having VBS it would have been hard to place the PB in the building. But now, if you would, when you shop, buy a good brand of peanut butter and place it on the table downstairs. If you buy Peter Pan that company will provide one meal for a hungry family. We do not need to have it all in by the end of the month. A notice is on the downstairs bulletin board.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
What started out as a question ended with a statement. It looked as if our final year doing VBS would be a washout. But while not the largest, it actually came close to matching one of our smaller years. All of those who helped did a great job, and most importantly, the children who came had a good time, as well as learning about God’s story. Also, a thanks to those who worked for weeks getting things ready, as well as those who spent yesterday removing all the decorations and scenery. We can be proud that as a small church we always did it in a big way.