Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Two Important People

Rev. Washington Lafayette Wait

Jane Wofford Wait

My paternal grandmother, Jennie Wait Foster Finlayson ,was born into a large family, but the children were scattered when her parents James Turner and his wife Rebecca Wofford Foster died.  Jennie Wait and her brother Louie Eugene were raised by her relatives, Rev. Washington Lafayette Wait and Mrs. Jane Wofford Wait who lived in Spartanburg, SC.  Mrs. Jane Wofford was my great grandmother's sister.  Sisters Rebecca and Jane were nieces of Dr. Benjamin Wofford, founder Wofford College.
It's a bitter sweet story and  I wish I knew more of it to tell; parents die, siblings scattered, raised by relatives.  I'd like to know more of that story, what happened to all the other children of James and Rebecca Turner.

I have had these two pictures hanging on my studio wall above my desk for the last decade.  They are strangers to me, yet when I look to them, I am reminded of the place they made in their heart and home to my grandmother.

Both Rev. Washington Lafayette Wait and his wife Jane Wofford Wait are buried at the Springwood Cemetary in Greenville, SC.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

a real lady

Esther Ophelia Davidson
This is my mother at sixteen years old.  I believe this photo was taken while visiting her namesake Aunt Esther (Covington) during her trip to Biloxi, MS.  Mother never mentioned other trips of her youth other than the Biloxi adventure.  It's apparent she turned a lot of heads of our servicemen during that trip.  She was a real looker.

Back in 1988, I was shooting a video for Gadsden Museum of Arts that featured the late Leo Reynolds.  Leo was a well known artist in the Etowah County area.  During our taping, he asked me if I was one of Esther Finlayson's children.  He put down his brush, sighed and leaned back in his chair.  He started talking about his youth around the Davidson children, sharing sweet memories of his childhood.  He expressed his adoration for my Esther, what a wonderful person she was.  Of course I agreed.

"She's a real lady".  Leo said that two or three times during that visit.  Of course I agreed.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Rutha at Twenty

Rutha Wait Finlayson
Lander College, 1925

" Rutha possesses a laughing sunny disposition and rare musical talents.  She has the art of so adapting herself that she is in harmony with her surroundings."
-Lander College Annual

Miss Rutha Wait Finlayson was soon to become Mrs. Ernest Dyal, soon to become widowed by twenty-two.  I remember her voice and her laughter, her deep love for music.  Her sunny disposition though was wounded when the bullet passed through her husband's head and he fell lifeless into her lap. She never married again.

I knew Rutha, but not the adaptable woman who was described "in harmony with her surroundings".  She went on afterward, taught voice and piano like her mother.  She lived on, kept her faith and laughed ~ but there was always an anxiousness about her.

I try not to remember her merely for that tragedy, but that sad shadow was always about her. Whenever our Columbia kin came for a visit, we were told to put away all our toy guns. We all did our part to keep that shadow to the back of her. 

One day we'll meet Rutha anew.  We'll see her without the shadow, long since adapted to the harmony that is experienced in Heaven's light.  We shall soon see her smile like we've never saw it here.

"Oh, there is something in that voice that reaches the innermost recesses of my spirit!"

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Miss. Jennie Wait Foster, Pianoforte

My paternal grandmother, before she met my grandfather, was pictured among the faculty of Columbia College in the their first yearbook (The Columbian) ever published for the college in 1904. At that time, Columbia College had just moved to it's new location in North Columbia.  The college changed it's name from Columbia Female College in 1905, which was the same year she married my grandfather. 

The college was founded in 1854 and officially opened in 1859 and is among the oldest women's colleges in the United States. The college closed in 1865, when Sherman's troops marched through Columbia.  Professor of  Music W.H. Orchard saved the college from being burned to the ground by standing in the doorway of the college where he could be seen by the Union troops. The college reopened in 1873.

Miss Foster left her position and married a dry goods merchant, Mr. Burruss Finlayson, and made her home in Cheraw, South Carolina. She resumed teaching piano and voice from the Finlayson residence as she raised seven children.  All of those Finlayson children loved to sing just like their mother.

About thirty years ago, after playing a concert in Macon, Georgia, Dizzy Gillespie and Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson (Uncle Pat) met and had a moment to chat.  Both Pat and Dizzy had been friends as youth before the war ~ having worked as ushers at  Lyric Theatre.   Dizzy asked about all Pat's siblings, and expressed his high regard and praise for Cheraw's voice and piano teacher ~ Mrs. Burruss Finlayson. 


Saturday, May 6, 2017

no one here

i come here
no one there
just familiar names
of two i loved and love
it is just a mile marker
of souls who passed through here
now somewhere else
no longer slumbering
amid the quiet
rather elsewhere celebrating together
dwelling where we had all rather be


with you