Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aunt Vivian and Uncle Johnnie

Vivian Irene Pennington was Fessie's older sister, born a couple of years before him, in 1910. As a young girl, she was very mature and responsible for her age, helping her mother Dee around the house and with the younger children. Dee was frequently in ill-health, and Vivian could be depended upon to fill in as needed for her mother. This sense of responsibility and devotion to family continued with Vivian into her adult life as well.

Aunt Vivian finished high school while the family was living at Smithville. According to her sister Tootsie, Vivian worked and saved money to purchase her class ring, which cost all of $6 at the time. Tootsie also tells a story that was related to her years later by Vivian, about how, as an infant, Tootsie crawled over, pulled Vivian's pressed-and-ready graduation dress onto the floor, and peed on it! That was probably the first of Tootsie's trouble-making days!!

After graduation, Vivian began teaching at the one-room schoolhouse at Lick Skillet in Peaceful Valley. Lick Skillet was the name given to the general area where Aunt Zadie Sloan and Uncle Joe Blake lived. Tootsie remembers tagging along with Vivian to the schoolhouse and remembers on occasion when, as a lunchtime treat, someone in the community would donate a big can of beans which would simmer all morning on the stove. See a previous post about a play that took place at Lick Skillet.

It was during the time that Vivian was teaching at Lick Skillet that she met Johnnie Bethay, her future husband. Johnnie was the son of David Walter and Norwood Nichols Bethay of the Carolina community. My fondest memories of Uncle Johnnie are from our Christmas bingo games. You could always count on Uncle Johnnie echoing the bingo number after it was called out. I think of him every year during our Pennington bingo games.

Johnnie owned a T-model Ford, and on his visits to the Pennington family to see Vivian in Peaceful Valley, several families that lived in the Pennington-Sloan community would come over to see his car which was quite a novelty at the time. Vivian married Johnnie in October 1934, but didn't tell her family that she was married for about six months. According to Tootsie, Vivian was worried about who would help out her ailing mother in her absence.

Eventually, news of the marriage was told, and Vivian and Johnnie moved to East Tupelo, just a couple of blocks from where Elvis Presley was born, and there they raised their family of three sons. Aunt Vivian died in 1992, four years after Uncle Johnnie. She was a good woman and loved her family.


Anonymous said...

"Aunt Vivian" surely had beautiful dimples. When I was a very young girl, I guess is about the time that I first noticed people who had dimples and thought they were the prettiest people I ever saw; then, I began to look around in my big Dyer family of girls and ladies and I don't recall ever seeing any of them with dimples - not that they weren't pretty women. But that dimple added to the big smiles they seemed to have. bettye

Ma Jean said...

Loved your story of Aunt Vivian, and Uncle Johnny.