I have learned a great deal from the South Shore Memory Project. However, I have also learned a great deal about Sibyl Parker, one of the faces behind the many stories of the area. Sibyl is a quiet, calm, caring lady. But, the characteristic of Sibyl that I noticed the most was the love she had for her family.
All around her home were pictures of her children, grandchildren, and family member's weddings, as if they were victory trophies being displayed. It was typical of any proud parent or grandparent. Above the fireplace, in an elaborate, gold frame hung a picture of Sibyl's mother. This was one of the first things Sibyl showed Ashlee Davis and I during the interview. She talked very fondly of her mother.
Also, in her home were objects of sentimental value. Hanging in her bedroom were beautiful pictures that her grandmother had painted. As we observed the paintings, she didn't hesitate to brag on her grandmother by saying she never had a lesson. There were old diaries and notebooks that had been in her family for years. Although they were extremely old, one could tell that they were well taken care of. At the end of the interview Sibyl showed us a book that her grandfather, Charles W. Pierce, had written. The book was about his family and his life. This too showed that Sibyl was not the only one proud of her family. Sibyl was probably raised to cherish family and regard it as one of the most important things.
Sibyl's house sits between the Pierce house, her grandparent's old home, and the Narmoore house, her parents' old home. This is another important factor showing how Sibyl values family ties. Usually, a person wouldn't think much about leaving his or her home behind. It is just part of life, one moves on to new beginnings. But not Sibyl, she moved her home close by the other two. Three generations sit in a row with houses full of memories. Sibyl explained, "I haven't been far, I've got roots."
Sibyl's love for her family may be one of the reasons she never left the area. The Ozarks was the home of her grandparents and her parents. Now, it is the home of her children and grandchildren. Sibyl saw something special in the Ozarks that she adored and wanted to share it with something she adored even more, her family.
The Ozark history project has been a wonderful learning experience. It has taught me many new things about the area in which I live. Before the interview, I only recognized the present surroundings and what was happening now. After the interview, I now realize that there is much more to the Ozarks than I once thought. Behind each face of an elder of the Ozarks is a story that has influenced many people and contributed to the area. The men and women that were interviewed for this project formed the area into what it is today.
I have learned about the past and the present of the Ozarks, since the elders of the Ozarks have seen both sides to the area. They have experienced the "good ole days," when life was about hard, honest work, apple pie, and Sunday school. Now, they live in a modern day community that is ever growing. But, still today, they hold on to their old-fashioned ways of life. The South Shore History Project has shown me that one's upbringing and outlook is never changed if he or she is satisfied with himself or herself. Tradition is passed down from one generation to another.
Free time was spent differently back then. Today, there are bowling alleys, movie stores, and hang-outs for teenagers, all within a few miles. As Sibyl Parker would say, "Back then, you kinda had to make your own fun." However, there was a small theater in the area to go to once a week. Also, in the summer, the creek was a popular hang-out. Teens must have been close within their own community since it was hard to travel very far.
I have also learned how the economy and the quality of life has changed from then to now. Most of the men and women that were interviewed lived through the depression. It is hard to imagine a whole country doing without. Sibyl Parker explained, "We really didn't know any better because we had been poor for so long." Although they may have lived through hard times, they made the best of it. They were strong and did what they had to do to keep the family together. Today, most of our needs are easily supplied. This has showed me that one should be thankful for what he or she has.
The most important thing that this project has shown me is that the men and women that were interviewed were just like my generation. As I was interviewing Sibyl Parker, I listened to her stories of friendship, love, and hard times. I saw myself in her. I thought, forty years from now what will I be telling people about my life? What will I have to contribute to the area? It also made me realize the importance of preserving one's family history so it won't be forgotten. Life doesn't last forever, but the memories can.
Interview and writings by Ashley Davis
Webpage Created by Ken Cowan