Friday, April 20, 2007

A Friend in Need - Frances Paulk Bredemeier

Originally written and presented to the membership of the Crystal Beach Community Church in April 2007 by my mother, Virginia Paulk Gardner.


Dear Friends in Crystal Beach Community Church,

Long-time CBCC member, Miss Frances, now 90 1/2 years old and blind, is in need of friends to visit her at the Assisted Living Facility, Chateau Palms in Palm Harbor, where she now resides.

Frances was one of the original Charter Members of Crystal Beach Community Church when it was founded back in 1957. She taught Sunday School & also served as Church Secretary & sometimes also as Church Treasurer.

When my father, Jesse Paulk, who sang in the Church Choir & sometimes taught the Adult Sunday School classes, died in 1961, all the money that was donated to our family, my mother brought to the church & said, "Jesse had been wanting us to start a Pew Fund so that we would have pews instead of the wooden folding Army chairs to sit on. Here is the money to buy the first pew."

Within 6 months, the congregation had raised enough money to purchase pews for the entire church and for both choir lofts. There was even enough money left over to have the church walls & concrete floor re-painted, as well as to build the current alter and lecterns, communion table and the tall wooden candle holders, all of which were designed by the founding pastor, Rev. C.W.A. Bredemeier. Mother also helped found the first CBCC Youth Fellowship, which met on Sunday nights for Bible Study at the church and every Saturday night down at Seaside Hall for recreation and Christian fellowship.

In 1971, my mother married Rev. C.W.A. Bredemeier, whose wife Margaret had died of cancer. Margaret had been my Sunday School Teacher, Piano Teacher & was like a second mother to me. During the 30 years of her marriage to Rev. Bredemeier, my mother continued to work at his side to help in the building and growth of Crystal Beach Community Church.

Mother also helped with the running of Faith Mission's Sunset Lodge on Gulf Drive and Faith Mission's other houses and apartments which provided assisted living housing for the low-income elderly and disabled.

Rev. Bredemeier developed Faith Mission's properties into one of the first Assisted Living Facilities in this area. In fact, it was most likely the very first, as St. Mark's Village Assisted Living Facility was not developed until 1980, by Rev. Bredemeier's good friend, Rev. James Fresh.

In 1998, when the last Board of Directors of Faith Mission was preparing to sell of ALL of the Faith Mission properties (including CBCC), my mother and I, after many long discussions, finally convinced Rev. Bredemeier to sign over the deed for Crystal Beach Community Church to the congreation so that it could never be sold and so that Crystal Beach would always have its own church for the worship and glory of God to serve the people of this small seaside community.

Over the years, my mother, both while my father was still alive and later after her marriage to Rev. Bredemeier, visited with the sick and homebound member of our Church Community. Mother prepared countless meals to take to the homebound or sick, often inviting members who lived alone to eat supper at our home. Always on holidays, she invited several to share in holiday meals with us so they would not be alone.

My mother Frances, since she fell & broke her hip in October 2006, is much more limited in her ability to get around. Additionally, in the last few months, Mother's short-term memory has started to slip. While the Assisted Living Facility where she now stays is very nice, Mother is very lonely and greatly misses being able to visit with her Church friends.

It is my hope and prayer that there might be members of our Crystal BEach Community Church who would be willing to volunteer to visit with my mother on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I am hopeful that if even 5 to 10 people could volunteer to spend one hour a week visiting and talking with my mother, that she could then have one visitor a day. This would greatly help her mind and memory and greatly lift up her spirit!

Thank you for all your love and support and prayers in the past and for whatever you may be able to do for Mother in the future. If you are not able to visit in person with Mother, even a phone call and especially someone who could call her to read a Daily Devotional would be a great blessing. Although Mother has not been able to attend church lately, she still asks about her church friends and keeps all of you in her prayers.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this request to help my mother.


Virginia Paulk Gardner

A Little More Information About Frances Paulk Bredemeier

Written by Virginia Paulk Gardner, daughter of Frances Paulk Bredemeier, April 20, 2007.

Mama was born in a log house her father had built out in the country in Batesville, Mississippi on July 18, 1916. Mama says it was was a "log house," not a "log cabin," because it had several bedrooms and a big front porch. Her parents were farmers. Batesville is a small town 60 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee and 20 miles west of Oxford, Mississippi.

When Mother was about 16 years old and active in "4-H," she canned the most green beans in the whole state of Mississippi. This won her a free trip to the Chicago's World's Fair in 1932, where she met and had breakfast with Amelia Earhart. Miss Earhart presented Mama with an inscribed Elgin Platinum Watch - Mama's other prize for canning the most green beans. [This was in the early Fall after Miss Earhart's first solo flight across the Atlantic on May 20, 1932.]

Mother graduated high school with start A's, was Class Valedictorian and gave the graduation speech at Batesville High School in 1933. Due to all her many high school achievements, she won a full 4-year scholarship to Bellhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi. Mama passed on her life-long love of learning to all her children and grandchildren. Both my brother, Michael, and I gave Valedictorian speeches at our high school graduations, and my daughter, Jessica, gave the Valedictorial Speech at her Junior High School graduation; but Mother was the only one of us to earn all "Straight A's"!

When her mother, Lillie, became sick and bed-ridden while Mama was still a very young girl, her mother taught her how to make patters and to sew. From that time one, she made all of the clothes for herself, her 3 sisters, and her mother. My mother was a beautiful and talented seamstress. She designed and made all my clothes so that I never had a store-bought outfit until after I went off to college. She continued to sew until Mama's sweet pretty blue eyes went blind in December 2002. When that happened, I'll always remember Mama asking me, "what will I do now, if I cannot sew?"

But God helped MOther to discover and to see that there are always many gifts in every disability and hardship that comes our way.

As a result of Mama's blindness, not only did God make it possible for me to be able to be with her for the rest of her years, even though my home has been in Illinois since 195, but there was an even greater gift yet to come when I discovered that Verizon charged every disabled person $2 for every local call and $6 for each long distance call plus $1 per minute for all call an Operator had to disal for them, even when no one answered the call.

So, on Mother's behalf, I filed a Complaint against Verizon of Florida with the FCC in September 2003, in order to get them to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1997, both of which require all phone companies to waive those extra fees for persons who are not able to dial their own phone calls.

Within 30 days, Verizon set up call centers for customers with special needs in all 50 states. now Verizon provides special services for all disabled people, not just those who are hearing or speech impaired. I'm working now with Verizon to get all phone companies and states to provide Voice-Activated Calling Devices for customers who need them, just as TDD/TTY equipement is provided free of charge to all speech and hearing-impaired people.

Mama now sees how God used her blindness to make it possible for her and I to be able to be together now for all her remaining years, as well as used Mama's blindness to help millions of disabled people all over America to now be able to have better and more indepedent access to phone service.

Frances Lily Scruggs Marries Jesse Edward Paulk

Originally written by Virginia Paulk Gardner, daughter of Frances Paulk Bredemeier, April 20, 2007.

My mother, Frances Lily Scruggs, and father, Jesse Edward Paulk, were married at Idelwilde Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 30, 1938. During World War II, my father served with the Army Corp of Civil Engineers in Germany and then in France. During that time, my mother was a supervisor on the War Price and Ration Board, and also worked as assistant to the General who managed a German Prisoner of War Camp near Sardis, Mississippi.

After the war, my mother and father built their home and lived in Batesville, Mississippi. My father set up his own plumbing and deep-water well drilling business there so that his two brothers, who were still being held captive in German POW camps, would have a business to work in with him when they were released. Both my brother, Michael (1951), and I (1948) were born in Oxford, Mississippi.

Even though Daddy specialized in drilling deep-water wells, in April 1953, he brought in the largest gas well ever brought in in the Southeastern United States. He accomplished this because he had the courage to meet the infamous and wealthy Texas wildcatter, J.T. Whitlock, who had been trying for over a decade to bring in this particular gas well using standard oil and gas drilling rigs. Daddy told him that he could bring in the well using his deep-water well drilling equipment.

Daddy succeeded in doing what he said he could do, but the wealthy J.T. Whitlock never paid my father or any of the other poor farmer in Fulton, Mississippi, from whom he had purchased the lifetime oil and gas rights under all their land for only $0.05 to $0.10 per acre. Daddy's well is still pumping gas that is piped all the way to Texas to this day.

In 1956, my mother and father, along with Michael and me, moved to Crystal Beach, Florida. Daddy continued his well-drilling business and drilled the first drinking-quality water wells here in Crystal Beach. He knew that water wells in this area had to be drilled deeper to get past the more shallow water wells, which produced only water that was full of sulfer, making the water smell and taste like rotten eggs. Many houses in Crystal Beach still get their water straight from the wells my father drilled.

My mother began working at Ellis National Bank as an assistant cashier and foreign exchange teller. After a few years, bank president and owner, A.L. Ellis (at that time, one of the richest men in America), made mother the first woman Vice President ever in all of his many banks. Later, Ellis National Bank became NCNB, then NationsBank, and now Bank of America. Altogether, Mother worked in the bank in Tarpon Springs for 40 years, until her retirement on her 80th birthday on July 18, 1996.

My mother and father loved God dearly and tried to live their lives to help others. They were founding members of Crystal Beach Community Church, took us to Church and Sunday School every Sunday, and taught us to love God with all our hearts and souls. They spent time helping both of us to memorize hundreds of Bible verses after our homework was done.

At bedtime, they read us Uncle Wiggley stories, followed by a Bible story and then they would kneel down with us while we each said our nighttime prayers. Finally, we would say the Lord's Prayer all together.

We moved from Mississippi to Florida the day after I finished 2nd grade and my brother was not yet in school. When Mama and Daddy took me to Palm Harbor Elementary and Junior High School to enroll me in 3rd grade, we all sat in small chair around on of the low round wooden tables, along with my new teacher, Mrs. Wiseman. As she talked to them, always calling them Mr. Paulk or Mrs. Paulk, I was busy evaluating this kindly old woman with gray hair and a warm, soft kind voice sitting to my right.

When it seemed everything was completed, I notieced her lean forward and looking quickly up at her, I saw her look my father straight in the eye as she said, "Now, Jesse, I have only one more thing to say to you and it is this: I am absolutely certain that I am going to enjoy having Virginia in my class and teaching her every bit as much as I enjoyed teaching you!"

It turned out that she had taught my father in the red brick, one-room school house (now School House Restaurant on Alt-19 on the way to Tarpon Springs), her first year out of teacher's college and still single. Now, more than 3 decades later and only 3 years away from her retirement, my Daddy's teacher was going to teach me.

My mother loved to sew, cook, and tend her plants and flowers, both in the house and in the yard. Daddy loved all nature - rocks, trees, animals, birds, and fish, and enjoyed working in the yard planting flowers for my mother and planting trees and hedges. Daddy also loved to hunt and fish and taught both me and Michael to fish and be out in the water with him.

My mother taught Sunday School at Crystal Beach Community Church. My father sang in the choir. Michael and I both sang in the Children's Choir and also played the bells. I also sang in the girls' trio. Long before CBCC had automatic chimes installed, until he went to college, my brother Michael spent one hour every evening at 6pm playing the church chimes, which could be heard throughout Crystal Beach. We would wait supper until he got home.

On my 13th birthday, September 12, 1961, Daddy died suddenly of a heart attack. Although it was certainly difficult to be a single mom in the 1960s, my mother continued to work and raise Michael and me. One of her proudest accomplishments was being able to see us both not only graduate from high school but also put us through college as well.