Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Count Your Blessings Every Day (My Eulogy for Nana)

Originally posted on Little Merry Sunshine on July 18, 2009.

Today was Nana's Celebration of Life Service at Crystal Beach Community Church, in Crystal Beach, Florida. She loved this church and was proud to be one of its founding members in 1957. My mom and I both spoke at Nana's service and these were my comments. I'm proud to say I only cried three times and wondered if I could finish my talk just once.


For those of you who don't know me, I'm Jessica Gardner, Frances' granddaughter. I'm the oldest of her four grandchildren, the only granddaughter, and Virginia's daughter.

My memories of Nana span almost four decades and I could stand here all day sharing stories with you, but rather than do that, I want to focus on what I believe made Nana the woman she was . . . counting her blessings every day.

Late last week, as we were preparing for Nana's passing, I spoke with Denise McCloud, here at the Church. She shared with me how she and Pastor Susie went to visit Nana recently. Nana was sleeping with the most peaceful expression on her face and her hands were folded neatly across her chest, as though in prayer. I remember smiling through my tears, as I heard this story and then shared with Denise that for as long as I've known Nana, she always slept that way - on her back with her fingers interlaced across her chest as though in prayer. I've never seen anyone sleep as peacefully as Nana did.

As we spoke, I continued to share that it was my belief that the reason Nana slept so peacefully every night, never suffering from insomnia or other disruptions to her sleep, was because she always spoke kindly, found the best in others, focused on her blessings rather than what she didn't have or trying to keep up with the Jones's, treated people with respect and the way she wanted to be treated, lived her life with humility, and turned her struggles over to God every night. I never heard Nana gossip, speak ugly about anyone, curse, complain, or hold a grudge, even at times when no one would have faulted her for it. One of her favorite proverbs was Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger." It was one of her most fundamental beliefs.

She was a devout Christian, but you didn't know it because she was constantly telling you about it. You knew it through her deeds and the way she lived her life. Whether she was finding a low-cost, good home for a family in financial distress, bringing a table to a newlywed without any furniture, or dealing with her customers at the bank, Nana was selfless in her actions. She thought of others before she thought of herself and, in my mind, was the originator of the question "What would Jesus do?" I know she asked herself this question many times every day.

Every night, she ended her day the same way. She dropped to her knees, thanked God for the many gifts he had given her (even if sometimes those gifts took the form of "opportunities" or "challenges") and asked for His blessings for all of her loved ones - naming each of them individually. Nana's prayers were never pre-scripted. Each one was unique. She never asked God for material things; rather she thanked him for giving her strength, courage, patience, humility, and providing for her and her family. She knew he had a plan for her and she never questioned it.

For Nana, family always came first. Even when she was working, if any of us would call her, she would always take the call. She may not have been able to speak at that moment other than to say, "Jessica, dear, I'm with a customer now. Can I call you back?" in her sweet Southern drawl, but she never asked anyone to take a message from her family.

I remember that Nana used to always tell me that I was her favorite granddaughter. Now, the fact is that I am her ONLY granddaughter. At first, I didn't like it when she said this to me, but I came to understand that this was her way of telling me what a special blessing having a granddaughter was and I began to look forward to the compliment. When she retired from NationsBank, now Bank of America, a customer presented her with a gift of drugstore chocolates. I remember standing there as she accepted the gift, held the box like it was a rare jewel, looked at the man, and sincerely said, "Oh, that's JUST what I have wanted! A box of really fine chocolates! Thank you so much!" When my parents divorced, she reached out to my dad to let him know that she still loved him and that he was always welcome in her home. Twenty-five years later, he still remembers those words and the impact they had on him, as he related the story to me for the first time, just the other night. He wasn't her ex-son-in-law. He was and has always remained the man who married her daughter and gave her two beautiful grandchildren. Paying you a sincere compliment was one way she counted her blessings every day. She filled herself up by sincerely lifting you up with heart-felt, soft words.

Nana wasn't rich in material goods, but she was rich in all the things that mattered: love, gratitude, compassion, friends, and family. She loved to tell us that we must always count our blessings every day and that included the things we might not think were blessings. She taught me to always find the bright side of life. I might have to search for it, but it was always there. I think my own optimism in life came from her.

One of my favorite things about Nana is how she loved to write letters. I would receive letters from her weekly, no matter what. Sometimes, those letters would be personal letters written just to me. Sometimes they would be copies of letters she had sent to someone else, but thought I'd be interested in. Sometimes, they'd simply be newspaper clippings that she thought might be relevent to my life. I've kept the letters that touched me most and found one recently that I'd been saving just for today.

She wrote this letter seven years ago, in April 2002, as she was recovering from a stroke and just before she went blind. What I love about this letter, is how rather than focusing on her aches, pains, and new limitations, she chose to count her blessings and share them. I think she sent this letter only to me, although it reads like a letter she copied and sent to multiple family members. Maybe she somehow knew this was the perfect way to remember her today. It was simply titled "Happy Days I Recall."

Of course, a happy day was when Daddy (Jesse Paulk) and I married on September 30, 1938.

The happiest day was when I knew Jesus was my Lord and Savior - my strength and my redeemer.

I do not remember being baptized, but when I was a little girl about 6 or 7, Momma had a new dress for me and Momma and Daddy took me to Sunday School. We sat in little chairs in front of churt - about 7 or 8 children and their parents talked to us. I am sure that was the day I was baptized. I have always loved the Lord, but as I grow older, I realize each day - He is my strength and redeemer. He will never leave me or forsake me, if only I believe and I do.

Another great and happy day was when the nure handed me a darling baby girl - Virginia - September 12, 1948. Daddy and I thought we owned the world with Virginia, so sweet and precious.

Another day to remember was when a bouncing baby boy was handed to me, February 22, 1951 - Michael. Daddy thought the whole world was handed to him with that special baby boy. Virginia and Michael have both given us great pleasures then Daddy was taken away on September 12, 1961.

With dear thoughts of Daddy and God's help, they grew up and were a real pleasure, dear children. Never any trouble. I had many smiles each day.

Then came along another darling baby girl in Tampa on June 16, 1971, Jessica. (My first grandchild.) She was so cute and sweet. I remember driving over to Tampa to see the precious new arrival. Such a pleasure you have been. Then came another bouncing baby boy in Ft. Myers, Florida on October 5, 1974, David Gardner. All these dear little babies have made life worth living.

A few years ago, Jessica invited me to Washington, DC for Christmas. As the plane reached DC, I stood by the window and looked at the Capitol, never expecting to see it with my own eyes. I stood there in awe thinking about all the goverment under that dome. It was a sight I shall never forget. That Christmas she got many wonderful passes for us to see all of DC. David, bless his heart, got a wheel chair and pushed me all over Washington. Sights I had only studied in school - never expecting to see with my own eyes. Potomac River was real. All of the beautiful sights of DC and thanks to Jessica and David for all these wonderful sights. Even Christmas Eve services in the beautiful National Cathedral and then a drive to Roanoke, Virginia. I slept in the back seat all the way, but the next day, going back through all those mountains. Had I known I sure would not have slept. Anyway, was a wonderful Christmas - being with Virginia, Jessica, and David. Will always be a wonderful memory.

Then I think of Jesse and Ryan, (my grandsons from my son Michael). I only saw darling pictures of Jesse for a few months with Michael holding him in his arms. Such a precious picture. Then I few to Colorado when he was baptized at home. The preacher came to the house and Maureen (Michael's wife) and Michael had a few friends in. Jesse arrived November 30, 1981 and was named for his grandfather, Jesse Edward Paulk, and someone in Maureen's family was named Michael, so was a nice name - Jesse Michael Paulk - from both sides of the family.

Ryan arrived in a Dunedin, Florida on May 1, 1985 and named Ryan Thomas Paulk. I remember driving to the hospital when he was only a few hours old. He was so dear and sweet.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Remember Mother - Eulogy by Virginia Paulk Gardner

This is the eulogy my mom, Virginia Paulk Gardner, gave at Nana's Celebration of Life service in Crystal Beach, Florida and her funeral in Batesville, Mississippi.

Mother Dear,
"A soft answer turneth away wrath" – Words Mama lived her life by. Not to say Mama did not sometimes raise her voice in frustration or sometimes I would have just stepped on her last nerve & she would have to holler out the back door for me.

Physical attributes I will always remember Mama’s soft sweet Southern drawl. Mama’s HANDS – always busy . . . sewing beautiful clothes for me & herself that she had designed; cooking supper or baking or cutting up strawberries to freeze; tenderly caressing the leaves of a plant with one hand while she carefully poured water into their soil with the other; reaching out to me to touch my face or hold my hand; Mother’s hands beautiful always busy doing for others & full of love. Mother’s beautiful blue eyes . . . always with a sparkle like sunlight reflected off the water. Mother’s smile . . . always tender, filled with love & pride whenever she looked at or spoke about me or my brother, Michael, now an Emergency Room Doctor using his soft voice to calm the sick & injured, his steady hands to repair & heal.

Mother’s ways – the real Southern Lady, dressed in dresses she had made & high heels, white gloves & a pretty hat if we were going to church or on the train, the City of New Orleans, up to Memphis for a day of shopping in the city & lunch at Morrison’s Cafeteria, underneath their giant, glittering chandelier.

She loved to sew pretty clothes she had designed & cook good hot meals or wonderful picnic lunches we would take to the Clearwater Beach. Her picnic basket always included: Mama’s Southern Fried Chicken, Hard Boiled Eggs, homemade Potato Salad, Pimento Cheese on Celery Sticks or Bread and Delicious Oatmeal Cookies.

Deep & True & Total Faith in God's Everlasting Love & Care. Her trust with never any doubt and undying true love of God . . .

Jesus was her Rock & Salvation; God was the ever-caring, always loving & protecting God the Father Almighty.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine Heart. Do not lean on thine own understanding, have faith in God & God will guide thee in all thy paths." Proverbs 3:5

More words from the BIBLE that Mother LOVED, had ABSOLUTE FAITH IN, & LIVED BY.

Mother prayed for GOD’s GUIDANCE & BLESSING.

The sound of Mother & Daddy talking softly late at night as I drifted off to sleep to the loving sound of their gentle voices, never to a TV blaring, gave comfort to me & was a sound I missed after my father died on September 12, 1961.

The sound of Mother & Daddy’s laughter mingled together. I loved supper time when we all gathered together at the end of the day for nourishment from one of Mama’s good Southern meals:

  • Fried Mullet, Fish Roe & Hushpuppies with homemade French Fries & Cole Slaw; Warm Banana Pudding for Dessert.
  • Hamhocks & Beans that had simmered for hours on the stove with hot cornbread fresh from the oven.
  • Southern Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes & Butter Beans.
  • Mama’s meatloaf or pot roast with fresh carrots & potatoes & turnip greens & black-eyed peas w/ chopped onion.
  • Baked Beans & Hotdogs & Macarroni & Cheese.
  • Fried Liver. Mama could make everything taste delicious!
  • Mama’s Southern Fried Chicken & Gravy, Rice or Mashed Potatoes, Fresh Green Beans & Corn, tomatoes & salad with some sweet treat to end the meal.

Homemade desserts: Chocolate Cake; Banana Bread; Red Velvet Cake; Lemon Cake; Homemade Ice Cream made with FRESH PEACHES or STRAWBERRIES, or homemade SHERBERT, organge or, my favorite, pineapple.

Precious Lord, Take Me Home . . . Brenda Lacy & Virginia.

My mother graduated from Batesville High School in 1934 with straight A’s, was Class Valedictoria & gave the Graduation Speech. Received a full 4-year scholarship to Belle Haven College in Belle Haven, MS.

I followed in her foot-steps [though not with straight A’s] in 1966, my brother Micheal also was Valedictorian & gave the graduation speech for the Tarpon High School Class of 1969. My daughter Jessica followed her grandmother’s lead. I do not remember the year, I only remember her clear, strong voice, her smile, & her sparkling eyes.

My son, David though not Valedictorian also excelled in school in Mathematics, Science & Writing. In college, he earned an extra scholarship for 6-months in Florence, Italy to study sculpting.

Today all her children & grandchildren remember her well with abiding LOVE & FOND MEMORIES; were all LEAD to GOD through her GUIDANCE & live their LIVES INSPIRED by her strenght of character, honesty, & kindness for others, always striving to & usually achieving EXCELLENCY in ALL that they DO.

Mother Dear, we all love you dearly. We thank you for all your LOVE & CARE, ENCOURGAGEMENT & GUIDANCE.

We thank you also for leading us to GOD;

for your instruction in GOD’s WORD;

for helping us to memorize countless BIBLE VERSES.



YOUR LOVE will always mean the world to us & give us COMFORT.

We will love you forever, remember you fondly, & always strive to live up to all that YOU & DADDY taught us, which we have passed on to our children.

We take JOY knowing that you are now at HOME in GLORY with GOD & our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Good Night, God Bless YOU, We LOVE you. Sweet Dreams. We’ll see you in our memories & our dreams. And we will meet you on the other side.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nana Was Always #1 in Customer Service

For the 40 years Nana worked at Ellis National Bank, which later became NCNB, and finally NationsBank, she was always recognized for her outstanding customer service abilities. The day of her retirement in 1996 (on her 80th birthday!), customers came in to say good-bye who had been her customers for 40 years. Even after her retirement, those customers would call her at home and ask her questions because they knew that she would always tell them what was best for them and not just what was best for the bank. She treated everyone the same, whether they had $50 or $5,000,000. Wealth didn't matter to Nana. What mattered was that every customer she served felt important and valued. Nana also knew how to keep matters confidential. Her customers knew that when they told her their personal financial information, she was going to hold that information in the strictest confidence.

Needless to say, anyone in type of sales or customer service position could learn a thing or two from the way she treated her customers. And NCNB knew it, which is why when they created training videos, they always featured Nana.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Power of Nana's Fruitcake

I originally published Christmas Memories on Little Merry Sunshine on December 25, 2007. It was the last Christmas I spent with Nana and also the last time I saw her. Nana was with us for Christmas 2008, but I didn't go to Florida. I wish I had.

Christmas Memories

I used to think that for it to be Christmas, it had to resemble a Norman Rockwell painting or Hallmark Holiday Commercial. And in a way, maybe I still do. I honestly miss those big, lavish Christmases when my whole family - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and all - would gather round. Sure, not everyone got along all the time, but we were still family and it was Christmas, so we were together.

The past few years have not resembled anything like what I remember growing up. I've spent Christmas entirely alone or I've spent Christmas with Dave. He's not much into Christmas, so we pretty much go to the movies and I make stew. And sometimes I made it to church on Christmas Eve. And truthfully, I've grown accustomed to our almost non-existent celebrations. He's family and we're together.

This year, we couldn't get together and I had planned to spend the day with a friend, which I was looking forward to. But then a couple of weeks ago, Mom called me from the nursing home with Nana and Nana said to me "I just wish I could see you. I miss you so much." I had an airline ticket within 24 hours for Christmas in Florida with Mom and Nana. I even made plans to see an old college friend while I'm in town.

My trip has not been without its ups and downs. The airline lost my luggage, which might not have been so bad had I not slept a wink the night before and hadn't eaten all day. I was overwhelmed about seeing Nana and was at my wits end. As silly as it sounds, the reason I cared about my luggage had nothing to do with my clothes or any other material items in it, but with the fact that the last couple of slices of Nana's Fruitcake were in it and I brought it to share with Nana on Christmas. It seemed like everything went wrong on Christmas Eve.

But then today was wonderful. Santa delivered my luggage in the middle of the night. I woke up in Nana's house that she built with most of her life savings. The weather was beautiful (how could it not be, it's FLORIDA!!!!!). And in keeping with our new Christmas tradition, Mom and I saw Charlie Wilson's War, which I highly recommend, had lunch at Waffle House, and then had dinner with Nana. After that, we saw the most amazing display of Christmas lights all throughout one Palm Harbor neighborhood.

Today was a good day for Nana. She knew me and knew it was Christmas. She even had moments of humor. I read her The Christmas Story from Luke 2:1-14 and Santa Mouse, both of which she enjoyed. Then Mom mashed up a couple bites of fruitcake, but didn't tell Nana, and then asked her if she could tell what Mom was feeding her. Immediately, she said "It's my fruitcake" as her face lit up.

Giving Nana that moment of joy was the best Christmas gift I could ever receive and reminded me about the true meaning of Christmas. She probably won't be here next year, but I'll always have the memories of how she loved her fruitcake right up until the end and be grateful that I chose to spend Christmas with family this year. And that's better than any Norman Rockwell painting or Hallmark adaptation.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nana's Date Loaf Candy

In addition to Nana's White Fruit Cake, Christmas in my house wasn't complete with Nana's Date Loaf Candy.

I'll be honest, I don't love Date Loaf Candy as much as I love Fruit Cake. In fact, I probably haven't had any in close to 20 years and at my request, Nana never sent me any.

That said, everyone else in my family loves Date Loaf Candy and I will be making it this Christmas. Shhhh! Don't tell them.

Just like with Nana's White Fruit Cake, I don't know where this recipe originated, but it came as part of the recipe collection I was given in 1999. The words are Nana's because I think it taste better made the way she thought about it.

Nana's Date Loaf Candy

3 cups sugar
3 Tbs White Karo Syrup
1 cup milk
3 Tbs Oleo (JLG Note: "oleo" is butter or margarine, I'll use butter)
8 oz pitted Dates (chopped)
1 cup Pecans (chopped)

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in sauce pan and cook until makes a soft ball in cold water. Cook about 12-15 minutes. Will turn dark while cooking. You can sample little in cold water several times and will feel kinda hard.

2. Add Oleo and stir in dates. I chop into pieces so will dissolve easier. Continue to stir.

3. Add pecans and with spoon take a big helping and roll into a sausage-type roll. I put butter on my hands to roll easier and stuff will be hot.

4. Place on a damp cloth then roll into a roll about 2 inches across.

5. I put on bottom refrigerator shelf and leave for 20-30 minutes. Then you can take out and cut into about 4 pieces and roll in wax paper or Saran Wrap and put in Ziploc bag and leave until ready to eat.

6. Slice into 1/2 inch slices. Enjoy!


JLG UPDATE 10/19/2009: I posed some questions to my mom today who informs me that Nana's recipe makes about 2 12 inch logs. The number of pieces of candy it will make depends on how thick you choose to cut each piece from the log and whether you cut the round pieces into 4 bite-sized pieces or not (Nana never did). If you are planning to keep your Date Loaf Candy for any length of time, then it should be stored in the refrigerator.

While searching for recipes of Nana's, I perused the Batesville (MS) Presbyterian Church Cookbook from 1993 and found the Date Loaf Candy Recipe submitted by Nana's sister, Dixie Gladney. They are similar, but with a few slight differences.

Louise L. Smith's Date Loaf Candy submitted by Dixie (Scruggs) Gladney

2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Cook sugar, milk and butter to soft ball stage. Add dates and boil 5 minutes. Take from heat and beat until thick. Add nuts then beat again until real stiff. Wet a cloth kitchen towel. Spread candy with spoon into long roll on wet cloth, then roll 1 ply cloth around candy to make roll. Unwrap and let set. Will be sticky at first. Slice into 1/2-inch slices.

(JLG Note: Yes, I know, there's no explanation of what to do with the vanilla. I'd suggest adding it to the sugar, milk and butter, but I haven't made this recipe.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nana's White Fruit Cake

Nana was famous for her fruit cake. I know fruit cake gets a bad rap, but you haven't tried Nana's. It is light and airy and quite simply heaven in a bread pan. I knew I was grown up the first time Nana sent me my very own fruit cake, in December 1993, the first Christmas I was in Washington, D.C. But 6 years later, in December 1999, Nana trusted me with her fruit cake recipe was the year I knew I was an adult.

Nana baked her last fruit cake in January 2006.
David and I spent a week in Florida and after church on Sunday, Mom, Nana and I made Nana's fruit cake. I savored the fruit cakes we made that January, each year having just a little, so that the first Christmas Nana wasn't with us anymore, she'd still be with us. I still have part of one fruitcake that I guess we'll finish this Christmas.

I'll be making Nana's White Fruit Cake this Christmas on my own, for the first time, and sharing it with my friends and loved ones. I'll stick to her recipe exactly, except that my cakes will probably also include a few tears. They'll be tears of both joy and sadness. Joy because of all the wonderful memories I have around Nana's Fruit Cake and Christmas and sadness because it's the first Christmas without Nana.

I don't know the origin of Nana's fruit cake recipe. I've always just thought of it as Nana's White Fruit Cake, so that's how I titled it.

Today, I'm happy to share Nana's recipe with you. I thought about keeping it a secret, but that isn't Nana's way. She'd want to know you enjoyed it too.

NOTE: This is Nana's typed out recipe. All of the notes and verbiage are hers. I didn't change a thing. I think using the recipe the way she thought of it and in her sweet words makes it better.

Nana's White Fruit Cake

3/4 lb butter (3 sticks)
2 cups sugar
6 egg whites
1/2 cup whiskey
4 cups plain flour (sifted) - does not need sifting these days as flour is very fine and soft.
2 tsp baking powder
1 lb pecans
1 lb candied cherries (red and green mix)
1 lb candied pineapple

Day before you bake I cut my pineapple and cherries in halves. I think this makes slicing easier and prettier. Then chop pecans. Can use scissors to cut in half.

You will need mixer, one glass bowl to beat egg whites and a big bowl to put pecans and fruit in. You will save a little flour to pour over fruit and pecans so they will not go to bottom of pan when cooking, this is called dredging with flour. About 1/4 cup.

1. Mix first 6 ingredients in order one at a time and cream each time.
2. Pour little (about 1/4 cup) flour over the fruit and pecans and stir. I use my hands.
3. Beat egg whites until stiff.
4. Pour batter over the fruit and pecans and use hands to mix then pour egg whites in and fold into this using hands.

All done, ready to pour into loaf pans and bake.

Grease pans and flour sides and bottom, but shake to get all flour out. Then I cut from a brown bag the size of bottom of pan and place in bottom to keep from sticking. (JLG NOTE: I think parchment paper would work, but I'll always use a brown paper sack.)

Start in cold oven. Bake about 2 hours or 2 1/4 hours. I just look and feel to see if brown and if cake feels solid.

Let set about 15 minutes, then run knife around sides and turn out on board or wax paper. I let cool then dredge with whiskey (about 1/4 cup) then wrap air tight. Can open in a couple of weeks and can pour little more liquor if needed.

All ready for Christmas. I just leave in pantry in a plastic sack. Cake is first wrapped in wax paper or Saran wrap real tight.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mrs. Bredemeier Goes to Europe

Reverend and his sister Imgard at her home in Minden, Germany.

In 1971, Nana got remarried to Rev. CWA Bredemeier (see p. 4 of link). He was German, having emigrated to the United States during the 1920s. Reverend, as everyone including Nana called him, liked to return to Germany to visit his siblings, Imgard, Anna, Christy, and Ditmar and other family members who had remained in Germany. To my knowledge, Nana accompanied him twice. She very much enjoyed these trips and kept a diary of her adventures.

This post was originally written by Nana during her second trip to Europe in 1981. I discovered it during my trip to Florida in September and was surprised to learn of a side of Nana I'd never known. I have not altered Nana's diary in any way other than to correct misspellings.

My Second Trip to Europe, October 5 - 25, 1981
by Frances Paulk Bredemeier

Monday, October 5, 1981
My anticipation of the second trip to Reverend's homeland ran high. We were ready to leave for the airport when the phone rang and the voice told us our flight was delayed for three hours, would leave at 10:15 not 7:15. To keep us off to a good start we let the house as planned. Our good friends, Ruth Weyer and Carol Vassell, drove us to the airport but we stopped by our famous "McDonald's" for a nice hamburger and cup of tea. This made our departure perfect. Reverend failed to take his topcoat but this was not a concern as we knew there would be an extra coat on that lovely coat rack in the foyer of his German home. Bidding our friends a farewell, we boarded Pan Am flight for Frankfurt. After all passengers were comfortable we were served a delicious roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. We rested, read and relaxed knowing we had eight hours of flying time ahead. Lights were turned low and we stretched across the vacant seats for a few hours of sleep. Woke to a beautiful sunrise as we were flying over the United Kingdom. Time was announced U.S. 6:25am, German time 11:25am. A regular continental breakfast was served, temperature announced 16C, 61F.

Tuesday, October 6, 1981
Landed at the Frankfurt-Main Airport right on time, U.S. 7:25am, German 12:25pm. Looking out the plane window we could see plans from all parts of the world. We had the pleasure of waiting three hours for our flight to Hanover. We had dinner in the lovely dining room at the airport, was interesting watching people from all parts of the globe, many in their native wear. Had German sausage and potato salad for the meal. We could hear flights called to Palestine, Cairo, Tokyo, Peking, Saudi Arabia, Somali, even heard a Miami flight called, flights to Moscow, I had to think how small the world must be.

I stepped aboard my first foreign plane, Lufthansa B-737 for Hanover. Only took about 45 minutes for this flight, and stepping off plane we saw two smiling faces on other side of glass waiting for us, Siegfried and Ditmar. We were soon on our way to Minden, weather was cool and misty, a little rain. We were walking into their home with arms waiting for us, such a welcome with Imgard and Christy waiting. Once again being welcomed into their lovely home, with flowers in bloom in their yard, the flowers in every window. Red roses in bedroom to greet me. In Germany, you purchase roses in numbers of three, five, seven, or nine.

After relaxing and unpacking we went to dining room with a beautiful table waiting for us, and of course, a continental supper which we always enjoy, and a cup of tea with that special taste. We soon retired to our room and those cozy beds with the down comforters waiting for us.

Wednesday, October 7, 1981
Breakfast at eight, much pleasure to eat and talk with Imgard and Siegfried. Such a pleasure to look out at the German soil, so rich, with such blankets of flowers. Had to go into the vegetable garden, they had saved raspberries on the vine for me to pick. Much had been gathered and stored for winter use, but in the garden were also beautiful flowers, rose of colored dalhias. One would never tire of visiting just Minden. This city is in the heart of Westphalia on the Weser River. We enjoyed being home the first part of our visit and be with the family. A different world just to be in Germany and really live among the people.

Imgard had prepared a tasty dinner of meat loaf, rice and tomato and squash casserole, strawberries grown in their garden for dessert. Imgard has her own art for freezing them and also thawing, one could not tell they were not freshly picked. By now we were realizing the time difference so a nap was welcomed. We heard the East German bells calling us downstairs for coffee and dessert, strictly at four in the afternoon. The bells were in East Germany, Siegfried's home land.

Ditmar and Christy joined us. We spent the afternoon with the family, always a continental supper which we enjoy. Enjoyed German TV, the news and the end of another perfect day.

Thursday, October 8, 1981
Another interesting day, after breakfast, starting the day with a walk to the park. Weather was brisk. People of all ages, men and women, passing us riding their bicycles. Sidewalks are much wides than in the States, they were built for bicycles many years ago. Each person will carry a shopping bag as no sacks are given with purchases. Check-out clerks in grocery stores sit on a comfortable stool. Imgard served us friend chicken breast, potatoes, peas and pears for dessert. Christy and Ditmar again joined us for coffee and cake at four then for a ride to Hahlen and Hartum, small villages not too far from Minden where the family lived as children. Farmers live in the villages but their land is outside the village for farming. This is the day we seem to be over our jetlag.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 9, 10, and 11, 1981
Friday was the day we went to Bielefeld for Anna. Lovely drive over the mountain range, back by the Autobahn. Bielefeld is a beautiful city. Bethel, where Anna has lived and worked since a young girl, has enlarged even houses the city hospital now.

Saturday morning we watched [Anwar El] Sadat's funeral per German TV. This was interesting. I did get a glimpse of Nixon, but other ex-Presidents were not seen. Siegfried made yeast cake which we would enjoy int he afternoons. All stores close at 1pm on Saturday. Rudy and wife, Christine, daughter, Marguerti, and husband and baby Hanas from Bethel visited us Saturday afternoon. Was a pleasure to have Anna with us for the weekend. She brought gifts we will always treasure.

Sunday was the day August [Reverend] had looked forward to. Church in Hartum with Anna, Christy and Ditmar. This was the church they attended as children, pretty stained glass windows and lovely organ. Had not changed too much since his childhood, only the attendance. When they were young the pews were all filled. Today, many are empty, a Gideon speaker brought the message this Sunday.

We stopped by the old home place where a cousin now lives. Anna and August remembered many instances from childhood, passed by the old bake house. We then drove back to Minden where we knew Imgard and Siegfried would be waiting. Walked into dining room to find a beautiful table waiting for us filled with pork roast, carroli (turnips) potatoes. I still think they are the best potatoes I have ever tasted. At four, Imgard and Siegfried served us that delicious yeast cake with our coffee. I can see Ann's smile across the table now. She does not talk too much, but a real pleasure to have her with us. Sunday night we had supper with Christy and Ditmar in their attractive home. Anna rode over but the rest of us walked, was kinda raining and cold but was a wonderful walk, several blocks, we had to use umbrellas. Christy is very artistic so her table was most attractive. Ditmar's father joined us as his mother was still in hospital. She served platter of smoked pork chops, all kinds of cheeses, rice and spaghetti salad. Beautiful fruit bowl with real whipped cream for dessert. We then returned to living room where Ditmar showed slides of Crystal Beach and other points of Florida then slides of their trip by San Francisco, Grand Canyon and on to Lakewood, Colorado.

Monday, October 12, 1981
Waked to a beautiful misty rainy day. Lovely breakfast, as lovely as a queen has, and the fellowship with Anna, Imgard and Siegfried. We went downtown Minden by bus. So many sights to see in Minden, old churches, city halls and just watching the busy people. Lovely clothes in show windows, fur coats up to 10,000 Marks [approx. $4400]. We had lunch in a little street stand eating German sausage on a bun. Some of the foundations for the churches were laid 800 AD. Were home by four then watched Stalingrad picture on TV.

Tuesday, October 13, 1981
Lovely morning as usual then to Hameln, Lemgo and Bad Pyrmont in afternoon. Drove across the mountain range where the leaves were beginning to change color. Lemgo is an interesting old town with square in center, cobblestone streets, no cars allowed in square, a real tourist attraction, buildings very old.

Bad Pyrmont is a very exclusive and expensive spa. We visited a couple whose mother lived in Tarpon Springs many years. Her son manages the hotel at this spa. There are many, many hotels at spa. They served us coffee and cake in the main dining room and wanted us to stay several days and nights, but time would not permit. They will be in USA in January 1982 and will visit with us. After the interesting drive back to Minden and supper we all watched "Dallas" on TV, I had never seen this program in the States, but is a favorite in Germany.

Wednesday, October 14, 1981
Spent the morning shopping, had fun trying on clothes but did not purchase. Their sizes are so different from ours, I found that I wore a size 40 blouse, I believe that would be about size 10 or 12 here. Material was all so nice, well made. After four o'clock we took Anna back to Bethel. Was so nice that she could be home for the few days. After bidding a farewell to Anna in Bethel, we strolled through the town of Bielefeld, very interesting town. I believe I did not mention the first few days we arrived in Minden, we visited the cemetery where Mr. and Mrs. Bredemeier are buried, took flowers and found the cemetery well kept with beautiful flowers everywhere. They do have much respect for their deceased loved ones and keep the graves with beautiful plants on them.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 15, 16, & 17, 1981
These days were spent with the family with anticipation of our trip through Switzerland the next week. We did enjoy just being in Minden with the family. Ditmar showed his slides of their trip to Norway. we got a real education on Norway, pictures were interesting and comments on each were great. One afternoon Siegfried walked with us to the store and went through the big nursery department. There are so many pretty flowers in Germany, one wants to buy each, they grow so easily there, with some work and loving care. Late in afternoon we drove up to Kaiser Wilhelm's monument, could see "Little Switzerland" from the view. On way home we saw a shepherd with his sheep and his dog. We also visited with Alma and Tante Wilhelmine and fmily. Ulrich and Biggert arrived on their way to Denmark for their week's vacation. We called Peter Thoren in Hamburg, his aunt lives in Tarpon Springs.

Sunday, October 18, 1981
First two weeks we stayed close to Minden and the family. Now we are off for five days of touring by car. We will see more in these five days than most tourists see by a tour bus in three weeks. After breakfast this Sunday morning Ditmar, driving his lovely Mercedes, Christy, August and I were off to Southern Germany, first over the mountain range then through about 100 miles of flat land, then on to the Black Forest. We had our first sight of U.S. Army, they were on maneuvers this week. In this section farmers live out on their land. Leaves are turning a golden color, a picture any artist would prize to see and apture on canvas. Church steeples are noticeable in all the villages. We listened to Lutheran Church service while driving. All stores are closed on Sunday. Driving south toward Kassel [and here], bombed heavily during the war, scenery was especially pretty, little villages nestled between the mountains. Houses are white with red and the black roofs are beginning to be seen. The mountains are beginning to have many forest trees. There were very few transport trucks on the highway on Sunday, very few are allowed on Sunday.

Started noticing car license plates, CH for Switzerland, D for Germany, PL for Poland. Very few Polish cars, but the few we saw seemed to be refugees as cars were packed with belongings probably everything they owned.

Had lunch at a highway restaurant, outside under shelter with rain falling, Bockwurst and orange juice, then on to Frankfurt passing the U.S. Air Force base. Frankfurt was badly bombed, so most of the buildings are new and like new ones in America. Passed Castle Zwingenberg, then on to Darmouth, only a hello to Heildelberg as we passed, we had previously seen the castle and palace and places of interest. We are now entering the Black Forest near Baden-Baden, famous resort. All the rich sheiks from Saudi Arabia enjoy coming here, very expensive. Beautiful gambling casino here, most famous in all of Germany.

We approached Freudenstadt near evening, spent night at Hotel Lanhaus high up in the mountains in the little town of Lauterbad, just a few miles from Freudenstadt. Ditmar always found the right place to eat and spend the night. Had delicious pot roast, potatoes, cauliflower, wine and dessert in a lovely dining room, the hotel was in the square. All rooms have no closets, there is a big wardrobe for hanging clothes, big square pillows for beds and feather comforts for each mattress. All beds are king size with two separate mattresses. After our supper we walked around the square under the arcade which surrounds the city, this is the largest arcade in the world. The street lights were beautiful candelabras.

Monday, October 19, 1981
Walked down the marble stairs to the dining room, continental breakfast waiting for all the guests, red rose on each table. This is in the heart of the Black Forest. We were soon on our way to Triberg, home of the famous Coo Coo clock. We found the shop we wanted to see, owned and operated by Mr. Dohl, August had spoken to him by phone from the States. He had a big sign "UHREN Coo Coo Clocks," so this was the place we stopped. He had many, many clocks, he sold retail and wholesale. A merchant in Dunedin had been over and purchased many clocks to sell in his store in Dunedin, Florida. He had 55 employees, 33 were wood carvers. We watched some of the carving. The merchant from Dunedin had purchased two clocks in particular, price in Germany was 1480 Marks [approx. $655] and 2300 Marks [approx. $1018]. Many flowers in all the windows. People live on second and third floor of these buildings and shops on street floor. We had dinner in a quaint restaurant we found on the highway, served meat loaf, potatoes and salad, but such an interesting place. We left the Black Forest at Waldkirch and now on to Basel and enter Switerland near Nurenberg. Weather was clear and sun was perfect, such a day and new experience as I drove across the border and into Switzerland, a land I had only known from story books. We were now near the French border, no coats needed. Many vineyards in this section, the Black Forest protects the vineyards in winter and south winds brings good season for the grapes. We entered Switzerland at 2:30pm, custom officers were most friendly, sun was bright as I put my feet on Swiss ground, another thrill for me, with the Swiss Alps facing us. Switzerland has three languages, near Geneva, French is spoken, southern part, Italian and northern section, German. Their flag, a white cross with red surrounding the cross to the edge of the flag, these were flying in many places. We cross the Rhein River here, we are now about 800K (500 miles) from Minden. We left the vineyards to find apples and pears on mountain sides. Many tunnels through the maintains. Land has been turned over for winter planting or winter cover crop is up, will stay green all winter. Different forest on the Alps than the Black Forest. On to Bern. Many Swiss Army trucks on highway. Saw the big clock on the city hall in Bern as I remember in my geography book I studied in grammar school, never knowing some day I would view the clock with my own eyes. Swiss banks do not require a signature card, they only use numbers that are given to each customer. We drove along beautiful Lake Thun looking at the blue waters and little villages along the lake and on to Interlaken, nestled between the Swiss Alps. Out hotel in Interlaken was on a river, very cold glacier water and very blue. We had our stroll on the streets, passing the beautiful Hotel Victoria. We saw the horse drawn carriages leave hotel taking tourists for a tour of the city.

Many side walk cafes, heated from the ceiling, open all winter. Kursaal, which means "meeting place" was here. On the casino grounds was a clock with face made completely from flowers, big wooden hands even second hands. This clock has been here for many years, each year planting new flowers as needed. The stores were all filled with Omega and Rolex gold watches, and much fine jewelry. As we walked, we could see lights high up on the mountain side, dotting villages high in the mountains and villages we would see next day.

Tuesday, October 20, 1981
Woke to a beautiful sunshine day, looking out motel window to see the beautiful snow capped Alps and Mt. Matterhorn nestled between peaks part of the Jungfrau Region. When we first looked out window, day was clear could see the mountain very clearly but within fifteen minutes, one could no longer see mountains, mist come in so fast. After our continental breakfast we started our drive by winding roads and hairpin curves up the Swiss Alps. We drove to Grindelwold by car then took the electric train for the remaining part of the trip Scheidegg. To our desired expectations which many tourists fail to see, the sky was beautiful, not a cloud in sight, making visible the Eiger, Jungfrau and the Monch. No words can express this sight. Jungfrau unveiled her beauty and the Eiger stood in all his glory. We baked in the sun as if we were on the sandy shores of Florida. After taking in the beauty of these sights, we took the electric train back to Grindelwold for lunch. We met many Japanese ladies (teachers of tea) touring the Alps then on to Paris and London and back to Japan. Each wore their beautiful native silk kimonos. Back by Interlaken then up to Gimmelwald where we met an old man and family from Israel, many sheep on mountainsides. Then making all the curves up to Beatenberg where Reverend had relaxed a week in 1948. A small child was bringing the cows down from high meadows, the lead cow wearing the larger bell, the other cows with smaller bells, was a symphony of cow bells drifting throughout the open spaces of the mountains. The hotel was the same as in 1948. Went inside the church which was started in 1536 and restored in 1934 [ed. note: I think she's referring to the Protestant Church of Beatenberg]. Lady was working in the small cemetery on slope near church. The day closed with beautiful echoes of the cow bells and thinking, "they are led by a child, passed the church and up the town street to their proper place for the night." As the day comes to an end - my thoughts drift back to the great Alps standing before me - still wondering the strength behind those great mountains. "When I look down from the lofty mountains grandeur and tall water falls and feel the gentle breeze, I think dear God, how great Thou art. The world behind me - the cross before me - no turning back, I will follow Jesus." Another wonderful day had come to an end. I understand the dear [ed. note: I couldn't make out this word - it was handwritten] melody as I looked at the Alps.

Wednesday, October 21, 1981
On leaving Interlaken we had to stop in the middle of the town to wait on a man taking his cows to the mountains to graze, first cow wearing the larger Swiss bell, about a 2 gallon size, smaller bells on the cows. Saw a Swiss mailman wearing the traditional cape pulling a small cart. We drove along the north side of beautiful Lake Brienz to Luzern. Snowed in the mountains during the night, we could see the snow capped mountains along the drive, lovely chateaus all through the mountains, always flowers in gardens and windows. Saw much wood cut and stacked for winter use. All through this part of Switzerland the church steeples have clocks, then rooster for Reformed church and a cross for the Lutheran. Saw a mountain goat standing way up on a cliff. As we entered Luzern we heard on radio that the Hearst family from California had purchased a castle in Luzern and was going to move it stone by stone and relocate it near Miami, Florida. We saw many black ducks and sailboats on Lake Brienz. By now the lake was Lake Vierwaldstatter [ed. note: aka Lake Lucerne]. We drove through Stans built on the mountain side overlooking the lake. Buildings were old and very pretty in Luzern, covered walks, domes and much decorations on all buildings. Saw big American Express off here, many tour buses. Leaving beautiful Luzern on way to Zurich. Countryside beautiful, lake on one side, mountains on other side. Zurich is place where William Tell struggled for Swiss Independence, no traces of war destruction, economy is strong. On to Liechtenstein, country smaller than Clearwater or Minden, independent, has holding companies, no airports, no natural resources, everything must be imported.


The journal ends there. Although Nana's trip lasted another four days, there were no journal entries. Maybe they were lost. Reading and transcribing Nana's travel journal, I discovered a woman I'd never known. To me, Nana was always the woman who worked in the bank, who loved her children and grandchildren, who grew up on a farm, who loved her church and lived a very simple life. In this journal, I met Nana the world traveler. The woman who drank wine, socialized with and loved meeting people from all cultures, watched Dallas (even if only once), and called her husband August, not Reverend as I always heard her.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More Love for Nana

Remembering that the obituary in the St. Pete Times has a guest book feature, I went and checked it out tonight. Much to my surprise, there were two wonderful comments about Nana.

Thank you Pastor Jim and Otto & Flo! Your comments really brightened my night! She loved each of you.

July 29, 2009
My life is richer from having known and worked with "Miss Frances." Her inimitable spirit was indelibly written on my heart as I would hear her voice, "Pastor Jim, Pastor Jim." She gave great attention to detail and always wanted to alert me to another opportunity. She dearly loved Crystal Beach and certainly helped to 'create' its history, with love and passion. My prayers are with each of you, family and all who knew and loved her.
~ Rev. James Bradley,
Christiansburg, Virginia

July 17, 2009
To All the Family,
We met Frances 19 years ago at Crystal Beach Community Church. We enjoyed her presence at Wednesday night Bible Studies, Sunday services and other church events.
I (Flo), had the pleasure of a few lunch and shopping "dates" with Frances after she retired. We had the privilege of helping her celebrate her retirement after 40 years at the bank and her 80th birthday. We always admired Frances' love for the Lord. She was a very strong lady and devout Christian. She will be sorely missed by us and the many who had the pleasure of knowing her.
With sincere sympathy!
~ Otto and Flo Schwanemann,
Palm Harbor, Florida

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nana in My Dad's Words

My parents divorced when I was 12. It wasn't anyone's fault. It was just one of those things and, all in all, everything has always been quite amicable. We've all even spent some holidays together - birthdays, graduations, and even a Christmas in the mid-90s. Nana always believed that when you married into our family, you were family forever. No matter what. She always asked about him and continued to have some contact with him over the years.

Early last month, things took a serious turn for the worse and we didn't think she would make it through that week. I called my dad because he always wanted to know how she was and has even spoken to her a few times over the last few years. As broken up as I was, my dad was too. Unbeknownst to me, he then sat down and wrote my mom a letter. I read it today and was moved to tears. My mom said I could share it because he perfectly captured Nana. Needless to say, this is a letter I will cherish forever.
Dear Virginia,

I understand from Jessica that time is getting short for your mother. I can't tell you how sorry I am.

Virginia, Frances is a great lady! She has always done what she thought was best for everyone else - always thinking of herself last. She has always been so gracious and caring. I guess that is what I'll remember most. Even after we split up, she told me she loved me and I was welcome in her home. Even though I haven't seen her in years, the thought of her being gone makes me very sad.

Brief pause while I wipe my eyes . . .

The contributions that Frances made to Crystal Beach and Tarpon Springs will be difficult to match. She touched so many lives. She will be leaving behind a legacy of kindness, caring, and thoughtfulness!

I'm sure in God's eyes she has successfully completed his plan for her. Isn't that what life is really all about?!

Virginia, as we miss her, and we will, be happy for her also. Frances will be entering a Kingdom greater than we can imagine and she will be at peace!

I write this with great love and affection!


Thoughts About Nana

I am overwhelmed with the generosity of love that has been sent my way over the last few days. I've received emails from family, friends, and even complete strangers sharing their memories of Nana. Your words and memories have touched my heart, made me smile, and sometimes even brought me a laugh and I wanted to share them. Here are just a few . . .
"I knew Frances fairly well, most from walking past her home in Crystal Beach on the way back from school each day. She would come out of the garden (usually startling me, until I came to expect it) and say a very warm "Hello" and ask how I was. She really wanted to know, too. If I didn't tell her something more substantial than "hi, I'm good," she was sincerely disappointed. She is the kind of woman who adds a lot of the feeling of community, of closeness, that there is something binding all of us together. It is a pleasure to have known her."

"Christmas of 1963, thanks to Frances and Virginia, my mother had her favorite tree -- blue lights, blue ornaments . . . . Frances will be more than fondly remembered by my family."

"I just learned of [Frances'] death. You know that we loved and appreciated her. It was good to see her again on my last visit. Your family will be in my prayers this week."

"I know that it is hard to lose someone you love. She had such a great life and has not had a true life for many years now. We all know that she is in such a better place with many family members and friends. I have enjoyed reading and viewing the pictures of memories."

"I so remember Aunt Frances and interacting with her on numerous occasions. She was such a lady and one who always seemed to have a twinkle in her eyes. Being solicitous of others really stood out to me among her attributes. And who could not be impressed with the fact of her taking piano lessons later in her life and enjoying it so much! We talked of the piano then each time we saw one another as she knew I'd "sort of" played for much of my life. She was deeply committed to her family, and I recall vividly her speaking of you, Jessica, quite often. She loved all of you dearly."
Please feel free to continue to email me your thoughts and your memories. I've saved each one of them and shared them with my family. But you can also feel free to share your experiences with Nana here on the blog through the comments section after each post. I personally approve all comments.

Thank you for the love you have for my family and me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Welcome to Remembering Frances!

Thank you for visiting Remembering Frances, the blog I set up to honor the memory of my Nana, Frances Scruggs Paulk Bredemeier. My family and I appreciate that you were here.

Nana went home to be with God on Sunday, July 12th. We will forever miss her, but will be comforted by the wonderful memories we have of her sweet Southern drawl, her laughter, her sage words, weekly letters, and those sparkling blue eyes she had until her last breath. As you may know, as a result of Macular Degeneration, Nana became blind in 2002. In speaking with a dear friend last night, I shared that for the first time in 7 years, Nana's sparkling blue eyes can see clearly and I know she is looking down at me and my family and smiling.

I hope these stories and memories bring a smile to your face and give you a sense of the woman my Nana was. Her story is a remarkable one. She was a pioneer in so many ways and my personal hero. She has left a legacy to be proud of and that will ensure her spirit will never leave.

I will be continuing to update this blog over the next few days as more details regarding services emerge. I will also be adding some home movies from the 1950s and other pieces I've written about Nana.

Please let us know you were here and share your memories of Frances by posting a comment at the bottom of any post. You may do that by clicking "Comments" at the bottom of each post.

Please note that when you leave your comments, they will be visible by all who visit the blog. If, however, you wish to leave anything privately for my family (e.g., your address or phone number), please email me privately at happygirl616[at]wowway[dot]com.

Thank you.

Jessica Lynn Gardner

Granddaughter of Frances Scruggs Paulk Bredemeier & Daughter of Virginia Paulk Gardner

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nana's Retirement from NationsBank (now Bank of America)

Nana retired from NationsBank (initially Ellis National Bank and now Bank of America) on her 80th birthday, July 18, 1996, after 40 years of employment at the bank. During her long tenure, she was the first woman to become Vice President of any bank in the Ellis Bank Group and she mastered three different computer systems in 15 years - a feat for anyone of any age, but especially for a woman of her generation.

I remember when Ellis National Bank initially merged with another bank in the early 1980s to become NCNB. As part of the merger, the bank, for the first time ever, went to a computer system for banking. Each banker had to learn the new computer system and pass a computer competency exam in order to continue their employment. At that time, Nana was about 65 and thinking about possibly retirement. I remember sitting around her dinner table in Crystal Beach listening to her talk about whether or not she should retire and her beliefs about whether she could pass the computer exam. She honestly wasn't so sure.

But Nana was no quitter. She was a lifelong learner and believed education was everything. She was not going to let some computer system best her into retirement. So she studied and practiced everyday before and after work and when it was time to take the computer test, she passed it with the highest score of any banker, including many bankers 30 or 40 years her junior.

Over the years, the computer system would change two more times during her tenure with the bank. Each time, she had to pass a competency exam to keep her job and each time she scored the highest of any banker.

Before she retired in 1996, she learned how to use email. I'll never forget the day I looked at my email at Hogan & Hartson in Washington DC and I had an email from Nana. We emailed back and forth a couple of times before she retired. Although she never used them again, having those computer skills was a source of considerable pride for Nana. She didn't know any other 80 year old women who could use a computer and send emails across country.

The video below was made on the day of her retirement. The local ABC affiliate station came to NationsBank that day and did a story on her. It aired that night. We stayed up and watched it together. Enjoy!

Frances Paulk Retirement from Orange Video Guest on Vimeo.

Frances Scruggs Paulk Bredemeier - July 18, 1916 - July 12, 2009

This is the obituary that will appear in the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune.

Frances Scruggs Paulk Bredemeier was born July 18, 1916 in a log house out in the country in Batesville, Mississippi to Robert and Lily Scruggs. When she was 16 years old, she canned the most greens beans in all of the State of Mississippi 4-H Clubs. This won her a trip to the 1932 Chicago World’s Fair where she met and had breakfast with Amelia Earhart a few month’s after Miss Earhart’s historic solo flight across the Atlantic. She was Class Valedictorian and Commencement Speaker when she graduated from Batesville High School in 1934, with a full scholarship to Bellhaven College in Bellhaven, Mississippi.

She married Jesse E. Paulk on September 30, 1938. They lived in Batesville where her husband was head of Paulk Brothers Well Drilling and Plumbing. On April 23, 1956, Jesse Paulk brought in the largest gas well ever to be brought in the Southeastern United States. They were members of Batesville Presbyterian Church and she was a member of the Batesville Woman’s Club, which helped get the phrase “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.

In 1956, Mrs. Paulk and her husband Jesse and their children, Virginia and Michael, moved to Crystal Beach, Florida. She worked for Ellis National Bank in Tarpon Springs, Florida (later to become Bank of America), where she was the first woman Vice President in the Ellis Bank Group. She retired from banking after 40 years on July 16, 1996, just two days before her 80th birthday.

In Florida, Mrs. Paulk was a charter member of the Crystal Beach Community Church, which was founded in 1957 by the Rev. C.W.A. Bredemeier, whom she later married on August 28, 1971, after her husband Jesse Paulk died on September 12, 1961. She was Church Secretary and Sunday School Teacher. She was a member of the Tarpon Springs Hospital (now Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital) Women’s Auxiliary. Mrs. Paulk was also a member and secretary for the Palm Harbor Junior High School PTA; secretary-treasurer of the Crystal Beach Chapter of Boy Scouts of America and received the Mother of an Eagle Scout Award; and a member of the National Association of Bank Women, Inc. having served as Treasurer of the Gulf Coast Group of N.A.B.W. She was nominated for listing in Who’s Who of American Women; she was the first recipient of the Courtesy Award given by the Greater Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce; she was named Woman of the Year by the American Business Women Association Tarpon Springs Charter Chapter; and Mrs. Paulk was also a Kentucky Colonel, having been awarded this honor by the Governor of Kentucky in 1974. She was selected for lifetime membership in the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels for her work as an ambassador of good will and fellowship, based upon her strength of character, leadership and dedication to the welfare of others and for “living a life that placed others above self.” Frances was also a member in good standing in the Kentucky Colonels’ Good Works Program.

Her daughter Virginia was with her in Florida since she went blind as a result of macular degeneration and glaucoma in 2002. In October 2003, Mrs. Paulk, with the assistance of her daughter Virginia, was responsible for causing Verizon, Inc. to set up Call Centers for Customers with Disabilities in all 50 states. Also, due to the diligent efforts of Mrs. Paulk and Virginia, Verizon, Inc. since 2003 allows all customers who are unable to dial telephone numbers to simply “0” and the operator will then dial the number for them without any extra charges or fees.

Mrs. Paulk was best known for sweet Southern drawl, her kind and gentle ways, her honesty and dependability, her willingness to “go the extra mile” for friends and acquaintances alike. She was also a talented seamstress, who made all Virginia’s clothes until after she went off to college, as well as her own. She enjoyed reading, walking, cooking, sewing, needlepoint, working in her garden, playing the piano and bridge, travels to Germany, Chicago and Washington D.C. She enjoyed most her time spent with her family and friends. Her favorite activity, however, was participating in weekly church services and devoted her life living Christ’s word through her actions.

Mrs. Paulk is survived by her daughter, Virginia P. Gardner of Arlington Heights, Illinois, her son Dr. Michael E. (Maureen) Paulk of Payson, Arizona, her 4 grandchildren Jessica Gardner, David Gardner, Jesse Paulk and Ryan Paulk, her sister Dixie Gladney, her nieces Bobbie Ruth (Charles) Lavender of Roanoke, Virginia; Charlayne (Richard) Lamb of Batesville, Mississippi; her nephews Robert Harold Gladney and Vernon R. (“Sonny”) (Elizabeth Ann) Butler; her 5 great-nieces: Robbie (A.G.) Nichols, Dixie Lamb, Mazie Lamb, Elesha (Troy) Tucker, Mary Elizabeth Butler, her 3 great-nephews Yancy Butler, Garth Gladney, and Tom (Andrea) Gladney; her cousin Cornelia Waldrup DeFrances of Baton Rouge, Louisana; step-son-in-law Jim Erdman, step-son-in-law Jim Erdman; step-daughter Betty Earle (Don) Bredemeier Huffman; step-grandchildren the Rev. Chris Erdman, James Erdman, Julie Huffman, and Paul Huffman; and other family and friends. On the Paulk side of the family, she is survived by Buddy Paulk, Pam Paulk Kuiper, Gene Paulk, Dennis Paulk, Katie Paulk, Ronnie Pinder, and Dixie Gilpen. She was preceded in death by her brother Robert Scruggs, Jr.; her sisters Robbie Scruggs, Mazie Scruggs, and Johnnie Scruggs Butler; her step-daughter Margaret Ann Bredemeier Erdman, and her husbands Jesse E. Paulk and Rev. C.W.A. Bredemeier.

Visitation will be at Vinson’s Funeral Home at 456 E. Tarpon Ave. in Tarpon Springs, Florida on Friday, July 17, 2009, from 6pm – 8pm.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on what would be Mrs. Paulk’s 93rd birthday at Crystal Beach Community Church 625 Crystal Beach Ave., Crystal Beach, Florida on Saturday, July 18, 2009, at 2pm. There will be a refreshments and a Birthday Cake in the Fellowship Hall afterwards for Family and Friends. The Reverend Dr. Susie Cashion will officiate.

Following services in Florida, her daughter Virginia & her grandchildren Jessica and David will accompany Frances’ body to her hometown of Batesville, Mississippi.

Complete details of the services and internment along with many memories and pictures of Mrs. Paulk can be found at Remembering Frances online at www.rememberingfrances.blogspot.com.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Crystal Beach Community Church, P.O. Box 571, Crystal Beach, Florida 34681 for restoration & protection of the church’s 60-year-old stained glass windows. Please write “Frances Paulk Memorial” in the MEMO section of your check.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Frances in Pictures

Frances Scruggs Paulk Bredemeier lived a remarkable life, much of it captured in pictures.

This slide show is about 5 minutes in length. I apologize for not having all of the pictures captioned yet. It's a work in progress.

Frances's Favorite Bible Verses

Nana was a devout Christian, although she never felt a need to run around proselytizing to everyone. Rather it was her belief that everyone could see her love for Christ in her actions. Her Bible was well worn, however, as she'd read it cover to cover many times and read it nightly.

Throughout the years, I came to know many of her most favorite verses. She would often drop them into a letter to me or I simply heard her recite them over and over again.

Even in her last few months, when she was almost entirely incoherent, if you started to recite the Lord's Prayer or the 23rd Psalm in her presence, whether in person or on the phone, her voice would suddenly be strong and she would speak it with conviction. Talk about a miracle.

The Lord's Prayer - King James Bible AD 1611
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever

The 23rd Psalm - A Psalm of David (King James Version)
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Proverbs 3 (King James Version)
1My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
3Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
8It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
9Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
11My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
12For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
13Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
14For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
15She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
16Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
19The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
20By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
21My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:
22So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
23Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.
24When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
25Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.
26For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
27Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
28Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
29Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
30Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
31Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
32For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.
33The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
34Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
35The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.

Psalm 118:24 (King James Version)
This is the day, which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tarpon Chamber Holds Luau, Presents Awards

For fun tonight, I decided to do an internet search for "Frances Paulk" just to see what I might find. I honestly wasn't expecting anything, but among other things, I found this delightful article! I remember hearing that Nana had won a "Courtesy Award" at some point, but I just thought it was no big deal. Truthfully, it doesn't surprise me to discover that Nana actually did win this award (and was the overall winner, no less!) because she was truly one of the kindest, politest, most sincere people I've ever known. She always says please and thank you, yes ma'am or sir and no ma'am or sir. She lives the proverb "a soft answer turneth away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1).

Be sure to click on the title of the article below and scroll up to see a picture of Nana at the awards banquet.

Tarpon Chamber Holds Luau, Presents Awards
St. Petersburg Times - October 11, 1969
Times Correspondent

TARPON SPRINGS - More than 250 persons clad in bright Polynesian costumes attended a luau at Tahitian Gardens Thursday night, staged by the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce.

The evening's entertainment included Polynesian music and dancing girls and the presentation of several awards.

Special recognition and plaques went to Karen Feltz and Spero Mailles for their heroism in saving lives in two accidents during the past year.

Miss Feltz, a resident of New Port Richey, pulled two men from the Anclote River December 17, 1968 when their car plunged into the water as the U.S. 19 bridge collapsed.

Mailles was able to revive one of two children he pulled from the water at Hudson Beach last summer.

The Chamber's annual "Courtesy Contest" awards went to Frances Paulk, assistant cashier at First National Bank of Tarpon Springs; Ronnie Hausen, Assistant Manager at Publix Super Market at Tarpon Mall; and Ann C. Smith, clerk at the Pick Quick Store in Buena Vista.

Mrs. Paulk was the overall winner. Hausen took the top spot in citywide competition and Mrs. Smith was the out-of-city winner.

Awards for the most colorful costumes went to Police Chief L.J. Buchanan and Jenny Williamson for their green and red Hawaiian attire.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Nana in Letters

Without fail, Nana wrote letters each week. When Dave and I were kids, the letters were to the family, but once we went off to college, we each started to receive our own letters. Some weeks, we each received personal handwritten letters and other weeks, she would write one letter to any number of family members - her children, sisters, and/or grandchildren - and simply xerox the letter and send it off to everyone. She never failed to praise us and take an interest in our interests. Her letters also always included a bit of wisdom from her life experience.

I have kept letters that especially spoke to me throughout the years and, as I look back at them now, I see that collectively they are a window into the person Nana was.

Originally written by Frances Paulk Bredemeier, November 8, 1994.

At the time she wrote this letter, Dave was studying in Florence, Italy as part of an Illinois State University study abroad program.

Dearest David,

This is election day - what a privilege to live in a free country - go to polls not fearing an arrest - vote for whom we choose.

The day I was returning from Uncle Michael's and as I was standing looking out the plane's window as I approached Washington D.C., I saw the Capitol for the first time in my life. Tears filled my eyes. I cannot express the feeling that crept over my body and mind. I thought what a load that building carries. The whole world is looking for guidance, support, finances from that building. The Capitol of our U.S. and the whole world. Such decisions that have to be made. May God guide and care for that building well.

That day meant so much to me. Had it not been for Jessica's forethought to get my ticket changed, I would not have had this opportunity to be in D.C. four hours.

I saw the awful flood in Northern Italy on TV tonight. So many without homes. So much tragedy in the world.

I am proud you have seen so many countries and sights. Whatever you decide about coming home, I am sure will be the right decision. Seems you have to make so many decisions, but seems you have made good ones.

I saw on TV tonight that a man, Fred Curtis, a sculptor for Waterford Crystal, was going to be in Tampa. He had some beautiful pieces of glass, even one for Miss America.

I just finished reading the book "The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci" - was not about a woman-man love life. Was mostly history during the years 1560-1600 or about then and how he painted and never finished some paintings. He was, however, in love with Mona Lisa, but could not give up all his science knowledge. He was always drawing a flying machine and trying to make one, so he's really the first to think of a flying machine. He said later in life that man would have a flying machine. He taught Michelangelo and Raphael about their colors - he was some 30 years older than them.

I love you David and enjoy the times there. I know you have much to tell.

Love you and God's blessings each day,


This next letter is an example of a group letter to Mom, Dave, and Me. Dave had graduated from Illinois State University shortly before Christmas and Nana was in Chicago for about 3 weeks. Unfortunately, Reverend Bredemeier got very sick two days before Christmas, had to be hospitalized, and Nana returned to Florida early.

December 30, 1996

Dear Ones,

Well, I did what I said I was going to do. I did it! Real proud of myself! (Ed. Note: I have no idea what she did.)

Even though I had to return early, the days were wonderful and also David's graduation. Was glad to know his safe trip.

I am enclosing a clipping about Armand Hammer. I have his book. Was an expensive book, but most interesting. I have read it twice and since this clipping will read again. Would either of you like to read - thick book - but one does not want to put it down. Shows good and bad - his father killed a man and stayed in prison long time.

Jessica, I sent your package to the office today. I put your pins in a little plastic box I had here.

Virginia, I mailed your coat today. I could not resist putting 5 grapefruit in. I wrapped each one in a paper and put inside of a bag. I hope they keep. I feel so guilty when I eat a grapefruit each day and you all do not have one right off the tree. I love you all so much. Throw fruit away if not good. You should have box by Friday. Look in your coat pocket. I put some cold medicine in the pocket and package of pins. I threw mine away. Those little tiny ones are dangerous. The lining is exact size of old one. Sleeves same length. When you put on, reach inside and pull lining up. I think old one was tacked in place, but I think best to leave loose. I am keeping old one if ever need again.

Know you will miss Jessica, but we have to get back in a routine and I know you will soon have house in order from having both kids home. I just know this will be a good year for you. Was so glad I could be with you and any time you need me - I will be there!!

I love you and you have not had all easy, but your hardships have made you strong.

Thursday - Glad you are safely back home. Happy for Jessica that she has invitation to inaugural ball. This is great. My granddaughter and your daughter going to the inaugural ball!!

I pray for each of us each night and through the day and especially for David now. Does he have enough funds? Don't want him going without food or place to sleep. He's so great.

Love you all,

Nana & Mother