After a finicky February 2014, a new month brings the promise of renewal and revitalization associated with springtime in Hot Springs.
As our surroundings begin to “green up,” we look forward to the “wearing o’ the green” on St. Patrick’s Day when everyone who is not of Irish descent pretends he or she is duly entitled to don a tweed cap, wear a shamrock pin, and speak a bit of blarney on this celebratory occasion.
I admit to being somewhat envious of persons whose given names remind one of the Celtic land and heritage that intrigues and fascinates us all.
My aunt, Margaret Bridget Brown LeJeune, was born in St. Mary Parish, La., but certainly with that moniker, she might well have been as much a child of Dublin or Donegal as Jeanerette. In any case, she was a spirited and generous soul who enjoyed life to the fullest. She most certainly would have reveled in the way this resort city hosts its much heralded and “shortest ever” March 17 parade.
The lure of Eire and the perceptions Americans have of that island across the Atlantic Ocean were not lost on my mother who had the good fortune of traveling abroad via cruise ship in the summer of 1931.
In a daily journal, which began with an entry in June, she wrote, “… we had sighted the coast of Ireland. It was the grandest feeling to see land again, even if I do rather hate to see this end.
“Ireland isn’t quite as green as the ‘Emerald Isle’ should be, but it’s beautiful along the coast. Lots of farms plotted off, giving the appearance of a crazy quilt. The lighthouses are just like pictures and much more exciting when you really see them.”
Never having enjoyed such an elaborate and educational excursion, I am grateful to have this personally penned account of mother’s trip to England and France during her 21st year. I am especially glad to study her writing style and the way she describes the individuals who moved in and out of her life and the historic places she visited.
Whenever I peruse its pages, this particular “little black book” takes me along on what surely was a sentimental journey and also provides considerable insight into her youthful personality and considerable gift for language.
It likewise provides a sense of the era, giving the reader a look back at Hot Springs when local telephone numbers were just three or four digits and good friends’ call codes and addresses were jotted neatly down in the back of the book for easy reference.
Mother’s intimate recounting is a history book of sorts. It reminds me of how lucky we here are that similar nuggets of information about “our town” are preserved us by the Melting Pot Genealogical Society and the Garland County Historical Society.
There’s no better read than these personal stories that inexorably connect us to a special place called home.