So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Coy Ray Council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coy Ray Council. Show all posts

Sunday, June 21, 2020


Today is the day set aside to honor our fathers. My father is buried in the family cemetery on our farm in south Georgia, just where he wanted his body placed, overlooking green pastures and shimmering little lakes.

Near him is my sister's husband, Stan, who was a great father-figure to me.
In fact, he was more like a father than my Daddy, in many ways. I was six or seven years old when my sister brought Stan home to meet her family. Tall and handsome in his Air Force uniform, he became a much-loved son to my parents and a brother to the rest of us. He was the kind of man a little girl needs for a father, and unlike my daddy, Stan was warm and affectionate. I talked to him and he listened. He actually seemed interested in me and what I had to say. Naturally I loved him. The day my sister, June, married Stan and made him a permanent part of our big clan was one of the most important days of my life. The two of them were my biggest supporters as I grew up, graduated from high school and went away to college.

Stan's letters cheered me up and encouraged me those early years at Georgia State College for Women. I was always welcome to visit them on weekends in Atlanta. I loved every minute I spent at their house. Stan died in 1975 and rests forever on the farm in south Georgia far from his birth place in South Dakota. 

In that cemetery on the hill, is the grave of my brother, Ray, who was a father-figure for all brothers and sisters. At an early age, he took on responsibility for family needs, and all his life he put the welfare of his brothers and sisters and his parents first. His generosity and his leadership knew no boundaries. Most of his kind deeds will never be known because he wanted it that way.
Ray Council

Ray and I started at the new Albany High School at the same time, but I was a freshman and he began his first year as a teacher. One of the perks of having your brother teach at your school is getting to ride to school with him instead of catching the bus.

I was always one to keep the rules. The thought of getting in trouble with school authorities and then having to face my parents was about the worst thing I could imagine. So I don't know how I came to skip school with my friend, Jeannine. We walked to her house because her parents were gone and we had no fear of being caught. I don't remember what we did that day, but I knew we had to be back at the school before the bus came and before Ray left for home.

We did a good job of fooling everyone, we thought. However, Ray asked me where I had gone. His friends, my teachers, told him they missed me in class. Ray knew I had ridden with him to school. I was terrified that I would be in trouble with Mother and Daddy and with my teachers as well. But my big brother did not turn me in. He gave me a stern lecture, and I never skipped school again.

Ray was a strong presence in my life. His advice on financial matters was as good as a college degree. He taught me how to balance a bank statement and how to keep books. He gave me responsibility for helping with the family business. I knew I could go to him anytime with my questions or problems.

He served in the U.S. Navy in WWII and graduated from the University of Georgia. He was a man of his word and it was said that a handshake with Ray was as good as a signed contract. At a young age, he had to take up the slack when my father's health failed. Ray's leadership in our family kept us all on an even keel. His work ethic was deeply entrenched and he could never be lazy.
In his last three years of life, after being diagnosed with cancer, he came to visit me often. We had the best discussions and long talks. I  cherished those times with Ray. He enjoyed coming up to the mountains and attending the music festivals here. One of his hobbies was music, singing and collecting good albums of all genres. He loved opera and he really enjoyed country music.

He never had a child of his own, but he was like a father to most of his siblings who respected him and looked to him for leadership. He had a step-child and was a good father to her.

On this father's day, I salute Stan and Ray, the father-figures in my life. Those fine men who helped make me who I am today. I still miss them and live each day as they taught me.

Friday, July 19, 2019

In my family stories, I write about my parents, Coy and Lois Council.

Excerpt from my memoir:
My older sister, June, was born 1924. She entered this world at the home of our grandparents, Willie and Lula Robison where Mother waited for Daddy to send for her. Times were hard in the early 1920s for my family and many more. The economy of the United States was doing great, but only for certain people. As is often the case, the stock market was booming, but middle and low income families struggled.

Daddy, Coy Council, had planned to wait until he had enough money saved before asking Lois to marry him, but he married at the age of 23 because he could not bear to be away from his beloved Lois any longer. In letters he wrote to my mother, it is obvious he was afraid she would find someone else. He was jealous of anyone she saw when he was not present.

Daddy had never worked anywhere but Pelham Manufacturing Company, (textile mill). He started there when he was ten years old, soon after his father died. At times the Pelham mill would close. Then Daddy, a young single man, took the train up to Thomaston, Georgia where he worked as a weaver at the mill there and rented a room at a boarding house. He barely made enough to pay his board, buy cigarettes and send money home to his widowed mother. He hated the work, but it was all he knew. 

On the positive side, he could always find work because between 1800 and 1910, cotton mills sprang up all over the south and middle Georgia had two or three in the same county. I find it interesting to see what fabrics were made in each mill. After the Civil War, the production of cotton duck, a canvas-like cloth, dominated production for use in ship sails, tents, and covered wagons. Duck gained new value as an industrial fabric in the booming new rubber tire business for automobiles in the early twentieth century. Osnaburg is a name I remember hearing Mother say when she looked at fabric in a store. It was one of those produced in the early 20th century.

My oldest brother, Ray, was the only child not born in Georgia. He was born in a tiny town, Rubonia, Florida where Mother and Daddy lived while my father worked with Uncle Charlie on his farm in Palmetto. Daddy also worked nights at an ice plant to earn enough to pay rent and feed his small family. In the days before refrigerators and ice machines, ice plants delivered ice to homes and businesses. It was hard work. Even in 1942, homes without electricity had an Ice Box on the back porch where a big block of ice would be placed to keep food cold for a couple of days until the ice man brought another block.

Little Ray became my father’s pride and joy. He had hoped for a son, and when that boy was born, in 1926, Coy Council burst his buttons with pride. The first-born son has long been a source of pride and joy to fathers. That son was expected to carry on the lineage of the father. Ray was, of course, named for his father. Coy Ray Council went by the name of Ray.

Little did anyone know what this precious child would mean to his parents, his siblings and to countless others whose lives he touched.

A block of ice carried with tongs delivered to someone's Ice Box

The Icehouse Job, 1926

After working 9 hours in the hot Florida sun,
he came home to eat a meal with her and his kids.
She told him how she wished he could stay with her
and rest, let her rub his back. I get scared here without you.
But he said he had to pay the rent, put food on the table.
As the kids were tucked into bed, he climbed
into his old truck, headed to work.

It should have been a relief after the sun burned
his skin to dark brown leather, but he wore his ragged
jacket and a cap with flaps over his ears
as if he had walked into dead of winter in Wisconsin.

Alone in the quiet he wondered how long could he go on
working two jobs, getting little sleep.
His back, tired from plowing mules all day,
his hands cold and chapped, he chopped
the fifty pound blocks. With both hands he clamped
the tongs that griped the slippery squares, swung his shoulders
tossing his burden up on the platform, over and over
until the clock said midnight, quitting time.

He climbed into bed too tired to bathe.
Her hand reached through the night,
touched his face. He slept but she lay awake
thinking of going home to Georgia, seeing her folks,
hearing him laugh again, and tell his stories to the kids.

                                                   Dedicated to my parents, Coy and Lois Council

Glenda Beall
August 6, 2015