GETTING TO KNOW... Myrtle Rich
In 1976 Robert Manson Myers published a wonderful collection of letters titled A Georgian at Princeton. Myrtle Rich might be called a Georgian in the Upper Valley, but I think “friend” is the best title. It was a pleasure for me to get to know her for this feature.
At the outset, it is great for me to speak with another person who doesn’t have an accent. Do you still speak Southern after all this time? Yes. On the telephone people always ask me where that accent comes from.
Do you have a favorite expression? Two: “Y’all” and “over yonder.”
Mine is “fixin’ to.” Yes.
Tell me a little about your early life. Both my parents were native Georgians and I was born in Baxley, Georgia, about 60 miles from the Florida line. I was raised on a farm as the youngest of four sisters. As the baby of the family I was spoiled, I guess, but we all worked hard at raising hogs, cotton, tobacco, and peanuts. I used to go barefoot everywhere all summer and never gave a thought to snakes. Would I do it now? Never.
We didn’t get a vehicle until I was a teenager, so we went to church in a wagon drawn by a mule until we got a car. Eventually my father got three or four cows. Our dog would go out with them every day and stay with them until they came back in the evening. One day, unfortunately, he got his head caught in a barbed wire fence. I really enjoyed holding our cats in the front porch swing.
I graduated at age 17 from Appling County High School. You might like to know that the high school was 27 miles from my house, so I was always the first one on and the last one off the bus every day. My favorite subjects were math and especially algebra. One of the school football players was having great difficulty with algebra. I tutored him until he was able to pass. He later became a senator in Georgia! We got lots of good soup and hot chocolate in elementary school, along with donated baskets of apples and raisins.
I have always been a Baptist. You can say that I was baptized in the muddy waters of Georgia. It wasn’t a creek or a lake, just a water hole.
How did you meet your husband? After I graduated from high school I moved to Macon, Georgia, where I lived for two years, first with my sister, then at the YWCA, and worked for Bankers Health and Life Insurance. One evening, in January 1958, a group of us girls went roller skating. I was tired and was sitting on a bench when a young man sat down and we began talking. It turned out that he was an airplane mechanic in the Air Force at Robbins Air Force Base. We were married in June 1958 and were transferred to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. When he was discharged from service, we moved to his hometown, Hanover, on New Years Eve 1958. I have lived in the Upper Valley since then. His first job paid a dollar an hour for 60 hours a week and I began my 30 year career as an insurance underwriter.
We had three children—a girl and twin boys. Two of my children live in the Upper Valley and the third lives in South Carolina. I am blessed with four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
What sorts of things do you enjoy doing? I love going to fairs. I loved working on the White Elephant sale at our church and the Chicken Pot Pie Supper for several years. I love reading too. I also love walking, especially on the rail trail, but haven’t been able to do it since my surgery. I hope to be able to start again. I like playing cards. Have you ever heard of a game called Five Crowns? I love real country music (Brooks and Dunn are great) and Elvis. I have been to Graceland too. I did get to go to Las Vegas once for six days, which was three days too long! I broke even in the casino and was able to take in two shows, which were nice.
I love the Upper Valley and wouldn’t live anywhere else. Once I was returning from a two month stay down South; when I saw the sign that said Lebanon/Enfield, I was “some happy.”
How would you describe our church to a newcomer in the community? Our church is the third I have attended over the years here. I came with a friend and am very happy. I would say our church feels like family and is very caring and very friendly. Of course, you can’t help but like Roger. He has come to see me four times and even gave me communion at home. I liked Mike and was sorry to see him go and, of course, I missed Ted a lot too. I feel blessed to have all my church family and all my friends.
--Ralph Puckett & Karen Hoffmeister
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