A great lady died unexpectedly this week–Mrs. Dorothy Biggers Argroves of Greenville, Georgia (one of my hometowns). Everybody called her Dot, except the little ones–they called her Miss Doffy.
She and Mr. Harry were married for 65 years and still seemed to be right smitten with each other. They had three girls–Angela the oldest, then Andrea (who everyone in town called “Baby Sister”), then Harriet, who was in my sister’s class at school. Even when Harriet came along, Baby Sister stayed Baby Sister because that’s the way nicknames work.
You can’t miss the Argroves Girls, Miss Dot included, because every one of them is tall and elegant and charming. Like the Amazons formed a chapter in Meriwether County.
Miss Dot was a fixture of my childhood at basketball games, school events, and pool parties. I’m pretty sure I remember my Daddy working on their cows but I can’t recall for sure. I remember many hours spent sweating in our car in their driveway while she and Mama talked and talked and talked. I can feel the sizzling plastic seats of the car sticking to the back of my legs now.
I’ve only seen her a few times in my adult life but I swear I could pick her out of a crowd of 10,000 people, blindfolded. Miss Dot’s voice is one I can summon up in my head whenever I think of her. She had a Southern accent–not country, but from the farmland. I don’t mean to make her sound brash, but her voice carried. You could tell she was used to making herself heard across a pasture. But the best thing to me about Miss Doffy’s voice was how it always sounded like she was on the verge of laughing. She was FUNNY and FUN.
The last time I saw her was a few Christmases back. We were all at Grandmama Irene’s house the Saturday before Christmas for an early celebration. I was two rooms away, making sure Vivi didn’t break anything, when I heard that voice come twinkling through the front door. Miss Dot had been driving by, saw all the cars in the yard, and stopped to see who was there. That’s the way small towns work, you know. It was such fun to see her that day and introduce her to my kids.
Here’s a story that made her laugh that day. I told her that I think of her every time we have a pool party. The Argroves had a swimming pool and were kind enough to invite us over one hot afternoon. We were all in the water, splashing and shouting when Miss Dot walked up to the edge and hollered, “Don’t any of you kids pee in this pool! I put a special chemical in there that will turn bright blue if you pee in the water.” I spent YEARS watching to see who was going to pee a blue streak. And now I use that line myself when kids come over to swim! Miss Dot laughed and laughed then she leaned in close and said, “I bet you never peed in that pool, did you?” I sure didn’t.
There’s just never going to be another one like her, that lady. Her passing has had me thinking about the way we can live forever in stories when this life is over. Sweet rest, Miss Doffy. You’ll never be forgotten.
P.S. – I Googled Miss Dot’s name to see if I could find any more pictures of her and stumbled on a link to a horse racing site. Apparently, a mare by the name of “Dot Argroves” won a good bit of money on the track back in 1974. It’s too late right now to call either one of my parents and ask them about this, so I’m going to believe it’s a horse named after her. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.
P.P.S – Yep, Angela has confirmed that there WAS a Thoroughbred race horse named after her Mama! Here’s the pedigree. I love that the horse Dot Argroves had “Schiaparelli,” “Flirting,” and “Prince Chevalier” in her family. Delightful.