Tag Archives: hometown

Miss Doffy’s Pool Party

Miss Doffy beaming on the day she got her homestead loaded on a truck and moved it closer to her. She was that kind of lady.

Miss Doffy beaming on the day she got her homestead loaded on a truck and moved closer to her. She was that kind of lady.

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.

swim-240928_1280Here’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.

In That Other Half of the World

December 24 1968. Image courtesy of NASA.

Today is the fall equinox–the day when dark and light are almost equal. The day when our spot in the rotation around the Earth, given the tilt of our axis, points towards things growing darker and colder. But just for a time.

In that other half of the world, it’s the spring equinox–the day when dark and light are almost equal. The day when the spot in the great ellipsis around the sun, and the tilt of that same axis, point towards the days growing warmer and longer. But just for a time.

Same planet + same moment in time = totally different experience.

Vivi asked me last night if it was morning in Japan.  “Pretty much,” I answered. Our sun only rises over the pine trees in the backyard because it has set for that other half of the world.

G grew up in that other half of the world. I asked him once what everyone did on Christmas Day and he said, “Go to church, eat, then go to the beach.” Late December is high summer in that other half of the world.

When I was in Brasil a few years ago, I couldn’t get enough of looking at the stars at night. To think–these were entire constellations I had never seen! In all those travels to Europe and across North America, this was my first time looking at the night sky of that other half of the world.

Something so concrete that we measure our years by it, like the seasons, is completely opposite for the other half of the world. Something so eternal that we use them to navigate, like the stars, can be absolutely, 100% different for the other half of the world.

It’s so hard to remember that it isn’t fall everywhere. Or it isn’t morning everywhere.

That’s one reason I think we all need to travel if given the chance–to see the other half of the world and remember that their world is just as real and right and ordinary to them as ours is to us.

My Wesleyan sister, Bryndis, and I were talking via Facebook a few weeks ago. Her family used to live in the same small town of Gay Georgia, where I grew up before they moved one town over. She asked, “As my Mom would say, who are your folks?” I said, “We got Crouches, Todds, Mathews, Garretts, O’Neals…I think that about covers it!” She told me hers until I recognized a name. She said her mama still worships at Mount Venus Baptist in Gay.

I brought up the subject of how strange it is we grew up on the same dirt, graduated from the same college, but had such different experiences. We both have strong families, good grades, lovely manners, and we know the same shortcuts over back roads. We have different colors of skin. There are exits on the interstate where she won’t stop, even in the daylight.

When I went back to Gay last month for a family funeral, my sister and I drove straight to the cemetery instead of following the funeral procession.  It’s easy to find–go through the one red light then turn left onto Cemetery Street. Drive through the dark tunnel of oak trees and up the hill. We parked the car in the back corner and walked over to our family plot inside a mossy brick wall with ornate metal gates. I recognized the names on the headstones that we passed–Baughns, O’Neals, Estes, McCrarys, Turners. Something struck me as odd. Here we were on Cemetery Street in the cemetery, but where were the Stroziers, the Renders, the Germanys? I had grown up thinking this was The Cemetery, but clearly there must be another one here in town. And I had no earthly idea where the black cemetery was in my own hometown.

It shouldn’t have surprised me. There is nothing more segregated than a cemetery. It was one of those “other half of the world moments,” just as jarring as realizing that spring is also fall and morning can be night.

When you never get out of your half of the world, it’s easy to forget that the other half lives on the same planet, on the same day, in a COMPLETELY different experience.

As different as night and day.