Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Memories Tree

Know what this is?

How about now?

I know. This will help.

 How about this?

If you’re thinking it’s a glove, you’d be only half right. It’s also an . . .

 Are you ready for it?


I finally decorated my 2nd tree last night. And, yes, I add the gloves every year. It started once when we bought some antique ornaments in Eureka Springs. I put them on the big tree in our living room, but it looked a little bare. I didn’t want to put new ornaments on it, so I added Grandmother’s old gloves.

 I love the way they look, dangling there. And since I have some of Grandmother’s ornaments on the tree

such as the sputnik at the bottom of this picture

and this satellite, I figure they belong there. Their shapes tell you their birthdates–the fifties.

Here are a few more of my favorite old ornaments–

Mama had an ornament like this when I was a kid. My secret tradition was for me to put it on the tree.

My Joanie ornament.

The year Joanie and I lived together, we had a tiny cedar Christmas tree that Dad cut for us. This ornament is like the ones we had on that tree.

 And this is just a cool old ornament.

All my old ornaments aren’t family hand-me-downs; some are just pretty. Or interesting. So if you see some orphaned ones on the loose somewhere, let me know. I’ll give them a good home!

This is under my Grandmother tree.

 It’s a tree skirt.

Mom and I were at market in Dallas, and she had me order this one for Grandmother and one with a red background for her house. (I think Brother Jeffrey has the red one under his tree.)

The back of it is Christmas red, and in one corner it says, “1991; To Ruby from Carol and Mary Sue. Happy Mother’s Day.”

Check out last year’s post, THE GRANDMOTHER TREE. 🙂


Avard Mitchell–1897 to 1920

Uncle Frank told me the story of Grandmother’s brother, Avard, and Grandad’s twin sister, May. It seems they were sparking when Avard decided to teach May how to shoot. They used a six gun.

Being ignorant about guns and not knowing safety rules, May accidentally shot Avard.

“Gut shot,” Uncle Frank said. “He lived for about a week before he died.”

I try to imagine the accident. I see it happening at the Mitchell house (the cellar is still there but the house is gone) since the older Spess brothers pretty well knew how to shoot and probably would have taken over. (If they were around.)

The sound of the shot, the flash of heat followed by the wash of pure cold that must have gripped Grandma Mitchell when she realized her son had been shot and, barring a miracle, he couldn’t live.

Did they send for a doctor? I don’t know, but I’d guess they did. Knowing the Mitchells, they prayed for that miracle. Called the church together and prayed without ceasing for a miracle that wouldn’t come.   

Avard died on July 8th. Here’s what it says at the bottom of his headstone–

Weep not, father and mother, for me. For I wait in Glory for thee.

Two years later, May married Ott Lawmaster (I think the last name is right) and her twin brother, Ray, married Ruby Mitchell. They eloped.

I don’t know if that was because Grandma Mitchell hadn’t gotten over a Spess killing her son or if Ray just didn’t ask Ruby until the last minute.

Guess I’d better ask Uncle Frank.