Thursday, January 9, 2014

Flat on Her Back

What an ordeal my grand-aunt, Lummie Davis Moore, was suffering after slipping on a splash of water at the Phoenix hotel she was visiting. Though her detailed letter to her brother spelled out many of the medical details she endured, in these fourth and fifth pages, Lummie seems to wind down and let go of her brave fa├žade.

When Lummie wrote, “This inactivity certainly goes hard with me,” I can hardly take in that paragraph without thinking of my own aunt, whose last year was so difficult for her after her own serious fall. She, too, hoped to be able to walk again, and until that point would have no recourse for dissipating any of that vital energy that remained with her well past the age when people handily dismiss such unfortunates as “elderly.”

Perhaps that tendency—shared by my aunt and her aunt—was an example of those traits bequeathed to us via our genes.

Then, too, the ominous insertion of the promise to “let you know if anything goes wrong” seemed so out of place, trailing such an upbeat letter—even if it was from someone who was “writing lying flat on my back.”

Even then, she had a quick comeback, making travel promises for the subsequent year, since this year’s trip would have to be canceled.

Her commitment to her baby brother to “visit you wherever you are” may have indicated that Jack Davis was already tiring of retirement life in Roanoke, Virginia. His subsequent move back to Columbus, Ohio, and re-entry into the sales force there, most likely again in real estate, may have already been part of a previous letter to Lummie. That may explain the enigmatic close to this 1962 letter, though I still have no idea who the “he” is to whom Lummie refers.

A side note about Lummie: as I work my way through the Davis family photos and papers, I am continuing to use the spelling I was first shown from the Davis family Bible. The birth entry, most likely written by Martha Cassandra Boothe Davis, Lummie’s mother, spelled her eldest daughter’s name as “Lummie.” Subsequent records I’ve recently found show the spelling alternately as Lumie, which you will see in her signature at the end of this letter to her brother Jack and his wife.

I am quite clueless as to what the name Lummie might be short for, but if for nothing else, I can at least vouch that it is a phonetic representation of how the family pronounced her name. Not knowing that, and reading it as signed below, “Lumie,” might make it hard for someone to know the correct pronunciation. Following the first mention I stumbled upon years ago, and continuing to adhere to that format that best helps people know how to pronounce it, I’ve decided to standardize these later transcriptions by maintaining the original spelling (though continuing to research using both spellings).

            So don’t worry, I am being well taken care of it is just a matter of sticking it out for about 6 months—but this inactivity certainly goes hard with me—and my big hope is that I am not lame.
            Hope you can read this—I am writing lying flat on my back—Write me when you feel like it and I will write often as I can—at [least] will let you know if anything goes wrong—Love to you both and Jack thank you again for
offering to come out—Some way, I felt like it was genuine. Will be home next summer + will visit you wherever you are.
            Am enclosing a clipping from morning paper you are going to be very interested in. He bought a choice piece of property.
                                                Love to all


  1. "Lum" was a common nickname for Columbia. However, your Lummie might have been a generation or two removed from the time Columbia was on the list of top baby names.

    1. Wendy, I totally was unaware of that name or its ranking. Fascinating! Since I wouldn't know when that name made it on the top baby names list, I have no idea if Lummie pre-dated that craze. She was born in 1886. The one thing I do know is that her name was entered exactly as that in the family Bible--it didn't show as a shortened version of any other name.

  2. I think Wendy has something there. I've found others using the name "Lummie" as short for Columbia (or Columbus). If so, it would not be pronounced "Loom-me" but rather "Lum-me" has an example.

    That poor woman - (and your aunt too) - the final months must been hard.

    1. That's exactly how it was pronounced, Iggy, with the short "u" as in "Lum-me." Not having seen her sign her own name until this winter when I started researching her story, I always saw it written Lummie, and pronounced as you said. Seeing her own version, spelled Lumie, would be confusing, if I hadn't heard family members over the years mentioning her name.

  3. I wonder what the paper was and what it said about the he?

    Interesting that her name could be short for Columbia:)

    1. Yes, I'm glad Wendy mentioned that, and Iggy found that link. Makes sense, but I would never have guessed that on my own. See how helpful it is to get everyone's input?!?!

      Oh, believe me, you and me both, when it comes to wondering about that "he" and the property he bought. Don't know about you, but it almost sounded snarky to me to see her only tag him as "he" without so much as mention his name. There wasn't any newspaper article included in the envelope when I got it...that's an inside story that will remain a mystery, I guess.


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