Archived Stories
from the Road



GROWING UP SOUTHERN—Stories from the Attic of Childhood Memories

North Carolina & Florida

Kitty and I are going back to North Carolina on Saturday, March 7 for one more visit with our cousins to wrap up the research for the next chapter of GROWING UP SOUTHERN—Stories from the Attic of Childhood Memories. This next chapter/short story will be about our mother, Ina Blanche Neighbors Morris, called Billie by most everybody except her relatives.

Below are some notes I made in my journal last year in April during the Morris Girls Road Trip to North Carolina, Georgia and Florida that I wanted to share with you on the eve of our upcoming journey back to the South. These notes will be part of the next chapter, but with a new twist:


“The dogwood and azaleas were in full bloom when we arrived in North Carolina. It’s rained like cats and dogs every day, but we’ve spent most of our time sitting around the dinner table, eating good homegrown food and talking with cousins about our family history. Went over to Kenly yesterday to the house that Uncle Elton and Aunt Gladys lived in where Mother lost her high school ring a few days after graduating in 1932. Mother was throwing out food scraps onto the compost pile and her ring, a little too big, flew off her finger and disappeared into the mound of decaying organic material.

Mother had been very upset about the loss of her 14 carat gold ring studded with a multifaceted oval shaped ruby. I remember her telling this story when we were children every time we went to visit Uncle Elton and Aunt Gladys, who kept a vegetable garden year round until after Aunt Gladys died.

Fifty years later when the current owner of the house was rototilling the garden, he noticed a red stone (ruby) sparkling in the soil that had been turned over and, low and behold, it was Mother’s ring. His wife found the initials IBN (Ina Blanche Neighbors) inscribed on the inside band of the ring. She called Benson High School in an effort to locate the owner, and the local newspaper wrote up a story about the long lost ring.

Someone sent the article to Mother in Florida, and shortly thereafter, she went to her 50th High School Class Reunion and was reunited with her ring. Mother was indescribably happy by this serendipitous turn of events, and relished telling the story of its recovery during the last twenty some odd years of her life.

On her death, Mother’s ring was given to me, and I’m wearing it on a gold chain around my neck while we’re here in North Carolina in memory of our dear sweet mother.”


In previous stories, I wrote about the magic that was in the air during last year’s trip to North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Both of the last two short stories about that trip are now in the “Archived Stories from the Road” section of the website with wonderful photographs from my childhood that illustrate each story.

SynchroDestiny” is the story about my being reunited with Martha Jean Webster (Miller), my best childhood friend from the age of three until I left Leesburg when I was twelve years old.

As it’s turned out, I’ve been invited by my Leesburg childhood friends from Kindergarten through the Fifth Grade to attend, as an honorary member, their 50th High School Class Reunion on Friday and Saturday, March 13-14. I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

And, my friends Shirley Scarborough (DeFoor) and Ihla Phillips (Sloman) in Lakeland, where I actually graduated from high school, are hosting a luncheon in my honor while I’m in Florida. One of my best high school girlfriends, who was the Captain of our cheerleading squad, is actually coming in from Texas for the get together because she won’t be able to attend the Lakeland 50th High School Class Reunion in October. Of course, I’ll be there for that one, too.

There’s something truly delicious about this journey, with Mother’s ring and her 50th high school class reunion story, and my 50th high school class reunions this year. So off I go with her ring on the gold chain around my neck again, and an open heart full of love and gratitude for all life’s blessings, big and small, even in these economically difficult and challenging times.

LOVE is the Poetry of the Senses
Honoré de Balzac

Addendum: There is a new Story from the Road to tell about the trip in March, but for now, check out the photo taken at the Leesburg High School Class Reunion. Beautiful people in whose faces I still see the sweetness of childhood, fifty years later.
1st Row/left to right: Jane Clair; 6th from left Jane Clark; 8th from left Madge Clements
2nd Row/left to right: Ferrell Young; Martha Jean Webster
©2006 Jane Bay - All Rights Reserved