One hundred and seven years ago on this date, a baby girl was born on a farm about a mile outside of Sturgis, Mississippi to Erskine and Ada Hannah. Her parents named her Virginia for her Grandma Berry. One might question, considering her lack of fame, whether the birth of Virginia Hannah qualifies as the significant date I have designated in the title, but let me give you a glimpse of her life.
As the oldest of six children who lived to adulthood, born over an eighteen-year span in a farm family, outdoor chores with her father began early in life. As her mother’s health deteriorated during her teenage years leading to her death shortly after Virginia married, she took on more responsibility for her younger siblings.
Her marriage to Berton McGee, a pastor of country churches, brought a new role that she loved as pastor’s wife and a major additional responsibility since he had a visual handicap that prevented his driving. As she chauffeured, they became a team, and she enjoyed and made her own contributions to pastoral visits and pastor’s conferences.
Periodically, she taught school. She taught first graders both how to read and how to find joy in books. In another setting, she taught high schoolers to unravel the mysteries of algebra.
She was mother to four girls, foster mother to another, and grandmother to ten grandchildren, but not the kind that you travel to see for her cooking. Her meals were always well-balanced from the seven food groups popular at the time, but if she got involved in telling a story and let the beans scorch, she would say, “Oh, only the ones on the bottom burned.” (I learned to cook at an early age in self-defense.) She did tell great stories to all members of both generations and taught them that the Magic Words were “Please” and Thank You.” She had one great-grandson born before she died but after Alzheimer’s Disease had taken much of her memory. Strangely after she had forgotten so much, she could remember that she was a great-grandmother.
Virginia lived her entire life in North Mississippi, traveling outside the United States three times if my memory is correct. There may not seem to be a lot of significance in this life, but if you asked her siblings who depended on her, her husband with whom she shared a ministry or the church people whose joys and sorrows she shared, the students who used what they learned from her, or her descendants whose lives have been easier because they know the Magic Words, you will find a number of people that believe October 21, 1912 was a significant day in history.
And for the record, I could go for a bowl of Mama’s blackberry cobbler, a dish she did do well!