|Maxminimus' gift, photographed by Boy Fenwick|
in the gardening barn at Darlington House
Maxminimus sent it to me, he said, because of the post I wrote awhile back, on Charleston Receipts. He thought I might like it. And he was right.
|It is always so nice to have a book inscribed by its giver|
Photograph by Boy Fenwick
It is not a particularly weighty tome, but it is one that resonates and ripples beyond its covers. I highly recommend it to you, Dear Reader.
|Mrs. Whaley's Charleston garden|
Image courtesy of Preservation Nation
Mrs. Emily Whaley, who died in 1998 at the ripe age of eighty-seven, was of a vanishing breed of women that once spread throughout this country, whose population has been sadly depleted by the passage of time, the spiraling cost of living, and the supposed benefits of "progress." She was of a class of women, largely wives and mothers, who were raised in a culture that valued tradition, continuity, self-discipline, service to others, and positive thinking. While some, like Mrs. Whaley, were raised in affluence, it was not a prerequisite for belonging to this breed of women. An appreciation for thrift and economy were also among its hallmarks. They planned ahead.
|Mrs. Emily Whaley with landscape architect Loutrel Briggs|
Photographed in the 1970s
Mr. Briggs designed Mrs. Whaley's garden in 1940
Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation
I was quite charmed by Mrs. Whaley's book, the stories she tells in its pages, and the nuggets of wisdom she shares. The book is full of her keen observations and sensible opinions on matters ranging from working with others, marriage, raising a family, faith, getting involved, and being active. She genuinely liked people, was appreciative of the advantages she had either been given or worked hard for, loved her dog Rosie, and didn't take herself (or others) too seriously. She was happy to poke fun at herself. And she was a worker, too—whether it be in her garden, helping out family members or friends, or toiling on behalf of a worthy cause.
|Mrs. Emily Whaley with her beloved Rosie|
sitting in her Charleston garden in 1997
Photographed by Milton Morris
Image courtesy of Workman Publishing Group
In short, Mrs. Whaley was a lady. In the very best sense of the word. She was someone that one would be proud to have as a mother or as a wife. And she was a person that one would most certainly be honored to count as a treasured friend.
Thank you, Maxie, for introducing me to the delightful Mrs. Whaley.
Reggie is sure that you will enjoy Mrs. Whaley's memoir as much as he did, Dear Reader. It can be ordered here from its publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. It is also most likely available in print and on ebooks at your local public library.