This is a tribute to my late sister, Emma Lou Sergent Engle.
We were born and raised on Indian Creek in Democrat. Mommy was a homemaker and helped with the farming. There were nine children. Emma Lou was number two. I am number five in the line of siblings.
She was a tomboy in a good way. She was always singing and dancing around, playing tricks on all of us.
During the farming season, Mommy would assign one of the older girls to stay home and fix dinner, which was lunch for most people. We had breakfast, dinner and supper. There were always young ones that had to stay and help.
When it was time for Mommy to assign a dinner to make, Emma Lou could not be found. She would take off to whichever field they would be working. She was a good cook and a good baby-sitter. She always made the young ones laugh and would do tricks to keep them from crying.
We all attended a oneroom school at Indian Creek, and then went on to Stuart Robinson High School. The older girls attended Caney Junior College, which is now Alice Lloyd College.
Emma Lou earned her teaching certificate and was sent to Eolia. She was passionate about teaching, and her students loved the different ways she taught the lessons.
During that time she fell in love with a tall, handsome young man, Howard Engle. They were married, and that ended her teaching. They moved to Lorain, Ohio, for Howard to find work.
When we were young, Emma Lou was always doing something to entertain us and all of our neighbors. On Halloween she would drape a sheet over herself and knock on the door or window and scare us. At Thanksgiving, she would tell us not to eat too much turkey or we would gobble when we tried to talk. Then she would make the gobble sound, which was funny to all of us.
She was very creative and would keep us entertained with skits and plays. She would string a sheet in the end of a room with a coal lamp as her prop, and she would dress up like different figures while singing and dancing. She would always make us laugh.
We went to Sunday School every Sunday. We would walk barefoot until we got near the church, then we would put our shoes on. We were always asked to sing at church. We would get up front and sing, and could see the streams of tears on the faces of the congregation.
We all loved to visit Emma Lou and her family no matter where she lived. She would cook big meals and take us walking around the neighborhood.
When they settled down in Lorain, she listened to the country radio stations. They would have contests all the time about singers, and she would always be the first caller with the correct answers. She was called the ‘Hillbilly Lady.’
She held many jobs, but the one she liked best was restaurant work, being able to interact with her customers. She loved to have visitors, especially families.
She loved the pumpkin fudge made by her sister in-law, Delores Engle of Jenkins. She loved the peanut butter fudge made by my daughter, Christy Adams of Louisville. She would always hide some of Christy’s fudge for later, until someone found her “stash.”
Right before she became too sick to travel, she came to visit us several times and we would take her to our church, Antioch Old Regular Baptist Church, where she met so people and became friends with them.
I would call her every day when she was sick and she would always ask about our members and friends. They showed her so much love. She sent notes to the church to tell them how much she loved each one of them. You could see how much she loved each one of them. You could see a change in her, and soon she joined the Little Edna Old Regular Baptist Church in Lorain.
She loved writing for The Mountain Eagle. She enjoyed writing and sharing news from the northeast Ohio area. She heard from people she knew and also made new friends from her articles, young and old, and lots of distant relatives. She would always tell me who she had heard from and how they were related or had known our parents.
In fact, I have every article she wrote saved in an album by the year. When she would come for a visit she would ask to read articles from a certain year. I sure do miss looking for and reading her articles. I have heard from many friends who feel the same.
Sunday morning, Sept. 1, I heard someone call my name. I answered, but heard no one. I walked through the house looking for whoever had called me. Later that day she passed away and went to Heaven to be with God. I now understand who had called my name; it was Emma Lou telling me “bye.”
I miss her every day but will see her again. Until then, Emma Lou, just know I think of you every day and love you very much.