Whitesburg KY

My mother’s legacy

My mother and I had a lot in common. We both had lots of different names and dates of birth. My mother’s father, William or Bill Goodman, was born an O’Neil (Irish) but his mother got divorced and married a Goodman, and legally changed his name to Goodman.

My mother was born Annabelle Goodman, but then she was primarily raised by her grandparents, her mother’s parents, William and Mary Mitchell, so my mother went through high school as Annabelle Goodman and Annabelle Mitchell both. Of course she would later become Annabelle Wright.

When I was young, Mother needed her birth certificate for some reason. When she went to the health department, she was advised she didn’t have one.

Later some lawyer or official manufactured her one. When they asked her what day she was born on, she said she was pretty sure it was the 28th. When I was born the doctor was called to come to the house on July 2, and was told my mother was going into labor. The doctor came and sat there all day drinking coffee. Finally, when I arrived way up into the night, Ole Doc sat down to fill out the birth certificate half asleep or high on caffeine, possibly both, forgot that it was now past midnight it was now July 3.

My father, a veteran at the end of World War II, told that all soldiers like to brag on their buddies, but the slang expression for your number one guy, your very best friend, who was designated “Buddy Roe” which he nicknamed me. Over time Buddy fell off, but Roe stuck. So saddled with two names and two birthdays like my mother had an identity crisis.

As an eighth-grader at Haymond Grade School, school year 1939-40, her class was taken for a tour to Fleming-Neon High School to see where they would be going to school as freshmen the following year. Upon entering Walter “Pop” Enlow’s freshman class, a skinny little boy took a fancy for my mother and began showing off to get her attention but succeeded only in annoying her.

Pop Enlow warned the boy again and again but to no avail. Finally, my mother whispered to a girl in the class who is that silly boy, and she was told his name was Billy Wayne Wright and he was from Seco.

Noting my mother’s disdain Pop took matters into his own hands and walked back, grabbed the boy by his collar and seat of his pants, turned him upside down and dropped him out the window. (It was on the first floor). My mother told me she never really took him seriously until she saw him go out the window. Fast forward 21 years to Pop Enlow’s sophomore algebra class at Whitesburg High School. Ole Pop had me up against the blackboard choking me because I couldn’t work a problem. When my tongue came out Pop started laughing.

I thought it was a big joke, so I asked Pop, “Why don’t you throw me out the window like you did my dad?” Pop’s face went blank and then I saw in his eyes that he remembered. He started laughing again and said, “No, you’re not even worth throwing out the window.”

My dad went to Seco Grade School, but then he went to four different high schools in four years, Fleming-Neon High School, Stuart Robinson Boarding School, Millersburg Military Institute, and Fork Union Military Academy in Fluvanna County, Va. I have had the occasion to visit all four.

Despite their differences in background and that Dad was gone so much to school, my mother and dad dated on and off for four years. As a surprise at graduation my grandfather, Dr. B.F. Wright, took my mother to my dad’s high school graduation at Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Va. Dad was pleasantly surprised.

He was entering the army for World War II after graduation. My mother would be heading to Detroit to do her last year of high school there, living with her father, William Goodman, and her stepmother, Nina Harris (from McRoberts), and mother’s brother, Bill Goodman.

In Detroit, things were much tamer then. She spoke of a friend, Kattie, with whom she rode the streetcar downtown to see Frank Sinatra perform in person. The next big thing was the Great Lakes Naval Base. Thousands of sailors were running around all over the place training to go to war.

She, of course, met one and began dating him and he proposed to her and she accepted. She told her dad she wanted to go home to break it to the other boyfriend because he was home on furlough and to tell all of her friends goodbye. Her dad said that was a good idea.

When she got home, her friends told her since she was getting married that there was a black lady who told fortunes for people in Dunham, and wouldn’t it be nice to hear your fortune told about your marriage. The lady was there for many years.

My mother said it might be fun. The lady gave her a life reading, told her she had two boyfriends and described both perfectly, and she had decided to marry one. Mother concurred.

Mother asked her to describe what her husband would be like. She did, but my mother stopped her telling her she was describing the wrong one, it’s the other one she was marrying. But the fortuneteller wouldn’t relent.

Mother left a little dismayed that the lady was pretty good, she just got the two boys mixed up. When she went to break the news to my dad, he said he planned to marry her as soon as he got out of the army. She said she didn’t know anything about those plans.

According to my mother, his exact words were, “I guess I’ll just have to marry you right now then.” I don’t know what transpired after except that’s how I got here in a roundabout way, as well as my siblings.

It then left the burden on my poor grandfather, William Goodman, to break the news to the poor sap in the navy.


What is home? It is where you were born, where you went to grade school, where you lived the longest? We hear it every Christmas mostly in songs, “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” Where is that, is it a place? Places change. Is it people? People pass on. I’ve always said, “Home is a state of mind.”

In astrology, they say it’s opinions and belief systems you form in early childhood that will form your foundation that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. But if you have to have a focal point, I found it a few years ago.

I bought my mother a large Christmas card. It depicted a quaint cottage sitting by a glittering stream with snow all around, and the windows show a beautiful, yellow light inside.

It states in big, black letters, “Mother is Home.” Yes, as we grow older it is wherever Mother lives. Doesn’t matter if she has moved a hundred times. My mother has been my foundation my whole life long. I’ve lost that now — or have I?

I will live right on with her memory and what she taught me — that will have to suffice — now! As I’ve stated it’s all in a “State of mind!”

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