Skip to main content

Decoration Day

Despite the protests, Ma Minnie Ledford ran her kids out of bed early on Sunday morning.  She would not allow anyone to "sleep in" on the Lord's day.

"Rise and shine," she yelled.  "Wash up, eat your breakfast and get ready for Myers Chapel."

"Oh, no!" moaned Ralph.  "Can't we stay at home and get some shut eye?"  asked Robert.

Ma frowned and shook her head.  That was a definite no.

After a hardy breakfast, Rondy, Ralph, Robert, and Reuben headed to the barn to milk the cow and feed the livestock.  They helped Pa hitch the mules to the wagon for church.

The girls dragged their feet getting ready.  Reba, Robenia, and Rena kept primping before the mirror.  They had their eyes on some boys at church and wanted to impress them.

"Lands sakes!"  said Ma.  "You would think you girls were going to the White House to meet President Hoover.  Church will dismiss before we get there."

Ma carried a poke of flowers to the wagon.  She and the girls had made crepe roses to decorate the graves at church.  It was decoration day,

"Reba, get baby Ray from the crib.  Get the box of food, Robenia," added Ma.

Pa helped Ma on the wagon and she cuddled baby Ray as they rode to church.  The narrow road wound through the Matheson Cove and the wagon bounced over ruts.  When it rained, the wagon got stuck in the mud.

Ma kissed her baby and recalled when he was born.  The mail carrier, Mr. Andy Padgett, wondered what she would name her child.  After all, she had given each of her seven children names that began with the letter R.

"What will Mrs. Ledford name her eighth child?" asked Mr. Padgett.  "I guess she will call him Rabbit," he said and laughed.

But Minnie came up with another name beginning with the letter R.  She called him Ray Andrew Ledford.  She was proud when her son grew up and became a preacher.  Her oldest son, Rondy, also was called as an ordained Baptist minister and was pastor of many churches in Clay County, NC.

Now as she held baby Ray, she hummed the hymn, "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so..."  The family broke loose singing with her and they finally made it to church.

Ma's brother, Luther Matheson, was leading the choir with shaped-note music.  The congregation tapped their toes and clapped their hands with the peppy song, "I'll Fly Away."

Joy filled the little country church.  Suddenly, Aunt Mae Hall (Pa's sister) got happy and shouted all over the church.  Her red hair unpinned from the bun on her head and flowed as she praised the Lord.

It was decoration day.  The guest preacher, Dr. George W. Truett, delivered the sermon.  He was a world-renown Baptist preacher born and reared in Clay County, NC.

Worship service ended around 1:00.  Everyone was starved and could hardly wait to dive into the food spread on tables under the maple trees.

The mountain women outdid themselves cooking.  They brought homemade strawberry cobblers, buttermilk pie, chocolate cake, banana pudding, blackberry jam, green beans, corn-on-the-cob, fried chicken, pork chops, molasses, biscuits, cornbread, buttermilk, lemonade, and iced tea.

After lunch they decorated the graves of loved ones.  Then folks gathered in the church for an afternoon of singing gospel songs.  Several groups performed.

As dusk fell, Ma and Pa loaded the sleepy younguns on the wagon and headed to the Matheson Cove.  Whippoorwills resounded on Shewbird Mountain and a Full Flower Moon glowed on the faces of the Ledford family.

by:  Brenda Kay Ledford


Mildred said…
A most enjoyable read, Brenda. God bless you and yours - have a blessed May. xoxo
Connie said…
This is a lovely account of Decoration Day, Brenda. I enjoyed reading about these wonderful memories.
magnoliasntea said…
Love your beautifully written story, Brenda. How I miss the days when life was much simpler and time was spent on things that mattered.
Have a great week!
Chip Butter said…
In reading several of your posts, I realize that many traditions of the Ozarks are much like those of the Appalachians. (I once made crepe roses for Decoration Day with my grandmother.) I have enjoyed going back and reading your wonderful stories. What a treasure your blog is!
What a lovely story with beautiful memories.
lil red hen said…

Brenda, this was filled with memories for me. Our decoration days were much the same, except there were only two of us girls :) There was always a new decoration dress, and because the hens ran free in the yard, Mama couldn't have flower beds, so we picked wild flowers to put on Grandpa's grave. He had died before I was born, but it seemed only right to put flowers on his grave. We walked to church and the cemetery in the morning, then in the afternoon, Daddy drove his old truck to another cemetery for services and singing. These were great times of fellowship for neighbors and people we hadn't seen since the year before. Thanks!!
janet smart said…
Hi, Brenda. You've redid your blog! Very different. I loved your story. The family really had a very full day, no wonder the younguns were sleepy. Loved the part about the Full Flower Moon, I've never heard a moon called that before.
What a beautiful memory! Those are the people who built our country. Would that we could return to those simpler, hard working days!

Popular posts from this blog


The Blue Ridge Mountains
unfurl royal blue ribbons,
ancient; carved from granite;
patchwork farms dot the cove.

Cornfields sway like ripples
in the honeysuckle wind,
Queen Anne's lace spins
doilies on the banks

welcoming me to the old homeplace.
Granddaddy's old grey barn
painted with a Lone Star quilt,
a raincrow performs the coda
to a love song.

The gravel road forks,
Hyatt-Mill Creek gurgles
over moss-covered rocks.
A footbridge shimmies,

Great-Granddaddy Dallas Matheson's
log cabin sheltered at the foot
of Shewbird Mountain;
I savor the sweet memories.
                   --Brenda Kay Ledford

Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibit

"A Poppy for Mother" Karen Ponischil; Charlotte, NC

The Sacred Threads Travel Exhibit was displayed at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Hayesville, NC in May, 2016.  The display of art quilts explore themes of joy, inspiration, spirituality, healing, grief, peace and brotherhood.  The exhibit is staged in Herndon, VA in odd numbered years.

                                                    "Aspen IV-Sunny Day"
                                           Dorothy Raymond; Loveland, CO

"War in Black & White" Deb Cashatt & Kris Sazaki, Cameron Park, CA
"Let Justice Roll Down Like Water"  Kit Tossmann; Louisville, KY
"Fiery Shield" Marianne Williamson; Miami, FL "Swan Song" Sally Wright; Los Angeles, CA
"Hallelujah" Jane Bachus; Paradis Valley, AZ "Joy" Judy Warner; Victor, NY
"Hope & Love" Yvonne Porcella; Modesto, CA

Brenda Kay Ledford Published in Best Angel Stories 2016

Brenda Kay Ledford's story, "Angels Over Iraq," was published in The Best Angel Stories 2016 by Guideposts Organization. This hardcover book is available at

Brenda's story, "Angels Over Iraq," was first printed in Angels Magazine. Guideposts selected the best stories that appeared in this magazine and published a hardcover anthology.  Brenda's story was included in this book.

Her story is about her nephew who served two tours of duty in Iraq.  She had a dream that angels were protecting him and wrote a story about her vision.  It was included in both the magazine and anthology. 

The Lord did in fact protect John and he got home to America. He was called to preach and is now attending divinity school.

God does great things!

His grandfather was also a Southern Baptist minister for 40 years.  We are praying God will lead John in the field where it's His will to use him for God's glory.  We appreciate very much the prayers of our blogg…