By: Paige Cline
Skin Fork has changed since the days when I hitched a ride on the Piggly Wiggly delivery truck to bring groceries to the customers who lived there.
I used to be a regular visitor a little later as I made deliveries from the company store at Wyoming to the homes of employees who lived on Skin Fork. And there were a lot of them.
You didn’t just drop off your delivery and leave. Oh no. You had a cup of coffee or a glass of cool well water. You visited. You kidded and played with the children. You were among friends. The Coopers and the Cooks and the Stewarts and the Roberts and the Brooks families were the kind of people you wanted to be with.
Some of my dearest friends, many of whom are now deceased, were ones that I made in those wonderful days.
One of the folks who saw all the changes through the years came back home last Saturday.
Lilas Brooks paid one last visit to her beloved Cooper Memorial and then she was laid to rest on a hill above the church,
Lilas’ voice may be silenced, but I have a feeling that stories and remembrances of how she molded young lives when she taught in the old country school not far from the church, will echo up and down the hollow for many, many years to come.
Although she never married, Lilas was almost like a mother to the young people she taught. Lilas not only taught in school, she never missed an opportunity to pass on a lesson in life from her infinite wisdom.
Lilas took in and practically raised two boys at different times. Jimmy Workman, my cousin, and everybody’s buddy, Frankie Brooks both lost their mothers at early ages. In steps Lilas to help fill that void in their lives. I think that their mommas would be proud of the way their lives turned out.
I, for one, think it is amazing that frail looking little lady could impact so many lives by teaching the three R’s and life’s lessons in a tiny country schoolhouse.
A friend and former student recalled that, when recess was over, Lilas would ring the bell as a signal to the students. Not a big bell in a tower that you rang by pulling a rope. It was a bell that Lilas held in her hand as she leaned out the window beside the playground.
Last week the bell sounded for Lilas Brooks. It was time for her to come in. Time to have a reunion with her students who had preceded her in DEATH.