I recently received a card from Clark Greene that his beloved “Ginny” had passed away last January. Here is her obituary from the Sheppard Funeral Chapel. She apparently was a victim of the heartbreaking disease of Alzheimers.
My cousins will all attest to the legacy of genealogical information she contributed to our newsgroup and family research. She descends from James Pulaski Cobb and Missouri Ann Sullivan. Sadly, our conversations had dwindled down to exchanging Christmas cards. I can’t say enough about all she meant to me and I am beating myself up that I hadn’t reached out to her.
In addition to being a diligent researcher she also had a great sense of humor. I still remember when she told me about her husband’s reaction to the news that a tornado was coming through. She said she’d rushed down to the basement, but her husband, “likes to look out the windows watching for a tornado…If I survive, and I figure my chances are better than his!—I can always identify him later. His whole family is like that; think it is because he was from West Virginia and never had any tornado experience before coming to Missouri.”
She was a teacher but she had retired before I got to know her. She said her students called her “mean Mrs. Greene.” But, she’d often overhear them sticking up for her at recess if someone from another room tried to call her that. “I miss being with the kids sometimes. It was always so neat to see one of them catch on to something they had struggled with, or to set one of them on a trail of something I knew they’d be interested in. I sure do not miss the hours of grading papers though.”
Here’s a lovely Christmas story she shared with me in 2000.
It was 1949 and Christmas was fast approaching. I was 5 that year and my little brother was almost 3. Our uncle, Wayne, was a big kid — 9 years old — and he “knew” things we didn’t. He’d heard that Santa Claus did not really exist; rather, he was just your dad, or uncle, or some other member of the family. Wayne was my mother’s youngest brother and their father had died when he was 6 months old. He was more like a brother to us kids than an uncle, as we were growing up together.
Back to the story: kids at school had told Wayne that there wasn’t really a Santa Claus, and he had set about to wizen us up. Of course, we all had written to Santa with our wish list, even Wayne as he wasn’t 100% convinced and was afraid to chance it. I wanted a doll, my brother wanted a teddy bear, and Wayne wanted a bicycle.
Christmas Eve arrived and ALL the family gathered at our house. Sometime later in the evening we heard the sound of bells and a hearty “HO, HO, HO” outside the front door. Wayne, my brother, and I ran to hide behind the drapes, peering around the edge just as the door opened and Santa came in. Santa had a big bag of gifts and as he began to distribute them, Wayne (in his wisdom) proceeded to whisper to us that it was just our dad, but there sat dad next to mom. Then he whispered to us that it was his brother, John, but again there sat John with his wife. Finally he decided it must be his other brother, James, and again he was wrong as James was among the crowd in our living room. Finally, Wayne stopped guessing about who was pretending to be Santa. There were no other family members who could possibly be playing the part.
Finally Santa was down to his last 3 gifts and we shyly stepped out to receive them. I got my doll, my brother got his teddy bear, and Wayne got some small gift, not the bicycle he’d wanted. With a hearty “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night” Santa started out the door. Then he stopped, stepped back inside proclaiming that he had forgotten a special gift, and brought a bicycle into the house for Wayne.
I’m not sure that Wayne even thanked Santa. I believe he was dumbstruck. He became a believer again, and for the next several years we didn’t hear anything about there not being a real Santa.
Over 40 years later I asked my mother who was Santa Claus that night so long ago. She explained that my dad had told a co-worker about Wayne trying to convince us that Santa didn’t exist. The co-worker said he’d take care of Wayne. It was he who rented a suit and showed up on Christmas Eve to say, essentially, that “Yes, Virginia, (and Wayne) there is a Santa Claus.”
Virginia’s family group sheet is located here.