It was just a little blue bottle trimmed in silver, that little bottle of “Evening in Paris” perfume, not a big bottle, no taller than a bottle of fingernail polish. It represented a heart filled with love for his wife. This was one luxury that she longed for in her life. Her husband recognized that longing in her heart and each Christmas he took one of the daughters and they made a trip to the City Drug Store for that bottle. It was such a small quantity but she used it only on very special occasions because it must last a year. Still, it was there on the dresser for her to see each morning as she arose, a visible evidence of his love for her. If one of the daughters was attending something special in her life, she might be carried to her mother’s dresser and just a whiff of the perfume would be sprayed on her.

A Package Deal

Grace Cornish was born and grew up in Haynesville. She had three sisters and two brothers. Her brother, Joe, who was older had married and had three sons. Soon it became evident that he and his wife would be parents again. When the time arrived, his wife’s life “hung in the balance” as a tiny baby daughter about two pounds was brought into the world. It became apparent that the wife and mother would not live. The baby daughter was tossed aside in an effort to try and save the life of the mother. Grace saw the tiny infant, and took it up to work with it. She carefully handled it, and brought the breath of life to it. The little mother died, and Grace continued in the weeks and months ahead to care for the tiny baby girl who had been named “Jane.” Months extended into years as grace, who was then about eighteen, turned all her attention to caring for the frail little girl. In the course of time a young man came into Grace’s life and she fell in love. When the subject of marriage came up, she explained that she came as a “package deal,” if he married Grace he also had to take baby Jane. Jane’s father had remarried and told his three sons with him, but he told grace that she had nurtured and loved Jane into life and that Jane was hers. Grace’s young man loved enough to take both Grace and the sickly Jane. He was C.L. Sale.

More Babies

After their marriage they moved to Lorex Station north of Minden where he worked for Arkansas Fuel Oil Company. It was nine miles to Minden over a dirt road. Night after night Dr. Baker was summoned to their home to help save baby Jane’s life. THe doctor bills mounted so high that they could not pay them in full. The husband told Dr. Baker he would make a payment every month on the bill until he had it paid. The visits by Dr. Baker continued again and again.

After a few years, Grace and her husband became the parents of a little girl of their own, a tiny baby girl that they named “Weba Jean.” This little baby was not strong and when she was 18 months old she died in a spasm. But they had baby Jane who was still so frail. More time went by before they again had a new baby, a little girl that they named Jeannine. This baby was healthy and grew into a healthy little girl of four before another baby girl came to live in their home. This baby they named “Montie Bill.” 18 months later baby Carolyn made her appearance. That gave them four living daughters and one dead. They counted baby Jane as their first daughter.

An Industrious Family

Eventually they bought land near the outskirts of Minden on the Methodist Camp Road long before there was a Methodist Camp. Grace and her husband were very industrious and not only did he work his job at Arkansas Fuel Oil Company, but he put in a large truck patch and he raised beef cattle. She sewed for the public in addition to caring for the family, cooking, canning and later freezing. The girls always felt free to bring home friends and the refrigerator was always well stocked so that the girls and their guests had sandwiches or other snacks. They both worked hard to help pay for the land they had bought and had come to love. Mrs. Sale carried the girls to town with them when Mr. Sale bought cow feed. The sacks were so pretty and could be used for many things, especially for dresses and matching bloomers for the girls. THey allowed the little girls to select sacks that they liked for their dresses.

Store-Bought

The daughter, Jeannine, who is my friend, told me that to her knowledge her mother never owned a “store-bought” dress. She remembers that one year after doing without a new coat for perhaps sixteen years she bought a new coat. She was so proud of it. Jeannine asked to wear it to a ball game. THat night a big rain cme and the red crepe paper streaming that Jeannine had faded all over the coat and it was ruined. She said her mother said “never mind, I can still wear the old black coat – it’s still good.” Always she lived for others, a most unselfish life.

Taken Care Of

The little Jane grew up, at least she grew to be 4′ 11″ and never weighed over a hundred pounds. Eventually she married and became the mother of three children. Always frail and sickly, she developed cancer at an early age. Grace Sale went to south Texas and cared for her until her death. Mrs. Sale cared for Mr. Sale during his long illness and ultimate death. He was so glad that he had the land to leave to his wife and daughters. He cautioned them to always keep the land and they promised they would. After his death they discovered that he had taken out more life insurance than they knew about. He had made plans for Grace to be taken care of. His love for Grace was evident in more than the bottle of “Evening in Paris” perfume that he bought once a year.

The Homestead

One of her daughters, Jeannine and her husband, Harry Miller, built a home across the road from the old Sale home. Of course Harry is now gone and Jeannine lives there alone. And now the old Sale home is gone, replaced by a lovely old fashioned looking two story home that one of the grandchildren has built, Kelly Kennedy and her husband have designed a lovely home that fits in the landscape and appears to have been there for many years. It is on the site of the old Sale home. Jeannine said the wild grape hyacinths that Mrs. Sale planted in her yard still bloom so profusely each spring, permeating the air with their fragrance. The bulbs she planted still come up and bloom, and in the ditches on both sides of the house, the extra bulbs that she had scattered there have multiplied and there is a sea of blooms each spring. Jeannine says she glances across the way and it seems that she can almost see her mother as she moved about her work or in her flowers creating beauty.

Grace kept close contact with her sisters and each Sunday the four of them ate Sunday dinner at one of the homes, rotating each Sunday. It was quite a ritual they followed. Each sister dressed in her Sunday best and went to the sister’s home who was hosting the dinner that Sunday. Jeannine learned from her parents how to love and to show her love, not only to her loved ones but to all who need her.

The fragrance of Grace and C.L. Sale’s life remains long after they have gone, and even though there is no bottle of “Evening in Paris” to stand as an emblem of his love, in each of the daughters’ hearts is the loving memories of parents who not only loved each other but loved and helped their daughters and their families as well as others. What a wonderful heritage and such happy memories!

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.