She never accepted the idea that women are not equal

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 3, 2006

I can say, very honestly, that I actually met a gracious lady who was on this earth twenty years before I was born and I will be 81 in March. It was on the occasion of her 100th birthday … she stood and shook our hands and welcomed us to her well-appointed home at Lake Prince Woods. Mrs. Birdsong, (with a wonderful southern name, Yancey) and her son Cabel greeted us … Andy Damiani and the Prime Media personnel that invaded her quarters with lights and cameras. That birthday for anyone is worthy of celebration, a milestone seldom reached in any one lifetime, and she handled our Round Table Talk Show with aplomb.

The Birdsongs are no strangers to Suffolk … they have added much to Suffolk’s fame and history and have been far more than generous to the community. The lowly peanut grown in Suffolk’s soil has made the Birdsong name famous, and it will be written about for a very long time. I was honored to be there in her home and meet her son. In a way I was stunned to hear her speak so familiarly of Amedeo Obici and his Louise, whose name adorns the hospital he gave to Suffolk in her memory. He, too, is connected to Mr. Peanut and Mr. and Mrs. Birdsong knew them personally.

I said this lady was a pioneer … back in a day when most women had difficulty proving equality; she was active in many ways in Suffolk, started and encouraged volunteerism at the hospital, taught every grade in the school and served on the school board. She is feisty to this day and has no apparent problem fending off what can be the ravages of nature … just seeing her motivates me, and tells me I might reach that century plateau even though it seems a long way off. I salute her.


Email newsletter signup

Then we took our &uot;Antique Road Show&uot; (Andy and I) down to Pruden Hardware store to celebrate its 100th year of operation. Just walking into the place is like going back in time, and if you lived back then, as I have, it is very familiar. The only thing I missed was the cash register of the ’20s and ’30s, where as a kid I enjoyed watching the drawer pop open when the owner pressed the right button. Here they just hand write out the bill and I was surprised to see them actually take a credit card.

It is true, if you can’t find a part for that old whatever it was you bought 50 years ago, drive the extra two miles and pick it up at Pruden Hardware. While I waited for Prime Media to set up the lights and cameras again, I browsed the shelves and happened upon two items I had been searching for since last spring. While Andy was interviewing J. Brooke Pruden III, I was doing business. To prove my point, while I was snooping around the aisles, in came good Dr. Barnett, with a chunk of pipe in his hand, looking for something he knew he would find there.

I hope Pruden’s will be around at least as long as I will.

Pruden Hardware reminds me of a small town in England we visit; I spent five months there before the invasion of France, where the big box stores are forbidden and the street on a steep hill is lined with England’s version of mom and pops. You must stop in nearly every one to fulfill your shopping list for that day. And it is best to start at the top of the hill and work your way down, allowing gravity to assist you and your grocery bag to what they call &uot;the bottoms.&uot; You wouldn’t buy 24 cans of beer unless it had wheels like a suitcase … a six-pack of bottles is struggle enough.

I could not help but think about age the rest of that day. I have two sisters-in-law well in their late 90s, and a girl cousin who just passed on at 98 … but I am not a female.

Contact Pocklington at