Aunt Ginny Paramore was in her late 40’s when her youngest sister, Eula Mae Vernon, died giving birth to Bobby Ray. Ginny had just retired from 20 years of teaching with the Morton County School System, and even in her grief, was glad to make an extended visit to Contentment and take over the care of Bobby Ray and his elder siblings.
This allowed Amos Paul to continue working as a short distance trucker, delivering various farm goods to all points in Alabama. He had always liked Aunt Ginny and trusted her with his kids now that their mother, Eula Mae was gone.
Within a month, she would be solely in charge of the group. On a stormy evening, Amos Paul Vernon collided with a logging truck outside of Birmingham on his way back from delivering a load of fertilizer for his company. Neither men driving survived.
The kids were now orphans, and the other Paramore/Vernon siblings were not able to take all 7 of the children. It was either Ginny step in or have the kids separated at various relatives homes.
Aunt Ginny, long a widow, and well-experienced with children from school-teaching, felt that she had no other choice. She sold her home, and became the matriarch of the young Vernon children.
They were all confused and hurting about the loss of both of their parents in such a short time, Clevus especially. Caught between boyhood and early manhood, he didn’t know how to act. For a while, it looked like it would be the war of the worlds.
He and Aunt Ginny locked horns in an epic battle for who would be in control. Finally through her innate wisdom and toughness, Ginny won the battle, and became one of only two women who could ever talk sense to him.
Ginny was an excellent cook, home-maker, and child care-giver. The rules were simple, and the consequences real. Ginny was a tiny woman, barely five feet tall, who might get up to 100 pounds after Thanksgiving dinner, but that was about it. She was tough though, strong and able to labor almost as well as a good strong man out in the fields.
Aunt Ginny had no illusions about her charges, and loved them all equally and dearly. In time the oldest children (Clevus, Tully, Julie Anne and Bessie Ann) came to respect and cherish their Aunt Ginny. The younger ones (Johnny Paul, Georgia Grace and Bobbie Ray) thought of her as their own mother.
Aunt Ginny had very specific views on many things, but the one that she stood strongest on was religion. Upon getting to town, she went to every church in town and ‘interviewed’ the pastors. She wasn’t going to let just anyone provide spiritual training for her little ones.
Before their parents deaths, church had been more of a Christmas and Easter kind of thing. Their parents worked very hard, Amos Paul being on the road most of the time trucking, and Eula Mae busy with six of her seven children. Sunday was the day for both of them to get much needed rest. Both also felt that one could talk just as well to God in a kitchen or in the cab of a truck as in a crowded church full of people they really didn’t like anyway.
When they had gone to church, they liked Brother Holland’s Church of God church. He was good for what ailed them. He spewed out enough brimstone each Sunday that no one who went to his church had any illusions about their selves. It was a humble crowd who were part of Brother Holland’s flock, and if they weren’t, he’d soon make sure they were.
Brother Holland and Ginny spent a morning together and established a respect that lasted the rest of their lives. With that respect came the certainty that Ginny would have all seven of her nieces and nephews in church, come hell or high water, every time the door was open. No more Christmas and Easter only. And that made Brother Holland as pleased as punch.
What would please him more would be Aunt Ginny’s often unique means of evangelism. While Brother Holland labored at the public jumping and shouting and trying to run the devil out of his parishioners, Aunt Ginny would do her part from the pew.
Out of many interesting stories, it turned out her most effective brand of converting a lost soul was with a very sharp hat pin.