This photo is of my two great aunts and their mom, taken in about 1916 in Pickens County, Alabama. My favorite great aunt, Miss Willie Nettie Mullins, is on the right. That’s her mom, Virginia Corder Mullins, on the left. Big sister Ellen Mullins Yarborough is in the middle. I wonder if this was taken during a holiday get-together? It sort of looks like it.
Miss Nettie was a teacher and also a writer trying to get published. She did publish one poem in the newspaper and wrote a lot of rhyming stories that she submitted to various publications. One piece was about Howard Hughes, which I might submit for her one of these days. I have a rejection letter that she received for it, dated 1926. It’s hilarious how much it is like the form rejections sent out today.
On a brighter note, here’s a clip from one of her poems:
Busy, buzzing, working honeybee,
How he gathers food for you and me.
From the fragrant, opening flowers
He sips the nectar in summery hours.
With music he keeps the woods alive,
As he gathers honey for the hive.
The presumption that the productive honeybee must be a male is not surprising, given the era in which Miss Nettie grew up. In her later years, she wrote of being troubled by something that happened in her past, and by dreams that she tried to decipher. Her ramblings were heart-breaking to read. I prefer to remember Miss Nettie as the fun writer lady who had lots of cats and lived in the old farmhouse in Alabama.
When I was contracted to write articles for our local edition of Ruralite Magazine, I used the pseudonym Nettie Mullins, in her honor. It was the kind of writing gig that I thought Miss Nettie would have enjoyed.