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Etch-ability

Three quarters of a century ago gave rise to a whole new breed on the East side of the county.

It all started with two little love birds. Their names were Marvin Chism and Willie Pearl Floyd.

Willie Pearl and Marvin helped put Keownville, Mississippi on the map. You may have heard of the Chisms from out that way.

The two made it to town often (or ten times that we know of). They would travel Highway 30 East to meet with Dr. Pennebaker at the old Shands hospital to bring home another baby. Ten in all.

In a house of a dozen, Marvin remained the quiet one and Willie Pearl, well she never met a stranger.

When the two weren’t busy having’, raisin’, or makin’ babies, Marvin was logging and WIllie Pearl was either putting in hours at Stratford or in the kitchen at home. Those kids may have grown and left home but they all knew where to go to get fed. Mama’s house!

Saved at Locust Grove Baptist Church the two then built their home in Keownville, hence moving their church membership to Keownville Baptist —-which would end up being their final resting place.

Out of ten children, the couple was preceded in death by two sons. Appropriately, the couple was buried between them both. A boy on each side.

Marvin received the shallow etching. Shallow etching WAS a pet peeve of mine for many years. In my line of work, there is only one reason a particular spouse receives shallow etching.

A headstone is generally purchased when the first spouse dies. During that purchase his/her name, date of birth and date of death as well as the living spouse’s name and date of birth are etched at the monument shop on the stone.

This results in a nice deep dark etching that is easily legible. However (and this was where I generally became peeved) when the remaining spouse passes, the monument company has the inconvenience of packing their tools and traveling to the cemetery, to put the on the death date. Usually, this is a “shallow etching”. These letters and numbers do not hold paint and ultimately appear faded. Barely legible.

This makes my job difficult when trying to restore a headstone. It’s nearly impossible to get a look of unison .

However, it wasn’t until kneeling over Willie Pearl and Marvin’s stone that I realized that is the way it is supposed to be. You see, when you have been married that many years, shared that many children, trials, tribulations, laughs and meals together— some things don’t matter any more. Like the years spent living after his sweet Willie Pearl left this earth. I figure Marvin was here physically, but for the most part, he left with her. Thus making his date of death a little less etch-able in stone.


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