Sunday, August 26, 2007

A room full of butterflies

Freda's words flew out of her mouth like butterflies filling a room. It was my job to catch each one and put them in the right order, a more difficult task than I'd imagined. Here's part of what I wrote about the woman whose glass is half full (pdf):

Freda Brittain’s cup runneth over. In fact, it is positively spilling with some of Double Oak’s most interesting stories. There’s the one about how her in-laws, Bill and Nettie Brittain, held fish fries and bake sales and cake walks at Durwood Cordell’s cabinet shop to raise funds for the town.

Or the one about her in-laws getting folks to sign a petition to incorporate Double Oak way back in the early 70’s. And if your prod her, she’ll tell you about how she met her husband. Truth be told, she liked the way he danced.

But mostly, Freda wants to tell you about her passions—Double Oak, the town her husband’s family founded, the Double Oak Volunteer Fire Department, and the Shriner’s, which is the organization she devotes so much of her time and energy to.

You’ll see Freda at town council meetings—she’s the one knitting quietly in the front row so that she can hear every word. That’s the only way you learn what’s going on, she said.

How else can the woman whose history is so intertwined with Double Oak learn about the town’s future? You see, the 71-year-old Dallas native married into the family that owned thirteen acres of Double Oak before it incorporated in 1974. “My mother-in-law used to say, Freda, we can say what we want to one another, but no one else can ‘cause the whole clan will be after them,” said Freda.

Freda and her husband Jim moved into her in-laws’ property on Kings Road after they inherited it four years ago. “I fought it. I said, that house? It only has one bathroom!” But after some additions and renovations to the house, which sits on a four-acre lot, “the rest,” she said, “is history.”

You might have seen Freda and a friend or two on her morning walks in Taylor Oaks, and even if you haven’t, keep your speed in check because she’s not only trying to stay fit, she’s trying to collect aluminum cans.

Her goal, she said, is “three-fold—I keep the street clean and I help out the fire department, and I help out the burn hospital. The first year I made $129. Last year I made $344.
I believe I had to call her back about five times to make sure I got the facts straight, and the jury's probably still out on that one. But she is an interesting woman and a passionate one and I enjoyed our time together.



Blogger Mike LaRoche said...

Good article. It's good that some people are so passionate about civic duties and volunteering. It makes up for the introverts like me who almost never do such things.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

It makes up for the introverts like me who almost never do such things.

And like me!

7:16 AM  
Anonymous allan said...

You do a good job with people writing. Hope you throw us some more. All you have to do is talk about what grabs your attention when you come across someone. Whether you know them or not. I love that stuff. So at least you'll have one eager reader.

I'd be an introvert if I didn't get such a kick out of playing with people...wanna dance? I'd be an extrovert if I didn't love being by myself so much of the time. I'd be an intellectual if I weren't such a flippant wiseass. I'd be an absolute clown if I didn't have a brain screaming for answers to questions I haven't even come up with. I'd live in the past if today wasn't so much more fun. I'd be consumed with now if I didn't value where I've been and where I want to go.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Vivian Louise said...

Allan IS his evil twin!

Nancy, I'm agreeing with the guys. You do capture something in writing about these people.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous allan said...

All I can say to that, Vivian Louise, is I can be good. But when I'm bad, I'm really good. [that's a joke, mostly][and where there's smoke, make sure it's not you that's burning]

2:34 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Living in a part of town that is known as the 'historical district' its easy to see why as most of the residents are at least in their 70's and hold a huge chunk of history inside themselves.

Freda, and so many others like her, have a living history that has been brewing inside their minds and beings for eons just waiting for someone to listen to the story of their how, or why, or when.

National treasures, all.

8:42 PM  
Blogger kcatmull said...

Love this piece Nancy! You chose her quotes so well, they are so spicy and real! LOVE "and even if you haven’t, keep your speed in check because she’s not only trying to stay fit, she’s trying to collect aluminum cans." Write more please.

4:45 PM  

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