Turn My Face Introduction
Jennie Louise Hawkins was a child of Plato Commodore and Nancy Leota McDaniel Hawkins. She was born on Oct. 12, 1907, and died at age 94 in 2002. She is buried in Cool Springs Cemetery in Rutherfordton. Jennie married Charles Harold Metcalfe. In this introduction you’ll learn more about Jennie and her method of writing about her life in Cliffside.
These stories are Jennie Louise Hawkins Metcalfe’s—our Mema’s—memories. Many nights as she tried to sleep, she would lie awake in her big four-poster bed and let her mind wander back to Cliffside. Revisiting the pleasant, happy days of her childhood gave her comfort and helped her pass time in the wee hours of the mornings she couldn’t sleep. Mema doesn’t remember how many years ago she begin to record her reminiscences, but she thinks maybe when her two children, Harold and Rachel, were small. She scribbled these memories on any paper close at hand and ensconced them under her mattress. Over the years, she filled unlined notebook paper, scrap paper, adding machine tape, notepads, Stallings Jewelry Store receipt books, and even a Blue Cross Blue Shield claim form.
Sallie (Summey Morse) eventually received this accumulation of stories, anecdotes and memories. She organized and typed them, a loving, laudable endeavor. In 1987, Sallie passed the document she had created along with the notes to me. 1 have worked on them on and off ever since, consulting with Mema on details and elaborations and adding the transcript of a graduate course interview with her.
Although Turn My Face Toward Cliffside has gone through several revisions and reorganizations, the words and most importantly the voice belong to Mema. Through this voice we glimpse Jennie Hawkins: a generous, fun-loving child whose sweet spirit shines still in her eyes, whose mischievousness cavorts yet in her laughter and dry humor, and whose loving gentleness touches us now with gnarled hands that bestow grand gifts. This then is her gift to us, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: precious childhood memories, stories of our kinfolk, Mama and Papa Hawkins’ wisdom, and a glimpse of herself that only she could give us.
—A. Suzanne Metcalfe, Christmas 1995
Contributed by Nancy Brown Wallace, granddaughter of Jennie Hawkins Metcalfe.