Become a Fan
By David Rumer
Saturday, September 13, 2003
Most people are born, fight the battle of life, and disappear from the face of the earth without an enduring trace. This story was written so this did not happen to Sabinah Foxx.
I first saw Sabinah Foxx in the Methodist Episcopal Church. I was a small boy and she taught my Sunday School Class. Sabinah, a lovely old lady with snow white hair and porcelain skin, appeared small and frail, but carried herself straight and proudly. She lived alone in the big house at the end of the street in Fithian.
When I grew older she bought the Saturday Evening Post from me every week and Liberty magazine every other week. I never guessed why she followed this routine, but she didn't say and I didn't ask. In the fall, when parsnips were ready for harvest, she gave me a quarter for a paper bag full. Sabinah loved parsnips and claimed she felt young enough to plant, but just too old to dig.
Nobody ever asked Sabinah why she spelled her name with two x's and if they had she might have said because Nathan spelled it that way. Sabinah, became a beautiful nineteen year old bride, when she married Nathaniel Foxx back in Ohio in 1876. Everyone called him Nate except Sabinah. She called him Nathan.
Nate inherited a small worn out farm but never intended trying to make a living on it for his new bride, and hoped for family. Instead, he headed west to Illinois country where land was available in the "black belt"; the strip of black fertile earth spreading across the Midwest from Iowa through Illinois and into Indiana. Here, he and Sabinah would make their stand and begin, as others had, a dynasty.
The farm prospered and, in time, sabinah bore two fine sons. As the boys grew to young men, Nate acquired a second quarter-section, and they became a prosperous farm family. Robert, the older son, had a restless, adventurous spirit while the young son, John, grew to be steady like his father. It had been easy for Nate to make men out of boys by merely setting the example. For Sabinah, it meant passing the ultimate test of motherhood; making gentlemen out of boys, which she did with easy grace.
None were surprised when Robert joined Teddy Roosevelt's "Rough Riders" to rout the Spanish from Cuba. Sabinah tried to dissuade him, while Nate had difficulty hiding his pride. He went proudly to Cuba, never to return. He died, not in heroic combat but, like thousands of other American boys, from the dreaded typhoid fever that ravaged our troops. Sabinah survived the loss of her son, but a piece of her was gone forever.
Steady John stayed on and farmed with his father. In time he would marry, take over half the farm, and give Sabinah and Nate a grandson. Too soon, war clouds were again on the horizon and President Wilson meant to "get" the Kaiser and make the world forever peaceful. Sabinah felt fortunate that both her son John, and grandson, were above and below draft age lilmits for World War I. The Foxxes, however, were a star crossed family and Sabinah suffered another blow when John contracted influenza in the terrible epidemic of 1918. He would not survive. Sabinah found solace and salvation in comforting her devastated Nathan.
Sabinah still had Nathan, but nothing seemed the same. Life droned on day after day and the emptiness within her would not go away. Her daughter-in-law, a good woman, found the farm too much for her son, and eventually remarried. Her new husband proved to ba a successful politician and the family moved to Springfield. Sabinah did not see her grandson often, which made the loss of her sons even more dreadful.
After a few years, Nate, who had lost his will to make living things grow, rented the farm to a sharecropper and bought the big house in Fithian. Sabinah really didn't want the big house, but she somehow sensed a small house would mean complete defeat for Nathan. They were retired less than ten years when the depression came. Fairly well off, they were able to take advantage of a local dealer's misfortune and purchased a brand new 1929 Chevrolet. Nate loved the car and drove it proudly.
Past his allotted "three score and ten" Nate would not live to enjoy the Chevy. His heavy heart failed while digging in his garden; where a neighbor found him. Sabinah would now go on alone, the sole occupant of the big house.
Once, when I delivered her Saturday Evening Post, I found her in the garage, with a feather duster, dusting Nathan's automobile. Sabinah's good common sense prevailed, however, when Glen Johnson, a local young man, begged to buy the pristine nine year old vehicle. She agreed he should have it. Not long after she sold it, she "imposed" on Glen to take her to the nearby City where a lawyer helped her set her affairs, concerning disposition of the farm and her Grandson's interest in order.
In the summer of nineteen hundred and thirty eight, on her eightieth birthday, Sabina, in the parlance of the day, "peaceably passed away". . . . ending the dynasty that never was.
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|Reviewed by Edmund Jonah
|I like your writing, David, but, if you want to have Sabina live on, you will have to do better than this. You tell us plenty but show us nothing. Without dialogue this is just a lot of talk about someone who lived and died. You tell us things that make no sense and are never explained. (When I grew older she bought the Saturday Evening Post from me every week and Liberty magazine every other week. I never guessed why she followed this routine, but she didn't say and I didn't ask.) Perhaps she just wanted to read these magazines and nothing more. So why make an issue of it?
You have a story here and I wish you woud write it, as you have the gift of putting words together that are readable.