I have some powerful women in my ancestry. I’ve written about some of them. In particular, there is my Great Grandma on the maternal side, Mamie Lou Neely Loughridge. Grandma was an early settler in Oklahoma. Born in Lookout Mountain, Georgia in 1888, she and my great-grandad Columbus Franklin Loughridge settled in Oklahoma in the 1920s on Indian Grant land. Yes, I do have mixed feelings about that, but that is a topic for another day.
- “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” — Diane Mariechild, writer.
Mamie Lou was the most influential woman in my life. She taught me to read. She was my refuge in troubled times. Spending time with her on the farm in rural Oklahoma is the best memory of my lifetime. She was my champion up until and including my college years. She was my confidant and friend in the darkest times. She also needs her own story. But today is about her younger sister. My great aunt Pluma!
Mamie Lou had this one younger sister named Pluma. I never knew her middle name, but Pluma went from Pluma Neely to the last names of Murray, Gentry, and then Looney over her lifetime. Now, the following story could probably only happen in the South. And probably only in Southern Oklahoma. Nevertheless, it is a true story from my family.
Pluma must have followed Mamie and Columbus to Oklahoma territory, and the largest amount of history I know about her is that she worked in the local pharmacy at the counter for decades. She was lovingly known as “Plum”, or more often Aunt Plum, by almost everyone. Because I loved my great-grandma so much, Pluma was also much loved, and I thankfully had her in my life long after my great-grandmother passed.
I called her one day. I was living in Southern California and hadn’t seen her much since moving there but kept in touch by phone. She was very deaf, being in her 90s at the time, and I was shouting at her on the phone.
“Aunt Pluma. What are you doing?” “Oh, just down on my knees taking up the linoleum floor in my little rental out back” was her reply. I asked, “Why are you doing that?” She replied, “Oh, some young woman wants to rent it, and I want to put down new linoleum.” I asked, “Young? How young is she?” Aunt Pluma casually replied, “oh, she’s…