Blanche Hale Goodson
Story by Sue Ellen Parker in
When Blanche Hale was born in
Oatsville on October 2, 1898, her parents - Sylvester and Pearl Young Hale -
probably couldn't imagine the changes the 20th century would bring. Who would have
looked at that baby who was born at the end of the 19th century and thought
about her living in the year 2000? The third of seven children, Blanche is the
last living member of that family. She lived in the Oatsville
area of Pike County during her early years, attending school at the Miller School house east of Oatsville.
The girl learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, or "Big Ma"
as she called her. Big Ma lived with the family for several years. Blanche's grandfather Richard Hale was Squire of Rumbletown - a Pike county community that no longer exists.
Her best friend while growing up was Mary Frances Headlin,
a member of a family in the small Amish community in the area.
Blanche remembered walking to
church and to school; however the family traveled in a horse and buggy to Oakland City and Petersburg. She remembers visiting her relatives the Phillips
family and hearing the family play music. Hector Phillips continued to play
most of his life, she recalled, and became famous as a fiddle player.
Sylvester studied to be a vet
by correspondence and was later licensed by the state. He traveled to farms to
treat large animals; horses, cows and hogs. Cats and dogs weren't generally
treated by vets at that time. Later, the family moved to Fort Branch where they lived in the Snake Run area. Blanche met
Bennie Goodson, who worked on John and Laura Johnson's farm from an early age. When
Blanche and Bennie married, she became a farmer's wife and enjoyed the hard
work of cooking for "hired hand's", gardening and canning fruits and
vegetables. She took her young sons in their Model T Ford to buy supplies and
deliver cream and eggs to Fort Branch and Haubstadt. Her sons say she had a love for
driving fast, but your younger children never saw her drive. When
cars with gearshifts came on the market, Blanche drove on
through the back of the garage. That ended her driving.
The Depression brought
drastic changes in the family's life. The livestock and farm machinery were sold
at auction. She lived in Fort Branch for a short time. Later Bennie worked for Herbert
Johnson on his farm north of that town. After Chrysler and Briggs moved to Evansville, Blanche became a factory worker's wife. World War II
brought more change. She moved to Princeton, where she
stayed until 1947, to care for her father. When Bennie helped to start
McCullough Grove Baptist church of Oakland City in the mid 1940s, she became a preacher's wife.
While at McCullough Grove church, Blanche says her greatest pleasure was
playing the piano, teaching the children and entertaining visiting missionaries
and church visitors in her home.
The couple moved to Oakland City in 1949 serving the church until Chrysler moved to
the St. Louis area in 1959. They moved to St. Louis where they stayed until retirement came for Bennie in
1963. Blanche said retirement "was boring," so they bought a station
wagon stocked it with Raleigh products- such as vanilla extract, pie filling,
cooking spices and salves - and Black Diamond Liniment and began some of her
happiest years traveling the roads of Gibson county and selling the products
door to door. Part of this time they also served at McCullough Grove church.
The couple continued in the Raleigh
business until Bennie's death in 1987. After having lived in Francisco for several
years, she moved to Princeton.
She and her husband had six
children; Howard of California; Arthur who is deceased; Paul; Mary of
Princeton; Roger of Burke VA and John of Pendleton. She also has seven
grandchildren; 11 great- grandchildren and six great- great- grandchildren.
A member of the first Baptist
Church of Princeton, Blanche loves to read children's Bible storybooks since
she can't see to read her Bible any longer. She reads the newspaper, listens to
music tapes and watches Gospel music videos. She also watches animal shows, ice
skating and basketball games on television. Blanche loves to eat sweets,
especially pie. She loves bright colors such as pinks and reds. She is able to
stay in her own home with caregivers in attendance each day.
Editor's note- Blanche Goodson passed away on 13 November 2001 at the age