Aunt Ella's Story

On the corner of 7th and Preston streets in Livingston stands a hickory tree that is quite old. That same tree was once part of the yard of a family who lived in a very small home that once stood on that corner. John Maynard and wife Ella Maynard lived in the home and raised their children whose names were: Jess, Fred, Joe, Ethelene, Winfred, Mattie, and Kathleen. (There could possibly have been other children, but these seven are the ones remembered.) John Maynard served as a lay preacher during his adult life. He also worked for several families around Livingston doing odd jobs. He died many years before the passing of his wife, Ella.

Aunt Ella Maynard stands in front of a barn that once belonged to Flora and Lula Madewell located on the corner of Cullom and Preston Streets in Livingston.

It was probably during the 30's and 40's that titles, or what could be referred to as terms of endearment, were used for folks who were not actually family members, but with whom a friendly relationship was shared. These same titles or names could also be used as a way of showing respect. Because of her special friendship with many families around Livingston, Ella Maynard was known as "Aunt Ella". Janie Stonecipher Stephens remembers when Aunt Ella came to the home of her parents to help her mother with household chores. Mondays were always wash days. Water was heated outside in a big black kettle. Clothes were washed on a rub board and hung out to dry. Aunt Ella usually brought her daughters along on days she worked at the Stonecipher house. Janie enjoyed playing with Aunt Ella’s daughters when they came along to help their mother. Mrs. Stonecipher, Janie's mother, always cooked for everyone, and Aunt Ella helped her prepare the food. When meals were ready to be served, Aunt Ella and her daughters did not eat at the same time the family did, nor did they sit at the same table where the family members sat to eat. They usually ate in the kitchen, while the family members and others guests were served in the dining room. Because Janie did not want Aunt Ella or her daughters to feel left out, she choose to sit with them in the kitchen when they shared a meal at the Stonecipher house. Fred Maynard, one of the older sons of Ella and John Maynard, is remembered by Raleigh Needham as a very muscular built young man. Because of his stature and fighting ability, he was among those men around Livingston who often could be found on the square performing in a prize fighting ring. According to Raleigh, the ring was set up in a vacant lot on the square located where Speck Hardware and the Ritz Theater once stood. (The Antique Market, The Apple Dish Restaurant, and The Emporium occupy that space now.) Other men in Livingston who participated in the prize fighting contests were Percy Hill, Milton Upton, and Ernest Fuquay.
Someone called "Chief Marvin" was also among the fighters. Admission was charged for these events, and I'm told there was always a good crowd on hand to watch. Advertising billboards were hung around the area where the ring was set up. A warehouse located on the corner of Daugherty and Depot Streets was a place where practice rounds were held. (If anyone has additional information about the prize fighting contests, I would appreciate getting that information. That could possibly be another good story.) Fred Maynard married a lady named Lula (maiden name unknown by this writer) who taught grades one through eight at the Long View school on Spring Street here in Livingston. Lula was described to me as a very
attractive lady who always dressed very neatly. Fred worked as a cook at the Overton Restaurant for many years. Cooking skills seemed to run in the Maynard family, as her sister, Mattie, was also employed as a cook in the cafeteria at Tennessee Tech.

Most of the Maynard children were grown and gone from home by the time the Rhesa and Allie Hawkins family grew up just down the street from the Maynard home. The Hawkins children names were Betty, Billy, Bertha, Joe, and James. Some special memories of Aunt Ella and her little house on the corner that Bertha and Betty remember are as follows. The house had a fireplace, and nearby sat Aunt Ella's rocking chair. It was positioned so she could see out a side window of the house. Near the fireplace and rocking chair sat a small table that held Aunt Ella's radio. She could often be found sitting in her rocking chair while listening to the radio. Another favorite item in the front room of her little house was an old pump organ. Betty Hawkins Parsons has very vivid memories of Aunt Ella playing the organ and singing to the top of her voice, something she very much enjoyed doing. Aunt Ella often got Joe Hawkins to mow her yard or rake leaves for her, after which he always came away with ten or fifteen cents in his pocket.

In the kitchen was a wood cook stove where something delicious was almost always being prepared. Bertha Hawkins Stoner has fond memories of the wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen anytime she visited. Bertha told me she loved to visit with Aunt Ella, and during most of her visits, she was always given a sample of whatever was cooking on the stove.

A small apple orchard was located in the backyard of the Maynard home where Aunt Ella grew what the Hawkins children considered the very best striped June apples. When the apples were ripe, they were always permitted to go the orchard and help themselves. Grape vines also grew in the front yard.

Evidently the Hawkins children were just as special to Aunt Ella as she was to them. There were times when Aunt Ella was asked to come and look after them while their mother, Allie Hawkins, tended to errands she needed to run. Aunt Ella often very lovingly referred to herself as the Hawkins children "Black Mammy." When a birthday came round for one of the children, a birthday cake Aunt Ella had baked especially for that child was brought over to their house to celebrate the occasion.

Nola Mae Needham remembered the time when Aunt Ella passed away. The Needham family lived just down the street from the Hawkins and Maynard homes. Aunt Ella died during a time when folks sat up with the dead, a tradition that has gradually faded away over the last twenty years. Nola Mae, along with her mother-in-law, Mrs. Bertha Needham, and neighbors that included Mrs. Mertie Upton, (Roy Hugh Upton's mother), Mrs. Julia Hawkins, (mother of Rhesa Hawkins), and Mrs. Allie Hawkins, wife of Rhesa Hawkins, all walked out to the Maynard home and stayed for several hours. Aunt Ella was laid to rest in the Cash Cemetery here in Livingston where her husband, John, had been buried many years before.

It seems Aunt Ella lived a simple life, but one that left an good impression on most everyone she came in contact with. Bertha's description of her was that "She was a good neighbor and a good Christian lady. Everybody in the neighborhood loved her, and she loved us. When I think of my childhood days and the home place, I always think of Aunt Ella."

Even though the old hickory tree is all that remains on the corner of the street where Aunt Ella once lived, it serves as a reminder of someone whose life touched others and has left warm and happy memories of days gone by.