Ethel married Chester when she was nineteen. He was a hardworking boy who could do just about anything with his hands

Pollard, Alabama—to say the weather is beautiful today would be an understatement. It’s magnificent.

Pollard sits off Highway 31, between Flomaton and Brewton. This sleepy place claims just over one hundred residents. With a few more people, you’d have enough for a baseball team.

It’s an everyone-knows-your-mama town. The kind where county officials aren’t elected, because hardly anyone votes. Men who run for office just show up to work one day.

“Pollard’s different,” says one man. “Folks get free water, free garbage pickup, and if your cow dies, call the mayor. He’ll haul it away for you. No charge.”

What a deal.

You might think people are the same the world over. Well, I don’t. People in towns like Pollard differ from the rest.

Take, for instance, Ethel. She was the Avon Lady. And if you don’t know what that is, it’s because there aren’t many left.

Ethel married Chester when she was nineteen. He was a hardworking boy who could do just about anything with his hands—he even built their farmhouse with those hands. And inside that home, sitting on top the hill outside Pollard, Ethel and Chester made a family.

Theirs was an ordinary life—at least in these parts. A life revolving around fishing, homegrown turnips, field peas, and peaches so plump they should be rated R.

These were people of their times. Back when men knew how to use axes, and weren’t afraid to stain their clothes killing supper. When women fried cornbread, carved meat better than butchers, and still had the gall to sell Avon.


Ask anyone around, this kind of quiet existence is easy on the body. Folks like Ethel and Chester often lived well into their golden years. They didn’t slow down, either—since you can’t move much slower. And the years of marriage just kind of lulled by.

At ninety-eight-year-old Ethel’s wedding anniversary, a local reporter interviewed her. “Mrs. Turner,” the reporter said. “What do you think about being married this long?”

Ethel thought for a moment. “Well,” she said. “It gives new meaning to the words, ”Til death do us part.’”

Everyone laughed.

That was long ago. But as it happens, she had a point. Today, over in Pollard Cemetery, two tombstones sit side by side. Chester: one hundred. Ethel: one hundred two.

Old Ethel was right. After a slew of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, eighty years of marriage, and even death itself.

These two haven’t parted yet.


  1. Tish - May 27, 2016 12:42 pm

    You write so wonderfully…,. this reminds me of my hometown, Red Level, AL…. had about 325 when I was born.

  2. melanie - July 20, 2016 12:08 pm

    Love your writing. Love Love Love.

  3. Sam Seetin - July 20, 2016 11:04 pm

    TS Eliot couldn’t have written better. Fact check: women generally outlive spouse by 7 years. Consider bumping her up another 5 years.


Leave a Comment