Friday, August 22, 2008

#55 Mosteller Plantation--pt. 3: The Trek North...and South Again

About a half-mile up from Mosteller Millstream (the only official, map-worthy landmark bearing the ancient name these days) is the wooded, but not overgrown, family plot. Off-property now and maintained by a local church, the cemetery's last graves date from the turn of the century. One prominent headstone stands out...or actually down, now. Though toppled, the six-footer vaingloriously marks the grave of the long-lived, post-civil-war patriarch, Berryman Mosteller, true country squire and sirer of seven sons, whose progeny in turn descends to me and mine.

His great-great-etc. grandson, Andrew, decided that he would rather tinker with a newfangled invention--the motorcar--than to be chief Miller on the old homestead. So, after a few months at Henry Ford's "university" in Detroit (the family's first foray into Yankee territory), he returned to Adairsville to pick up his young wife and son (the future Dr. J.D. Sr.) and move even farther south to Florida to grow a few oranges and open the Mosteller Garage. My grandfather was eccentrically loyal to his nominal mentor, driving a Model "A" Ford he called "Horace" (always well-tuned of course) until its "death," and shortly before his. (His second-only-and-last car?--a Studebaker! of all things)

Alas, though the Garage still stands in Mt.Dora (near Orlando), it became a victim of the Crash of '29...thus failing--family-business-wise--to become a successor to the century-old successfullness of the Mosteller Plantation and its subsequent incarnations. Andrew's three sons (we are specialists in the male-offspring department) had to look elsewhere for honest employment. The scion, James Donovan Mosteller, (after an M.A. in ENGLISH [!] and Chair of the Dept. at Oglethorpe College in Atlanta) found his way north (repeating long-term his father's brief trek) with young-wife-Iris and toddler-Junior to the University of Chicago. This is how we wound up in OBAMALAND, and he as Dean of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard IL for many years, and I as Kalamazoo College alumnus.

But I guess the lure of gentle climes and mint-julep dreams (oh my) was too much for us. My father ended his career as Full Professor at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, after also serving as Dean and Acting President over his years there. I came back south to get a Vanderbilt Ph.D. and ended MY career as Full Professor of English (and quondam Chair) at Coker College in Hartsville SC. And here am I in Raleigh with some of my grandkids nearby. My oh my. "One never one"--as Fats Waller used to say. However, Myriad Readers, you can be sure that I'll keep you updated on the Mosteller clan, ad nauseum. But this is all the memoirage you can take, for now.

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