yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Decatur County Printers, 1983). Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make this web page.


Lerah Washam

As I Remember Lillye...,Or As I Knew Lillye

By Lerah Washam

For more than 30 years, I have know Mrs. Younger, the author of this book, through good and bad times of sorrow and Joy.

We were neighbors for many years and shared enthusiastically ideas and projects. I remember the great time when we worked to organize the Parsons Public Library whose doors opened Nov. 2, 1963 to serve the public. We did this almost single handedly. The day we went to the County Court to ask for funds to establish a Library, we could not find a single person to go with us. We presented the request which is today on file at the Courthouse and I made a small speech, to the magistrates with Lillye nodding encouragement.

Lillye has had a number of active careers including working at Salant and Salant as office manager, Bookkeeper at Maxwell's Dept. Store, Parsons City Judge, three terms, and newspaper writer. She combined these careers gracefully with homemaking and various activities in clubs and church work. One might say that Lillye was adept in taking advantage of opportunities in her environment. Now many are so skilled and let these pass through their fingers.

One of her key traits is energy. Rarely have I heard her complain that she was tired or "didn't have time," the excuse of many people. Lillye found time, as skilled people do who truly wish to get things done.

Lillye seemed to thrive on work and could easily have many "irons in the fire" at once. How many times, have I heard her advice, "persistence pays."

Lillye's writing career perhaps began with her letter writing, for she wrote letters to many people and kept up a large correspondence. When I was a newspaper woman, Lillye told me one day, she too would like to write. As others had taught me the basics of newspaper reporting, I passed these on to Lillye and helped her get her first job with the Jackson Sun for whom I formerly worked. Lillye was an apt pupil, eager to learn and with her energy and persistence was soon writing for various periodicals and checks were coming in. When still an active newspaper woman, we collaborated almost daily for awhile.

Another factor instrumental in forming this book was the friendship of Moss Arnold with both Lillye and myself. Mr. Moss was Decatur County's first appointed Historian and he often told us local history of Decatur County. In January 1966, I wrote a story about him for the Parsons News Leader and in March, 1966 Lillye wrote one Grit magazine. Many happy hours were spend with Moss Arnold and we both bemoaned his passing. After Moss died, Lillye became Historian for Decatur County which added another career to her long list.

Lillye's character attributes are many. She is an excellent business woman and very conservative, spending wisely. Always attractively dressed in the latest fashions, she is an imposing figure and can make a persuasive speech before an audience appearing quite confident.

In her lighter moments, among friends, she has a tinkling laugh which is joyous to hear. Her associates were never of one social Status but she mingled freely up and down the scale.

A sensitive person, she is often hurt by slights of any kind and suffers inwardly but she he. the courage not to let this deter her endeavors. She marches forward, with her well known persistence. She intends to get th. job done which is always the mark of a strong character.

In 1930 as a young girl, Lillye visited relatives, Mr. and Mrs. C.V. Maxwell in Parsons. Later she married Joe Harmon Younger and they purchases a home on North Georgia Ave. George died in 1972 and Lillye lived on in this home until a fire destroyed in it and she moved to her present home at 405 Kentucky Ave.

During the years, Lillye was always a great traveler and took many trips some as far away as Cuba in 1950, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. She has visited such places as Hot Springs, Ark., Florida and even a trip to Washington, D.C. when her husband was in service, etc. Her trips within 150 mile radius of Tennessee were constant throughout the year. As a woman of action, she seemed stimulated by travel. Usually Lillye was accoimpanied by her cousin, Mrs. Constance Maxwell Collett. Their friendship was very deep and never wavered. She helped rear Constance. They went everywhere together and shared their joys and sorrows. Though not a writer, Constance was like her name, a "Constant" friend to her cousin Lillye. Mrs. Collett raised two children, Janice and Charley Collett, managed Maxwell's Dept. Store and various rental properties while finding time to share in Lillye's many activities.

When asked to write a short biography of Lillye for posterity. I kept thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson who was asked to summarize the life of his friend, David Henry Thoreau, more than 100 years ago. Both were writers and lifelong friends and lived in the small town of Concord, Mass., even as we have lived in Parsons, Tenn.

Emerson's observations of Thoreau can be found today in the Public Library and this too will be in Parsons Library. Though Lillye and I are of much humbler origins, the pattern is similar in a much changed environment of the machine age. Like Emerson and Thoreau, we lived different daily lives and yet shared an understanding of the "why's of this world."

An early riser, Lillye loved to greet the morning sun and oh, how many times, I wished I had that trait for I was a sleepy head in my younger years. She would tell me about getting up early, and how beautiful the plants and birds looked in her yard and garden, in the early daylight hours. This is a realm of vast understanding and Lillye must have "touched" it from time to time.

Once when despondent, Lillye suggested I try a motto she sometimes used when waking in the early morning and she quickly quoted, "this is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be exceedingly glad." You see, I remember it in the spring of 1982, as this book goes to press.

May this book, in some way, bring forth a little "rejoicing" for this world in the modern technological age can surely use the action of REJOICING!

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