By Gerry Roe

“What is seen is not always a reality to others.” Author Unknown

Evelyn Emily Combs October 30, 1906 – October 7, 1933

Evelyn Emily Combs early 1930s
Jessie Lee, Evelyn and Ruby Lurline Combs
Imagene Combs Sometime in the mid 1930’s
William Gordon Combs Aged 14 Months 1930


This story was told to me by my mother Ruby Isaacs Roe many years ago. 

Evelyn, mama’s oldest sister was due to deliver her fifth child.

Mama walked to her home; she was living at Germania, Mississippi.  Mama said as was close to house; she could see sheets flapping in the wind on the clothes line.  When she arrived; she asked Evelyn if she had brought the sheets. Evelyn responded she didn’t have anything on the line.  Mama said that was puzzling as she clearly saw the sheets. 

Shortly after mama’s visit Evelyn gave birth and the doctor said both she and the baby girl died.   Mama knew her sister was really gone, but she always hoped that the baby had lived.  She hoped the doctor had found a home for the baby to help Evelyn’s husband who had just suffered the loss of his wife He already had three young children to care for. It would be very difficult for a man in his circumstances to properly care for a new born baby.

At that time it wasn’t unusual for a doctor to find a home for a motherless child.

Off course, I don’t know that is what happened. But I do know that mama clung to that hope for the rest of her life. This was just what mama hoped. 

Mama was known to have premonitions, and she always said that looking back on the day she went to visit Evelyn that the sheets she saw flapping in the air were a premonition of her sister’s death.

Another time I clearly remember mama’s premonition of death was June 8, 1964, my high school graduation night. Me, mama, Daddy, my youngest brother Alan and my nephew Robert were all sleeping. When the phone rang. It was almost midnight. It was unusual for the telephone to ring in the middle of the night and we all ran to living room to find out who was calling .

I will never forget what mama said just before she answered the phone. She said “death bells are tolling for someone tonight”. She said this before answering the phone, when she picked up the phone we learned that my cousin Herbert Kelly (H.K.) Lisenby had just died in a terrible car accident. 

H.K. was home on leave from the Navy.  He was the son of mama’s youngest sister Bea.

I don’t remember who called to tell us of H.K.’s death.  Others died at the crash scene also.

H.K. Lisenby 1963-64

Mama always said her she had premonitions as far back as she could remember. She also told me that they did not always deal with death.

Children of Jesse Lee and Evelyn Marie Combs:

               Jesse Lee Combs, JR 1924-1997

               Lurlene Ruby Combs Bradshaw 1928-2008

               William Gordon Combs 1929-1930 (14 months old on 1930 census,  

               Lucille Imogene Combs Graziano 1931-2015

               Baby Girl October 7, 1933 – October 7, 1933

Questions I wish I would ask mama;

Why were you not there when Evelyn delivered?

Who took care of Jesse, Lurlene and Imogene during and after her death?

When did you get to see Evelyn after her delivery and death?

Did you talk to the doctor after both died?

What caused William’s death?

Germania is not listed as a town on the current map of Mississippi but there is a Germania Road

Post Script:

After writing this story, I received a copy of a letter dated thirteen days before Evelyn died.  Her grand-daughter, Debbie Russell Warner found it among her mother Imogene Combs belongings.  It is possible that she wrote the letter before my mother came to visit and that the letter was never mailed.  It is also possible the letter was sent  and that my mother kept it all those years and gave it to Imogene when she came to visit my mother in Oregon many years later.

Another question that goes unanswered.

The letter is attached, very newsy about everyday life. My sister, Nannie and I marvel at how long it has been kept and under these circumstances. 

This letter confirms something I have always known and loved about my mother and her sisters; they loved each other deeply.  They kept in touch even under the difficulties of life they faced.  This legacy of love for each other is passed on to my sister Nannie and me.

Letter From Evelyn Combs to Her Sister Ruby Roe. The letter is dated 13 days before Evelyn Died.

#52AncestorsIn52Weeks #52AncestorsIn52WeeksAir

5 thoughts on “Air

  1. It seems like there are several copies of this picture spread amongst different members of the family. It must have become something very special at the time it was taken.
    In my research to find out something about it, I started with the car license plate. The format of the plate – the number with “MISS – year” centered under it – was used between 1927 – 1932. When I zoom in on the plate, I’m pretty sure the date is 1930. So this picture must have been taken sometime between 1930 when the car was registered and 1933 when Evelyn died.
    I think Evelyn looks pregnant in this picture. My mother, Imogene (Jean) Combs, was born September 10, 1931, but unless it was cold weather that year, Evelyn’s coat looks too warm for maybe late August or early September. Her next birth was October 7, 1933, which makes her coat look more appropriate for late September or early October.
    Evelyn Combs died with that birth on October 7, 1933. I think this could be the last picture anyone has of Evelyn and that’s what makes it so special.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie, you didn’t mention the letter! Thanks for sharing it with us. As I said before—it is a real family treasure, a tangible artifact, evidence that our grandmothers were the best kind of sisters, proof of the love and friendship they shared.
      But even more than that, your grandmother put pencil to paper and composed a written record of what mattered to her and my grandmother. Butter beans, children’s clothes from Sears Roebuck catalog, serial stories in romance magazines, family visits, homemade dresses, Oddfellows quilts, cousin’s playtime and new kid pumps.
      Thirteen short days before she took her dying breath, she took time to document her thoughts and share her daydreams.
      Now here we are, you and I, granddaughters of the two sisters marveling at their letter.
      I also want to thank you for sharing your family photos. They are wonderful! Your grandmother was beautiful!
      Like you, I look to find details in old photos. I found a good one in the pic of your mom.
      (For those who don’t know, the little girl in the picture above is my cousin Debbie’s mother, Imagene.)
      The first thing I noticed in the pic was that she had a headful of perfect Shirley Temple curls. The second thing I noticed was the zipper on her jacket
      Zippers in the 1930’s? Who knew?
      I did some research. Seems your mother was quite the fashionable girl.
      According to one source a sales campaign began in the mid 1930’s for children’s clothing featuring zippers.
      License plates and zippers. Details hiding in plain sight. Its fun chasing down their import.
      We are more than history loving detectives my cousin. We are kindred spirits with much to share.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was working on a comment for the letter, but you beat me to it! You’ve said it all really, an amazingly ordinary letter between two sisters that means so much to us today. One thing that struck me personally was that she was sewing and quilting. Something that was probably not so unusual then, but something that my mother learned as a young girl and continued all her life. And as for my mother’s picture with her head of curls, I never noticed the zipper! I was too busy trying to see some of myself in her!


  2. I am just amazed that this lovely letter has survived all these many years and just love how newsy and fun the contents are. I can imagine mama relishing the updates of the serials in True Romance! This picture of Evelyn in front of the car is precious I can understand why all her family members would want a copy. I think she looks so elegant in that beautiful coat and her flapper hair cut. In many ways I think both pictures of her posted she looks like my mother. Debbie I can see that she does look like she might be covering her pregnancy.


  3. H. K. was such a handsome young sailor such a loss that he had to go at such a young age he is still missed to this day.


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