Shadowridge Press titles in detail...
BORN TO FLIRT
Trade paperback / 6 x 9 / 168 pages / Publication date / March 2017
Helen Paris was born in Toledo Ohio on April 11, 1917 and moved to Atlanta when she was 3 years old. Her story is also that of her family, its successes and its tragedies. It begins with her grandmother, a smart, hard-working woman who, as did her descendants, turned out to be “Born to Flirt” with the world around her.
As Helen reveals the challenges of the family members that she immortalizes, she also charts her own life and its tragedies and joys, and the entire tale is brought to life by the author’s distinctive voice and her irrepressible sense of humor.
HERE'S A PREVIEW FROM BORN TO FLIRT
Extra! Extra! Prominent woman chiropractor critically injured by hit and run driver!”
Newsboys hawked their papers loud and clear on street corners throughout Atlanta on September 12, 1924, a day that would not soon be forgotten by the family of that hit-and-run victim, Dr. Helen Searl Smith Smellie. Hallie (as she was always known to friends and family) suffered injuries that were serious and permanent. She lost one eye and had internal injuries plus a broken hip and other broken bones. For several days, she was not even expected to live.
By today’s standards, Hallie was born liberated. Besides being petite and beautiful, there was never a question as to her independence as a person. She was a DeLacey through and through. DeLacey, her mother’s maiden name, was of French origin even though her father was English. Her brothers, Ned, the oldest, and Frank, the youngest, and her sister Catherine (known variously as Kit, Kate, and Katie) were all bright, good, upstanding children, but Hallie was the leader from the beginning. She was strong, she was smart, and she could always find the answers. They learned early on to depend on her. She loved it and so did they. She was the original free spirit, not afraid of new experiences and not especially interested in other people’s opinions of her. She became a school teacher at nineteen and sometime later a dance instructor.
In 1873 Hallie fell in love with Howard Smith, a handsome young man with a promising future in the business world. They had one daughter, Margaret, a beloved child who sometimes got in their way. They gave her every advantage, in the way of private schools and the like, and they really loved her in their busy way. Howard was always a bit vague and Hallie so very positive. Hallie and Howard’s marriage, though not perfect, was never violent. It simply fell apart when Margaret became an adult and was married.
The rumor has it that Hallie met and fell madly in love with Alexander Baxter Smellie while still married to Howard. He was a fast moving, handsome, most persuasive man with six precocious children. That did not deter Hallie, who took them all in stride, divorced Howard, and married her darling “Sandy.” What a romance that was! It lasted until the death of Sandy forty years later.
They first met at the Battle Creek Chiropractic School, drawn to each other because they were both very clever, beautiful people. Hallie became one of the first female chiropractors in Atlanta—possibly the very first—and definitely made the most of her practice.
Sandy’s children from his first marriage were an outgoing bunch. They loved Hallie and played by the rules of the house but they had a separate little clique going together. Baxter, the eldest, died, which left beautiful Marda as their second mother. She certainly filled the void left by her mother in the best possible way. Winston (Win) and Ronald (Ron) were close in age, only two years apart and so inseparable that they were always known as Win-and-Ron rather than by their individual names. Tamara (Tommie) was next, a good looking and friendly tomboy. Finally there was the baby, Elizabeth (Betty), so feminine and lovely and a bit spoiled by all.
Hallie’s own daughter Margaret, who was a determined, headstrong, Garbo look-alike, met and fell in love with Donald Oldham at an early age. She was married at eighteen and had her first child, a boy named Howard Donald, one year later. And so her busy—and, as far as love went, tragic—adult life began. Her parents felt, and probably for good reason, that she had not married wisely. They were not fond of Donald Oldham but as usual accepted any and every thing that Margaret did with a fair amount of grace, hoping that this time they were wrong. Not so. Donald’s large family was working class Irish, not especially aggressive. He had several brothers, as well as a sister named Leta whom Margaret did not like one little bit.
All of this occurred during World War I. Donald was too young to be called up when America entered the war, and apparently either poor health or being the father of several children kept him from being called up at all. He and Margaret had their second child, Helen, in 1917 and three years later along came number three, a beautiful baby boy with red curly hair. He was a darling but for some reason was not named for several years, being known only as Angel. Actually, the marriage had started falling apart before Angel’s birth. So perhaps that was the reason for the delay.
Donald’s health deteriorated suddenly and in a way that no one understood, least of all Margaret. He became disoriented and unpredictable, often violent toward Margaret. They lived in Toledo, Ohio, while Hallie, who had just married Sandy, moved to Atlanta. So there was Margaret alone, with three small children, no money, and frightened out of her mind by her husband. After struggling, trying desperately to find an answer for several months, she left Donald in the middle of the night while he slept. Helen and Sandy had sent her money, enough to get to Atlanta by train.
Helen and Sandy were doing quite well. They lived in a big, comfortable house with plenty of room for their large family of four teenagers. (Marda had moved to Chicago, since she was older, and had met and fallen in love with a fine man named Harry Cain, who was studying to be a chiropractor and seemed to have a good future. It turned out to be true because later they married and had a happy life.)
Even though Hallie and Sandy welcomed Margaret and her brood, their coming did stretch the bedroom space and the budget. The four children, Win and Ron, Tommie and Betty, were kind to Margaret and her children but it was different for them to have to consider younger children who loved to snoop into their dresser drawers and their closets. Tempers flew on occasion.
Margaret soon found employment as a telephone operator with Southern Bell, then later with a downtown grocery store named Kemper’s. She loved her work. She was a telephone operator—took grocery orders, I believe, and put them on a pulley of some sort to send them on their way to be delivered.
They were a sophisticated family. They worked hard and played hard—golf, tennis, swimming, all of the competitive sports. They all loved to dance. As they grew older, since all four of them were near the same age, they had mutual friends and a good time was had by all.
Hallie never tried to take their mother’s place in their hearts but was always there, the strength of the family, and everyone sensed it. She was a beautiful, independent, busy person, always learning and never too busy to teach, but she ruled her family in her quiet, determined way. Her children did not ever think of disobeying—except for Margaret.