Every week for several years an envelope stuffed with news from the Blue Springs community arrived in the mail at the STAR. The Blue Springs News along with correspondence from several other communities appeared weekly in the Elizabethton STAR. That was during an era before cell phones, Facebook and Twitter. Many people did not even own cars at the time.
The Blue Springs News was neatly written on sheets of notebook paper — sometimes as many as five or six sheets were neatly folded and tucked into a single envelope. The writer was Susie Anderson, who passed away this week at the age of 99 — two months short of her 100th birthday.
My first job at the STAR was typing the community news along with other correspondence mailed and brought in to the STAR. The community news was phased out in the late 1970s. Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. P.P. Lewis of Dividing Ridge sent in news from the communities long after others had quit. They were the last of the STAR correspondents.
Each week, Mrs. Anderson in her correspondence usually told how many attended Sunday services at the Blue Springs Christian Church, where she attended and at the time of her death was the oldest member. She shared news about neighbors, who had visited in the community that week, and who had made a trip to Elizabethton (going to town was not an everyday occurrence 40 years ago — it was a big deal). If someone killed a rattlesnake or a copperhead, Susie usually shared that item of interest with STAR readers.
Her daughter, Mary Alice, who cared for her mother in her aged years, said writing the community news was a social outlet for Susie, who cared for a handicapped son and three other children. “She knew everyone that lived in the community, and she would call them, and they would share news with her,” Mary Alice said. “Sometimes, people would call her with tidbits of news and often at church she would hear about things she wrote in her news.”
Widowed at the age of 37, Susie was left to raise her four children alone. “She did it by hard work as there was very little public assistance back then. That was before food stamps and all these other free programs,” Mary Alice shared.
Although Susie never held a job, she raised a large garden each year and canned jars and jars of vegetables and fruits, which graced her table daily. “I don’t know whether she like to cook or not, but she sure did a lot of it, and was good at it,” her daughter said.
She enjoyed gardening, working in her flowers and quilting, a former neighbor shared. At the time of her mother’s death, Mary Alice shared that Susie had over 20 quilts that had never been used. “She said they were too pretty to use and she would never sell them,” Mary Alice said.
Her oldest son, Dallas, was unable to walk or talk when a child. Neighbors remember Susie putting him in a little red wagon and pulling the wagon to church, which was about a mile and half from her home. “She did this until Dallas got too big to ride in the wagon,” Mary Alice recounted. Dallas later learned to walk with assistance from his brother and sisters. Dallas lived to be 75, preceding his mother in death by about two years. Susie’s oldest daughter, Doris Grindstaff, also preceded her in death.
A second son, Carl, has worked at Dino’s in the kitchen for many years.
Susie lived on Blue Spring until 11 years ago when the family moved to town. Mary Alice noted that her mother liked “to be busy.” She clipped the grass up until about three or four years ago. In early November, Susie broke a hip and was moved to a local nursing home for therapy. She died on Tuesday.
Friday, she went home to Blue Springs for the final time. She was laid to rest in the Pearl Bowers Cemetery, where her parents and late husband are buried, as well as her son Dallas.
Susie Anderson had outlived most of her friends and former neighbors and the people she chatted with and wrote about in the Blue Springs News. Because of her we, through the pages of the STAR, learned about these same friends and neighbors. Long before Facebook and Twitter, there was Susie Anderson!