Julie and the Magnolia Tree

Julie and the Magnolia Tree

Julie and the Magnolia Tree

( I just hope that I am able to properly pay homage to this tree, and my Great-Grandparents.)

My name is Julie Ann Aycock.  At least it was when that photo was taken in 1962.  I am two years old in the photo and I am standing in the front yard of my Great-Grandparents, Emma and Lucius Keith of Rome, Georgia.  You can see their car in the driveway to the left.  (I would do anything to have the blue and white car right now.)  They also had a garage apartment in the back of the driveway, you can see it a little bit if you look beyond their magnificent Magnolia Tree.

Emma and Lucius were my Grandmother’s parents.  I was very close to my Great-Grandmother Keith.  She lived in the house I am standing in front of until she died of breast cancer at the age of 96.  She lived alone as her husband had died previously.  But she could care for herself.  She cooked, cleaned, managed just fine.  How many 96 year old’s can do that?

She also cooked for me the best cornbread in the world.  I have never tasted anything comparable to hers.  I have on my taste buds her cornbread.  I can remember the taste, I can remember the smell, I can remember how it looked, so light and fluffy.  Sadly, I do not have a recipe as the ladies of her day had all their recipes memorized and didn’t write them down.  No record of her cornbread anywhere. 

But I do possess the Cast Iron Skillet that is well over 100 years, that she used to make that delicious cornbread.


Emmaline Eliza Dykes Keith

My Great-Grandmother.  I think she was beautiful!

It’s funny but I can stare at her photo and not take my eyes off her.  I don’t know why but there is something very hauntingly beautiful about her.  Not to mention the expression she has on her face.  As am Empath I just keep trying to see past her eyes and into her thoughts.  What I see is that she is not impressed one bit by that camera, or the person taking the photo of her.  She looks very old and wise for her young age.  I can sometimes see what a person is feeling or thinking simply by looking at a photograph of them.

And although she is very young in the photo above, she seems very wise for her age.  As if she is resigned to a life she doesn’t necessarily want, but she will do her duty none the less.  That’s what I see anyway.

And to be perfectly blunt I do see abuse in her eyes.  But I don’t know from where?  Nor do I care to think about it.  But then I realize that I wouldn’t want my future descendants dismissing my abuse claims simply because they don’t want to think about it.  So therefore, I will acknowledge what I see in her.

I wish that I could go back in time and meet her and be her friend.  I would be the best friend she ever had.  Because I love her.

My Great-Grandmother gave birth to 4 children but only 3 lived to grow up.  Baby Brodie Rondo, in the middle, died at 11 months from Diphtheria.  Sadly he never grew up.  But I did name my son after him, Brodie Keith Kanakaleo Whann.  🙂

Grandmother Keith

This is the Great-Grandmother that I remember. 


Little Julie at my Great-Grandmother’s Keith’s dresser in her bedroom. 

And Me, with my Great-Grandmother Keith, and our dog Cookie.

I don’t know why I am out and about roaming around in what looks like a night gown.?

Here my Great-Grandmother and I are in St. Petersburg, Florida viewing some fountains.

Mama, Emma Keith

My Grandmother wrote that.  That is her handwriting.


The Keith’s

My Great-Grandfather Lucius in the one in the back wearing a hat. 

He married my Great-Grandmother, whom I write about above.

Seated are my Great-Great-Grandparents, (Ma and Pa Keith), and my Great-Great-Great-Grandparents.

My Scotch-Irish Roots


Summer Vacations in Florida, Always

My Grandmother, Grammaw Nell, and my mother, Mary Keith, and her cousin Joe.

My Uncle Ray, left.  My Great-Grandmother Honnie, and my Grandfather Frank, right.

My Grandfather, and my mother, taking a boat ride.

My mother sitting on the historical benches in St. Petersburg, Florida.

(Although they weren’t historical at the time.)  🙂

My Great-Grandmother Keith with her Brother-in-Law Uncle Walt, and his wife Aunt Annie Ruth.

(Sadly, I was still sending them Christmas cards 5 years after they died.)  Oops!  🙂  Well, nobody told me!  (I did wonder why I never heard from them.)


My Grandmother, and my Mother

My Great-Uncle Ray helping my mother in the ocean.

One of the many motels my relatives stayed in.


Me, left.  And Me, and my friend Lynn, right.  Probably in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Florida holds so many happy memories for us.


When I think of happy memories of my past, I always think of my Great-Grandmother, her cornbread, and her Magnolia Tree.

I would climb that tree every time I was over at her house.  If they couldn’t find me, they knew where to look, inside the Magnolia Tree.

My Great-Grandmother had a screened in porch with this beautiful wooden porch swing.  It had huge springs hanging from the ceiling supporting it.  I would sit on that swing and sway to and fro.  On a table on the porch were several fans that we would pick up and fan ourselves.  After all, it was Georgia in the south, before air conditioning.  My Great-Grandmother and I would count the cars that drove by.  For some reason counting is so important in the south.  Why, I don’t know?

But we would sit outside so contentedly.  Both my Great-Grandmother and I were very content to just sit out there talking and thinking and relaxing.  Counting the cars that would drive by, watching the lightening bugs that would light up, and just talking, she and I.

Which was why I wanted a Magnolia Tree of my own.  I wanted to watch it out my back windows.  See it grow.  The squirrels seem to love it!  They run up and down it.  They do back flips off it!  Seriously!  They are so cute in their love of my new Magnolia Tree.

So, I chose one.  It may not be the exact species but it is a recreation of a very wonderful memory.

Dedicated to Emmaline Eliza Dykes Keith of Rome, Georgia, Great-Grandmother to Julie.

Thank you for all the Happy Magnolia Tree Memories.

This is MY Magnolia Tree!

Perhaps someday it can be just as grand as my Great-Grandparents Tree.


Perhaps I am creating here a Magnolia Tree memory in my own backyard for my future descendants.  🙂

With the greatest of love to my family,



I did find these photos that my mother had made copies of and gave to me a few years back.

Left:  That is my Grandmother Keith sitting on the couch with Grand.  My Great-Aunt Margie is standing behind the couch with her son Joe and her husband, Ray.  Ray is Grandmother Keith and Grand’s son.

Top Photo:  L to R around the table.  Grand, my grandfather, Frank, my Great-Uncle Ray, Honnie, my Great-Grandmother, my mother, Mary Keith, my Great-Aunt Opal, daughter to my Grandmother Keith, Opal’s husband, Walter, then my Grandmother Nellie Mae, then Grandmother Keith and in the very front my Great-Aunt Margie.

(I have that end table by the couch.  There are two of them on both sides of mine and Gordon’s bed.  My mother has that floor lamp beside my Grandmother in the large group shot.  I think it’s Christmas at Grandmother Keith’s house.  She has her China set on the table.  My mother has that set.  I would love to have the food they are eating.)  🙂


After one year of waiting for my new Magnolia Tree to bloom, it finally did.

I am overjoyed!

Oh, and the lizard insisted on being in the photo.  🙂