I’m always thrilled to hear about folks in Woodstock who manage somehow to “write it down,” to put those memories in print for the world to see and for others to read and be inspired to follow suit. The latest such project is by Becky Williams Buckman.
She has published “Down the Line,” an assorted collection of her poetry, her miraculous life experiences and bits of wisdom she has gleaned through life. Woodstock old-timers will remember Becky as the daughter of Gordon and Leila Johnson Williams, a well-known and beloved couple who were an integral part of the life of the small town of Woodstock during the last half of the previous century.
I remember Mr. Williams as the manager of the Woodstock voting polls, back in the days when everybody in Woodstock voted at the same place. Becky’s sister, Ruth Williams Pyle, was much older than Becky, and was also a part of the Woodstock scene. Ruth resides now in Canton, while Becky lives in South Carolina.
Of special interest to later Woodstock generations is the inclusion in the book of the poetry of Martha Johnson, Becky’s cousin. Many of us knew Martha and her aunt, Cliffie. Cliffie and Mrs. Williams were sisters. Martha and Cliffie lived in the little house across the street from Woodstock Elementary School.
Though handicapped all of her days, Martha lived a full and fruitful life. Everybody in town knew her, but few knew of her poetic abilities. After her death in 1998, her poems were discovered along with Christmas and birthday cards by the hundreds; old speech notes given at different functions, many of which were church connected since she was a devout and dedicated Methodist; old school papers from business college; paycheck stubs and income tax items from J.H. Johnston Company, Dawson’s Department Store and from her venture as a partner in Williams Food Store, where she kept books for her uncle, Gordon Williams.
No doubt there were also heaps of items from the many years she served as office manager for the Boddy Medical Clinic, which is where I knew her best. I worked with her for seven years, along with many others, all of whom would testify that we were all better for having known , loved, and been loved by her. (The part of her that was a pack rat rubbed off on some of us. Every year, she gave us copies of the Christmas edition of Ideals Magazine, and I still have each of them.)
Her affiliation with Dr. Boddy and his various medical facilities began when he opened the clinic in the mid-‘60s. She was immersed in her position there, and they often tell the story of the time she was called on to pray in church. She opened her prayer, “Boddy Medical Clinic,” just as she answered the phone all day long. Her office door was always open, and her calm, common sense approach to every situation made her a friend to all. Ah, how we loved her.
All of these pieces, put together, tell the story of her life. Also in the book are the memories of Martha from another cousin, LoDean Gresham Chapman.
As Becky tells her own story, she takes her readers through a life filled with an “abundance of blessings,” her words, and gives her audience some added blessings of their own through her special voice.
The book includes photos as well, and those of you who knew the Williams family will treasure the memories that are brought back as you turn the pages. You’ll be happy to learn of the Becky that we never knew after she moved away.
You can see Becky and purchase the book at her book signings. She will be at Hidden Lakes in Canton at 1 p.m. on Friday, and at the Woodstock Visitors Center at Historic Dean’s Store at 1 p.m. on Saturday, sponsored by Preservation Woodstock.
If you miss the programs, the books will be available later at Dean’s Store. When you’ve finished the book, you might just pick up a notebook and begin recording your own memories. That trip down memory lane may be the best trip you ever took.
Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.