A heart content in a place called home
Well into her 94th year, Mary Frances Faulknier Barlow, of Marlinton, has a boatload of memories and a mind sharp enough to retain them.
Crossing the threshold of her cozy home, one thing is clear, she treasures the memories of the life she shared with her husband, Ivan Neal Barlow, the youngest son of Asa Clark and Effie M. Barlow.
A welcome mat at her kitchen door tells a story in itself - a Hampshire sheep is centered on the mat with the names "Ivan & Mary Frances" under it.
Conversation flows easily and interestingly with this lady, because her interests lie close to home - in the care of her property, in the goings on of her extended family and in her church.
She is the youngest daughter of Guy Richard and Frances Josephine Faulknier.
Mary Frances laughs when she talks about her dad's stint at distributing commodities.
"Everybody was eating carrots," she said "My mother creamed them, buttered them, did everything with them. There were always carrots."
Her dad later served as a policeman and as caretaker at Mountain View Cemetery before becoming Mayor of the Town of Marlinton.
Mary Frances' brother, Kenneth, carries on the caretaking tradition, working part-time in his retirement at Mountain View.
Married April 18, 1938, Mary Frances said she wasn't interested in a big wedding.
"Times were tight," she said "I wasn't looking for a big wedding. So we went to someone who knew us."
That "someone" was Dr. Fred Wyand, a family friend, who had served as pastor of the Marlinton United Methodist Church in 1921 and 1922.
"He called himself a boy preacher," Mary Frances said. "He had a church over Elk. The road was not built at the time, and he ate lunch with us every Sunday and then my dad drove him to the church."
It was a rough, dirt road so Wyand needed help getting to the other side of the mountain.
Ivan and Mary Frances crossed a lot of mountains on their way to be married, as Dr. Wyand was by then serving a church in Cumberland, Maryland.
The young couple went to housekeeping in an apartment over the present law office of Bob Martin on Main Street in Marlinton.
It was a brand new building at the time, she said. "It had hardwood floors, everything was new and we were happy there."
A snippet of history was revealed with regard to the Barlow's first home that has two Hs on its front. H-H stands for "Helen Hunter," Mary Frances said.
Helen Hunter was the daughter of Anna Price Hunter, and it was Anna who added this building to Marlinton's Main Street.
Ivan and Mary Frances stayed at that abode for about a year before moving back to the Barlow neighborhood near Onoto.
Ivan worked as a WPA time-keeper and the couple lived in what was then known as the "Taylor-Moore house," on the site of the present Edray Trout Hatchery Superintendent's house. And then, in October 1943, Ivan was drafted into the service.
Mary Frances traveled with him to Providence, Rhode Island, for training. There, they rented a third floor flat that overlooked Brown University.
Ivan served in the Navy in the CBs or Construction Battalion. He took part in the Invasion of Normandy, and was stationed on Okinawa when World War II came to an end.
During his time in the service, "he never got a scratch," she said.
To fill her hours, Mary Frances went to work for the West Virginia Department of Health, and eventually to the West Virginia Department of Welfare, from which she retired in 1980.
A time to settle down finally arrived in March 1948, and the couple attended an auction of the Frank Baxter "Hepsedam" farm which overlooks the Edray Trout Hatchery. The house was built around 1903 by Davis Barlow, an uncle of Ivan's.
Mary Frances clearly recalls that day.
"The day of the sale, the auctioneer took the people out on the front porch," she said. "It was in March, and the big spring was beautiful. ﾑTake a look at that view' the auctioneer said, ﾑand we'll start the bidding at $10,000."'
Although, they didn't get the property for that opening bid, they did acquire the farm and a house with no central heat and no underpinning. Through the years the couple worked at remodeling "one room at a time," and eventually made it their home.
Of the 60 years that they were married, they spent 50 of them in that home and on that farm.
To help pay for the property, Ivan bought seven cows which he milked morning and evening, selling the milk to the Carnation Company whose truck made pick-ups in the county.
But it was not the milk cows for which this farm was noted, but rather purebred Hampshire sheep.
Mary Frances recorded the family's history in Pocahontas County History, 1981, in which she wrote, "This farm is recognized by sheep historians as one of the oldest purebred Hampshire flocks in the nation, having been established in the early 1900s by A. C. Barlow."
Ivan was a producer of Hampshire and Dorset horned sheep which he showed at Jackson's Mill, in Staunton and in Pennsylvania.
"We hit the road,' Mary Frances said. "When we needed a vacation, we'd go to a sheep show somewhere. We bought a buck sheep, a ram, in Missouri. We were in the car so we sent him back home with some people from Petersburg."
All of this was during a time when men did the outside work and a woman's work was within the home.
"I was strictly a housewife," she said. "There was just the two of us and we stuck pretty close together."
In addition to farming, Ivan owned and operated the Ashland Oil business in Marlinton, and later became the director of the local ASCS office.
They were a "one car family" and rode together into town to work.
In the mornings Mary Frances fixed breakfast while Ivan tended to the farm, and in the evenings she fixed "supper" while he finished the day's farm work. The two shared their meals together at the kitchen table surrounded by a banquette of seats which are still in use today in her smaller home.
"We were always glad to be home," she said. "We just relaxed there."
On January 29, 1999, just shy of what would have been his 86th birthday on Ground Hog Day, February 2, Ivan passed away.
After selling "Hepsedam" to Dan and Trudy Lewis, Mary Frances moved most of the farmhouse furnishings into her present home.
"I just pushed them together a bit more," she said of the furniture in the smaller space.
Mary Frances is a woman who hasn't traveled far. She has spent the past 70 years near that $10,000 view and she is content to do so.
"I'm as happy here - as they say - as if I had good sense," she laughed.
Although she has no inclination to travel, she does keep up with the world travels and the advancements of her nieces and nephews.
She has ties to this community through family and through "acquired family," and remembers well the many kindnesses of Patty Triplett, Evaline Beverage and Trudy Friel who worked with Ivan at the ASCS office.
This month Mary Frances and two classmates from the Marlinton High School class of 1936 will celebrate a milestone few can match. They have lived to see the 76th anniversary of their high school graduation. She shares this honor with Jane Price Sharp and Helen Patterson McMann.
She recalls how hard her parents worked to get her a $4.25 gold class ring.
As proof of her high regard for mementos and memories, her plain paperback yearbook from 1936, "Radio Highlights," is still in good shape, and holds articles and pictures of the reunions of her class.
"People were so poor then," she said. "We were too poor to have a yearbook, so we made our own. But it didn't bother me to have a paperback book."
There is another book that speaks volumes about this woman.
Nearly everyone has heard the quote from the popular movie "Forest Gump" - "You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their shoes."
In this case, you can tell a lot about a person by looking at her Bible.
Mary Frances is the oldest active member of the Marlinton United Methodist Church, having joined that membership at the age of nine.
Through the years she has marked, dated and noted passages of scripture that are meaningful to her, and which will be a part of her legacy to her family.
In addition, she has become quite a bookbinder, as her Bible, a gift from a Presbyterian minister's wife with whom she worked, has "come to pieces" several times and Mary Frances has taped and glued it back to near perfect condition.
Still active at church and at home, passersby may catch a glimpse of Mary Frances on her canopied John Deere riding lawn mower.
"People drive by and blow their horn at me," she laughed.
Laughter that comes from a heart that's content - in a place called home.
Jaynell Graham may be contacted at jsgraham@po cahontastimes.com