When you work on a project you never know where it will
take you and what will happen afterward.
“A Christmas miracle is what we call this,” states Cora Lou Robinson along with Schelley Francis. Schelley comments, “The project of writing a
Christmas memories book had been on my mind
for years, especially since I began my job as director of the Dorcheat
Historical Association Museum in 2007. One of my favorite Christmas
traditions that I have been doing for several years now is to read the book
"Christmas Gift" by author Ferrol Sams. This book takes me back
in time and always makes me cry for the past. It has become my special
gift, for those like minded people that love the way things once were.”
Folk artist, Cora Lou Brown
Robinson grew up in Minden. Her artwork graces the cover of the new
book. A few years ago, her idea to write down her memories for her
children and grandchildren gave birth to the idea to do a collection of stories
from people here in Webster Parish. Francis states; “This project began in
February 2014, the memories began the day I was old enough to remember what
Christmas was all about. I think you will see from all of these stories
recorded in this book, that feeling is shared by many. We grew up in a
time of feeling safe, of being sheltered from the harshness of the world
outside our small town; we knew our neighbors and we cared about them.”
Francis commented, “As the stories
began to come in Cora Lou and I realized that some of the stories were not your
typical feel good stories. In fact many
were about the harsh realities of life and how in a moment the smallest things
can transform your life forever.” The
following is how this book evolved into more than just some stories but turned
into a Christmas Miracle.
is just a part of Cora Lou Robinson’s story that she told that night at the
October museum event to over 100 people and quotes from her about what has
happened since the night she told this story in October of 2014.
The following is an excerpt from my story that is in the Memories of
Christmas Past book available at the Dorcheat Museum:
And then there was
Bobby. Bobby sat behind me in the second
grade. I don’t remember his last name,
but I will never forget him. I think of
him throughout the year but I especially think of him at Christmas. I remember stabbing him in the hand with a
pencil one day but he never told on me.
He just kept holding on to his hand and I’m sure it was very
painful. He talked a lot and would tell
me stories of what he and his cousins would do.
At Christmas time in
grammar school (that’s what elementary school was called back in those days)
we all drew names and would bring a gift to our school party for the person
whose name we drew. Now each person was
supposed to receive one gift, but there were a few girls in our class who got
piles of gifts given by lots of children in class. Our teacher stood at the front of the room
and went on and on about how many gifts those girls received. You can imagine how the rest of us felt. I don’t remember what I got, but Bobby got a
little wooden truck that he kept rolling back and forth across his desk. I guess he must have sensed that I was
somewhat upset over only getting one gift because he said, “You don’t need a
lot of presents to be happy. This little
truck is all I need. Don’t you see what
a good time I’m having with one simple little truck?” Those were his exact words and I won’t ever
One morning that
spring I came to school and I was told that Bobby had wandered into a pond
close to where he lived and drowned. He
and some of his cousins slipped off and were going swimming, but Bobby did not
know how to swim.
Now Bobby at seven or
eight years old knew more than many, many adults about the important things in
life and what you need to be happy. What
you need are the simple things. As I’ve
often said – God and Country – Family and Friends.
That of course brings
us to the real meaning of Christmas. We
must never forget the fact that we celebrate Christmas because of the birth of
gifts, all the get togethers and fabulous food are wonderful and they all make
for great memories, but the greatest memory of all is a baby born in a simple
manger. He grew up and led a very simple
To borrow a paragraph
from a paper read by Schuyler Marvin at a fifth grade graduation several years
ago…. “Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure
for most of the human race. All the
armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed and all the
parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together,
have not affected the life of man upon earth as powerfully as this One Solitary
So you see Bobby was
right…. The simple things are what’s important.
The greatest gifts you can give come from within you. Love….Hope….and Kindness.
With a few key dates in hand
Schelley began searching the internet death records for Webster Parish.
The very next day after the talk she found
the only Bobby that fit the dates and age requirements matching up with the
She called Cora Lou with the news
that she had found out who Bobby was and where he was buried.
By the next day museum board member Ann
Harlan was able to contact a friend that she felt sure was related to this
little boy and sure enough this woman was Bobby’s younger Aunt.
So all the years of not remembering Bobby’s
last name and where he was buried were finally put to rest for Mrs. Robinson.
A few days later Schelley asked
Cora Lou if she would like to take a wreath out to Bobby’s grave for
Schelley searched for the
perfect wood truck to attach to the wreath.
“We wanted something similar to what Bobby may have received on his last
school Christmas gift exchange in 1943.
We wanted it to be special for a special little boy that made such a
huge impact with such simple words so long ago,” commented Schelley.
The original plan for the visit to
the cemetery was to be just a simple wreath placement for Cora Lou and Schelley
a few weeks before Christmas.
soon heard about the plan and Ann Harlan contacted (Bobby’s Aunt
) Janell Boyce Dickinson and she wanted to be included
in the plan to meet at the cemetery.
Soon the plans were expanded to include some of Bobby’s Aunt Janell’s
So on a sunny but
cold and windy December afternoon a group of friends stood in front a little boy’s
For 71 years the unselfish, wise
words of a nine year old little boy had made a huge impact in one of their
Mary Jo Kirkland, Jenny Kennon, Lyda Madden, Janell Boyce Dickinson, Cora Lou
Robinson, Ann Harlan, Laverne Kidd, Joyce Carey
The fact that Bobby’s words never
left Cora Lou’s mind is amazing.
fact that Cora Lou went on to be the person she is today, I believe is a part
of Bobby’s legacy to Minden and the world.
Cora Lou Robinson has blessed so many people with her simple acts of
kindness, sweet spirit, art, and her teaching of children.
I feel that was her way of saying “Bobby I
heard what you said to me that day.”