Memories of Virginia Teaford Murray

Home Folks Ruth Baker
Published September 12, 2002 8:43 PM CDTVirginia Teaford Murray celebrates her 90th birthday today. She has worn many “hats” in these fourscore years and ten. She was married to Albert C. Murray Jr. To most people in Walker County she is remembered more for her school-teaching years and especially those many years as home economics teacher at Dora High School. My youngest sister, Betty Jo Teaford, shares her memories of the past for Mrs. Murray’s birthday. “I have made arrangements for Virginia to visit me in Jacksonville, Ill., for six weeks in the spring and six weeks in the fall for over 20 years.
She has so much history stored in her memory and it takes little to get her to talk about the past. She claims to have forgotten a lot.”One of my most interesting trips with her was over 20 years ago when we took a three-week vacation to visit a cousin, Nellie, in West Virginia, and Seatta Teaford on the family farm in Lexington, Va. Virginia asked if we could go by way of a small town in Michigan, and we did so. She wanted to visit the widow of an officer who had served with her deceased husband, A.C. Murray.

We arrived there in the afternoon and they told stories past midnight and picked the story up the next day. Both of the husbands had gone into the Army right after Pearl Harbor, and were stationed together through several moves in the States and England. A.C. was stricken with spinal meningitis in England and almost lost his life. During this time, Virginia did not hear from him for over a month. As he recovered, a British family whose son was a British officer, befriended him and they visited the Murrays after the war.”My sister had a gift of relating to people. She gave this young Englishman a ‘run for his money’ and I am sure he never forgot his three-months’ stay in the USA. We had angel food cake at mother’s one Sunday. After he commented on it to Virginia, she told him that it was for people who were good, but we also make devil food cake for those who are naughty. His response was funny with his British accent and a surprised ‘really?’ Of course, my brother, Paul, picked it up and kept the ribbing going. Another fun time was when we had watermelon at the Cedrum home with the Murrays and their guest. Paul had a whole watermelon and the young man exclaimed, ‘Oh, my! It must have taken an awfully big tree to grow that!'”The Michigan stopover gave Virginia a chance to catch up on the news of six or seven of the officers’ wives with whom they had been stationed for several years. They played ‘Do you remember when?’ There was much laughter and I sat back and watched my sister interact with others as they reminisced of those bygone years.”As soon as she could, after A.C. was in active service, she took a leave of absence from teaching and they traveled all over the U.S. until the time he was shipped out. Virginia and her friend used the phrase, ‘Remember when we were stationed at…?’ It was never ‘when our husbands were stationed at…’ until the husbands were overseas. They talked about when ‘all six of us had one room each in Mrs. __’s house with kitchen privileges, but didn’t let us cook fish. Remember the wind in Kansas and how cold it was? In California when the men would be gone weeks at a time? Our hostess said, ‘Virginia, how did you find room to keep packing that portable sewing machine around?’ (Virginia often boasted that she never saw a car that she could not pack something else -and she was right.) She had it down to a science. Their biggest laugh came when talking about Virginia giving sewing lessons to the other wives of their group. One girl could not get it right and wore out the fabric taking the seams out and redoing them.”Do you remember the butcher at ?’ He asked us why we bought so many pickled pigs’ feet? We told him it was the only meat that did not require a ration stamp and we were saving our stamps so we could get a better cut of steak for our husbands when they returned from the field. He told the ladies, ‘You just tell me when you expect them home and you will get the best cut of meat I have.’ That stopover let me see my sister interact with her peers and I saw her in a new light. She was self-reliant, satisfied with what she had, dedicated to her husband, and helpful to her friends. It was an excellent view of a caring woman who was truly dedicated to her husband. After the war, they toured the New England States on a second honeymoon, and visited old buddies and their families. It is sad that they had less than 25 years together until death parted them.”For a woman who had no children, she surely has loved those of her family. Her greatest joy was shopping for gifts for family members and matching carefully the gift to the individual. She, like many dedicated teachers, also loved those children who passed through her classroom. Yes, Virginia Teaford Murray has carried many titles in her 90 years.”(As a sister-in-law to Virginia, the family has always joked about her putting things away. “If you can’t find it, ask Virginia,” was a well-known phrase. For her 80th birthday I said, “When Gabriel stands with one foot on sea and the other on land to announce the end of time as we know it, he will say, ‘Virginia has been here!'” She has made her mark – that is sure.)

R.T.B.Note: Virginia Murray has recently been moved to Beverly Healthcare in Forestdale. All her friends need to send her a card to cheer her up. You can mail all cards to Beverly Healthcare-Forestdale, c/o Virginia Murray, 1000 Dugan Ave., Birmingham, Ala., 35214.Ruth Baker is a retired school teacher, an author and historian, living in Townley, . Her column appears in the Daily Mountain Eagle on Friday. You can e-mail her at

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