:"AnnaBelle's Spirit" follow's the saga of the Wicker and Bollan women that were first introduced in "The Journey, The Dreams, & AnnaBelle". The story begins to take on more depth and meaning in this second book. Mainly focusing on the lives of AnnaBelle and her two daughters, Carolyn & Kathy. Annabelle faced many difficult situations and her gypsy spirit kept them on the move. After AnnaBelle decided to take control of her life and raise her daughters on her own, they experienced many adventures and new faces. Being raised by AnnaBelle's was both fun and challenging for the girls. Carolyn's life would eventually become one of temptations, choises, and dreams. The temptations were many, the choises, not always the best. She would find herself living in a dream with the haunting memories of a love that did not include her husband, but but that drove their marraige into a nightmare. Carolyn's story is better understood in "The Journey, The Dreams, & AnnaBelle". It's difficult to understand the entire synopsis without reading both of the books, Carolyn did not want to slow down the story with repitition in this follow-up book. "The Journey, The Dreams, & AnnaBelle" contains poetry and photos following the timeline of the story. "AnnaBelle's Spirit" contains only one poem, but does have new photos , some dating back too the early 1900's.
Carolyn gives an overview of the book:
Chapter VA New Life Starts In St. Petersburg Life in St Petersburg agreed with AnnaBelle from the very beginning. She loved the sunshine, the beaches, and the endless supply of fresh oranges and grapefruit. Her health improved, and for the most part there was peace at home. They had rented a small two bedroom apartment on the northwest side of the city; it was close to Carl and Marion. Stovall had put his application in at the Coke-a-Cola Company while he and Mom were there for their first visit. His job was waiting for him when we arrived. It wasn’t a far stretch from what he had done in Valparaiso; he worked for Seyferts Potato Chips. Both were route jobs, both paid well with good benefits.Kathy and I started school right away, it was the middle of September and school was already in session. As was the heat, it was so hot. Unfortunately, I had been exposed to mumps before we left Columbia School in Valpo and no one knew it at the time. I attended one day at Glenoak Elementary School and woke up the next morning with my jaw swollen, and painful. Mom called the school, they called Valparaiso, and by that afternoon we discovered where they came from. I had unwittingly exposed the entire sixth grade to the mumps, not one of my better days.Before the end of that school year we moved to a larger apartment, I liked it better, there were a lot of windows, and it was bright and cheery. By the end of June, Mom and Stovall had bought a house at 753 41st Avenue N.E., located in a new subdivision about three blocks from Tampa Bay. In July the construction was completed and we moved to our new home. It was the one and only time in her life that AnnaBelle would totally own the home that she lived in. Kathy and I took to the neighborhood right away. There were lots of kids. It never takes long for children to find each other, we were no exception. Directly in back of our house, across the alley, lived the Gieger’s, Mike, Chuck, and Nancy. Their mothers name was Mary; their Dad had passed away a few years earlier. Of course, Kathy and I thought that would be wonderful, not to have to put up with a dad in your life. Down the block on the corner lived the Bible family, Dick and June, (no, not Dick and Jane) their kids were Ricky and Debbie. Though younger than the rest of us, they were great kids and a lot of fun. Their parents had one employee at home, a maid and nanny combination, her name was Cornelius, we all loved her. She tolerated our constant jokes and mischief. Then there was Mark and Kim Butson in the next block and Linda Quimby, down the block from them. She would end up being a friend for life. We all became very close over the next couple of years; they soon learned to dislike Stovall almost as much as we did. You can’t fool children for long. “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you’ll never fool all of the people all of the time”. Kathy and I started school that September at Meadowlawn Jr. High School, located in northeast St. Petersburg. We were among the first students to attend the new school. It was a beautiful school, but hot, so very hot. There was no air conditioning at the time. September is still a sultry month in the south.It was about this same time that the Wicker family moved from Valparaiso, Indiana to McArthur, Ohio. Grandpa decided to open an action house. They did have relation living there too. Grandma’s brother Jerry Griffith had lived there for years with his wife and family. It was a small town south of Columbus, not far from Athens. A very small town, Grandma called it the wasteland of the world. I don’t think she was too happy there. But Edgil, like his daughter AnnaBelle, loved new places and a new adventure. They were both willing to take chances.AnnaBelle was in heaven with her new home. She started work at the W.T. Grant Co., a newly opened store in the Northeast Shopping Center, not far from our house. She loved her job and all the people she met. This was where she met Don Amechi and his wife; they shopped there often, mostly for linens. They always asked for her, and she was happy to help them, he had a good sense of humor, teasing Mom incessantly. Almost everyone liked Mom, she was beautiful, and had a brilliant smile.For the next two years, life passed without too many conflicts. Stovall stayed true to his word and never touched us again. He did, however, use the infamous board with the holes in it as often as possible. It was never when Mom was home, therefore she wasn’t even aware of it. She knew it was there, she knew he threatened with it, but not that he used it. Once again, you don’t tell. I think we all know that if you can just hang in there long enough, something is bound to change.That change eventually came. Mom had been in the hospital for a bleeding ulcer, imagine that. She had spent four very long days away from us; it was not a good time. Living with a crazy person doesn’t allow you to sleep or rest well. There’s always that little built in alarm ready to go off. He used the board once while she was gone, but that was once too many. I realize people may find it hard to believe, but there was never a time that we deserved the punishment he doled out. Kathy sassed once in a while, but not to that extent, we knew better. I would bend over backward to keep peace in that house, I hated conflict. The only ones that knew our fate were the kids that had become our confidants. On with the story.It was during this time that Mom scheduled the dreaded “swimming lessons” for Kathy and I. She had decided that her daughters would not go through life with the same fear of water that kept her sitting on the beach instead of enjoying the water. When Mom was a child growing up in Kentucky, there were rope bridges (swinging bridges) spanning most of the creeks that could quickly rise in the spring of the year. She had never liked the bridges, but she was forced to use them at times when the water was too high to cross on foot. It was the only way to get home from school. One day, while crossing one of these bridges, her brother Ray decided to start swinging the bridge when she was about half way across. He was always joking around and doing something he shouldn’t have, this was no exception. Or just maybe, it was re-payment for that rock he took to the back of his head, thanks to his sister, AnnaBelle. At any rate, the creek was high with rapidly moving water. Needless to say, she lost her footing and fell in. She almost drowned before Grandpa could pull her out. With the grace of God, he happened to be close by on his way home from work. Mom’s near drowning experience was the reason for our swimming lessons. At that point, I swear, I could have personally flown to Indiana and threw rocks at Uncle Ray myself, what was he thinking??? Mom enrolled the two of us in summer classes at the Spa Pool, located at the southern tip of St Pete, by the Municipal Pier. What with my fear of water, this was the worst thing possible …ever. Mom decided that her daughters would not go through life without the ability to swim. Actually, this made sense, living in Florida, surrounded by water. But then I ask you, what’s wrong with an inner-tube?Mom was admitted to the hospital the night before our first swimming lesson. She had hired a woman to come in during the day to take care of the house, and watch over the two of us. The first two days I told the woman I couldn’t go to the lessons because it was “my time of the month”. Then she told Mom about it. Well, Mom knew my “time” had came and gone the week before. She let me know in no uncertain terms that my “time” was up, I had to go. Naturally, Kathy took to the water like a fish, making me look even worse. Our instructors name was Moe, he was pretty patient with me, at first. All he asked me to do the first day was jump in the pool. I knew I would drown, the water looked bottomless, I refused, and refused, and refused. He finally said either I had to jump or go over to the kiddy pool with the little ones. As tempted as I was to go, looking at the four year olds was a deal breaker. I told him I would jump, but my inevitable death would be on his conscience. I closed my eyes and took the plunge, waiting for my final gasps for air as I sank to the depths of this godforsaken hellhole. Surprisingly, when I realized I was still breathing, I opened my eyes to find I was standing in four feet of water. Before the day was over, I discovered he was telling the truth, I would come back to the top if I held my breath. I was jumping off at the twelve foot mark by the time I left that day. We spent two months taking lessons and I loved every day of it. Well, until I did a jackknife off the diving board and Moe had to save me. That time, I didn’t rise to the top. In the end, we both passed our swimming tests, and found that, once again, Mom was right.When Mom came home from the hospital we were so relieved. Things had been a little rough with Step Dad while she was gone. On the day of her return, I was changing the sheets on her bed while she was in the bathroom. She returned while I was still bent over tucking in the sheets. She saw the bruises on the back of my legs, with the distinguishing hole marks. She flew into a rage at the sight. Stovall was at work that day, I begged her to calm down before he came home. Kathy and I were both sorry we had not told her sooner, she had a right to know. She went to the kitchen and got a butcher knife to put under her pillow. Again, with the butcher knife. She was in no condition to be fighting with anyone, so we decided to bide our time. It would be the last time he would use the board on anyone. It was the beginning of the end for Stovall.Things finally came to a head about two months later on a Saturday evening, the night before Mother’s Day. I had celebrated my fourteenth birthday the month before. It was 1961. Mom had taken Kathy and I shopping for dresses for our first school dance. Stovall never liked us going anywhere without him. Looking back now, I know it was a control issue with him. He made sure Kathy and I were seldom alone with Mom. I imagine he was worried about what we might tell her. In hindsight, I wish we would have told her sooner, it was his fear factor that kept us quiet. I never thought for a moment she would leave him, he constantly reminder her that she couldn’t make it without him. He was proven wrong, so very wrong.By the time we returned home from our shopping trip, it was getting late. The regular time for supper had passed; it was around 7 P.M. Stovall started complaining as soon as we walked through the door. Then the questions started. Where did we go, what did we do, how long were we there, who did we see? Finally, Mom had all she could take. She told him she was starting supper. He said he already ate, and for some unknown reason, Kathy and I had to go to bed without supper. Well, that did it, Mom blew up. She said there was no way we were going to bed without our supper. The more their anger grew, the louder their voices became, until they were yelling at each other. Mom took a can of soup out of the cabinet, opened it, poured it in a pan, and went to the stove to heat it up. Then he flew into a rage. He went out the backdoor into the garage and pulled the main electrical fuses. The stove was electric. As he came back through the door Mom grabbed a box of Cheerios and started pouring them into cereal bowls. She was shaking so hard she could barely hit the bowls. By now the yelling had escalated to screaming, cussing and name calling. Mom’s favorite name for him turned out to be “bastard”, and he in turn, seemed to think she was a “whore” a “bitch”, and something called a “rip” (for some unknown reason, this was the name I learned to hate, just as much as the man that used it, “daddy dearest”). Mom finally said the magic words, “she wasn’t going to put up with him anymore, and he would never lay a hand on her daughters again”. In two long strides, he was across the kitchen and swept the cereal, bowls, milk and spoons off the countertop. There were Cheerios everywhere, the floor was a mess. As he raised his hand to strike Mom, Kathy stepped in and grabbed it. All I seemed to be able to do was cry; this was bad, very, very bad. He somehow grabbed Kathy and got her out the backdoor and into the garage. The next thing I knew he had her bent backward over the trunk of his car, choking her. Mom jumped on his back, trying to pull him off Kathy. All I could do was stand at the outside garage door and scream for help. Mom began to hit him as hard as she could, but it seemed he felt nothing, by this time he had went berserk. That was a new word of the day for me.During this entire episode, the garage door was wide open. In our neighborhood the houses were close together, I know the neighbors could hear my pleas for help, but no one came. Maybe they, too, were terrified of this crazy man. After all, it was almost dark by now, and there were no lights illuminating the garage, or the nightmare that was unfolding inside. I ran back to Mom, trying to help, by now Kathy was turning blue. Even the two of us together could not stop him. It was then that what can only be called a miracle took place, the door bell rang. Stovall let go of Kathy and stood up straight, shoving Mom and I out of the way. He then turned and walked back through the kitchen to answer the front door. Mom grabbed Kathy and together we pulled her outside the garage, we had to get away before he came back. Kathy somehow found the strength to run, and run we did. It was two blocks to Linda Quimby’s house, that’s where we stopped running. We went to door and started knocking. Linda’s father opened the door to find three crying females. Her parents knew Kathy and me both, but had never met Mom. They welcomed us into their home and called the police. Luckily, Linda’s mother was a nurse, she quickly checked Kathy over while we waited on the police. The Quimby’s were the nicest, kindest people we had met in Florida, I will forever be grateful to them for coming to our aid. When the police arrived, they started writing down the report of what had happened. The three of us were still shaking; the tremors just would not stop. We were a mess. As God is my witness, I have never hated another human being as much as I hated Jim Stovall. Hate is not a word I use lightly, but as far as I was concerned, he should be dead. All the years of fear and dread seemed to be focused on this one night. Everyone will reach a point where they have reached their limit, all three of us had reached ours. We never wanted to see him again. The fear had now risen to terror.After about an hour, it took that long to stop the crying and shaking, the police decided to take us back to the house to gather a few belongings. They would not leave us there, not for another moment. I think all three of us were still a little dazed, to say the least. In the end, AnnaBelle was right, she was done putting up with him, and his abuse. We finally followed the officers to their car and got in the back seat. It was time to go home and face the music, or should I say the maniac.When we pulled up in front of the house, Kathy nor I either one wanted to go in. The officers assured us that “stepdad” wouldn’t touch us. We had to pack some clothes and personal items; they were going to take us to a motel. You would not have believed the scene when we walked through the front door and into the living room. Stovall sat there watching television, as though nothing had happened. I didn’t care, I went to pack.
My name is Carolyn Sue "Bollan" Morris. I was born in Valparaiso, a college town located in northwest Indiana. I love the memories I have of living there.
My Mother, AnnaBelle, was born with a gypsy spirit, much like her father. Due to...