The Memory Letter

Dear Reader:

Sometimes all it takes to change a day around completely… is one small letter…almost lost in my dark mailbox…squeezed in between Belk and Pizza Hut advertisements. A letter that brought so many memories flooding back!

It was about the size of thank you note card with pretty flowers on the outside envelope. Curiously I glanced at the home address and it took me a minute to register the name I was reading…

Patricia G. Richardson….the city was Raleigh, North Carolina. Pat! “Oh my goodness it was Pat!” 

The years were 1961- to August 1963. Our family lived in a duplex on Huske Street in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It was the last piece of real estate Daddy bought before he died. Little did he know it was the best decision of his life…bringing much needed income to mother.

In the summer of 1961 the other side was vacant. Mother had stopped by the local grocery store near our home and overhead this good-looking young man (I thought he looked like the teenage heart throb back then…Tad Hunter) telling the grocer he was getting married and needed to find a place for him and his bride. He was wondering if the grocer knew of any vacancies in the area.

Before the grocer could respond…mother said she got up the nerve to interrupt the conversation by telling the young man that she had a duplex that she thought would be just perfect. If he wanted to check it out…he could just follow her home from the grocery store.

He did, loved it and ‘sealed the deal‘ that very afternoon. Mother, of course, was so relieved and we actually celebrated eating out at the new McDonalds on Raeford Road…being kids we thought it didn’t get much better than McDonalds back then when they first opened.

Besides the 15 cents hamburgers….McDonalds claimed to “Feed a Family of Five for $2.25.” We kids didn’t know that…we thought it was the best treat in the world…we even got chocolate shakes…now that was really over the top! We loved our new tenant, Ted Richardson, before he and his bride, Pat, had even moved in…because he had made mother happy and we got to eat out!

I was awe-struck over the good-looking young couple and when little Gregory came along a year later I was their built-in babysitter. By then I was in the eighth grade, 13, with braces and felt awkward in most situations at school…but in their apartment I had found a beautiful baby who loved me and I loved him. I was over there every day whether I was officially babysitting or not…keeping a watch on him so Pat, who was a teacher, could get things like supper going and laundry folded in the afternoons while I watched Gregory.

When mother told us in the summer of 1963 that we were moving back to Laurens, South Carolina…where she grew up…I pitched a tantrum…not over leaving family or friends at school…but because I loved being the babysitter for the Richardsons. I felt like a bereaved mother leaving Gregory who had just started calling my name…and running to me every time I tried to leave.

Later, we heard the couple had divorced, then soon after Ted died suddenly and Pat and Gregory moved back to Raleigh. One time when we were visiting Grandmother Barbour in Durham we had made plans to have lunch with Pat and Gregory…but an ice storm hit that weekend and we got snowed in there and didn’t see them.

And then yesterday there is a letter from Pat. It was a typed letter on a piece of paper that made my smile brighter…even if my lips trembled slightly at the sweet memories.

Dear Becky,

I am Pat Gregory Richardson, my son is Gregory Richardson…in 1962, Greg’s father, Ted Richardson and I lived-510 Huske Street in Fayetteville – with Mrs. Barbour, Becky and David. (Ben never went over on the other side much, if ever, so apparently Pat doesn’t remember him.)

After my divorce, Greg and I moved back to Raleigh. Gregg and his family now live in Wilmington. I have retired from Wake Tech CC. Recently I have had time to reminisce, purge, and count my blessings. I have spent hours looking at photographs. 

A special blessing is finding this photo. I pray that I am not going beyond my boundaries! I remember that you are now Becky Dingle. 

Becky, I made a copy of this photo…I think we were at White Lake.

*(If I look sad in the photo it is because it was our last outing before we moved to Laurens…plus I had just gotten my braces and they really hurt!) *I remember David always wore a t-shirt over his thin frame ( Marfan’s Syndrome disease) because his chest sank in and his shoulders weren’t balanced…funny how all these observations come back now. I am so happy to have this photo of my little brother who died far too young. (21)

I want you to know that you, your mom, and David have a special place in my heart.

I pray that I am sending this sincere message to the Becky I knew in Fayetteville.




Pat sent me her email…I will spend this evening thinking how best to let her know how much her initiative to send me the card means to me…I hope we can email each other a lot…plus I would love more pictures from the past…now I will be on a mission to find some myself to send her. I, also, want to write letters to Pat because I know how wonderful it is to have a letter to read and re-read like I have done hers.

So until tomorrow…we never know what is around the next bend in the road…a rendezvous with someone we once knew? Someone who remember us as lovingly as we remember them.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Brooke and I are going to try to get her Emma Grey and my Eloise a play date together…what fun that will be. Two beautiful blessings…our latest grands…our cutie pie  granddaughters


And look at our beautiful model…Lacy advertising for her boutique’s 40th anniversary. This photo shot will be in Charleston Inside Out...a monthly publication…Brooke is so proud of her soon-to-be new daughter-in-law! We all are! Way to go Lacy…you look stunning!



And speaking of memories today…eight years to the day (April 27) my first grandchild, Eva Cate, was born and today she turns eight. Can that much time have already passed?

Happy Birthday Eva Cate…my firstborn grandchild! I love you and wish you a Happy Happy Birthday. *Just like this picture of you in the giant bird’s nest at the Gibbes Museum…I am so glad you left the nest 8 years ago to join our family! And always stay curious as to what lies behind the next bend in the road!


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to The Memory Letter

  1. bcparkison says:

    Becky, What a wonderful surprise it must have been. There should be many more. Good for you!


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