Always Wear Your Invisible Crown

Dear Reader:

When my second question today popped up from StoryWorth it asked...”What was my dad like when I was a child?”

I contemplated switching the question (which you can do) to something else..since I had already told the little I remember of dad with the first question “What is one of your earliest childhood memories?”

However…I decided to leave the question as is because I do have stories told to me about my daddy from relatives… that I locked in my treasure chest of memories….remembrances more precious than gold.

I, also remembered that Anne told me a funny incident about her neighbor who gave his 96 year old mother…StoryWorth as a gift. Anne commented:

Al’s mother, age 96, received one of those Story Works projects for Christmas last year. She was excited to begin and eagerly anticipated her first question – the first of 52! The question asked her to write about a memory of her mother. She spent the next SEVEN MONTHS filling page after page of memories of her mother! Talk about a blessing! Shirley said she didn’t answer any additional questions but that first question had more than served it’s purpose

After reading about this cute incident I decided I needed to give more information about my father through stories and anecdotes told to me by his siblings, cousins, parents, and other relatives.

Nothing made me happier as a child and youth than having a relative come up to me and say “Let me tell you a sweet or funny story about your daddy and how much he loved his little girl.”

I would get most excited when relatives would tell me that I had the same outgoing personality as my daddy had…he loved people and they loved him in return.

Daddy grew up in Smithfield, North Carolina…the land of tobacco and cotton. His full name was Curtis Benjamin Barbour…known to friends and family as Curt.

There was never much money to be had in this farm family…but coming from Scotch origin…the family was thrifty and everyone worked in the tobacco fields…especially daddy and his older brother…when they had to quit school at 16 to work full time in the fields making ends meet.

But World War II changed all that and daddy returned to Fayetteville North Carolina to marry mom in October of 1945…mere weeks after being discharged at the rank of sergeant.

Christmas card from daddy to mother in 1944…



It was sometime during or right after the war that J.D. (dad’s older brother) and daddy were able to meet in Edinburgh, Scotland to get an authentic picture of themselves dressed to ‘the kilts.’ They were both very proud to come from the ancestral “Border Clans” who originated in the area around Scotland and Northern Ireland.


Daddy was a natural go-getter and he was successful in several ventures until Uncle Max asked him to go in as a partner at the Wilson Lumber Company. They both were required to take physicals for insurance purposes. The family was worried about Uncle Max passing the physical at age 65 but he passed with flying colors. Unfortunately it was daddy at 30 who didn’t…it was then they discovered serious kidney problems …he died at Duke Hospital at 31.

Less than a year later mother lost her left arm to bone cancer and our world as we had known it up to then…vanished forever. My older brother Ben was seven, I was five, and David was two.

Two stories I remember relatives telling me about daddy were…

Ava Gardener, the beautiful Hollywood actress of the 40’s and 5o’s… grew up in the same farming community as daddy and sat right in front of him in grade school…daddy loved to tease her by pulling her pigtail braids…which she didn’t find amusing. Apparently daddy told everyone it was worth the glare and slap sometimes…because then he got her attention for a full 30 seconds. Apparently Ava was a beautiful little girl before becoming a glamorous actress.

Ben and I actually stopped by Smithfield a few years ago and went in the Ava Gardner Museum in downtown Smithfield.



We decided that daddy found his real “Ava Gardener” when he met and fell in love with another beautiful farm girl…mother.



Many “Barbours” settled in and around Smithfield North Carolina…today there is a Barbour church there and Barbour cemetery.

Brooke and I have talked about the problem of little girls losing their daddies…their knights in shining armor…too early. The tragedy lies in the fact that we, also, lose our “princess” tiaras and status. Something we never get  back. We never get to be Daddy’s little “princess” ever again. (Brooke lost her father when she was six.)

Unconsciously we find ourselves looking for daddy replacements, for that feeling of unconditional love, for knights in shining armor, protecting the “princess” of the castle.

It takes us “abandoned princesses” a little longer perhaps to finally realize that we have to find that “tiara” again on our own… it can’t come from anyone else…it must come from within us.


In time the “tiara” must be replaced by an invisible crown…we must own up to the role we are destined to play in life and then share our reign with others…creating our own happy kingdom surrounded by people who become assets to our lives in the merry kingdom of give and take, love, and kindness.

So until tomorrow…

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Discovering the first red leaf of fall on the first tree in the yard…sorta like the passing of the seasonal torch…so cool!

The last of the summer flowers are putting up a ferocious fight to keep blooming and looking their best…it is appreciated greatly! 🙂

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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4 Responses to Always Wear Your Invisible Crown

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    What a wonderful story…this was an unbelievable gift…what a treasure…

    It also makes me want to go to Smithfield to see the museum….


    • Becky Dingle says:

      It is a fun ride…not too bad…I-95 most of the way…hit Florence and keep going until you hit rural eastern North Carolina….a tobacco spit away! 🙂


  2. Becky,
    I am amazed at how much Eloise looks like your picture at age five. The resemblance is almost scary. What great memories! You are so right that not having a father impacts daughters’ lives in significant ways. Stay safe, and I hope the antibiotics worked and you are feeling good again.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I had never thought about any resemblance…how interesting to see others’ perceptions from afar when sometimes we are close to see the same thing. 🙂 The antibiotics are working and slowly getting back to the land of the living…at least I can talk again now…which is my favorite thing to do! 🙂


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