A personal chronicle of nearly a century of change


May 17, 2002|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHAT STARTED as a short family history to answer the questions of her children and grandchildren "opened a can of worms" and put a 95-year-old Mount Airy woman on the path to a new career.

Edna Faulkner is a published author with her first book, My Life: From the Outhouse to the Computer. The account of her 95 years in the Washington area and the changes in our world during that time has sparked interest from young and old alike.

"I started writing [the book] on the computer after my son taught me how to use it and said, `Mother, write about what you did when you were a child so we can have some record.' It took me seven years to complete. People like to hear about what is was like and one teacher even told me this should be read by today's children because it is a part of American history," Faulkner said.

This week, the author shared stories from her book with a small group at Lorien Health Care Center in Mount Airy.

"Children do need to read this book to see what it was like without television, phones or good clean water out of a spigot," Faulkner told her audience.

She recounted when she was born in 1906, the family home in Washington had no indoor plumbing, just an outhouse. She told of how exciting it was when the family moved to a home with an indoor bathroom when she was 15 years old.

Faulkner remembered how, without refrigeration, iceboxes kept the family perishables cold in the summer and a simple box outside the windowsill kept milk and butter cold in the winter.

She told stories about the life she has shared with her husband, Roland, who was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health and moonlighted as a singer with big bands.

But most important in Faulkner's stories are her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren - all 68 of them.

"Oh, I have a lot of stories, a lot of heartache and a lot of love. But no matter what the troubles, it is never so bad that you won't be all right if you don't get over it," the she said.

She talked about her career as a licensed day care provider for 45 years until age 91. Faulkner estimates she has helped to raise 386 children.

"They were all my children, all mine. I loved them all and some even send me pictures of their children today. I'm happy. Inside I feel full and complete," she said.

"This is what has kept my mother young," said her daughter Cathy Faulkner, who was visiting from Florida.

Faulkner elicited stories from the audience about their memories of days gone by.

"That's what we call the good old days, when you have the good memories," she said.

Faulkner said health problems have slowed her, but only a little. She gave up driving a few years ago. She and her husband, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, live at Lorien Health Care Center.

She is working on her second book, tentatively titled Among the Living, an account of the lives of people in a nursing home in Florida.

"I feel good. I don't feel like I'm 95. My great-grandmother lived to 102 so I have a good heritage. This is only the beginning," she said, laughing.

Edna Faulkner's book, My Life: From the Outhouse to the Computer, is available at Whistlestop Bookstore, 8 S. Main St., Mount Airy.

Relay for Life

Mount Airy Middle School is sending a team of 15 pupils, parents and teachers to participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life tonight and tomorrow at Westminster High School.

The overnight event is part of a nationwide effort to raise funds for cancer research and awareness of the disease.

SHOUT, Students Helping Others Understanding Themselves, is a club at Mount Airy Middle dedicated to pupils fighting drugs and has raised nearly $1,000 for the event.

"One of the students brought up the idea of us participating," said SHOUT adviser and health teacher Christine Miller. "The kids wanted to be a part of it because we do have cancer survivors here at our school."

Miller, a cancer survivor, has participated in the event in the past, running the survivor lap.

Opening ceremonies will be at held 8 p.m. today.

Information: 301-829-1314 or 410-751-3554.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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