Emily Whiteside and Beth Saba

Recorded October 17, 2021 Archived October 17, 2021 33:50 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby021152


Sisters Emily Whiteside (66) and Beth Saba (64) share a conversation about growing up in Columbus, Georgia, their earliest and favorite memories, their friends, their school, and their parents.

Subject Log / Time Code

BS and EW share memories of pre-school. BS remembers having Hershey’s Kisses, and EW remembers her father dropping her off for the first time.
BS and EW discuss the dynamic between the two of them when they were younger.
EW shares some of her earliest memories.
BS talks about the dolls she would play with while growing up and the Sound of Music dolls she had.
EW and BS share some of their favorite memories of their father, including riding in his Volkswagen convertible with him when he would run errands.
EW and BS share memories about growing up in their neighborhood, the games they would play, and the other children they would play with.
EW tells the story of playing by the creek and crawling into a hole, then being unable to get out.
BS and EW talk about the school where they went, and BS remembers her year in kindergarten.
EW and BS share memories of their mother from growing up and talk about her graciousness.
EW and BS talk about going to work in Yellowstone National Park.


  • Emily Whiteside
  • Beth Saba

Recording Locations

Mildred L. Terry Public Library


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00:03 Emily Whiteside, I'm 66 years old. Today is Sunday, October 17th, 2021. We're in Columbus, Georgia, and I'm here with my sister Beth Saba. She's my sister. And I am Beth Saba age 64 here today. Sunday, October 17th in my hometown of Columbus, Georgia with my sister Emily.

00:29 We were so excited to hear that storycorps was going to be in Columbus because usually things don't happen in Columbus, or if that's what we thought when we were growing up, and we had thought about talking with her mother, but she demurred and my daughter suggested that Beth and I talked. So we thought we would just talk about growing up in Columbus.

00:56 We're here in Columbus because my grandfather. Moved here is a fourteen-year-old and by himself.

01:06 And subsequently, married, our grandmother who knew our mother's mother, they were from the same, small town, in, South, Alabama.

01:16 So our parents knew each other from an early age and when they married, they moved here to Columbus.

01:23 And somewhere of growing up, Columbus was a small City. In the middle to late fifties of between 80 to 100,000 people. And today, it's over 200,000 just in the city.

01:43 So, I thought we would talk about.

01:45 What it was like growing up in Columbus. What is your earliest memory?

01:51 Well, I have a lot of memories of our nice little neighborhood called Lindsay Creek. I definitely remember.

02:03 Going to what we called nursery school, then and they call it preschool. Now. I remember specific incidents from that Nursery School. We watched, we gathered around a little black-and-white TV and we watch some of the first Apollo missions and I remember that, my teacher and her family took a vacation to Hershey Pennsylvania, and she brought back to all of us in class. These little chocolate, candies wrapped in silver, which I think was a person. I had had one and she said, these are called Hershey Kisses or some people call them Silver Bells and in Hershey Pennsylvania at the factory, all of the street lights were shaped like this. And so we each got to have one and, you know, that made an impression on me and I had to riffic friends. My best friend from next door went to nursery school with

03:03 And you had been there before I'd had. So I remember that. So cool that you remember all those details I have

03:13 Only one or two Vivid memories of that time Nursery School.

03:18 The first one is one of my earliest memories. It's when Daddy who is really tall walked me to the gate to go in the first day.

03:30 And I guess I hadn't thought about it before that. He would not.

03:35 Be there with me.

03:37 And I don't think I had ever been, besides Sunday school off without them, or a grandparent and mrs. Richards. One of the teacher said, oh, she'll be fine and I very much but sure, that I was not going to be fine.

03:56 And I remember holding on to his leg and thinking he will not abandon me and she said it one more time and he turned around and walked off and did not even look back in the latch shut right in front of my eyes and I thought Trader.

04:19 You are not leaving me.

04:22 I was very shy.

04:24 But I did know, one or two other kids. There know, nobody from our neighborhood went.

04:31 And I guess it was okay. And I don't have any terrible member. Yeah, that's funny because I always think of you as being The Brave One.

04:44 Yeah, we you paved the way for me for so many in so many things and I am much more shy than you are but I did not have any fear of that. I think because you had been there and the fact that I knew several people, you know, well, that's funny because you're right, the older sibling.

05:10 Does have to pay the way but

05:14 I never felt particularly Brave.

05:18 Felt.

05:22 I'm trying to think of the word.

05:27 Like I did not want to be bossed around by anybody.

05:31 And so that probably came off this bravado fan, really. It was just sad. So what's your earliest memory?

05:42 That's funny because we're 22 months apart.

05:45 And I very distinctly remember.

05:51 Staying with our grandparents when mother went to the hospital for you to be born and

05:59 I was very comfortable with them, but I missed Mother and Daddy a lot. And I remember the morning that you came home. They pulled up in the driveway and I just could not wait to get out of the car and they were.

06:15 Concerned. Because it was so rambunctious and squirming to get out of the car course, no seat belts or anything like that, and I just

06:24 Hot dad and I remember grandmother kind of homey back saying don't run. And I thought, what in the world are you thinking? I'm not going to run and I ran and immediately fell on the brick steps and scratch my knee. But

06:43 Thinking that they were right, you know, but ran to the back of the house where you and I were going to share a bedroom and there was the crib and Mother and Daddy were standing there. And I was so excited to sleep in but that, you know, must have said little Club.

07:05 And I do remember, put my foot on the crib and climbing up and almost getting in. When somebody has said, no.

07:14 And I thought,

07:16 This isn't going to be as much fun as I that we shared that bedroom up until we moved from that house. That's which one is in 67. So we were like 10:12 ish years old, something like that. I wanted a sister so badly.

07:44 So you had a life size doll that you had a lastic on the feet. You could strap it on and dance around with it. And daddy said, well.

07:55 This can be your sister. And I remember thinking.

08:00 You know, nice trap, but he put the doll over there on the bed and

08:08 Had me pretend that was, that was probably the last time you played with a doll.

08:15 Almost correct? Yeah, there were two doll that played with.

08:20 And you were the the doll? Yeah. I love them. Do you remember your favorite?

08:28 Let's see. Well, I probably carried around a baby doll a lot. But the favorite would have been when I was in was probably just about too old to get dolls. But I love the movie, The Sound of Music so much and there was a line of dolls made by Madame Alexander to look, just like the Von Trapp children. And so, I got 11 Christmas, and then maybe the next Christmas got it. I ended up with a few of them, you know, and they weren't played with so much as looked at and maybe I would fix their hair, but I loved those and you'll have them. I thought I gave them to your daughter.

09:15 Yeah, cuz I hadn't I had boys and had no use for those dolls and they were up in our parents Attic. So, I think she has them.

09:26 Do you remember what Patty did with the dogs?

09:30 At our grandparents and our grandparents, had an addict that you would access, you know, just by opening a door. You don't have to pull anything down and he walked up these, you know, steep stairs and you got to the top and there were just the exposed beams from the house, which was like a craftsman style house, dark wood up there, but two separate areas. Will it had to be because of the stairwells are there was a bridge that went over it, right? And we had so many doll so many cast off dolls from over the years that he collected them and took them to our grandparents house in Columbus and he cleared an area on one side of the attic. And he when he showed it to us, we walked up there and there was a semi circle of dust and an area

10:30 A little rag, rug middle and we could sit on it and play with them and it was always fun to go in the attic. And there there were those dolls. It was pretty amazing, share everything. He was so much fun. He really, why what's your favorite growing up memory of daddy or one of them?

10:54 They were so.

10:57 Many know you always hear mother means work and daddy means play and and our house. That was pretty much true unless

11:07 His temper got trip, but he came home with a

11:15 I think it's a 1960 VW convertible black.

11:22 Big old wide white sidewalls.

11:26 And he would put us in that car on a Saturday and oh my gosh, the police would be after you now, but we could set up in that luggage compartment.

11:37 And just ride all over town and he would I'm sure he is doing errands, but he made it fun.

11:44 Do you remember who won Saturday? He said I'm going to take care of the baby Street.

11:51 Such an imagination but having grown up in Columbus. He knew all the different lyrics. So this was dinglewood.

12:00 And it was no more than an ally, but it was no one car with wide and forever. That is baby straight to me. And then he would drive us through Tanglewood all the while telling stories about growing up in Columbus. And it was just like being in a

12:22 Come captain and I remember he would take us over to Lakebottom park. Now you remember we lived right across from Lindsay Creek and were forbidden to go down in that crate for good reason. Rattlesnakes and water moccasins over there.

12:42 But,

12:43 I remember he let us play all in the creek one day catching pad poems and

12:52 Frogs and running up and down in that water.

12:57 It was great. Yeah, and I remember, he would when he would take us around on those errands, he would drive into somebody's driveway. We didn't know them at all, but he could, and we would just kind of be dying of embarrassment, but we really were laughed, and we thought it was so funny, but drive up and honk the horn. Maybe they would look out. And then it by, then he was backing up, like so much fun. And he would sometimes take several kids from the neighborhood. And we have a fantastic picture of the two of us with our two cousins, and we'll in the back of that Volkswagen in our swimsuits. He had probably taken us to the CFA swimming, listen to where this is hilarious.

13:45 To the Columbus aquatic club, which is directly across from where I live now, that's where we were going. That damn. He had packed a picnic or probably somebody I had a warrant and he just took on four of us off.

14:03 What do you know? What happened that? Yeah.

14:08 Do you remember any speaking of Lindsay Creek? Do you remember any super fun things that we did there or you did there or what do you remember?

14:19 What I remember about that neighborhood was every single house. Maybe one had kids our age and it was just an ideal place to grow up.

14:33 Across the street was a creek. So there were no houses there and that was pretty much our playground. You can go down in the creek, but you can play on the banks.

14:43 And,

14:46 My friends and I would ride bikes. We hadn't those clamp-on roller skates that you had to leave the key.

14:55 And we would go skate up to the top of that Hill, the little Hill, at the end of the street by the lass's and go down. And I still have scars all over my knees from

15:06 Falling. But not caring too much and

15:11 I think one of my needles memories is a neighbor who ended up in.

15:18 Pretty well-known artist, George Dudley, who was a good bit older.

15:26 Then we were always thought. So, he's probably only five or six years older, but he was very creative.

15:32 And he was a leader. He would have us all out and hit say, okay, we're going to collect these a corn or what it was, always something natural, you know, and we were going to design at some way. We would be out there with rakes and we would rake up pine straw, and make little Mansions, you know, rooms and this is my house. And

15:56 I remember.

15:59 Towards the end of the time, we were living there, I guess.

16:05 The creek was being channelized.

16:09 And made very ugly later, but in that process, they were.

16:15 Workmen were clearing out the end of the block down there, by the lessons. And So, what had been woods with now revealed? And I remember one day, George Dudley had us over there and that the workmen had pushed all these trees sort of together and it made a perfect Loom room. I had out. And we just spent the whole day over there. Pretending, we were adults. I guess. I mean, just it reminds me of that book. Roxaboxen. Is It BBQ, right? I was just saying, like, how we spent most days we can use our imagination. And there was a popular TV show Secret Agent Man. And I played that down, I would go down to the banks of the creek. So I don't, I don't remember this being forbidden mother probably didn't want us to get our shoes dirty, but

17:14 And I wasn't that adventurous. But I I remember going down there, some and there would be like a little path that you can take from this part of to the next. And so, I mean, I just, I remember all the fun and the friends in the neighborhood for a while. I had a very best friend next door, so much fun to just go out and be able to play with her. And it would thrill me to know. And when by surprise, one of our parents would say, do you want to spend the night? Like we hadn't been begging it, but Daddy would say, oh, Jen is going to spend the night or even. This is going to sound so funny, but it's like y'all both you and Janet both need a bath. Why don't you come over to her house? And you can take your bath door with her.

18:02 We thought it was fun, sitting up that telephone.

18:11 Remind me.

18:15 Well, it was nothing. It was a little bit fancier than a can and a string that have been waxed, but it would think plastic phones, and their bedroom, and our bedroom faced each other and, and the the dads, you know, fix it. So we could

18:33 Very low-tech talk to them. Next time, remember that.

18:40 One scary thing. I remember in relation to the creek is,

18:46 While they were clearing that area, I was down their nose and around by myself, on Saturday afternoon. No, one knew where I was because you didn't have to tell anybody, where you're going. You could just get on your bike and ride around.

19:02 And I was down there and I had been reading Tom Sawyer and I was so jealous that Tom and Becky had caves and we didn't have caves and I want Medicaid.

19:16 And you know how it is when your attention is directed towards something like that. You see things that maybe aren't really what they are supposed to be. Anyway, I was down there and I looked down and saw a hole.

19:33 That in retrospect was probably where they had pulled out a drainage pipe or

19:39 Was an animal burrow, I don't know what it was, but it was about a 9 year old girl size.

19:47 And I looked at it from, and I was very impulsive and I mean always

19:54 And the thought came into my mind, you should not go in there, but I did.

20:00 And I crawled in. I mean, it was

20:05 Maybe bigger than a foot.

20:08 But not much.

20:10 And I got in and wiggled all the way in and then decided, no, this is not smart. I can't see anything in their Roots hanging down. No, telling what's in here and see if there's an outlet.

20:23 But when I tried to back up,

20:26 I didn't know that your knees wouldn't let you go back and I could not get out. I couldn't back out.

20:35 And so the only thing to do was to trench crawl, and pray that there was an opening, there was no light.

20:44 And it was probably in a 12 ft. And I remember thinking if this caves in,

20:53 No one will ever find me like that. It was horrible, but I got all the way through and my heads poking out. There's the creek paint, and I was able to get on my hands and get out, and I never told anyone about it, but that nine-hour our grandmother spending the night. I remember just picking dirt out of the end. They would not have been happy to hear it would have been so busted.

21:30 Do you remember anything about Rigdon Road School?

21:34 That we went to remember my first day of kindergarten for sure. Because if you recall, there was the school, which was Gina one level, and then a little bit away from it. There was a separate white little white house. That was the kindergarten. And so, I had my milk money in my envelope. I had my dress on and I remember that because of the picture that they took of me that day, but I was going to kindergarten and daddy took me and you had been, and you have the same teacher, so I was really, really excited, but I was really nervous about it, you know, it was different than Nursery School.

22:19 But again, my best friend was going to be there. And so he took me and he daddy made an adventure and made everything is so much fun and he had confidence and so some of that rubbed off on me, but, you know, I'm, he introduced me to the teacher, but she knew me from because of you and I remember that they had the tables that you would sit at named for each day of the week. So somebody would be at Monday another, you know, so you would end up learning the days of the week and I was just appointed that Janet and I were not at the same table. I'm sure that was by Design, but it was just a, it was a great experience being in that little kindergarten and it was half a day. So I don't, you know, I got to go home for lunch. But you know, I had those same friends for the next four years that we moved when I was in 5th grade, I think. But it was a great school. Our parents were activity. Ta we had Carnival.

23:19 You, and I had some of the same teachers but not all.

23:26 It was a brand new school, you know, the neighborhood was new and yeah, it was a great experience for us. It was very homogenous. Oh, yeah, no diversity. And you know because of that.

23:46 We had very limited experience with anybody who wasn't really waspy, right? All right, we didn't really have any. Yeah, we just we lived in that bubble. We didn't really consider anything else. Looking back. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it was.

24:11 We've talked a lot about daddy being fun. But mother was fun to do. You remember some special things about her? Yes. She was a stay-at-home mom and was very good at what she did. She loved her soap operas, especially As the World Turns, and she would tell you, she like to watch them because their clothes were so pretty. And she made our clothes. She said, she took sewing after she married, I think, right? When we were very little moody or Aunt Sue, Dee and grandmother were beautiful seamstresses and would make beautiful clothes for us.

24:51 But mother decided she wanted to learn, and she went downtown to miss Pullen, sewing school, and she learned to sew, and just took right to it. And so, I remember things that she made for us. I remember she made doll clothes. I was in two Barbies. She made tiny little Barbie clothes. She made a little Barbie jacket that had a little fur with it, kind of Jackie O yet. Very Jackie O,

25:21 She and she cooked, I remember her making decorating Valentine cookies, heart-shaped cookies, for all the kids in the neighborhood and they would have like a pink or red background and then she had written their name and white icing. But at the time I was I had a stomach virus and I didn't want or need the cookie. It would not have settled on my stomach, but they were so pretty to look at and, and everyone was outside, having a cookie. And I was inside not having one. And then when I got better, I said to her, which was a few days. Several days later. I said, could I have the cookies? She so bad. They're not good anymore. I had to throw them out or 8, but she didn't say that, but I never got the cookie.

26:11 But she did, she was a very involved parent, you know, with the schools and our friends. And so that those are mine memories, she would make things really special birthday, birthday cakes, you made, my birthday is around Easter. She had a a cake in the shape of an Easter basket and it had jelly beans and coconut green coconut. And then one time I remember, she said she was decorating just you know, like a two or three layer cake and she was piping something on the side and she said, Beth. Do you know what this is?

26:55 And I said a robe. She said, no, there six is cuz I was six years old. I can't believe that.

27:05 Yeah, she

27:11 Always knew.

27:13 Exactly the right thing to say to our friends or to anybody and she's very that she's very gracious R 92 year old mother. Today is very gracious and still extends a lot of Grace to me. Yeah, me too.

27:32 When we were little, we love to hear stories from both of them about their childhood and

27:39 She grew up in Headland, Alabama and had a very big family won't. There were nine kids.

27:48 And she would tell us, you know, a different perspective on life. We grew up in a Big Town.

27:57 And her town was very small and where she knew everybody and could walk all over town and everybody knew her. But she and her siblings were really close and seem to have a lot of great adventures.

28:12 And daddy would tell us a lot of stories to remember and tell him bedtime stories to us where we were princesses. Remember that he sat in a little chair in between our bed and would tell us those stories.

28:27 But one thing I would talk about was when he

28:31 I think it was after he graduated from Auburn. I think it was that first summer. He went out to work at Yellowstone Park and loved it and open soda fountain at Old Faithful. And it just sounded like the most fun.

28:52 And I remember it seemed like it was.

28:58 A lot farther removed in time than it really was probably.

29:03 Like 10 years. I think he was there 50 or something like that. I'm not sure.

29:12 I wanted to go and found out how to do that and did end up going to work out there. You and a friend from Auburn, Mary. You got to know her because you both were going out there or yeah, I remember all the planning and you went out there and you would

29:33 I guess we talked on the phone rarely. I don't think that you you might have written a letter or postcard that you had so much fun. And there was this activity going on for the employees in that one and you had been here and and I was at home that summer and going to pick up a couple of classes at the local College when I was home from Auburn, but it was and it was okay. I was all right doing that, but I sort of wistfully was listening to your stories and one day, daddy came home and said Beth we can get you a job out there. Would you like to go and I just

30:16 I kind of didn't know what to think. But again his confidence and his

30:21 This is going to be fun. And of course you were going to be there and I said, okay. And so he kind of got it arranged and they were always needing workers.

30:33 And and he walked me through every step of the trip because I had flown once. But this was going to be from Columbus, Georgia to Atlanta to Chicago, Denver Salt, Lake City and Jackson been a small plane to Jackson or West Yellowstone. And so he kind of told me what to expect and everything and you know, I did it. And do you remember when I got there? I was on my break sitting out on the steps to the dorm.

31:11 And you know, people would come and go and I saw a person coming across the parking lot who had short blond hair, and you had always, always, always had long blond hair and it just recently had at Cutten. And I remember looking up.

31:29 And it didn't register with me.

31:32 And then looking down and doing a double-take literally and you just giggled because no one had told me that you were coming. So it's fed me to surprise you but you never, you were glad to have me there. You didn't resent that. I was, you know, kind of horning in on the fun. And we spent a lot of days off together doing things. And, you know, it was a great experience. That was really a life change. That was last Henry. Yeah, we got to know people from all over. We kind of got to know what some people think about the shelf and that summer was 1976 and it was Jimmy, Carter was running and Gerald Ford came out there and spoke at Old Faithful. And so we had a name tag, that would have our first name and then the state we were from and everyone would say. Oh, you're from Jimmy, Carter State, you know, Jimmy Carter. Yeah.

32:32 But actually, he only lived about an hour away.

32:37 It was great and and we made lifelong friends from out there, you know.

32:44 Absolutely Anna worked out there to Summers and then you had your own adventure and I went to Glacier National Park for one summer and was an aide and had a lot of fun doing that. A beautiful beautiful Park.

33:01 Well.

33:03 I think we, we have talked about.

33:07 A lifetime had a lot. We've had a lot of fun and a lot of good memories.

33:12 And I'm glad we live closer together. I will say, I wish I had been a more nurturing.

33:23 You became more nurturing, as you got all the time. And I don't think it's normal for people to be nurturing when they are two years apart that young. But I certainly have helped me out of many a, a jam since then like wow. Yeah. Thank you for coming today. Thank you for the conversation.