Nancy Sills and Jim Sills

Recorded November 5, 2021 Archived November 5, 2021 39:12 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby021215


Spouses Nancy Sills, (67) and Jim Sills (67), sit down to preserve some memories for their children and their grandchildren. They describe the strong communities they each grew up in, share their favorite stories about various family members, and reflect on the life that they have shared.

Subject Log / Time Code

JS recalls meeting NS in high school.
NS remembers when she and JS reconnected.
JS describes what it was like growing up in Jackson, MS.
NS describes what it was like growing up in Warm Springs, GA.
JS remembers moving to Manchester, GA.
JS tells the story of how he got into a bike accident.
NS and JS reflect on how times have changed.
NS and JS discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected them.
NS and JS describe the family reunion they have every other Thanksgiving.
NS shares some of her fondest memories of her parents.
NS reflects on the strong community she grew up in.
JS shares some of his fondest memories of his parents.
JS tells the story of how he got caught playing his brother's vinyl albums.
NS recalls why she decided to become a teacher.
NS and JS reflect on their life together.


  • Nancy Sills
  • Jim Sills

Recording Location

Columbus Public Library


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:01 Hi, I'm a see seals. I'm 67 years old. Today's date is Friday, November 5th.

00:09 2021. Where in Columbus, Georgia.

00:14 My interview partner is Jim Sills, who is my husband of 40 years?

00:20 Hi, I'm Jim Sills. I'm 67 years old, also Friday, November 5th. 2021 is today. We're in Columbus, Georgia.

00:30 Nancy is my partner and she is my life partner.

00:39 Jim, I thought it would be interesting for you to tell us where you were born and growing up.

00:47 Well, I was born in Jackson, Mississippi, the 4th of five, brothers. We all were born at the Saint Dominic's Hospital there in Jackson.

00:59 When I was almost eight years old, we moved to Stuttgart, Arkansas.

01:04 How where I spent some formative years made lots of friends, still have friends from Stuttgart.

01:11 When 9th grade was rolling around, we moved to, Manchester, Georgia.

01:16 Where we went to the Manchester High School, that's where I met Nancy.

01:22 And we, we weren't.

01:28 Boyfriend girlfriend back then but we were just friends back then.

01:33 And so graduated, there went off to the University of Georgia and was way too big for me. Came home work for awhile, went to Columbus College, which is never Columbus, State University, degree in Business went to work at my hometown Savings and Loan and Manchester, Georgia.

01:58 Stayed in the banking business, for about 25 years, went through 7 mergers, headed for an eighth merger. Decided to get out.

02:08 I went back to Lagrange College, got a masters of Art and teaching talk business education for 15 years and the public school system and retired in the summer of 2016 and have been living the life since then.

02:29 What about you? Nancy tells about your child was born in Atlanta, Georgia and Emory Hospital. And when my mom and I left the hospital, we went to Warm Springs. Georgia and my dad was the administrator of the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, which was the hospital that was started by Franklin D, Roosevelt and his little white house location.

02:55 In Warm Springs and grew up there. It was an amazing place to go up because we would have patience and physical therapist and doctors from all over the world those who are treating polio or those patients who had Polio. So even though it was a small town, like itty bitty. We had an amazing.

03:21 Diversity of people who I grew up with and, and were around for my formative years.

03:31 At the age of. Well, I was guess I was between freshman and sophomore in college. They the state decided it wanted to buy the foundation to go with the rehabilitation center that have been built, which was a public institution. It was built on the grounds of this private institution, which was very unusual because people would come to the hospital.

03:59 For surgery in for other issues that they had and then they would go just kind of across the road to the rehabilitation center for Rehab.

04:11 And so they decide to sell it. So my dad didn't want to work for the state. So we moved to Savannah, Georgia, where his family was from and live there until I met. Well, Jim and I connected again. My dad was really involved with the, a Tee Golf Association and he had a tournament Savannah, and one of the ladies who lived in Manchester that I had known.

04:40 When I was in high school, was in a meeting, she came to play golf. We were talking about who is still in Manchester, and she was telling me that Jim Sills and I said, oh, I used to have the biggest crush on him. We were good friends. We have one Dayton High School where I invited him to go with my parents, my sister and her boyfriend to see the Harlem Globetrotters play basketball. He probably didn't say two words to me. The whole night. He was conscious at the time, at least told me we had a great time and we were good friends, but that was kind of it and it wasn't until she came. When I was 27.

05:18 And we were talking about who was still in Manchester. And I told her, I had this huge crush on Jim, but to not go back to Manchester and tell him that because yeah, I would be embarrassed. Well, she went back and told him that I was in Savannah and so he wrote me a letter. What are you doing? I wrote him back that was in.

05:42 June and July.

05:44 Of 19.

05:47 80.

05:49 And we started dating in December. Seriously, I guess. After our first date, it got kind of serious first date came to Manchester. We dated he proposed in March of 1981, and we were married in June of 1981.

06:13 But I think Jim that you need to tell us about living in Jackson, Mississippi on the street where you lived.

06:23 Well, we grew up in Jackson on a street called Meadow Lane Meadow Lane was.

06:34 Only one side of the street because on the other side was the park. There was a baseball field and playgrounds different things. On the other side of the street.

06:45 On our side of the street, they were probably 15 houses. And of course, back in the 50s and early 60s, families were big and of those 15 houses. They were probably 4849 children in those families.

07:07 And we just would get up in the morning and go and play all day long with those 42 that were spats and fusses. But the next day you forgotten about that and you were just right back in there with all those friends. In fact, my mom's sister and her four children lived at one end of this street, and we lived in the middle of the street. And so we got to play with our cousins, first cousins. They are on metal Lane, and it was just a wonderful place to grow up.

07:46 We go out in the morning and then at lunch time for whichever house we happen to be around. My the mom would just serve lunch to everybody.

07:58 And then we play all afternoon and about dark. We get called in for our supper, and we part our ways. And, you know, never had a Game Boy, never had a computer, but we had a great childhood there on Meadow Lane in Jackson, Mississippi.

08:19 Had you divide up four teams when you played baseball, what it was. 40. Something kids would be on your team and not everybody like to say play baseball. But so we'd have some who said out and others who always blade and, you know, it was just one of those things. We we tended to always get along. It was amazing to me that, you know, almost 50 kids could get along with each other as well as we did.

08:53 Cuz you and your brothers are quite athletic and so are your cousins.

08:59 Yeah, we've we've all been.

09:04 Love sports all of our Lives baseball. Of course. My dad was a semi-pro baseball player. And so he taught us all have played baseball as best we could. And we really enjoyed all of those times that we had together and and still I still love sports, loved watching the Braves win the World Series just a couple of nights ago.

09:31 I'm sorry to all you Houston fans button, go, praise. And so yeah, we had it was just a really wonderful life growing up.

09:42 About like being in the foundation in Warm Springs. Tell us a little bit about your friends that you had their. The foundation was an interesting place because there was a core of families that lived on the foundation. Lived on the property. They are the grounds and houses that originally had been owned by polio patients.

10:06 And their families, who would come down and sometimes stay 6-9 months for treatments. And when polio was the vaccine came about and it started to become eradicated. Many of these families, sold their homes to the foundation, or or donated them to the foundation. And that's where many of the doctors and my family. My dad was a ministrator, the chaplain of the hospital live there on the grounds. And of course, they all had kids. And we also had a case of playing and there was a field in front of Georgia Hall, where on Sunday, afternoons, you found the big boys, those are older than us. Little kids particular the girls cuz you know, girls didn't play football with the boys back then.

11:00 And I would play football, and we'd sit on the fence, and watch him play, and cheer for our best. For our favorite guys. Older guys, on the same across the street from us, one of my best memories of that. Is it Christmas? He the mister not, he was an artist. He worked in the laundry. I think it was because the foundation because it was the hospital grounds had to be completely self-sufficient with a commissary. We had

11:41 Cafeteria, we had our own pool.

11:45 With the Warm Springs. Obviously in it. We had therapy pools. We had at South School that at one time. The polio patients would would go to school. There. We didn't go to school. There is we went to Warm Springs to the Lowell Elementary School, but we had the, you know, the books were there and we had tennis courts and we had a sitter that had movies three nights a week and the polio patients will be pushed into watch him. But Mr. Keep was an artist and on his porch. He had three panels and every Christmas he would decorate a pound scene of some Christmas or some Christian.

12:31 Theme, and the one. I remember the most was, and I think it was the first one he put up was of the Christmas scene, where you had the nativity scene in the, the middle one, and the wise man and the Shepherds and it just, I don't know. It was, it was Christmas to me when mr. Nike put that up and we would go to the chapel and have

12:55 Candlelight service and then go back and have because all these families were there and then of course, all the patients who some of them couldn't go home.

13:06 And we would have stayed have cookies and hot chocolate. And I've never burned my mouth. So badly as on the hot chocolate that they would fix for us. It was just, I mean, you would think every year. I remember how hot it was, but I don't think I ever did in my tongue would just be scalded by buy it. But you know, those are memories. That is a child. You think? You know how how amazing that was to live.

13:33 This is hospital where we had people from India and Pakistan and now we don't think anything about that. You you meet somebody and you do there, you know, they're from Bulgaria or whatever. But back in the fifties and sixties people didn't travel like they do now and then to fax it. These physical therapist of the doctors were from all over the world and the culture that they brought to listen that weak Spirits. There was just amazing.

14:09 So, you moved to Manchester and you, and your brothers were all baseball players, and a lot of the Manchester players were not, they were football. Players. That was a rude awakening money. It was a, it was a big football Town. None of us played football. I remember when I was just about 8 years old. I wanted to play pee, wee football. And I went and asked my dad, you know, I'm worked up the courage and asked him, could I play? And I remember he lives looked me in the eye and he said, they would break you in half. So, I had to just give up on football. Started playing basketball in about 10. And, and I, and I really loved basketball, even more so than baseball, my most of my brothers still like the baseball best, but I like basketball. So when we moved to Manchester and that was a big football town, you know, basketball players weren't thought of very well. And and so, but

15:09 Before we finished and we graduated back in 1972. We have taken two teams to the state tournament in basketball and the football team. And at least in my four years didn't make it to the tournament. So maybe we maybe we change some minds and some hearts their butt and the brothers. And and I we just did real well in Manchester and loved loved all the people, their mom still lives there, 97 years old, and still lives two doors down from the house. We moved to 54 years ago.

15:47 Also, remember you telling me about a always think of Stuttgart Arkansas, which is where you move to from Mississippi is being very flat and you talked about riding your bikes, you and your brother riding your bike to school and one of those situations didn't turn out to be real well and one of your riding we would ride our bikes to, to school. We started that in Mississippi because we live. We only lived about maybe, I don't know. One mile or so, from the school there. How about when we went to Stuttgart we we did ride our bikes, both to the elementary school. I went there in third grade and and then when we went to the junior high though, we were coming back from lunch one day. And

16:43 My brother and and a friend of ours were all riding our bikes and the friend decided he wanted to race. So he challenged to my brother John and me to race down the street right in front of the junior high school and well, sure enough. We were racing and racing and racing and my brother John realize we were getting a little bit out of control and so he pulled up and started slowing down but Bill and I just kept on, we just kept on and finally Bill cut across in front of me. Cut my front wheel out from a bicycle and I went to tumbling down on the ground. Thought I might die but really didn't get hurt much at all. And so I was just one of those experiences where, you know, you you'll learn the lesson as you go through life, which I'm sure you've learned many Lessons Learned don't race at least

17:42 Or or let Bill win maybe if if you're think you're going to crash at the end of the race.

17:54 You the hospital? Yeah. She she did she was riding in her car bringing her child back from lunch and she saw the tumble and of course. So she stopped her car and made me get in the backseat of her car cuz she just knew I would had broken my neck or something. And drove me not, not just two in front of the school, but drove up the sidewalk next to the building and all the people were at lunch. And so they were just all staring into the back of her car, where there was Little Gym, sitting there looking out like, boy, I don't know. Well as it turned out to be nothing was wrong, but I had to go to see the doctor and my mother came and picked me up and took me home and patched. My little scratched me when

18:45 So am I I do remember the best thing. Was it my brother John rode? His bicycle home walked back to the school and got my bicycle and rode it home also. So. So the bike wouldn't hurt. Just you on the bike wasn't hurting really. Neither was I

19:05 That y'all were allowed to go home for lunch. Did everybody do that? If you didn't live, so close by, you couldn't go. But we short distance from the junior high school and we would go home for lunch. Lots of time. We weren't allowed to go home for lunch course.

19:26 It probably would have been too far for us to even in a walk, or ride, a bike, or whatever, or at least in my mind. Now, I think it probably was, but that's interesting that you could walk home or ride a bike home and eat your lunch, you are now with schools and they wouldn't let you do. That has many things to worry about, is they have today about 10 different things. So,

19:56 Well, we got married. I was a teacher already and for at least a year or two, I think, before, or after we got married, I didn't each and we had our oldest daughter, Jenny, during that time. And then I decided, I wanted to go back to teaching and worked in a

20:24 Pre-kindergarten then Manchester where we first were living. When we got married and then went we moved to Savannah and in Savannah. We had our two other daughters.

20:37 Lauren and Amanda, and then we all moved to Albany where we live for five years. And then came back here to

20:50 West Central, Georgia, Harris County, and have been here for 26 years now.

20:58 Yeah, I talked for 41 years before I retired.

21:06 Back in, 2019, right before covid happened, which I'm kind of glad I didn't have to deal with that. We've been asked, how has covid affected us. And as far as Retirement, it really hasn't affected this much. We, we live.

21:27 Kind of in the country. We do live in the country, kind of far away from others, so we don't really see and we haven't had a problem with

21:39 With Kobe. I don't think. Do you think that we've been affected much by that? I wouldn't say that it mandated some things that we weren't used to such as these silly mask, that we still have to wear. But, you know, we, we just kind of continued our life right along. But we, you know, we didn't spend a lot of time with others anyway, so it wasn't a big event family. We know, we still got to stay with family still and got to see all of those daughters and their families. And so, I would say that probably, it was not a very big event in our lives more much more. So in, in others lives in a week, we weren't affected by anyone, you know that we knew close to us, that was affected and and even really had covid and certainly not anybody that passed away.

22:39 From the, from the I think the biggest thing that affected us with covid is not going to Camp Dawson.

22:47 Yeah, yeah, that's its Effectiveness. Pretty much we have on. And every other year, Family reunions. My grandmother on my mother's side. Wanted to get us all together and then 1987.

23:04 She had planned that we would have this great big Thanksgiving and unfortunately she passed away in the summer of that year and and we didn't, you know, thought about where we shouldn't have this reunions that grandmother had planned and she's not here anymore. But we did it. And for gosh, over 30 years we continued to have every other Thanksgiving family reunions style over at Camp Dawson where we spent all three wonderful days. If you're an Insider, if you're an in-law, you may not feel the same way. I mean explain who was there like 40 people to like 90 the last one.

23:56 Yeah, it sucks. It's my mother, and her two sisters, and their families. And like I said, earlier, back in the day, you just had larger families. Maybe. And so, my mother had had five sons and her two sisters, had four and four children each and course, all of those has gotten married and had children and their children have had children. And so yeah, we had about 80 four or five that sat down for Thanksgiving. When we when we got to have it back in 2019. I guess was the last one that we had. So we canceled it for for this year. So

24:38 It is fun.

24:43 Families like to play games and play board games and play card games, and the kids played hide and go seek at night. And in this is in a big old farmhouse. That is part of a church camp, but it's an old house that they have converted to have bunk beds and a big kitchen, not big enough sometimes but big kitchen. Everybody brings.

25:15 Food, so that you're not cooking for 80 people in thinking. I'm doing this on my own one family, like the seals family might bring the turkey and dressing and

25:30 The children might bring you a vegetable and then you might bring cinnamon rolls or you might bring pancakes and whoever's up. Whatever kids have wakened at 7 in the morning or 6. Sometimes.

25:45 Who's ever up makes them pancakes, or puts out the cereal. And there's this big room at the end where we eat and play Foursquare, and you just the food is out there and you just kind of Grey's, it seems all day long.

26:04 We have hamburger hotdogs cookout on the Friday night.

26:09 One of the.

26:12 Cousins makes soups and chili when we all get there on Wednesday night for those who were there and it is it's a fun time. It's nice.

26:23 We also will tell me you just maybe your fondest recollection of your dad, George. And your mom Mary Helen some, maybe the fondest memory that you have. I guess it would be being at the golf course with them. My parents both like to play golf and taught their daughters. I have a sister that's 2 years older than I am. And so it was being together and playing golf. My dad was like I said earlier was very involved with empty Golf Association. He had fought in World War 2. He was a pilot and

27:06 For some reason, I got involved with,

27:12 With any BT's in it, he would have

27:16 Like a lift apt, send there, right? She to him.

27:23 And then somebody would

27:26 Who is a riding PT, would send him a letter and say, I'm looking for size 9, men's shoe black and dad would send them shoes and he got really involved with that, got an award from the Better Homes and Gardens for doing that kind of service to people.

27:45 And he got really involved with a because he like golf or the MC Golf Association even nationally. And so,

27:54 Every summer we would have a tournament at the foundation, is the golf course for the amputees. And I think it was having that experience of seeing these people who

28:08 Might not have, but one armed, they had lost both legs on a one gentleman in particular, that lost both legs and an arm and the man could hit a golf ball.

28:19 Farther than some people that I know who have all four Limbs. And so, being with my parents and seeing their giving,

28:30 Loving.

28:32 Service to others. Made a huge impact on me to want to do that. Or think that that was important.

28:42 In our lives, so what about me?

28:51 Because she was the she was the hostess. She made sure that everything was the way it was supposed to be in.

29:01 If I don't know, she just that same that same experience of

29:09 We always had people in our home and

29:13 Opened up. We don't open it up to us. Both my grandmothers lived with us for a number of years and I think that says a lot about her as well as my dad in people don't do that much anymore, have grandparents her parents live with them. They they end and sometimes you have to sometimes, you know, there's no place to put them or you can't do anything but have them in a nursing home. But back then that was just something you did. Like your grandmother lived with your aunt for years and I think having those experiences and seeing what your

29:53 What your parents did?

29:56 For not only Community but their own family.

30:01 Was was very

30:05 Was very teachable time for me.

30:09 Well, you know my of course my my fondest memory of your mom and was those bourbon balls. I mean, I mean really, you know, what, you never knew when Mary Helen was making bourbon balls, until she started singing it. And we're not sure whether most of the bourbon went into the bourbon balls, or most of the bourbon went in to marry him and we we weren't quite sure about that but those bourbon ball. Sure we're good. And you know, she put a cup in here and she take. So yeah, that was

30:49 But your dad play golf to a lot. Of course. He was kind of a natural athlete and hand, you know, used either hand very well and he never played a lot of Gulf of growing up. But then played a little bit of golf before we moved to Manchester. But after we got to Manchester golf, became his, his passion, and the foundation to golfer, utilizing baseball swing. Almost, like anyone I had never seen before, you know, the golf swing in the baseball swing or are not very similar to each other.

31:37 And, of course, dad being the natural baseball player that he was. He just transition to that over into golf and and played very well. And in fact, in 11 year, probably in his mid-sixties, maybe early sixties. I don't know, became the club champion out there at Warm Springs and there were some really good golfers that he had to be. So but you know, that was just played a lot of golf lo, I mean, oh, yeah.

32:11 Long ago, 3672. But anyway, it was just a really good time. That the foundation course was was very well-maintained for being just a small, 9-hole, golf course, and head pain. I had great, PGA Pros there, and that kind of thing. So it was a, it was a good place to play in.

32:47 How they keep telling us that they're going to renovate that course, but nothing ever happened. So we we just wish that it would send old Donna, Ross course. So our memory of your mom Mom. I don't know. I guess, you know, you just have to call her Saint Myra because I'm in, putting up with the five of us for all those years. I guess. Probably, one of the things that that makes me smile. Sometimes is is when we would all be home in the summer and we don't, we all have these little chores that we would have to do, you know, it might be wash the breakfast dishes or, you know, take out the trash or sweep, the floor, you know? When everybody, everybody had one of those jobs to do and so, if you didn't get your job done, my mom would course find out about it. And she would say going to the bathroom and it wasn't clean, like it should have been

33:47 And so she would just start calling out all the brothers names. And, you know, she would say to John. I mean, it was just one of those memories that I have to wear. You know, she would just finally just say what just one of y'all come in here. So, but that's one of those things. And, of course. So she's she's still with us, 97 years old and, and still s t matter as far as I'm concerned. I think maybe the what you need to tell us. The last thing is about the records Jay and his records and you touching them. Well, my brother Jay was, he's really big into music. He played the guitar and and now he plays guitar and piano banjo violin. I don't know all kinds of things, but he was big into music, and he spent a lot of his money on albums, you know, they're their back.

34:47 People are playing vinyls again. But back in our day, my brother Jay had this nice collection of of vinyl albums. And so while he was on his paper route, I would sneak into his room and get one of the album's out of the little rack that he had there with his albums in it and very carefully, put it on the stereo and play it for a little while. And then long before I knew he was coming home. I would take it off of the stereo and put it back in its sleeve. Nice. Like just like it was and then put push it back right into the rack, right where it was.

35:28 And inevitably, when he would come home, he would say who's been playing my Rolling Stones album.

35:37 And of course, Jack would always tell on me. And so, I can remember one day just running down the street from my brother Jay, because he was going to block me on the head because I shouldn't be playing his albums and

35:54 Course, you know the next week or so. I kind of forgot about it and I play another album how to get another Bop on the head. So

36:04 But anyway, I didn't know that Jack was telling him. I thought he had always told us of the girls that you were, he, he just knew it back and he knew it wouldn't have been pulled out. He just wanted to know which one of us have done it.

36:23 I don't maybe Jack did it a few times and then blamed it on me. I don't know.

36:28 Anyway.

36:32 That's just FamilyLife, you know, it is growing up in the 50s and the 60s and

36:40 A simpler time and didn't have to have a whole lot, your best friends, where you brothers and still are so

36:50 Yep, so, when I know that you, you were teacher, did, did you always want to be a teacher or no? Now? I wanted to be Christos diving partner, but I knew that one going to work and

37:11 I wanted to be.

37:14 Maria Von Trapp, Julie Andrews, but you have to have a voice like Julie, Andrews to be able to be Julie Andrews. So that didn't work. So if that's teaching was one of those things where I thought I can I can sing and I can do science stuff. And

37:32 I can all do that in my classroom. So becoming a science teacher. I think was what got me Earth and space science made me feel like I could do all the things that I didn't get to do. I could still sing in my classroom.

37:48 I could still couldn't swim in my classroom, but could study the oceans and all that without it. So, yeah.

38:00 William. And

38:03 So, tell for 40 years, we've been married and have a good marriage. Had three lovely daughters? And and they have chosen husband's. Well, Amanda still looking for hers, but she'll find it someday. And and then we have those grandchildren that, you know, I think really you. If you think about it. You probably should have them first then because there's so much more fun there. A lot of fun to have and, and then you get to send them home with their parents at the end of the day. And

38:43 And so, it's been, it's been really good. We've had a very good life together and

38:49 I appreciate your being my partner for all these years and look forward to the next 40 years. So.

39:00 Okay.