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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
A Wedding to Remember


“This is a time to remember,” Zona’s mother, Elizabeth Ann Brewer Collins told her husband, Nathaniel Stewart Collins.

“It does my heart good to see Bill has found such a good wife. She’s one of the best cooks in the county.” Today even Elizabeth, the matriarch was dressed for this occasion. Her long hair once auburn was mostly grey now but she had twisted it up high on her head in a fashionable way. The dress she wore was long, to the floor, of a silk looking fabric which was rich enough for her son’s wedding.

Nathaniel, Zona’s father, suffered from asthma and he was careful not to get that involved in the festivities so as not to overtax himself. It wouldn’t be much later when he rode a bicycle to town so he could pick up a letter from Elizabeth while she was away on one of her visits to her grown children. The exertion and dusty roads brought on an asthma attack and he died.

‘True to Elizabeth Ann’s word, Fanny did become a mother to Bob and Paul Collins. Bob and Paul made history with their music during the days when electronics allowed them to record what they played.’

The next day after the wedding found Zona up as usual at 4:00 a.m. They had to get ready for the trip back home. She had lunches to prepare and pack, as well as clothes. And, of course, the goodbyes must be said to her mother, father, brothers and sisters. There was no whining among these people. They knew what had to be done and they did it. With this attitude Zona started her day.

She closed the lid of her fiddle case and paused for a moment and opened it again. The resin stored in the little bag was there and, on a whim, Zona took it out. As the little piece was turned over and over in her fingers her thoughts were that she loved the feel of it. It had its own texture and somehow, it was special.

“I must ask Brother Bill if he has any extra,” she thought while she was brushing the white flecks of it off the dark violin wood. Carefully she put it back into the sack with a drawstring which had its own small box before placing that at the top of her violin case.

‘Years later while visiting a glass factory she bought a piece of that amber glass which was the size of a small football. The bottom side of it had been sawed off so it could rest flat on the floor as a weight. For such a long time the glass that looked like a huge piece of resin rested at the front door to hold it from being slammed shut by the prairie winds. Her granddaughter, who had inherited the home, kept it there and then, I, the author and her granddaughter, save it here beside my computer at this door so the wind on my hill house doesn’t blow the door, shut. For Zona the piece of glass that looked like a huge piece of amber electrum which held a small charge of electricity was, something like those that washed up on the shores of the ocean in Prussia. It symbolized the love she had for music, her brother and her family. Today, the glass is nothing more than a door stop and weight that no one knows about or appreciates, except for me.’

“Are you getting ready to leave?” Leatha, actually Aletha Artemis, Zona’s sister, came by just then and poked her head through the doorway.

“It will be soon, I expect,” Zona told her.

To my reader: Let us take advantage of the freedom to flash forward to the year of 1943, September 19, for reading the obituary for the funeral of William Matthew Collins, held at Stratford, Oklahoma in the Methodist Church with Pastor H.D. Ragland, officiating. The nine children surviving were listed as: Mrs Hugh Callen (Juanita), Paul Collins, Mrs. Tom Burleson (Thelma Collins), Silas Collins, Jr. Collins of Stratford, Mrs. Noel Watson, (Bonnie), Mrs. Douglas Griffin (Bernice) and Mrs. Cecil Klutts, (Maxine) of Stratford.

Bill Collins homesteaded in Oklahoma in 1904. He settled then in Tyron, Texas Country. In 1927 he sold out there at Tyron and went to Stilwell, Oklahoma where he lived until he moved to Stratford, Oklahoma where he lived until his death.

Bill Collins had a love of music and his home was a place of music making for his family and his friends. He was at one time champion of the state of Oklahoma as the best old time fiddler. He also was a watch maker and a farmer.

He was survived by his wife Mary Frances (Fanny) and his three sisters: Mrs. Joseph H. Jones (Nancy Bellzona) Foraker, Mrs. Nathaniel Hobson (Leatha) of Ralston and Mrs. Elijah (Lidge) Dunlop (Parilee) of Tahlequah. The Dunn funeral home has charge of the body which was interred in McGee Cemetery, Stratford. ‘Mrs. James Griffith (Margaret) was not mentioned.

Pallbearers were: Sam Eldridge, Charles Perry, Fran Grifin, Charles Adams, Arch Thompson and John Sharber.

End of obituary.

Zona stored this newspaper clipping beside her brother’s wedding announcement, in her tin box with a lid on it.


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