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December 14, 1999

Our friend Lucy Foster has been an integral part of the Presbyterian choir as long as any of us can remember. Aside from a perfect pitch alto voice, she also has a wonderful memory that enables her to recall the tunes and lyrics of many of the beloved old hymns, and on occasion she has updated some of them with her own original words to make them more meaningful. Her sweet, unassuming manner is the real thing, not an affectation. That's been the real Lucy for a long time. Here's a story told to me by her daughter and son-in-law, Penny and Luis Clay, who live in Illinois:

Sometime after graduating from Perry High School in the 1930s, Lucille Edgar (before she became Mrs. Dick Foster) went to work at the telephone office as an operator. She was living at home with her parents, Clarence and Tillie Edgar, and often her Dad took her to work in the Forney Dairy milk truck on his way to make deliveries. As was typical of that kind of vehicle, there were no doors, so the milkman could exit from either side to make deliveries.

One morning they approached the downtown square with Lucille sitting on a box on the passenger side as she always did. But, when they turned the corner, with nothing to prevent it, she fell out of the truck and went sliding over the roughly paved surface on her side. On one leg, the skin was peeled off from the ankle to thigh. Despite the pain and discomfort, she stood up and with great pain and difficulty managed to climb the stairs to the second floor of the old Davis & Son Furniture Store building, where the telephone office and switchboards were located. Her supervisor saw her condition and insisted that Lucy go immediately to Dr. D.F. Coldiron's office, on the second floor of the Masonic building, just across the street, to have her wounds cleaned and dressed. So, off went Lucy. Dr. Coldiron cleaned her leg, bandaged it and lent her crutches so that she could return to work.

With considerable effort, she again climbed the stairs to the telephone office. She could only use the crutches part of the way because one of the company rules was that employees had to be able to walk in under their own power to work. It's funny to think of now, but it never occurred to anyone to insist that she go home and recover before returning to work. Things were different in those days.

Penny and Luis, who will be here during the Christmas season, agree: What a convenient call-in-sick-if-you're-tired society we have became over the years. How attitudes have changed from those days when people were grateful to have a job rather than looking for ways to avoid working.

As a footnote or sidebar, this little anecdote takes me back to the days when our telephone company had real live operators, like Lucy, to make connections on our calls and even give us the time of day upon request. But, that's a separate issue.