October 19, 1989
Author: GENE STOWE, Monroe Bureau
In her later years, Cleone Yarborough Mullis mostly remembered her youth
– the cow named Maude, the horse named Roy, the mule named Mike and her
mother`s red velvet sidesaddle.
But at her 100th birthday nearly five years ago, Mrs. Mullis couldn`t
remember how old she was when she married James Lex Mullis – “I was eligible, but I hadn`t gotten to be an old maid,“ she said.
Mrs. Mullis, 104, who was widowed in 1919 and lived near Waxhaw with her
daughter, Bleeka Boatright, for 25 years, died in Winston-Salem on Oct. 17,
Mrs. Mullis and Boatright went to Winston-Salem two weeks ago to stay with
Boatright`s daughter, Peggy Golias, after Hurricane Hugo knocked out power at their home.
Boatright said Mrs. Mullis spent her last years crocheting, watching TV
preachers and remembering the old days.
“She talked of olden times, the buggies, the horses, the wagons, the
cows,“ Boatright said. “She had more memory of those things than she did her later years.
“When she quit housekeeping, she`d only had electric lights a few years
– maybe five. Hers was go to the well and draw the water and go to the barn
and milk the cow.` “
Mrs. Mullis, who was born when Chester Arthur was president and widowed
when Woodrow Wilson was president, remembered riding a horse-and-mule buggy to church, turning a borrowed spinning wheel for her mother and driving cattle.
She remembered her father`s horse, Roy, and his mule, Mike, and the bicycle he gave her when she was 18 or 20. She finished the seventh grade at Rehobeth School and never traveled farther than Grandfather Mountain and Myrtle Beach. “I wouldn`t want to go back to those horse-and-buggy days,“ Mrs. Mullis
said at her 100th birthday. “My job was to drive the cows from the barn, come through the yard, go around the vineyard out onto a road all the way down to
the South Carolina line and cross the road to put the cows in the pasture.
“It was my job to get the old mother cow, Maude, out in front and get
behind and make sure they followed.“
Mrs. Mullis learned to knit with cotton yarn her mother spun. She kept the
first pair of doll socks she knit as a child.
“I remember going to the cotton patch and getting the cotton, the
fluffiest bolls,“ she said. “We`d pick the seeds out and card it and spin
it. We borrowed her neighbor`s spinning wheel.“
Mrs. Mullis, who was pregnant with her fourth child when her husband died
in 1919, said her hard life was happy.
“I live on the bright side,“ she said. “I never soured up. We were
always satisfied, had no trouble. We preferred the country living rather than going to town.“
The funeral is 11 a.m. today at McEwen Funeral Home in Monroe.
Copyright (c) 1989 The Charlotte Observer