Today is May 25th, my Grandmother’s birthday. Julia Dingle Lemon was born in Manning, South Carolina in 1895. Her mother, also named Julia, was a slave. If Grandmother were alive, she would be 115. She and my Grandfather, Charlie Dingle, had six children. Charlie Dingle was from Davis Station, South Carolina. His ancestors were Free Blacks, tradesmen who purchased their Freedom. Unfortunately, Grandfather Charlie was killed in a tragic accident somewhere around 1930. Grandmother was left to raise her family during the harsh Depression era in the Jim Crow South.
Despite all of Grandmother Julia’s hardships and struggles in life, she did well. My Grandmother instilled Christianity and a work ethic in all of her children. My mother has memories of rising before dawn and heading out to the fields where she would typically pick 100 pounds of cotton a day for a measly 50 cents. That money would be judiciously meted out toward household expenses. My Grandmother bestowed all of her children with a love of reading and learning. All six of her offspring graduated high school and went on to obtain a higher education. In 1942, my Grandmother got remarried, to Preston Lemon. They both passed away in 1978. Two of my Grandmother’s children are alive today: my Mother – Esther Dingle Dove and my Aunt – Rhoda Dingle. They are both college graduates who have earned their Master’s Degrees, and they are both retired school teachers.
Shown here is a photo of my mother (center) and her friends, Shirley (left) and another Esther, on the right. It was taken on Mother’s Day 2010 in Hampton, Virginia after church service at Bethel AME. All three of these women are from Manning, South Carolina, all three have connections to Hampton, and all three went to Allen University, located in Columbia, South Carolina. Amazingly, both Esthers were in the class of 1952 and Shirley was in the class of 1960. Talk about ties that bind! Talk about motherhood, sisterhood and friendship. Talk about legacies that last! Kudos to these beautiful women. And peace and blessings always to my Grandmother - Julia Dingle Lemon.