“That’s the bed, right there, where she all but lived those last few years. Had her African violets-yes, honey, right on the quilt-her Bible, of course, her Sunday School paper and church bulletin, throat lozenges. Let’s see, what else? Pictures of the kids and grandkids, medicines-no, in the bed with her. I’m telling you. Fussed and fumed if I tried to take them out. Had her liniment bottle, her Hadacol, her reading glasses, two or three library books, and a brace of old Reader’s Digests. It’s a wonder she didn’t get bedsores from not having enough room to turn over. When one of her violets turned a peculiar shade of purple, I accused her of pouring the Hadacol to it. I still think maybe she did. Did I say she had her pocketbook with her coin purse and lotion, lipstick and mirror, and earbobs, just in case the preacher came? Why honey, this bed was a whole damn train compartment! And she died right there — rode it to the end of the line.”
George Ella grew up in Loyall and attended Harlan High School where her strong creative writing ability first was recognized by her teachers and friends. She often visited with friends near my home and I was amused by her because she was such an imaginative and creative child. When she was just in high school, she wrote plays and songs. She was a great advocate of the civil rights movement and later on, often wrote editorials for the local newspaper expressing her opinions in very strong language and terms. Her late mother, Gladys Hoskins is well known for her many years of work with the chamber of commerce. Her late father, Bob Hoskins, owned and operated Nu-Way Cleaners.
George Ella has written numerous books of both prose and poetry. One critic had this to say about her latest publication “From George Ella Lyon comes a dynamic and humorous collection examining the transformations of one woman’s life as she tries on, takes on, and peels off identities learned from family stories, gender, fairy tales and myths. “She Let Herself Go” spirals through childhood, wifehood, motherhood, and writerhood, through the poet’s evolution, casting a discerning and often irreverent eye on the cultural expectations that have shaped her.” Another critic writes “In this book, we see the depth and breadth of Lyon’s achievement as never before.”
Here are some of the accolades attributed to George Ella regarding her enormous writing talent and numerous publications. Her poetry collections include “Catalpa,” winner of the Appalachian Book of the Year, and “Mountain,” winner of the Lamont Hall Award. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children. I have been astonished watching George Ella travel through the various phases of her life. She is truly a gifted writer and I am honored to count her as a close and dear friend.