Monday, December 9, 2013

An Open Space Surrounded By Woods

This post's title is the definition of my Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary's Word of the Day - Glade.

And here am I walking a path in a glade five years ago. This was at Mingus Mill in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The Mill and Mountain Farm Museum are located near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The Oconaluftee River Trail follows the stream for which it is named for a mile and a half back to Cherokee. The other trail, The Mingus Creek Trail climbs past old farms to the Smokies high country.

The word glade has been used since the early 1500's. It was originally used not just to denote a clearing in the woods, but one filled with sunlight. It may be from the Middle English adjective "glad", which meant "shining" which goes back to the Old English "glaed". "Glaed" is akin to Old High German "glat" ("shining, smooth") and Old Norse "glathr" (sunny).

But the first thing I thought of when I saw today's word of the day wasn't 'an open space surrounded by woods' - it was a man whose name was Glade Havens.

I met Glade and his wife, Lois, when I lived in the little town of Brooks (1962-'67). The house they lived in was one of the oldest in town which they had restored. I had heard that it was "just full of antiques". Of course I coveted a chance to see if the inside of the house matched the outside and surrounding yard, but I really didn't know them other than to say hello. Then one day I had an excuse to stop to see them. They invited me in and when I commented on a few of the antiques in the living room (or maybe it was the parlor), Glade asked if I would like to see the entire house. Would I!!? I didn't have to be asked twice. I think Lois entertained my little two-year-old as Glade took me on the tour. I imagine somehow they knew there was more to my excuse for stopping by than the one I had manufactured.

I wonder how Mr. Havens came by his name. Was it a nickname? A family name? A little research shows that his name was actually Glade Elbert Havens, son of Alfred Havens and Hattie Dyer Havens. It was not a family name as far as I can tell. But one site does suggest that the German Gl├Ąde is a nickname for "a handsome man".

A handsome man and a lucky man who lived a long life. One story about him I found was about when he drove a road grader. While he was maintaining the road south of Brooks a bridge over the Nodaway River collapsed sending him and the road grader crashing into the river bed. Neither man nor machine was hurt too badly. Glade lived in three centuries. He was born in Mortons Mill, Iowa in 1898 and died in 2000 at the age of 101 in Bella Vista, Arkansas.

Glade and Lois are buried in the Brooks Cemetery - not exactly 'an open space surrounded by woods' but certainly a sunny, shining, place.

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