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Stories We Tell: Jeannie Puckett

(Installment 3 of 14)

Collected and arranged by

Amy Uptgraft

Edited by

Audra Edwards


“Dahlonega, GA. Our first home. We were hard-pressed to find a place to start our new life together. Finally, we heard about a widow who had a large antebellum home in the center of town. The word was that she had an apartment for rent. We contacted her and went to see it. She was very gracious and talkative. The apartment was on the second floor. When we arrived on the top landing, I could see immediately what she had done to create this apartment. She had blocked off the very large hallway on one side of the landing. When she opened the door, there was a small sitting room, behind that a small bedroom, behind that a small kitchenette, and, at the end, a bathroom. It was not ideal, but it was available, and we were prepared to take it until she said, ‘Oh, there is one thing I need to mention: you will be sharing the bath with the editor of the Dahlonega Nugget, the local newspaper. He is an old bachelor, and he won’t bother you at all because he keeps very different hours. He will just quietly enter through your bedroom and go through the kitchen to use the bathroom. You will be asleep, so he won’t be a problem at all!’ After a few jaw-dropping moments, we thanked her and . . . next, please!

Moving on, we found out that the Methodist parsonage was vacant and we could rent the house for $50 per month! It was a real house with two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen. The only problem was that we did not own one piece of furniture—not one! That did not bother us at all, though. We borrowed two folding Army cots from Ralph’s commanding officer and used my big black trunk that I had taken to college as our dining table.

About a month after we moved in, Ralph’s mom decided she wanted to visit us to see how we were adjusting to married life. We decided that we would give her one of the cots and we would sleep together on the other one. After a few cozy hugs, Ralph found another blanket and moved to the floor! Mrs. Puckett made no comment about the lack of furniture or proper bedding. I cannot remember how long she stayed, but I think it was only two nights. I am sure that the cot did not encourage a long visit.

About a week after she left, a very large van pulled into our driveway. The driver said that he had a furniture delivery from Rich’s Department Store. I told him that they were mistaken because I had not bought any furniture. The driver insisted: “Lady, this truck is loaded with furniture for you, and I ain’t taking it back to Atlanta.” He showed me the invoice, and I saw that Ralph’s mom had sent it. My parents had ordered us a king-sized bed as a wedding gift, but it had not arrived before we married. Mrs. Puckett was aware that we were expecting that bed, so she furnished the guest room. When all was unloaded, there were twin beds, a round braided rug, an oval Stickley drop-leaf table with four matching chairs, and café curtains that matched the rug perfectly! It was the most delightful surprise I have ever received!

Later, Mr. Puckett told us that when Mrs. Puckett returned home, she had burst into tears and told Mr. Puckett, ‘I know that little girl is going to leave him! She left a nice home and has moved into an empty house!’ She then told him she had stopped on her way home and ordered all the furniture for us in the hopes I would just stay married to Ralph!”


Reflections from Amy:

Hand-me-down bed frames, a couch out of the want ads, a brand-new blender off the wedding registry… It all mattered so much, and none of it mattered at all. An apartment—empty of “stuff” but full of us. An apartment, another apartment, a home in a different state, a home off base, a home on base…more and more places—all empty when we arrive, then full the minute that we walk through the door. Maybe an empty space, but never an empty heart.


Are you an active duty or veteran milspouse interested in being a guest writer for VSP? Get in touch with your details and topic interests on our contact page!

Tags :
Army,First Home,Jeannie Puckett,Military Life,Military Spouse,Milspouse,Ralph Puckett
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