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09 April 2006 - Sunday

     Today we awoke around 7:00 am and because our plan was to drive a mere 100 miles today we were glad for the opportunity to slow down a bit.  We spent time talking with Savannah while she cooked us a nice breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast.  After eating she pulled out several boxes full of genealogical information and family photographs.  She agreed with us that the need to organize was quite evident and absolutely necessary.  In an effort to get her pointed in the right direction Tom went to work on her computer where he placed links to our website and database as well as downloading our Moreland family information into her new Family Tree Maker software program.  Both of us accepted Savannah’s invitation to use her washer and dryer as we had now been on the road for a week and had run out of things to wear.  Eventually all of our clothing was clean, folded and stowed away in the van.  Shortly before noon we returned to the road and took U.S. Highway 69 out of Tyler heading north for Sherman and the home of our other Texas cousin Helen Sharp.  Little did we know what awaited us.

      We arrived in Sherman around 4:00 pm and as we drove up to Helen’s home we saw a little gray haired lady standing out in front of her trailer waving to us.  After introducing ourselves to Helen and her son Don we were invited into the house.  We knew that Don was there to check out these two “Yankee Boys” that his mother had met on the Internet and never seen before.  As we sat and talked it was evident that Helen was delighted we had taken the time from our trip to visit with her.  At almost 82 she was a spry wiry woman with a mind that was a quite nimble and active. After a

Fred, Helen, and Tom

short time Don seemed satisfied that we were legitimate and began to warm up to us, which was a good thing because he is a most likeable fellow who had the ability to tell good stories that made for some really nice conversation.  Soon Don and Tom were off looking at the computer while Helen introduced Fred to the many notebooks in which she maintained her genealogical records.  Nothing seemed to escape Helen’s touch.  She had placed each page into protective plastic sleeves.  It was quite obvious that her talent for maintaining paper records made up whatever she lacked in organizing information electronically.

     Later Helen treated us to slices of her apple and cherry-berry pies.  Both were greatly appreciated by Tom and Fred, as they hadn’t tasted a really home baked pie for some time. As we had never heard of a “cherry-berry” pie before Don eagerly related to us that it was a Sharp family favorite originally developed by his grandmother. 

According to the story Grandma had planned on baking a cherry pie for a family gathering so she walked over to the store to purchase the ingredients. When she returned home she discovered that she had a can each of cherry and strawberry pie filling.  Not wanting to walk back to the store she mixed them both together.  The pie baked up nicely and a giggling Grandma served it to the waiting family.  As they raved on about the fine job she had done they also inquired as to why she was laughing hard.  So she related to them what she had put into their cherry pie.  From that day on grandma’s “cherry-berry” pie became a Sharp family favorite that was graciously shared with two travelers from New Jersey. 

      Soon after Helen’s son Van arrived.  We quickly took to the youngest of her three sons’ as Van is the offspring who has a taken the most interest in his mother’s research.  He asked us many question about our trip and what we hoped to accomplish by it.  This led to some fairly long discourses on our past and future adventures. Soon Don left for church and promised to call around 7:00 pm so that we could all meet at a local restaurant for dinner. 

     Upon our arrival at the restaurant we were introduced to Don’s wife Linda and her sister.  In all we were seven.  It seemed that everyone except Fred had decided to order the establishment’s popular burger. In response, Fred explained that in his historical novel Texas author James Mitchner declared the State’s favorite meal was chicken fried steak with gravy and as such he thought it an appropriate dinner for this occasion.  It soon arrived accompanied by a glass of iced tea served unsweetened which can be taken as an indictor that we were no longer in the South but in the West.  We spent almost two hours at that place eating, talking; and drinking iced tea.  It was obvious that this was a family who loved and appreciated their times together.  Both of us really began to feel their friendship and acceptance.

      Later that evening after we had returned to Helen’s home there was more talk and stories.  

Van, Don, Linda, Helen, & Tom

Eventually Tom moved off into Helen’s office, and the computer to place links to our website and databases as well as updating her Family Tree Maker information.  The conversation and good times followed him and soon practically everyone was in that little room watching his efforts!  As our little gathering finally broke up after 11:00 pm we made plans to have breakfast with Don, Linda, and Helen at the local IHOP whereupon we crawled into our sleeping bags with thoughts of another long and fantastic day behind us. 

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