with Melea Beshires
This week’s article is dedicated to Jolene Siler Lee and Norma Jean Siler Sedberry in the words of Mrs. Joyce Sedberry Barker.
Jolene Siler Lee and Norma Jean Siler Sedberry grew up in the late 1920s and 1930s when Silerton boasted two stores and a railway station. One store was the Raymond Fitts’ store, post office and barbershop (haircuts were 15 cents). The other store was the John Ivy store, which was small. The Rebel was the train that came through town, Monday through Friday. They both talked about riding the Rebel to Jackson to shop and go to school.
The sisters had many fond memories together. They recalled their mother fixing popcorn balls (a special treat to eat between meals). At Christmas time they would find a doll and an orange and/or apple in their stockings, and if they had been good, some type of candy as well. The sisters attended Silerton Baptist Church and were both baptized just up the road in McPherson’s pond. Their chores on the family’s farm included milking cows, hoeing corn, hoeing cotton and picking cotton. It was hard work, but they never went hungry, even during the depression years.
Jolene and Norma Jean had to walk from the Siler homestead to the end of the road to catch the school bus. They both attended the Silerton School through the 10th grade. For high school the girls went to Bolivar Central where Norma Jean graduated in 1947 and Jolene graduated in 1950. Norma Jean went on to Union University in Jackson and became a school teacher. She taught at the Silerton School and at Whiteville for a total of five years before marrying Rev. R. J. Sedberry, Jr. and moving to Barberton, Ohio, where she taught for 25 years.
Jolene was a high school basketball star. Some may remember this was the period when basketball was practiced on a dirt court. Her senior year (1949-1950), her team went to the state championship. After graduating from high school, she went to the Tennessee Business College in Jackson and from there took a job in Nashville for the state department.
The Sedberrys moved back to Silerton in 1980 to build a house on the land where the original Siler homestead once stood. Norma Jean taught at Toone Elementary School for 14 years before retiring in 1994. She taught in elementary schools for a total of 44 years.
While living in Nashville, Jolene met a young man in the army who was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky. Jolene and Ed Lee were married and moved to his home state of Vermont and lived there for more than 60 years.
Jolene and Norma Jean were preceded in death by a sister, Mildred Bass, and a brother, Odous Truett Siler. They have one surviving brother, Bill (Vonda) Siler, who currently resides in Silerton. Norma Jean is survived by one daughter, Joyce (Jerry) Barker, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Jolene is survived by one daughter, Kathy (Ronnie) Couture, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.