The year was 1947, March. Doris Lorraine Harris came to Snellville to finish school early so she could start her nursing career (back then in Snellville there were only 11 grades). She was living with her cousins, Thelma and Gerald Brownlee.
Somewhere around September, of the same year, they walked to the Snellville Consolidated school to watch a few ‘boys’ play ball. Mother was leaning upon a fence and a young man caught her eye. She asked Thelma, “Who is that boy in the white T-shirt?” Thelma replied, “Oh, that’s Hugh Snell and don’t you even think about it.... he’s a little on the wild side.”
Ha, needless to say, our mama did not listen to her. It wasn’t long before the two were going out to dinner and a few dances. There was definitely a spark there. I know this because my aunts told me! They said they had never seen their little brother so smitten.
On March 13, 1948, they had a date to go square dancing in Conyers with Crawford and Jean Juhan. When they reached the base of the mountain (the highway went right past Stone Mountain then), they were discussing maybe going into Atlanta instead. No one could make up their minds. So daddy said, “Hell, let’s just go get married!” AND THEY DID!! Yes, she was wearing her square dancing dress.
Well, of course, things only got better from there. They lived in a small 2 bedroom house with Leon and Ernestine Phillips. This is where they brought Jan Lorraine Snell home to... she was born February 8, 1950. Then, still living in the same house (which was located where Bruster’s sits now), they brought baby Permelia (Pam) Olivia Snell home. She was born on March 22, 1951. Daddy bought some land, 34 + acres and built a little brick house.... just in time to bring Hugh Fredrick Snell Jr. home. That was July 11, 1952, baby #3.
A Snellville official came by the house and told mama what they had thought of naming this little road.... she said, “No, I don’t like that name.” So he asked her what ‘she’ would like to call it... Wisteria Drive, she said. She had just planted a wisteria bush. Ta-Da!!
It wasn’t too long before they were expecting another baby, Gladston Cecil Snell, born on December 16, 1955. So with that, daddy asked our Grannie to come to live with them and help out. Lillion Olivia Wilson Harris, 1901-1975.
Thirteen months later on January 3, 1957, Bill Russell Snell joined the clan. Cozy little family, right? Brick house, 5 kids, cows in the pasture, Grannie in the kitchen... nope!! Not crazy enough, because on January 8, 1964, I was born! (they saved the best for last, lol).
Daddy had added on to the house after my arrival and then, built our pool. The very first swimming pool in Snellville, kinda cool. 😊 Now the family is complete...
So as the older kids started school, it wasn’t long before they were in 4-H. Mother was a 4-H leader for 20 + years, all the way through until I started going to Rock Eagle myself. I think she ‘retired’ in 1979 or 1980. She also volunteered at the Gwinnett County Livestock & Fair Association, while daddy was vice president and then president, for many years until his passing on November 30, 1997. She continued helping out in the office until her move to Good Hope.
Mother never had a problem with the fact that our house was where all our friends seemed to ‘hang out’. If you were hungry, you ate, if you spent the night, you helped with chores.... and if you were bad AND got caught, well you can figure out that ending. Ha. She loved our daddy with her whole heart and he as well. I’m pretty sure he was the one who spoiled her.
Mama loves to travel, and would probably get into a car right now just to take a ride. She has been to many countries and all over the United States. She’s is hopeful that she will get back up to Alaska to visit Little Hugh on his beautiful piece of that state. I love seeing the pictures of her daddy’s trips, but mostly listening to the stories that go along with them.
Doris Lorraine Harris Snell was born on July 8, 1929!! Yep, she is 90 years old! She was born on 2nd Avenue in South Decatur at her Granny Wilson’s house. She had one brother Russell Ward Harris, who was 10 years older than her.
Mama lived a very moderate, but comfortable childhood. She talks about Grannie working at the WPA during the war and then at Dunnally Mccrary’s making men’s overalls. The ice cream was a nickel and so was the bus fare. Mama was a “stay at home mom” because daddy wanted it that way. However, when Jean Snell and Helen Todd opened “J-Len’s”, she had to be a part of that. She worked part-time for a short time.
Our mother is very smart and always knew the answers to our homework questions. She is still sharp as a tack at 90 and as Pam puts it, a true Southern Smartass! So now y’all know where we all got it from! To us, she is our mother, mama, Mama Doris, Grandmother Doris, and Darcy.
However, she is so much more than the names we call her. She is our rock, our hub, our friend, our brightest star in the sky and ALL of our biggest CHEERLEADER!! We love her more than she will EVER know and to have celebrated her 90th birthday.... well that’s just a blessing for everyone. She’s a Sass, but she’s our Sass.... we love you Mother!!