Three Days at the Beach with Martha Battle Mebane – (1923-1996) – Day 1

MILE POST 13 – NAGS HEAD – 1950’s – NO PHONES – NO TV

The family of Martha Battle Mebane and John Marvin Mebane (Spike) spend time every summer in Nags Head. A summer tradition Martha’s adult children have continued throughout their lifetime. Using our imaginations, it is a perfect opportunity to revisit a time and place when Martha Mebane was still alive, her precious family gathered around. Pick a summer in the 1950’s when Martha would have been in her mid-thirties. I highly recommend you read David Halberstam seminal book, The Fifties, which is the setting for our story. Are you ready? From the radio in the kitchen, there are love songs of the 1950’s playing quietly while Martha prepares for a few guests and family to arrive for the evening porch party – gin and tonic time.  We don’t want to intrude so I will speak softly.

You see the beautiful woman just there….that’s Martha. Even here at the beach, she is dressed smartly. Thrifty as she is, a habit of her generation, she loves clothes and has a style about her we appreciate. Like other Rocky Mount ladies, she shops at Rosenbloom’s and Daniel’s and of course, her shoes come from her husband’s shoe store. But it is her family and their history that she loves best.

She is a wonderful mother and role model to her five children: Marty, John, Mary Kemp, Bill, and Thomas. I am privileged to know John and Mary Kemp, and it is through them that I am able to glimpse Martha. John Mebane is a presence when he walks into a room, full of energy with a positive attitude, good humor, and generosity, a certain shine that surely mirrors his mother. I know how sweet Martha was because I see it in her daughter, Mary Kemp, whose caring and loyalty today make her the best kind of friend, family member, mother. She is loving and sees after others.  Amazed by all the friends who came to her mother’s side near the end of her life in January 1996, Mary Kemp’s life is rich with friendships too.  Mary Kemp took me to visit Carolyn Weeks, still beautiful; she and Martha were best-best friends. I loved watching Mary Kemp with this lovely woman, her love, and respect for Carolyn allowing me to see Martha Battle Mebane as she surely was, like this daughter.

JOIN ME TOMORROW ON THE PORCH AT NAGS HEAD FOR MORE OF THE STORY

The Children of Martha Battle Mebane

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About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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