Parker finds life good at 95-years-old
Published 9:41 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003
By BY LYDIA GRIMES – Features Writer
Parker celebrated her 95th birthday at First Baptist Church of East Brewton with family and friends who worked very hard keeping the party a secret. They even went so far as to send her a fake newsletter while everyone else received the newsletter telling the truth about the party.
The senior adults class of the church decided that she needed recognition for the influence she has been to so many people in what is almost a century of living in the community. Guests were treated to a good old-fashioned dinner where there was more food than would fill several trucks. People were given the chance to tell what Parker has meant to them over the years and no one could doubt that there was much love shared at the party. She was given roses by a former Sunday school pupil, Mayor Terry Clark, and her birthday cards were presented to her in the form of an album.
Charles Effie Moye Overstreet was born on Feb. 20 1908 at Bradley, one of eight children born to Samuel Curtis and Bama Overstreet. They were, according to Parker, a poor family, but they were happy and never realized how poor they were.
Her father was a sharecropper when she was born and all the children were expected to help around the farm. He later went into the "turpentine business" where he was a woods-rider. He rode around supervising the men cutting into the trees to make the sap drip. This job meant that the family moved around a lot. Camps were set up and then moved on to another place. Each time a camp moved the family had to pick up and move also.
They were a close family and Parker said that although her parents were strict, she thinks it was the right way to be.
The family had no transportation except a horse and wagon so the children had to walk to school which, according to Parker, was "about two miles away." Their main home place was at McLellan and she attended school at Munson through the eleventh grade. School was seven months long, beginning in October and ending in March. The children had short school sessions as children were needed to help plant and harvest the crops.
In order to finish high school she had to board with a family in Jay where she helped with their baby and did chores around the house. She enjoyed athletics and played on the girls' basketball team while in school. She graduated in 1928 and began her career as a school teacher.
Parker taught in McLellan for about a year before she married William Calvin Parker in 1930. They moved to East Brewton and lived in several places before building their home next door to W.S. Neal High School on Andrew Jackson Street. They became parents of a son, Wayne, in 1931 and of another stillborn son in 1941.
In 1942, the country was in the middle of World War II and teachers were scarce, so Parker was asked to go to W.S. Neal to teach school. She taught the fifth grade there for the next 19 years.
Parker was replaced at W.S. Neal in about 1961 by a teacher with a college degree. The next year she opened a kindergarten at her home and called it "Jack and Jill." She started with 20 students and as the enrollment became larger, she enlisted the help of her sister. They divided into two classes with her teaching one in the morning and her sister teaching one in the afternoon. They continued to teach for some 14 years and later moved to the First Baptist Church of East Brewton where Parker is one of only a few surviving charter members.
As the years passed, kindergartens were opened in the public school system and when enrollment dropped, younger children were added and it became a nursery school.
A few years ago, Parker left the school in other capable hands and retired. The school continues to operate out of First Baptist Church of East Brewton.
Parker's husband, W.C. Parker, was a truck driver for Standard Oil for most of their married life. He died in 1968 and her son, Wayne, lives in Montgomery where he owns his own business. He has two daughters who are the pride and joy of their grandmother. They are both married with families of their own. Parker visits with them in Montgomery often, but she is not willing to leave her own home for very long.
Parker was one of 46 charter members of First Baptist Church of East Brewton and continues to be a big part of it today, if not in practice, at least in the hearts of the present membership. Her birthday party indicates that she is well-loved by the people who know her.