Gates helps mother with book
By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature reporter
Angela Gates lives in Alco and has been a resident of Brewton for many years. Yet, she holds a strong tie to Mobile, Bayou La Batre and Dauphin Island. She returns to the coast for inspiration for many of her paintings and her direct connection to her mother, Dorothy Pendarvis, has kept her in touch with her roots in the area.
Her mother has written two small books using stories told to her by her Aunt Emma of growing up on Dauphin Island and at Bayou La Batre. From the sailboats to the schooners to the stories based on the Civil War, the books tell of a young girl coming of age in a time long ago. Gates worked with her mother on these books, adding her own gift in the illustrations. She is also her mother's number one fan and salesperson. In fact the books can be found at the Book and Bean in downtown Brewton.
She, like her mother's family, seems to have the knack for telling a good story, and her home contains many photographs and paintings of the very people in her mother's books. For anyone who is interested in the late 1800s and early 1900s in and around Mobile, the two little books are a wealth of information. They tell of many everyday occurrences and other more extraordinary events, such as a tremendous hurricane in 1906 and the fire that ravaged downtown Mobile.
Pendarvis was born in Birmingham and attended Sacred Heart Academy in Cullman. But, as she said, "my heart was elsewhere. Bayou La Batre was the center of my universe. Every summer I rode the Hummingbird to Mobile, then transferred to the Jernberg Bus." She said that most of the tales were true with a little bit of fiction thrown in here and there.
Gates grew up in Bayou La Batre. Her father was in the business of canning seafood gumbo ,and the first job she remembers is putting labels on the cans of gumbo. Her parents were avid readers of the Mobile newspapers early in the morning and kept up with what was going on. She attended school at Alba and graduated in 1955. (The books tell of Alba and the man the school was named for.) She realized her artistic talents at an early age.
She took this talent on and began to paint. At first she developed her own style and later took courses in art.
She was one of two girls and was natural for her to spend a lot of time on the water. They, like the people in the books, used a boat to travel around to the various bayous and islands in the area.
Right after graduation she married, and in the next eight years she had four children, Donna, Karla, Kelly and Mitzi. After eight years, she was divorced and took a job as a lab technician at on the local factories in Mobile. She met and married again to Curtis Gates who was also working in a local factory.
It was few years later that Curtis Gates saw an ad in the paper for workers at Container Corporation in Brewton. The family moved to Brewton and there were two more children added, Glennis and a son, Curt.
She learned some sculpture techniques from Larry Manning here in Brewton and has some lovely pieces on display at her home in Alco. But her big love seems to have been painting, especially in watercolors. One of her favorite pieces is the painting she did of some of her grandchildren and called "Grandma's Cotton Tops." It hangs in the entrance hall of her home.
These days the Gateses spend most of their time at home. He is now retired from Smurfit-Stone and they enjoy fishing and being near the water.
Her talent has been passed on to her children, with most of them doing some sort of painting which she has displayed around her home. She also has a collection of demitasse cups she has collected over the years.
She loves to work in her garden and she always takes the time to run down to Theodore to visit with her mother as often as possible.