I was surprised to learn that she wasn't a stay-at-home-mom. It seemed to me that she was always there peeping in on our living room Miss Panola County pageants. "Don't ya'll look pretty?!" "Who did I just hear singing so beautifully?!" I was quite surprised to discover that she actually taught in the music department of the local college for 30 years. When could she have possibly done that? I knew that she taught piano lessons in her living room, but, my childhood memories still place her standing in the kitchen washing dishes and checking on cookies browning in the oven.
Her smile was broad and friendly and spread from her lips to her cheeks to her eyes. Her words were lengthened by soft, Mississipi-born drawls. Her voice was so rich and smooth that it never sounded like she was yelling even when the older brothers tore through the house wrestling and laughing and interrupting the "talent" portion of the little girls' living room beauty pageant.
I remember riding my banana bike down East Neal Street where it dead-ended into her front yard. Rolling across the grass, I dropped my bike close to the front door and bounded up to the front porch. At my knock, she opened the door and flashed a big welcoming smile. "Good morning, Carolyn! Kristi's in her room! Kriiiiiiiis-teeeeeeeee, Carolyn's heeeeere!" Passing through the open door, I was enveloped with the smells of breakfast bacon and coffee mingled with Pine Sol. In her home there was a quiet, orderly peace. It was a soft place to fall. It was a haven for little girls with Miss Panola County dreams.
She never freaked out when the Kristi-Penny-Carolyn Trio scavenged her closet and dresser drawers for high heels, fancy dresses, and jewelry in preparation for a fancy ball, a pageant, or impending nuptials - the triple wedding with the grooms, Paul, Ringo and George (the short straw). She grinned as she walked past her bathroom where we were lined up at the mirror carefully painting our little girl lips with her best lipsticks. She fully embraced our desire to be beautiful ladies in the middle of a long July afternoon. I'm sure that she, too, thought that we would all become the reigning Miss Somethings someday.
Thank you, Myrna Hook. I will never, ever forget your smile. Your love. Your peaceful home. Your makeup drawer. Your beautiful baby grand piano.
You flavored my childhood with sweet, sweet memories. And, yes, Mrs. Hook, this very day I am the reigning Wife and Mother of the Lackey Men of 84th Street. I did it! And, I know you're proud.