Memories of a Steel Magnolia — 58 Comments

  1. What an amazing story! As a graduate of NSU and having a daughter who now lives in Natchitoches, this touched my heart! Thank you Bayou Woman for sharing these incredible events!

  2. Wendy you always astonish me with your writing ability. I am so glad to have you as a friend!I truly enjoyed this blog and yes, I have seen the movie but will watch again! You are a very talented woman!

  3. Just this week I attended the funeral of an old friend. I’d only known him 18 years and he was 18 years older than me. Not the usual age of my circle of friends. It made me think “God knows what he’s doing.” I known that may sound silly, but He knew when in my life I would actually take the time to listen to an old guy. Kenneth and his wife, Alma Jean, became family friends and we swapped a lot of stories.
    Susan came into your life at just the right time. You may never know why, but God does. I can’t help thinking that it may have been to make that phone call to Robert.
    One of my friends posted on my FB page, ” sorry for your loss.” But I don’t feel a loss. I feel blessed to have met him and call him my friend. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Thank you for being a friend.

    • And what you’ve shared is exactly one of the valuable, beautiful facets of life … People sharing time, knowledge, stories, wisdom, experience, sorrow, joy creates a continuum, especially when shared with those younger than we. So I feel a story coming on! Remember the time we were all in New Orleans and I was driving us to the French Quarter? The traffic was terrible on the narrow streets, and I was chatting away, as usual. You were in the backseat, scheming…and in a brief moment of silence y’all all cracked up laughing at me! Do you remember why?

        • I asked what was so funny, and you said, through laughter, “We just wanted to see how many different things you could talk about in 10 minutes time!” Or something to that affect . . . anyway, it seemed hilarious at the time; but I was a good sport and laughed along with you! And probably kept right on blabbing!!

  4. I think of you as our own Steel Magnolia Wendy. You have written an awesome story here. I shared it on Facebook so others could enjoy it as well.?

    • Oh, Debbie, I’m honored; but having known Susan, I might have a LOT of steel, but I’m not so sure about the sweet magnolia part! Thank you for your sweet words and for sharing! I really appreciate it.

  5. What a wonderful memory to share with us. I have watched the movie a number of times and enjoyed it every time.
    Hubby and I were in Natchitoches about 12 years ago and took a carriage tour. Our guide pointed out some of the homes where filming was done on the movie.
    Remarkable that you should get the chance to speak to her family and find the answers you were looking for. Oh, wait, carriage tour? I wonder if they still have those? Wonder if I have time to take one?

    • Remarkable is a great word to describe that experience. It took some courage to make that phone call, because I didn’t meet Robert when I spent the night at their home. I only met the younger brother, but I don’t remember him. I’m really looking forward to this trip and conference and being in Natchitoches. I honestly did make an appointment at that “beauty shop” for after the fishing trip Friday!!! Can’t wait!

  6. I had to stop reading twice so I could stop crying. I watched the movie last night for the 18th. or so time. I always cry and laugh through it. My favorite movie. One reason being is I know Natchitoches fairly well, having traveled through there, back and forth from New Orleans to Bossier many, many times every year since birth. Since then I’ve explored the city on my own. The Christmas lights on the little river running through town is always a delight!

    I was baptized in that very same church as you were, as well as Dona and Susan. I connected to Shelby’s church wedding in the movie, too, not because I’ve ever been to that particular church, but ours.

    What a life-enriching experience and story. You really were courageous making that phone call. And I hope you get a rewarding beauty shop “do”!!

    • I figured Natchitoches was part of your history, too. You know, in all these years, I’ve never gone for the lighting of the Christmas lights. Shame really. Yep, I’m going to need that hair appointment after a hot day of fishing with my hair under a hat. Nothing worse than “hat hair”! Love you, Cuz.

  7. What a great story Wendy-thanks for sharing it! I went to NSU and have such fond and happy memories of Natchitoches. When the movie came out I was actually living in California and got so homesick watching it!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. I know you DID get homesick while watching the movie! Thanks for reading, Monica, and I hope all is well in your world!

  8. I loved Steel Magnolias. I’ve watched it a couple of times and I always keep a box of tissues near me. It is wonderful that you were a part of Susans life and she yours. You never know how much you influence someones life just by being there.
    Enjoy the visit to the town and let it give peace and calm to you with the special memories.

  9. I have memories of camp from my teenage years too. I wasn’t one of the “in” kids in school, but in camp everybody was the same. Didn’t matter.

    I had a smile on my face the whole time I read this new unfolding of your life for us. Such good memories.

    Have a great week.

    • So happy I could conjure some good memories for you, Jeri! You’re right – at camp everyone is the same! No cliques, etc. Even ground. And if it’s church camp, kids tend to be kinder, well, most of the time. I hope to have a great time when I go!

  10. Good reading blog. Steel Mag. is a favorite of mine and so is Natc. The Christmas light are wonderful. Try the tour of Cane river and the houses along there. The artist Clementine resided and painted in one of the old plantations houses.

    • Hey Margie and welcome to the bayou and this blog. Since this is a state professional conference, my weekend is already planned, so I won’t get to take any tours this time. Maybe I’ll go back another time and do as you suggest. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Well, Native Son, since you’re not from north Louisiana, it’s okay that you haven’t seen this chick flick! But I think you’ll enjoy it, especially if you watch it with your significant other! Thanks for stopping by, John!

  11. Thanks for sharing memories of your friend and the remarkable story of her life. Amazing that 30 years have passed! I watch the movie each time there is an opportunity. My memories are of standing in line at NSU for my sons to interview for the parts of the brothers!

    There are so many facets of the movie which truly depict life as we know it. During the last years of her life, my mother lived with me. A week could not go by without going to the beauty shop. We went to one in the home of a friend where so many times I related it to Steel Magnolia’s beauty shop because of the friends and conversation.

    Now I will connect your memories to the movie and enjoy it even more.

  12. Thanks for sharing your memories. As a Southerner, raised in a small town, Steel Magnolias pricks my heart everytime I watch it. Congratulations on your ten years of blogging. I found you several years ago looking for a fig preserve recipe and have been hooked since then.

    • Wow, Kippy! Hooked? Now that’s a word I can truly appreciate having written here for ten years, it’s truly a labor of love and words like yours make it all the more worthwhile. Yep, those fig preserves recipes are still some of the most viewed on this blog. Seems like figs ripen somewhere in the world all through the year! Thanks for being here, Kippy!

    • I had a feeling it was one of your favorites, especially as the mother of three daughters. I’m happy you enjoyed the story, and thanks for taking the time to write both here and on Facebook!

  13. Hi, Wendy!!
    I knew your sweet daddy and Ms. Jackie. We went to First Pres, Bossier City after moving from McCook, Nedraska. That’s where I took my best friend and her mother to see that wonderful movie!
    Many years later I was prevlaged to treat Susan’s lovey mother and meet her father at my dental office. She told me she would never have made it through without that wonderful man helping her!!
    What a small world!!
    Love your stories so much–Doris K.

    • Welcome, Doris, and I’m very pleased that you knew my sweet daddy and Jackie. Very few here know my family personally, so this means more to me than you know. I’d like to think that he would be proud of the things I’ve accomplished, and life would be much sweeter if he had just gotten to stay around long enough to see all my kids grown and see my “second life”, post-children-wrangling, as he used to call it. So, you treated Susan’s mother in Shreveport or Bossier? I don’t remember much about her father, but no doubt he was the strong, protective, typical southern gentleman. I think he’s still living and about 94 years old. Sound about right? I know she passed away several years ago. Thanks again.

      • Yes to the Southern Gentleman part–very tall with beautiful white hair!! I worked in Shreveport for almost 24 years.
        Miss your sweet daddy every day–what a man!! He and my hubby made a pair–he still laughs about your dad singing in church( only he was singing in Koran!!) Jackie and I were in the choir loft and could see my John’s shoulders shaking–but we had not a clue what was going on!!

        • Doris, I sent you an email so we could continue our conversation. Thanks for letting me know you and your husband knew this side of Daddy!

  14. Tears. Such emotions in one short story. I seemed to feel it all along side of you. It made me try to remember any similarities from my own childhood. Sad to say there were none. The genuine love and compassion expressed in the movie made my heart sing yet also made it sad to remember that I was not raised that way. Yes I did see the movie and I will certainly watch it again. Thank you.

    • Sherry Rae, your comment really pulls at my heart strings, both as a mother and a friend. Your words make me sad, also; but they remind me to be thankful for the childhood I had and to not take it for granted. I can’t help but wonder if you’re a mother, and if so, are you finding the strength to give your children the upbringing you missed? You don’t have to answer, because this is so very public, but know that you are in my thoughts and that you words have hit home with me. You will be on my mind . . . . .

  15. Wendy,
    Sitting here on a rainy monday morning reading your blog and it gave me a chill and moved me to tears. Steel Magnolia’s is my very favorite movie in the world and now after hearing your story, I love it even more. Thank you for sharing. Wish I lived closer, I would love to spend some time visiting with you. This movie is one I’ve watched over and over and now I will always think of you and your summer friend for evermore when I watch it. ps would love to sport that really cool tshirt in Texas!

    • So great to hear from you here Cathy! And I’d love for you to sport that t-shirt in TX, too. Funny coincidence, one of my cousins down in coastal TX just messaged me that she wants one to wear down there to advertise. These are the t-shirts that participants in a Bayou Woman Adventure weekend earn before they leave! I thought I’d offer one up here just for the heck of it; although the brave women who had to earn their’s might be a little upset over it! I’m hoping to start scheduling and promoting a couple of these weekends again in the fall when things cool down. Maybe you could participate in one? We have a blast! I wish we could visit, too!

  16. My mother worked with Susan at Highland Hospital in Shreveport. She was so sweet. This was a beautiful tribute.

    • I’m glad to know that she continued to live by her true nature of being sweet, which is what I so recall about her. She also seemed mature beyond her years when I look back at the memories. Thanks for stopping by, Connie! You’re welcome here anytime.

  17. Wow! What a whirlwind of a story that comes full circle, Wendy! Truly amazing but heartbreaking at the same time. Ironically, I lived and worked in Bossier for a short period of my life and have been to Natchitoches. Your vivid writing brought back many memories… Thanks for sharing it with us. Hope you win that award so you can dedicate it to Susan. What an honor that would be. Write on…my friend. <3

    • What year did you live/work in Bossier? I left there in 1974 to go off to college, and never lived back there again! But it’s where I grew up! Small world. I’m not sure about an award, but I will certainly be thinking about her the entire weekend! Thanks for leaving a comment, Darlene. And you know, I still owe you a t-shirt from our Adventure out at Last Island!!!!!

      • I lived there in early 1980’s, 81-82. Worked for a check recovery service business. Beautiful there…I also lived in Benton for a short time. Real country living including that red staining dirt, lol. Loved the hills and going to the little country store down the road. Found memories of my MIL making homemade biscuits with lard. Best biscuits I’ve ever had, even to this day.

        Oh what an adventure that was…on Last Island! I can’t thank you enough for that trip…still fresh in my mind, especially the pelicans and rough seas. If you attend the bird club meeting on Sept. 26th at the library, I’ll be there…size L. <3

        • I was gone by the time you were up there. I left for Tech in 1974 and never lived back there again after graduation. By the way, my brother lives in Benton and was there around the same time. I miss the rolling hills . . . but the fishing makes up for that! Biscuits with lard. Mm mm mm. Nobody makes them like that anymore! I don’t know if I’ll make the meeting, but I’ll try to remember to put your t-shirt in the car just in case I see you around. BTW, I haven’t paid my dues for this year . . . .

  18. Dearest Wendy~ You are a gift to all who take the time to read your words. Our time spent together was short but so deeply ingrained in my memory as if it were yesterday. When you asked if I’d ever seen an alligator and when I said no, off we went to find one! The trip through the cypress swamp was beautiful beyond words and then we stopped for you to call on a friend (who wasn’t home), we sat on the dock while you sat in the boat listening to the birds and insects around us. You have a way of making life seem bigger and I am sure Susan would know exactly what I mean. We are blessed to see the world through your eyes. Sending you love and a big hug my friend. Thank you so very much for being you.

    • Welcome to the bayou, Dana. Glad you enjoyed the story. I’m actually in Natchitoches right now, having just returned from a bass fishing trip and thought I’d check the comments. I’m getting ready to head downtown and get my hair done—after I bathe off all this perspiration. Man, it was humid today! Thanks again for stopping by. BW

  19. Okay, time for the drawing! And the winner is commenter no. 24! That is Dana! Congrats Dana. I will email you also. Thanks for being here, everyone! BW
    True Random Number Generator

  20. Hi Wendy,

    Your thoughts and memories of Susan are very touching. I never met her, but I know many people who knew her well. By all accounts she was a delight.

    Any mention of Steel Magnolias always brings back fond memories. Charlie and I had just married in February of 1988 when Hollywood moved to town to film it. In many ways that year was a headache as the whole town had to make room and rearrange our lives for the catering and film trucks, stars and all the hoopla that goes into such a big production. Some street or other was always closed off for filming and it was common to run into one of the stars in the grocery store. The company rented some of the nicest homes in town for the duration of filming which lasted many, many months. When we watch it today, we have fun seeing old friends in the crowds as extras.

    You’ll be disappointed if you go to First Presbyterian looking for the pink on pink wedding scene. That was actually filmed at St. Augustine Catholic Church at Melrose with more pink polyester yardage than anyone can imagine. I ended up with some of that polyester back in the day. The funeral scene was filmed at our own Trinity Episcopal Church with many of our parishioners in their regular pews 😉

    Susan’s story was well known by many friends in Natchitoches so it was very special for the whole town that the company decided to choose the her real home town for the movie.

    You may not know that Robert chose to move home some years ago but not to their old home-place. He bought Oaklawn Plantation and lives there.

    Charlie and I live between the house here in Baton Rouge and the one down the block from your camp on DuLarge, but Natchitoches will always be a very special place for us. We go back for visits when we can.

    • Hi Deborah,
      It’s funny about our memories. I read a book this week about three sisters and how they each remembered family things differently. Even though I had been to the Pres. church, I can’t really say I recalled what it looked like; but in the grand scheme of my memories, I guess it’s not so much the church I recognized, but the overwhelming feeling of familiarity. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about where filming took place. I read somewhere that Dolly liked hanging out at the Mariner. I imagine she signed a lot of autographs. If I had had time last weekend, I would have gone there just because. I did ride by the house where they filmed the family, plus I drove by the Harling’s old home on Harling Rd. I don’t personally know “Bobby”, as I heard him called last weekend, so no, I didn’t know that he had bought Oaklawn Plantation and moved back. How absolutely grand. I have a secret desire to own and live in a plantation home, but there aren’t many of those around Houma that would need renovations and go cheap enough! I recently ordered a book about Natchitoches plantations and can’t wait to read more about the man who bought several old homes, moved them, and restored them. I really admire that kind of work, and it’s what led me to purchase and save Camp Dularge. I made some new friends on this trip back to Natchitoches and reached back to one friend I haven’t seen since 1974! Great hearing from you.

      • I’m glad you had a good time. I really love Natchitoches and I really love DuLarge, too. You have done a beautiful job on Camp DuLarge. Wish I could get Charlie to do some things with our house there. But he’s happy just as he is so that makes me happy 🙂

        I had the unique opportunity to go into the church where I was baptised when I went to my uncle’s funeral a couple of years ago. I hadn’t been in there in 57 years when I was 6 and we moved away. It was a huge thrill to see it again and compare my memories to reality.

        • Thank you for the kind words about Camp Dularge. There’s always something that needs to be done on a house, especially if it’s old and has its little quirks. I do the best I can with what I have, Deb! It’s amazing how much we want to reach back, the older we get. And when we do, we see that today’s memories are a mere shadow of what truly was! Peace.

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