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Polly Brooks

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Polly Brooks Obituary
Polly Chisholm Wylly Brooks (1914-2014) An Unforgettable Lady - SAVANNAH - Polly was born in 1914 to Nannie and Julian Chisholm - the third child after Nancy and Julian, then little Billy, Bubba. She came into the world at home on Gaston Street with the help of Dr. Lawrence Lee. WWI had begun. This newborn knew nothing of the war. Her sheltered world was safe under the care of her mother and a nurse, Nana Gordon, who rocked and crooned to her. This new baby knew nothing of President Woodrow Wilson, nor that a first-class stamp cost just 2 cents. Life was good! In 1916, she climbed trees and romped about barefooted. She loved her first taste of home-churned peach ice cream. A real treat was to lick the dasher!! Her world was sheltered from events such as the sinking of the British ocean liner, Lusitania. She didn't care that the millionth Ford had rolled off the assembly line. She cared when her junket or peach ice cream would be served! Her parents often rented a horse and buggy and drove to Vernon View to their cottage on the river. They spent happy summers fishing, crabbing and sailing. They rented a cow for fresh milk. Little Polly milked that cow and loved buttermilk and clabber. Chickens pecked in the dirt and there was no shortage of fresh eggs. Grapefruit, peach and pear trees and scuppernongs flourished. Eli Dillwood was a faithful employee who helped raise the four rambunctious children. Eli was also a deacon in the Sweet Fields of Eden Baptist Church. Young Polly grew up in a loving family. They looked forward to their father, Dr. Chisholm, coming to Vernon View from his office - a long drive from Gaston Street. By now, the doctor had a snazzy Packard. Polly and Billy raced through the woods, stuffing their mouths with chinquapin nuts, to the causeway to listen for the big Packard grinding gears and honking, and jumped onto the running board for the dusty ride home. Dr. Chisholm's office in the city, where he specialized in eyes, ears, throats and noses, was behind their Gaston Street home. He treated friends' conjunctivitis and pink eye and, oh yes, took burrs from their hunting dogs' eyes. Patients came in the front door - hunting dogs in the back. The family was glad to escape to Vernon View from the city. The flu pandemic in 1917 was deadly. In the summers, Eli life-guarded the children swimming in the Vernon River, while Mother, known as Boofie, sat on the screened porch darning socks and avoiding the sun. Boofie felt confident under Eli's capable watch. Daily, Polly and Billy sailed their little sailboat. Once, they convinced Eli to come along. He cautiously stepped aboard. A gust of wind flipped them over. The children swam ashore, but Eli clinched the keel. He couldn't swim! When Boofie confronted him, he said, Yes, Mrs. Chisholm. I was watching the children. Mainly I was watching for sharks! Polly attended Pape School on Bolton Street. She inherited the family flaw of near-sightedness. Recalling the phrase, Boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses! she felt specs were distasteful, so while her daddy napped, she snuck into his office and memorized the eye chart. At age 99, she could still recite it. Her father tolerated the prank, but eventually fitted her with the dreaded glasses. It was off to Washington, D.C. to Mt. Vernon High School. She was on the field hockey team. For this young Georgia girl, seeing her breath hang in the frosty air was an exhilarating change from the heat down in Savannah. And no gnats! Meanwhile, John Wylly had attended Woodbury Forest School where he roomed with famed lyricist Johnny Mercer and was now at University of Virginia studying law. He was the only older man this young girl had permission to date, as John didn't drink like many of his pals. Polly and John raced in regattas at the Savannah Yacht Club and in Charleston with their little dog, Inky. Polly and John were married in 1936. In 1940, Little Polly (Cooper) was born, followed by Johnny (Wylly) and then Sue (Wylly). The family loved Tybee. The island wasn't crowded back then, and Tybee children brought pet goats onto the beach to frolic in the dunes, their dogs to dig up sand-crabs and galloped horses bareback on the beach and into the foaming breakers. During the school year, the Wylly children grew up on 53rd Street in Ardsley Park near the Donaldsons, Varnedoes, Minis's and Connerats. The Wyllys built a house at Tybee in 1946 on the Back River. The children helped pull cockspurs to clear the sandy lot. Happy summers followed - casting the shrimp net, buying Little Lulu comic books at Mr. Chu's, searching for turtle crawls on Pelican Island and chasing wild goats on Goat Island. Mummy was always enthusiastic. Get up! It's 6AM. Time for a swim before breakfast! or Come help shuck this bushel of corn! While children swung in hammocks drinking Orange Crush, events were occurring elsewhere. Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945. Hitler died. The US tested the first atomic bomb. WWII ended with bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Life at Tybee was blissful. Not a dark cloud in the blue sky. Mummy made regular trips to town in her Oldsmobile Rocket 88 to go shopping with Boofie for the children's clothes on Broughton Street. Ladies wore high heels, gloves, hose and hats to shop. Polly was president of the Junior League and played the role of Shirley Temple in the Junior League Follies. Then she became president of the Married Women's Card Club. Thirty happy years with her beloved husband John and their three children were filled with early-morning fishing trips to Pelican Island and hot summers at Tybee. John died in his 50s. Much too young, his loss was tragic. Life was not the same. Time passed. One day she announced that she and Randy Brooks, a long-time friend, were getting married. Polly began smiling and easing back into life. She never forgot John. This second marriage was also a happy one. Polly and Randy bought an Airstream camper and traveled with friends from Maine to Mexico, and the west coast. They spent time at Lake Toxaway and Highland Falls, NC playing golf. Sadly, Randy died in 1998. Polly's children convinced her to move to Isle of Hope, where she made new friends and enjoyed her porch overlooking the Skidaway River. With sight dimming, she hung onto her weekly bridge games. Well into her 90s, she had tons of energy. Everyone remembers when she capsized in a little rowboat with Margie Kelly on a crabbing adventure. Margie was 89 and Polly 92. It was a frigid day in January. Margie surfaced and called Polly, Polly where are you? A muffled voice said, I'm under the boat! I'll be out in a minute! In the ambulance, they gave fake names, so we children wouldn't know. We're taking you to Candler, ladies, the driver told the shivering, soaking crabbers. Oh, no you don't! protested Polly. You're taking us to Margie's house. We need our toddies! Polly was fuming because they'd lost half a bushel of good blue crabs! Also, she'd soaked a $25 hair-do! That really irked her! Her friends and family meant the world to her. She set an example of how to live, uncomplaining even with a host of ailments. She loved her bridge buddies, grandchildren, doctors, ministers, Landings friends, friends who dropped by with custard, songs and good wishes, her wonderful caregivers, Fanny, Jack, the Crabettes, her Hospice nurses and Tuffy, her scruffy mutt and Aggie, her old poodle. She adored her neighbors on Bluff Drive and most of all, her three children - Johnny, Sue and Polly. She was a master story-teller. Here's one about a trip to Broughton Street in 1924: Mother took me and big sis Nancy into Adler's Store to buy lace for our petticoats. Mother asked Mrs. Unger for the special lace she regularly bought. Oh, said Mrs. Unger. We don't have any today. Well, said Mother, When is it coming in? Mrs. Unger replied, Oh, no, Mrs. Chisholm. We just couldn't keep it on the shelves, so we're not stocking it any more! She touched many hearts. Lord, help her family survive without this wonderful dynamic person! Help our pain turn into sweet memories so we can follow her remarkable example. If inclined, please send a donation to Hospice Savannah or Humane Society of Savannah. Big Polly's life will be celebrated Friday, Aug. 29, at 5:30PM at Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church on Henry Street. A private burial for the family will be 4:30PM at Bonaventure. Please sign our on-line guest book at www.foxandweeks.com Savannah Morning News August 28, 2014 Please sign our Obituary Guest Book at savannahnow.com/obituaries.
Published in Savannah Morning News on Aug. 28, 2014
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