Rison-Dallas Community

Rison-Dallas Association 2004 Reunion

2004 Rison Reunion CoverOn August 7, 2004, the 32nd Rison-Dallas Association Annual Reunion was held. This reunion was sponsored by the Class of 1944 in celebration of their 60th anniversary.

We were pleased to see a larger number of our folks in attendance this year. As usual, we came from near and far, and joy and excitement abounded!

It was particularly exciting that there were those who were attending the reunion for the first time who were heard to say, “It won’t be the last time!” Another first-time visitor said, “I attended my reunion and didn’t enjoy it at all. I’ve had a wonderful time today and I’ll be back next year!” And then there were those of us who kept lingering - in no hurry to leave.

Did you ever see so much food? One thing’s for sure: folks who come to the Rison-Dallas reunion are great cooks!

While in the past we have occasionally honored our veterans, this year we started a new tradition: honoring our veterans at each reunion. At the beginning of the program part of the reunion, the association recognized all veterans. We asked one of our veterans, Thurman Frasier, to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then we all sang, “God Bless America!” May we never forget the sacrifices made by so many.

Sadly, twenty-one of our people from the Rison-Dallas community died since the 2003 reunion. Their names are listed below and Leo Drake read them aloud before the group; a moment of silence was observed in their memory. If you know of others whose names should be on this list, please let us know.

Bobby Christian
Lourene Patton Fleming
Edna Crowl Holman
Werden Hurd
Perry Luna
Katherine Reese Murphree
Carlos Patterson
Juanita Swindell Troupe
Lillian T. Pullen (Teacher)
Martha Ann Bennett Vaughn
Louise Fain (Teacher)
Clarice Certain Schrimsher Hite
Jessie Jean Fisher
Buford Casey
Kenneth R. (Bobby) Edmison
Edwin Osborne
Linda Christian Young
Raymond Swaim
Esther Powell Saxon
Catherine (Kathleen Spray) Owens Cantrell Harbin
Jerry Hymer

To those of you who were not able to be at this year’s reunion – you were missed. As good as the reunion was, it would have been even better if you had been there! Please make a special effort to join us at the August 6, 2005, reunion.

So, sit back and enjoy reading about the events of that special day.

2004 Rison Reunion Program RISON REUNION SONG
"Old Friends Like You and I"
(click here to hear "Old Friends" (890kB))
When old friends get together
It's like yesterday again
Time to talk about the way
Our lives have changed since then.
It's time to share the memories
We made in days gone by.
When old friends get together
Old friends like you and I.


Though we may have gone our separate ways
It's the heart that brings us home
To the ones who shared some of the
Sweetest days we've ever known.
And we'll raise a cup in mem'ry of
The ones we've bid goodbye
When old friends get together
Old friends like you and I.

By Jim McBride
April Music, Inc. (ASCAP) CBS Songs


By: Helen Acuff
LIZZIE PAYNE RICKETTSOn a cold winter's day in Jackson County on January 28th, 1904, the fourth child, a girl, was born to Warnie Hamilton Martin and Cynthia Ann Jackson Martin, and her name was Lizzie. At age 2, the family moved to Owens Cross Roads in Madison County. Well, what was going on in the world when Ms. Lizzie was born?

Who was president? Teddy Roosevelt was president in 1904 and Ms. Lizzie has lived during 17 more presidencies. An interesting note: Teddy Roosevelt had no vice president during his first administration, 1901-1905. Her favorite president was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

What were we ladies wearing in 1904? (Pictures were shown of the styles worn by women in 1904.) Ms. Lizzie had four sisters and four brothers all of whom are deceased. While we don't have pictures of the young Ms. Lizzie, we know that she loved cows, a love that continues to this day.

(Pictures were shown of her with cows.)

Times were hard for the young Ms. Lizzie, but up until age 11, at Christmastime she always got a doll, an orange and an apple. She recalls that one of her brothers would play dolls with her and her older sister. Ms. Lizzie said that she remembered picking cotton with her sister; she said that her sister was slow and that she would try to help her.

ClaybornMs. Lizzie attended school at Owens Cross Roads through the third grade and upon entering fourth grade her father made her quit school to help pick cotton. She wanted so badly to go to school that she would cry and beg to attend. At age 16, her father brought her older sister and Ms. Lizzie to Huntsville to work in the Merrimac Mill. During that time, they boarded with Tom and Angie Payne. Through them, she met her future husband, Clayborn, a nephew of the Paynes. After a year of work in the mill, her father took the girls back home. He didn't like Clayborn visiting her or corresponding by mail. Her father would tear up the letters but her mother would slip them to her. Ms. Lizzie and Clayborn eloped when she was 18 and he was 20.

They had four daughters, Evelyn, Jewel, Ruby, and Opal. After 11 years and 13 days, Clayborn was killed in a fatal auto accident. At the time of his death, Ms. Lizzie was a homemaker; she was offered a job at Lincoln Mills where she worked until she retired 22 years later. She worked tirelessly to rear her four girls alone. Opal said, "My mother served as both mother and father for us; I never knew that you needed a daddy. She's quite a woman!"

Ms. Lizzie and Children

Ms. Lizzie and Walter Ms. Lizzie had been a widow for 20 years when she married Walter Ricketts and moved to New Orleans, LA. While there, she earned an LPN certificate and worked at the Baptist Hospital. She was again widowed one year and 13 days later. Did you notice that the number 13 was an unlucky number for both husbands?

She moved back to Huntsville in 1955 and lived alone on McKinley Avenue until 1998 at which time she went to live with Opal and Ben where she currently lives.

Ms. Lizzie enjoys traveling and has been quite the adventurer. Accompanied her daughter, Ruby and her children, to New York where they went overseas to join Ruby's husband. Ms. Lizzie remained in New York and decided to see the sites in a New York taxi. In 1985, she and her daughter, Evelyn, went to Jerusalem where they visited various points of interest. We've been told that Ms. Lizzie loves to travel and has always been willing to jump into the car and go. When Ms. Lizzie moved to live with Opal and Ben, Opal had a concern that her mother might not like their two cats. But, Ms. Lizzie immediately took a liking to them and became very attached and concerned that they get the best of care. The black and white cat goes into Ms. Lizzie's room each night to "say goodnight" and make sure that she's tucked into bed.

Ms. Lizzie and the Black and White Cat

We know from looking at all these wonderful pictures, that Ms. Lizzie likes to wear bonnets (please notice Mr. Fain is shown with her in the picture below); she's an Alabama fan ('sorry you Auburn fans), and she attends church services three times a week.

Ms. Lizzie and Mr. Fain
At age 100, when Ms. Lizzie was asked for the keys to her long life, she said, "Moving around and staying on the run; regular hours of sleep, and try to help other people." When someone else asked her for her secret to living so long, she thought and thought and then said, "I can't say!" It was as if it was such a secret that she wouldn't tell it. So now, we have just taken a trip back through the life of Ms. Lizzie Martin Payne Ricketts. It has been an interesting trip, filled with both happy and sad times, and an inspiring trip. So now, can we say that we've learned the secret to living to be a hundred?

Thank you so much Ms. Lizzie for being here. It is a privilege to honor you and to thank you for sharing your story with us.

I notice that Ms. Lizzie didn't wear her bonnet today, so on behalf of the Rison-Dallas Association and the Class of 1944; we would like to present this bonnet to you to add to your collection. (Present gift of bonnet.)

Guest of Honor


Please click here to visit Page 2 of the 2004 Rison Reunion

Rison-Dallas Community