The Town of Willoughby

The Town of Willoughby
By: Stephanie L. Robertson
June 15, 2018

wooden houses

This is the town of Willoughby.

Willoughby is a quaint little Alabama town, just east of the big river.

There are quaint houses and shops, there’s a little valley chapel and the children safely play outside until called in to dinner.

Willoughby is known for its charming little shops and eateries, and the Book Barista is the favorite meeting place for Willoughby’s eccentric locals.

Eccentric, I say, because behind the picturesque facades of the Willoughby cottages lie many, many odd little secrets.

Take the houses closest to the Willoughby Valley Chapel.

If you look closely enough, you’ll see that the addresses on the door are both labeled “No 3.”

wooden houses

Well, that doesn’t make sense, you may say.

Maybe not. But each house is owned by the Misses Cowl—Identical twins, old as the Willoughby hills, and they dress exactly the same. They are the second oldest Willoughbians. I say second, because old Mr. Rooney is ancient. But he’s a different story for a different day.

Anyway, the Misses Cowl—whom I honestly don’t know one from another—are the daughters of the High Mayor Phiscus Cowl who died in the late 80’s. Before he, ahem, passed, one of the Misses Cowl moved in the vacant house next door to her sister and the High Mayor.

Back then the addresses were different. Since odd numbers typically go on the left side of the street, I assume the house number used to be Number 1. I suspect the High Mayor had something to do with changing the number to Number 3.

It doesn’t quite seem logical, does it—to have to houses with the same address? But that is how it is. And I’m not sure how to explain the eccentricities of the Misses Cowl.
More stories to come, but now I shall take my afternoon nap.


Changing Over?

Hi Everyone!

I’ve got a question, and I’d like all my followers to weigh in.  Please.

Since I’ve got two blogs that I’ve been copying and pasting the same content, I’m thinking of using as a blog about my writing journey.  For my southern lifestyle blog, I want to use

Your thoughts?

I mean, blogging actually is a social media venue, and your comments are important.  It’s a little like when I was a kid and had a pen pal.

Thanks for any input, and may God always bless you richly.



Summers on Grandma’s Farm

Hey, Everyone! How did you spend your summers?  I am re-posting Summers on Grandma’s Farm from July 2016.

Summers on Grandma’s Farm

A gray barn like Papa’s. I took this picture near Springfield, MO.

A gray barn like Papa’s. I took this picture near Springfield, MO.


Maywood Christian Camp

When I was a girl growing up in south Alabama, my parents would take my brother and I up to north Alabama to attend Maywood Christian Camp for a week, and then my dad’s parents would pick us up and take us to their farm for another week.

My cabin at Maywood Christian Camp.

My cabin at Maywood Christian Camp.


North Alabama is further from the Gulf of Mexico than my home town, thereby a lot less humid, which was nice!

I’m sure the first day back from camp was spent resting up, we would attend church on Sunday, and then the rest of the week was full of wide-open possibilities!

Farm equipment on my cousin’s farm. My cousin now owns my grandparents’ farm.

Farm equipment on my cousin’s farm. My cousin now owns my grandparents’ farm.

“Big” City

Grandma always took us into town, which is Russellville, Alabama, a much bigger town than what we were used to.

She would buy us each a toy at TWL, and we would go to a big grocery store.

Since my parents owned a general store in Jachin, we weren’t used to going grocery shopping, which was great fun! We loved to help pick snacks and sugary cereals that we would consume during the week.


Big Gray Barn

Then we would head back to our grandparents’ farm, and eventually end up playing in their great big gray barn, which was stocked with hay, spider webs, and so much dust.

Our parents would come and get us at the end of the week.  We were always so glad to see them and missed them so much!

We would go back home to our own piece of Alabama, which had an entirely different culture and it’s own rendition of an Alabama farm.

Our south Alabama farm.

Our south Alabama farm.


The Man who Died Twice

The story about the Man who Died Twice begins with my trolley ride and ends with a What would You have done?

Into the Montford Historical District

Like I said in a previous post, I visited Asheville, North Caroline and had the nicest trolley ride around town. I boarded the Gray Line Trolley Tour of Asheville at the lovely Asheville Visitor’s Center.

The tour is a fully-narrated historic tour with ten famous sites where you can hop on or hop off. If you stay on for the whole ride, it’s 90 minutes.

Annie, our guide, was a history major who is looking for a job as a teacher…Please hire this woman! She is a wealth of knowledge! Not only that, she’s a good driver and kept us entertained with little-known facts about Asheville. For instance…

The Wright House and Carriage Inn

The Wright House and Carriage Inn.

When You Marry Mr. Wrong

As Annie drove us through Asheville’s Montford Historical District, she told us about the man who died twice. Mister Osella Brent Wright (ahem, Mister Wrong) married one Leva D.  Both hailed from Rock Island, Illinois. In 1899, they built themselves a home with porches and parlors, gables and slate roofs, Doric columns and spindles…All in the Queen Anne/Colonial-Revival architectural tradition, according to the National Park Service.

The Wrights owned the Carolina Carriage House, a leather goods business in Asheville.

You’d think their life together was idyllic, living in such a beautiful house in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains.

Not so much.

Apparently, Mr. Wright ran off in the night. Mrs. Wright was so humiliated that she told peeps that Osella B died. She even staged a funeral for the man.

A 1930 census indicates that Awesome Osella was living in Apopka, Florida.    The census says he was married, but he didn’t name his wife. (What a guy!)  Source: Find a Grave.

One stormy night, a knock rattled Leva’s door.  It was Awkward Osella, dripping wet, hat in hand.  He begged Leva to take him back. Leva offered him a modicum of grace. She allowed him to stay if he never ventured out again. After all, what’s a girl to do when she’s already faked his funeral?  What would she tell his mother??

Osella agreed.  Like Boo Radley, Osella’s face never saw the light of Asheville (or anywhere else) again.  I would have gone stark, raving mad with cabin fever, how about you?

At his real death, Leva buried Osella underneath his first tombstone.  Or somewhere…I can’t remember what Annie said.

So, the man died twice.  Kinda.

Mrs. Wright died in 1945, according to NPS. Since the couple had no children, the house was bought and sold several times.  It slowly eroded until people started calling it the “Faded Glory.”

The Wright House and Carriage Inn

The Wright House and Carriage Inn signBut the story ends happily.  (Not for Osella and Leda, but for us who love southern architecture.)

In the 1980’s, some enterprising man or woman remodeled the Wright House to use as a bed and breakfast.  No longer a faded glory, it is now known as the The Wright House and Carriage Inn on 235 Pearson Drive.

What would You have done?

Because of my beliefs about marriage, I would have taken Osella back unless he had run off with someone else. We’re supposed to stay married for better or for worse, right?

So what about you? What would you have done if you had been lovely Leda?

Annie with rescue kitten

Annie works with rescue kitten, Wilbur. Visit my Instagram for video.

P.S:  Thanks, Annie and the Gray Line Trolley for the trip and the fabulous stories.  I know I embellished the story a little bit. Annie didn’t say that it was stormy when Osella returned home, I don’t know if he knocked on the door–all just speculation on my part–and I can’t remember where she said they buried Osella the second time.

P.P.S: Please let me know if you like this kind of story. I’ve got tons more, so stay tuned!

Note: I received a ticket in return for blogging on Gray Line Trolley, but (regardless) I had a great ride with a fantastic guide!

trolley selfie

Gray Line Trolley selfie.