300th Sweetgum Life Blog Post Giveaway!

Welcome to my 300th Sweetgum Life Blog Post Giveaway! It’s hard to believe that I’ve posted 300 times!

I hope you’ll celebrate with me by entering my giveaway. All you have to do is tell me your favorite post in the Comment section, below. Of course, I also want to know why you like the post so much.

I started my blog in 2013 after reading Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. I related to it so much because of my life growing up in rural south Alabama. We did have “help” while Mom worked in my parents’ store, Jachin Grocery. Things were a little different for us than Stockett’s fictionalized account of growing up in Mississippi during the upheaval of the 1960’s–I grew up in the post-Civil Rights era of the 70s-80s.

I do have the fondest memories of our help, Vianna, my beloved childcare provider. I’m sure she had a positive influence on my perception of African-Americans. One of my childhood playmates was not nice to her maid. But I loved Mary Anne to death and loved to cuddle up with her when I visited my playmate. Not saying that I was a perfect little child, but I look forward to seeing Vianna and Mary Anne in Heaven one day, because I’m sure they’ll be there.

What is Sweetgum Life about?

Www.sweetgumlife.com focuses on the beauty of a simple life with faith, warmth, nostalgia, and humor by sharing life and southern culture from a wife and mom’s perspective.

Sunflowers at Sweetgum House.

Sweetgumlife — A Southern Lifestyle Blog

No one can deny the cultural differences that are part of the United States. Television, film, and literature perpetuate these stereotypes–and I do too, at times. I also tend to romanticize life in the South. But just like the castles in Europe, no life is without problems common to the human race. I’m a very positive person, and I tend to focus on the good. We get enough nastiness from the news…that is, if we even bother to watch it anymore. I usually don’t and tend to get by just fine.


It’s true that southerners live in the Bible Belt, and for that I’m extremely thankful. It’s a great place to raise children. Faith in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit has brought me through some terribly dark days and nights. I hope my writing always reflects the Light in my life. 1 John 1:7


I wouldn’t be much of a southerner (or a writer!) if I didn’t fill my blog with stories! I like to include the occasional short story or flash fiction in a post.

Amazing People

I post a lot about amazing and inspiring people. Sometimes they are entrepreneurs of small mom & pop stores like I grew up around. (My Papa started Jachin Grocery in rural south Alabama, and eventually sold it to Mom and Dad.) Sometimes I write about other writers like my college friend and published author, Melanie Dickerson. Look around and you’ll find amazing people in every one you see.


Families are at the heart of life in the south. Each one is unique.

Pin It!

My Pin It section covers beautiful southern homes, antiques, crafts, DIY, and all of the stuff you’d find on HGTV.

White house in Five Points

The Giveaway

All you have to do is to pick your favorite www.sweetgumlife.com post and list it in the Comments. You must be a resident of the U.S. and be 18 years old or older. I will draw names on Friday of all who enter. You get double points for mentioning why the particular post is your favorite. Win a $25 gift card to Amazon!

Black Angus cow.

When the Train Whistle Blows — Short, Spooky Story

When the Train Whistle Blows
By: Stephanie L. Robertson

Folks ‘round here say there’s a ghost that haunts the tracks running through the middle of Athens.

Do you believe them?

I do.

I seen her.

They say it’s the ghost of Perlie Gunn, waitin’ for her beau, Gilbert McCall.

And waitin’.

And waitin’.

Ever time you hear the train whistle on a dark, drizzling night.

1935 and Perlie was the purtiest gal of all at the ol’ wood school house. Just past her eighteenth birthday. Blue eyes and pert nose. Always wearing that blue flour-sack dress. A trip to town for her daddy to get something at that hardware store right over there.

Passed the ol’ Jefferson Street diner, where Gilbert McCall sat at his breakfast of sausage, eggs, and grits. Couldn’t recall ever seeing her before. Jumped right up from his table, fork and knife falling from his high-born hands. Left it to go meet the yeller-haired gal.


Was that little ol’ Perlie Gunn, all growed up?

Diner owner, Buzz Henshaw, just shook his head, wondering if McCall would remember to pay the check, but knowing the feller would fergit. There was no stopping true love.
Folks say Gilbert jogged after Perlie and they fell for each other like a fish for a worm, the minute their eyes met.

But Perlie stood no chance with a McCall.

Oh, no ma’me.

She was from the wrong side of the tracks.

Ol’ Judge McCall forbade their courtship, and her folks knew it would end bad. They knew a grimy-faced pig farmer’s daughter couldn’t land a high-falutin McCall.

But folks saw them two sneaking to meet for picnics or out and about Athens. They saw Gilbert, looking all moony-eyed, slipping out of the courthouse where he clerked that summer he was home from law school down in Tuscaloosa. They’d steal a kiss behind the drug store, when ol’ Judge was inside, fannin’ hisself from the summer heat.

Story goes that they were s’posed to meet down by the tracks at dusk. Run off an’ marry, they was, in McCall’s fine, red Ford coupe.

Something put Gilbert late. He heard that train come flying down them tracks and saw her standing and waitin’ on t’other side, her clothes in a beat up ol’ box. Musta slipped in them heels she borrowed from her Cousin Maylene. Ankle stuck fast in a gap twix the metal rail and wooden tie.

Train man near ripped the town apart with the sound of his brakes sliding towards Perlie. It was too late. They say that train drug her nigh forty feet afore Gilbert could blink a eye.
I heard tell Gilbert never went back to Tuscaloosa after that. Ended up somewheres over in Georgia. I never seen him since.

But I seen her walkin’.

Still wearing that blue flour sack dress.

Still looking for Gilbert after all these years.

On wet, foggy nights.

Walkin’ on the tracks when the train whistle blows.

Never Leave — Short Story

Hi Everyone!

I found a fun writing prompt at Writer’s Digest. As always, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I surely do find them entertaining to write.

Hope you enjoy!


I never would have married you if I’d have known you would kill me, my dear Thomas.

When Father and Mother insisted that I accept your invitation to the annual Lewisburg Debutant Ball, I should have declined.

But I went.

And you stole my heart with your charming smile. Your blue eyes that crinkled when you laughed. That timbre in your voice when you told me that you had loved me from the moment you first laid eyes on me.


I was told that you would make a fine husband. That, with your family name, you could provide me with everything that I was accustomed to having.

So we wed.

And you did give me everything, but in return for what?

At first I thought it was your unquenchable love for me that you kept me to yourself that first year. The next year I began to see that you were keeping me as your own caged bird. I missed my family and friends from high school, but you made me stay at the house. You carefully monitored my comings and goings, even if it were to the store.

You accused me of smiling too long at the post office clerk.

You accused me of enjoying the company of the milk man who came by our house every day.

Why Thomas? The man was more than twice my age. And I missed talking, simply conversing with other humans.

By the third year, Mother was sneaking over to visit. I would carefully slip out of the house to visit my sisters. And I incurred your wrath.


I began planning my escape. I had to leave, Thomas, dear. You had captured me. I had no other choice.

But you knew where I would be. You knew that I wouldn’t get further than my own family home. You caught me once again and brought me back to my prison.

Until that bleak afternoon, stormy and curtained with rain. Suitcase in hand, once again. This time I would not run home to Mother and Father. This time I had a bus ticket that would take me far away to a relative who promised that I could live with her. I could get a job. I could get a perspective. Because, in spite of everything, I still loved you, my Thomas.

Yet you came home early that day, and fatally caught me in my flight.

As you squeezed the last breath from my fragile body, you told me that I would never leave you again, and you were right.

You were right, my darling Thomas.

I’ve kept my promise as well, my dear.

For every night, I come back to visit you in phantasmal, amorphous form.

It is your turn to be imprisoned.

For I will never leave.


The Green and Yellow House

Front view of the green and yellow house.

Front view of the green and yellow house.

I think old houses inspire my writing more than anything. Who can resist an aged home that has a history? Babies were born there. Families lived their lives there. And in the old south, loved ones were laid out on their cooling boards in parlors while a mother, daughter, nephew, or friend kept a vigil during a “wake.”

I found this old home for sale in Athens, Alabama near the main part of down town. It’s for sale, and I’d love to buy it! I think the last owners must have used it as an antique store, judging by the sign on the front and the novelties left over on the front porch.

What do you think happened in this old house? Do you think there are any ghosts therein?

Row of houses, now used for businesses.

Row of houses, now used for businesses.

Hydrangeas!  My favorite!  I may ask the seller if he/she will let me take a small cutting so that I can propagate it.

Hydrangeas! My favorite! I may ask the seller if he/she will let me take a small cutting so that I can propagate it.

Victorian trim work adds charm to the front porch.

Victorian trim work adds charm to the front porch.

The back garden is perfect for the afternoon cup of tea.

The back garden is perfect for the afternoon cup of tea.