Monday, March 16, 2009
Vertie's Ring - A Story of Lost Love
This is a picture of my paternal grandmother's sister, my great aunt, Vertie Porter. Born September 22, 1896, in Attala County, Mississippi, Vertie was named for her maternal grandmother, Malverda (also spelled "Melverda" and "Melvertie") Gibson. During the early portion of her adult life, Vertie was a schoolteacher. After teaching school in several places outside of Mississippi, including Stuttgart, Arkansas and in St. Louis, Missouri, Vertie moved to Memphis, Tennessee. There she worked at the University of Tennessee Dental School and lived with her older widowed sister, Etta Porter Parker, until Etta's death from cancer in October 1966.
Although Vertie was an attractive and educated woman, she never married. According to family stories, Vertie had fallen in love with someone in her early twenties, and the couple became engaged to be married. But before they were married, Vertie lost her husband-to-be in an automobile accident. I don't recall ever hearing her fiance's name, so unfortunately I am unable to include it in this post. It seemed that Vertie never met anyone else who could measure up to her beloved, so she never married.
For as long as I can remember, Vertie still wore the beautiful platinum filigree and diamond engagement ring her deceased fiance had given her as a symbol of his devotion. As a young girl, I believed Vertie's ring was the loveliest one in the world, certainly the most beautiful I had ever seen at the time. And on a few occasions when I was young, she even allowed me to try on the ring. My, how it sparkled! When I asked my mother some years ago if she knew what happened to Vertie's ring, she told me the sad story of how Vertie had given it to a niece who allegedly had later sold it.
Recently, I found the second photograph in this post while going through a box of uncatalogued old photographs that belonged to Vertie's sister, my paternal grandmother. Although there are no clues written on the back of the photograph, I believe it is a picture of Vertie and her fiance, and likely one of only a few that may exist. Based on the manicured foliage in the background and the pergola under which the couple were photographed, my best guess is the pictures were taken in the Spring in a park.
Vertie lived almost fourteen years after her sister, Etta, died in Memphis. After retiring from her job, Vertie later returned to Mississippi to live near relatives. And in August of 1980, one month short of her 84th birthday, Vertie Porter died.