Remembering Martha

Martha McHaney, 1947-2012

Today was perfectly beautiful but it was a day to sit and stare at the walls and think about the fragility of life.  We lost a friend on Friday, and emotions are all over the place – joyful memories of playing in the “ditch” and twilight hide and seek, and regrets that she moved to Texas and we lost touch for a couple of decades.

Martha is seated at left.  I believe this was taken at her 62nd birthday party.

Martha McHaney of Houston, Texas, died yesterday when her truck crashed into a tanker parked on the side of U. S. 69 outside Houston.  It could have happened to anyone, anytime. The class of ‘65 from WPHS has been  burning up the airwaves remembering her and grieving her death.

The girls of the Class of ’65 had just talked to her and planned  to meet in New Orleans to celebrate our 65th birthdays. Hers was only days ago on July 18.

I began most days at her house from the time I was six – especially in the summertime.  Being an only child, I loved playing with Martha, and her sister Barbara.  Our favorite thing was to make “snuff” and sit in the ditch tucking it in our cheeks and letting the juice run down our chins.  (Our “Snuff” was a mixture of sugar and cocoa.)  We also played “communion” stealing grape juice from our homes, and crunching up saltines – all consumed in the “ditch.”

Every Christmas morning as soon as we opened our gifts, we would get our new dolls together and play for hours – always ending up in the “ditch.” She had a phobia about spiders and I found a fake one, and taunted her endlessly.

I wish I had told her how much I admired her courage to do anything she set her mind to, including moving to Houston, Texas and becoming a contractor, building houses and driving a back hoe.  Golly Pete, none of us would have had the spunk.

She led an amazing life. She graduated from Mississippi University for Women, got her Masters and ultimately moved to Germany where she worked for the U. S. Department of Defense.

An officer friend from her German days remembers repelling with Martha in the 70s when we still thought repelling had something to do with bugs. He noted that she was fearless, laughing all the way up and down the cliff in spite of turning upside down.

She recently grew her hair really really long so she could donate it to Locks of Love for cancer patients who had lost their own.  She loved animals and people who needed help.

Martha McHaney, we are going to miss you, but you will live on in our memories.  Farewell, old friend.  I’m confident we will see you again. When you run into Mother Theresa, please ask her to pray for the rest of us still stuck here on Earth.

31 thoughts on “Remembering Martha

  1. Emily…I laughed today because you allowed me remember the “fun” of Martha…the light of the “class of 65” burned a lot brighter because of her personality…today it is a bit dimmer in her memory…Paul

  2. Emily, that was beautiful and special. I’ll miss her … She was always there for me. Peggy Coleman

  3. Some things will never be understood this side of Heaven. There is no way for me to think of Martha without remembering that big, infectious smile of hers. She could be so funny and she made everyone around her smile. Heaven has gained a very special lady~

  4. Emily, so beautifully said. Still in shock over this, had enjoyed reconnecting with her on Facebook. Growing up in West Point, Ms.
    remains in our hearts, no matter where we are in our adult lives or
    where we live now. No one but people from WP would know about
    playing in the”ditch.” Those were the good old days, children now will
    never know that kind of fun. Looking forward to seeing everyone October 26. Take care my friend.

  5. I remember Martha fondly. They lived just east of us when we first moved to WP. My little 2 year old daughter watched the two of you play at the ditch and could not understand why I did not let her join the “big girls.” On days when you and Martha would come play with Debi and sometimes take her to the ditch with you, just made her day.
    So sorry to hear about this tragedy.
    Also have good memories of her mother who taught my Sunday school class way back when.
    Emily, love your blog. Go there most everyday.

  6. I am still stunned about the news of Martha’s passing. I remember her from First Baptist, and of course, I graduated with her brother Larry. I am amazed learning about all her ventures down in Houston. She was a very smart, talented lady. I enjoyed our reconnection on FB and will miss her terribly. Thanks for the tribute. It was beautiful.

  7. Emily, what a beautiful memories of your friend. I know Martha will be missed by so many. God bless her family and friends.

    Kenny and Debbie Hinshaw

  8. Martha McHaney was my Aunt. Your Daddy, Dr. Braddock, actually delivered me at Ivy Memorial in West Point. I too have fond memories of playing in the ditch with my cousins. A younger generation following in the footsteps of the one before. Really touching to read such candid memories of my Aunt Martha as a child. Thank you for writing such fond remembrances.

  9. Thank you for your beautiful words…you said it all..we will miss her…you and I have talked…and cried missing her..I think we are all in shock as they say our “candle was snuffed out too soon”…we had too much left to say….so dear friends…I love you

  10. What a beautiful remembrance, Emily! Martha was truly a special person. So talented and so much fun. She will be greatly missed. Sandra

  11. Emily, what a lovely, personal tribute to Martha. I never met her husband but would venture that your column would make a lovely obituary to her if he were to read it. Gary Florreich

  12. Emily, as everyone has said with fondness and love, a beautiful tribute! So happy you we’re able to post this picture of Martha, it captures her radiant smile, one that we can all hold on to until we have our “big reunion” in Heaven. Your passing has left a void Martha, we’ll miss you!!

  13. Emily,
    I think I rode my bike to Broad St more than to school. What a great group of friends,Mchaney’s, Mitchell’s,Dickerson’s,Robinson’s,Replogle’s and you.
    I remember Martha’s laughter and smile. It was great seeing her at the last reunion.
    Great memories of a wonderful girl

  14. Thanks so much Emily. Mo called and gave me the news this morning. Its so hard to believe she’s gone. She was our classmate, dear dear friend and next door neighbor. Just thinking of all those times that we shared together. Sitting on your steps on warm summer nights and telling ghost stories and talking about everything under the sun. How extrodinary that a “ditch” could be a center piece of such profound memories.
    We lived in a Norman Rockwell painting and didn’t know it.
    I will miss our friend , Martha. And I will think of her often.

  15. Phil. remember we always concluded our “evening meetings” with a discussion about the Abominable Snowman which got us all so scared we all ran home. Someone claimed to have seen him and told tall tales about how terrible he was and what he did to little children. I love your reference to “living in a Norman Rockwell painting” – PERFECT! We did and I go back there in my mind everytime I go to The Point. I went back yesterday and played in the ditch all by myself. I almost went up to Bud’s (your old house) and asked him to come out to play.

  16. So very sad. Martha was full speed ahead in life….and now in death.. to her new life. How beautiful the picture is of her for us to remember; how wonderful are your recollections of her in your words, Emily. Thank you.

  17. I regret to have received the new of Martha’s passing. She shared her smile and zest for life with all of us.

  18. Am so saddened at the loss of Martha. I wish I had known her personally. My brother was in her HS class and that is the way we connected. She was such a comfort to me when he passed away. I hope that they are having a reunion in heaven as we speak. She was always a spokesperson for animal rights and I know she loved her own with a passion. May she rest in peace, the world is a sadder place now that she is not in it.

  19. Barbara, I’m trying to figure out who your brother was. How nice that y’all connected and I’m glad she offered you some peace. Please let me know. Thank you for remembering her so beautifully.

  20. Emily, when we first moved to WP we rented an apartment in the duplex across the street from the ditch. The next 2 summers I would sit on the porch and let Debi play in the yard so I could watch her. If you and your friends were at the ditch, she spent most of her “outside” time watching, with envy, as you all played. Occasionally, in addition to holding her hand and walking her over to the ditch, you would come sit on the porch and play with her. You have no idea what it meant to a very little girl to get to play with the big girls.

  21. Pat. You lived in the two story unit! You never told me that! Did you know Linda Murrah also lived there for a time. Heard Murphy and I got mad at her for some some silly childish reason and decided to dig up the house – WITH SPOONS! We worked feverishly for about ten minutes and just couldn’t get it up! And Johnny and Adelaide Smith lived there and many others who played major parts in our lives. Interesting.

  22. Yes, we lived there a couple of years before we built the house we live in now. Adelaide, I think had already married, but Johnny lived there with his parents. Did not know Linda lived there at one time. Digging up the place with spoons….my, you and your crowd were an industrious group!

  23. It is sad to read these postings and realize it has been, literally, a lifetime since I have spoken to many of you. My loss, no excuses. There is a little hole in my heart where Martha used to be. I don’t know why these things happen but I do know that God never wastes an opportunity to reach out to someone in need, so while we suffer our loss, someone, somewhere is being comforted, supported, shone love because of Martha’s life.

  24. Hi (Mary) Emily, I’m Larry McHaney’s eldest daughter. I live in Woodstock, GA. Martha McHaney was my Aunt and I remember spending summers and holidays at my grandparents, Robert & Martha McHaney’s, house on E. Broad St. I can’t tell you how many hours my little sister, 4 cousins, & I spent in the ditch. Doing flips and swinging on those bars, wading in the “river” when it rained, floating sticks or leaves down in it races. Even at Christmas, it would be so cold, but that couldn’t keep us away. Our parents would have to come out and yell at us to “Stay Out Of The Ditch!!!” It was an integral part of our childhood.

  25. Glad to know you Mary Emily. I lived in the house directly across from Larry and Martha. I relate completely to the mysterious attraction of THe Ditch. Did Larry get to go to the funeral. I’m hoping we can have some kind of service in West Point for those of us still in the area. God Bless and please tell your folks how sorry I am for your loss.

  26. Emily, stilll llive in Mechanicsburg, PA but about 2 years ago we moved to a developing 55+ community – no stairs, no grass cutting, no snow removal, no outside maintenance: it’s really tough laying beside the pool watching all that work being done.
    I retired in Jan 2002 and I remember the first few weeks as described by Sonny Wray – being really busy doing things didn’t have time for before, but after a few months things start to settle down, but it’s always fun to be able to do something at a momets notice without clearing with anyone (except Barb, my lovely Canadian wife of course (yes my wife is an alien)). In 2007 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and that slowed me down – there’s another story about that and my miracle — but one of the many fun things about PD is not being able to spend much time at the computer so I’ll tell you about that later if you are interested. Menwhile, it was good hearing from you – just sorry it was these circumstances.

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