Remembering Irene Hamilton
I was just thinking about Irene today and wanted to include this audience in reading what I wrote about Irene back in 2008.
Irene Tolliver Hamilton celebrated her 90th birthday at a grand party given by her daughter, Betty Hamilton Bullen, on Sunday afternoon, October 26, 2008, at the Optimists Building in Maynardville. In addition to the delicious goodies served, the room was decorated with a blue-and-green peacock theme. Irene’s birthday cake was topped with a little peacock strutting real feathers. The party was well attended by Irene’s well-wishing friends and family. Both of Irene’s children and their spouses were in attendance. Her son, Robert Hamilton, is a former Union County teacher and employee of the Knoxville Journal.
In the photograph, Irene Tolliver Hamilton stands by paintings of the log house in which she was born on October 25, 1918, and the Hamilton Store she and her late husband, Sam Hamilton, operated for many years. Irene recalls purchasing flour, meal and bran from Skeen’s Mill to sell at the store. They sold sugar and crackers loose in whatever quantity the customer asked. During World War II sugar, coffee, gasoline, cigarettes, and tires were rationed with stamps issued by the United States government required for purchase. Many items were very scarce and Irene and Sam would keep some items behind the counter to save for the neighbors, because people would stop by from out of the area to purchase whatever they could during these hard times. Sugar and bran were in high demand for those “in the industry” and the whiskey makers would often exchange something or cash for a neighbor’s unused sugar stamps. Irene also recalls having survived the awful flu epidemic as a very small child. She says that Dr. John Harvey Carr, after leaving their home on a house call, told some of the neighbors, “That child won’t be alive tomorrow.”
Betty Hamilton Bullen, a talented artist, had painted her grandparents',George and Pearl Tolliver, and great grandparents', John and Sarah Ann Tolliver's, home, which she and her husband, Stan, now own and have meticulously restored. It is our hope that the structure will gain National Historic Register status soon.
Irene’s keen mind and experiences enables her to be a great source of Union County history.
She has graciously shared with me her tome of love verses–look for some of those around next Valentine Day. Irene, who lives on a Tennessee Century Farm that has been in the family since January 1908, is still active in the community and enjoys life to its fullest.
If Irene were still with us she would be 99 years of age this October.25.