What Matters…Edith Jewell Millard Benfield

It is the day after the Mt. Vernon/Mendota Cemetery Benefit held right here in Mendota.    I could go on and on about the level talent of Dale Jett, Teresa Jett and Oscar Harris of “Dale Jett & Hello Stranger”  as well as Heather, Mary and the other women making up the “Poor Valley Girls” bring to this benefit.    World-class talent right here in Mendota, Virginia–I‘m not exaggerating.  Ask anyone who attended.    Things went well last night.   Many hands  worked toward a successful benefit to raise money for the Mt. Vernon and Mendota Cemeteries.    Those not from this area might wonder why we bother as cemeteries are not places for the living…right?  It’s different here.

My friend Joann Vicars unearthed a treasure on Thursday.    Edith Millard Benfield is one of the reasons we work on this benefit.     I miss her as I miss my own mother.  I remember how she smelled when she hugged me and whispered “Let me mother you when you need it since your mother is gone.”   

Edith in Wedding Gown

Edith Millard Benfield…mother of Katie, Lisa (my lifetime close friend), Nancy and Benny.   She was Harold’s wife.   I cropped the above picture (not with scissors…with software) out of the newspaper clipping Joann found. There’s no date on the clipping but this is what it says…

Miss Millard Is Bride of Mr. Benfield

Miss Edith Jewell Millard, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Worley J. Millard, of Mendota, Virginia became the bride of Mr. Harold Lloyd Benfield, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Floyd P. Benfield of Elizabethton, Tennessee on Friday, July 4, at the Mendota Methodist-Baptist Church, Mendota, Virginia.

The Rev. A. F. Barker, former pastor of the bride, performed the ceremony using the double ring service.

The altar decorations were white baskets holding large bouquets of whit and pink gladioli and snapdragons, against a background of native green.  Branching candelabra held white cathedral tapers and white tapers burned in each of the windows.

Nuptial music was given by Mrs. June Thompson, pianist, Miss Hattie Bridgeman, of Bristol, and Mr. Frederick Smith, of Mendota.  Miss Bridgeman sang, “Because” (d’Hardelot) and Mr. Smith gave “I Love You Truly”.  During the ceremony, Mrs. Thompson played “Always”.  The traditional wedding marches were used.

Miss Eva Millard, was her sister’s maid of honor.  She word a pink marquisette gown fashioned with a close fitting bodice and full skirt, pink mitts, and carried a nosegay of pink and white rose buds.

Little Miss Dottie Millard, sister of the bride, wore a dainty floor length frock of pale blue organdy and carried a basket of white rose petals.

The brunette bride, who was given in marriage by her brother, John E. Millard, wore a wedding gown of white marquisette over taffeta, designed with a tightly fitting bodice, peter pan collar and short puffed sleeves.  She wore long white net mitts and her finger tip veil was of illusion with a matching cornonet.   Her flowers were a colonial nosegay with a white orchid.

Mr. Berlin Benfield, served the flowers, as best man, and the ushers were Mr. Herman Leonard, and Lach Hicock of Bristol.

Mrs. Millard  mother of the bride, wore blue crepe with white accessories and corsage of white gardenias.

Following the wedding trip through Virginia and Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Benfield will be at home at 624 Cherry Street, Bristol, Tennessee.  For traveling the bride wore a white linen suit, with matching accessories.  Her corsage was a white orchid taken from her bridal bouquet.

Mrs. Benfield, is a graduate of Hamilton High School and Bristol Commercial College.  For the last three years, she has been employed as bookkeeper for  Hooks-English Infirmary, Bristol, Tenn

Mr. Benfield is a graduate of Elizabethton High School and attended King College.  He is an employee of Red and Slumpler Confectionery, Bristol, Va.


I enjoy living in the age we live in, but the past is important, too.  We are enriched by the past.   If you attended last night’s benefit, thank you for supporting our two historic cemeteries.   These country cemeteries matter. 

And thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.




Dale Jett & Hello Stranger in Mendota

Our Dale Jett and Hello Stranger 2013 Cemetery Benefit is going to be held on Friday, April 26, in Mendota.   If you are reading this, I hope you plan to come.   It’s a really great show. The accoustics in the old Hamilton School Building (now called the Mendota Community Center) are good.

We ran out of food last year but this year, we are planning better.  We expected about 200 last  year and we had closer to 400.    Tonight I’m  working on the publicity for this year’s event. I like doing this sort of thing. It’s a creative endeavor.  I enjoy working on these types of things at night.   Tonight’s project for our benefit  is a postcard which will be mailed to the 24270 (Mendota) zip code. I’ve been picking out four  pictures to include on the card…here’s what I’ve got so far.     If you don’t live in Mendota but would like to receive one of the postcards, please comment back on this blog.  I’ll make sure you get one.

Guess you know who these three are?  What good friends they are to this area.


Even if I didn’t like the way they sound, I’d still like Dale Jett & Hello Stranger. They are doggy people. Hot Rod Harris was  a large part of the inspiration for a special song they wrote and perform about strays.   It speaks to me. 

Here’s Hot Rod. Honestly, Hot Rod was pitiful when Oscar and Katie first adopted him, but now…he’s a little on the chubby side.  May have to change his name to Bubba Harris.

Hot Rod

Because the performance benefits two cemeteries, I’m including pictures representing each cemetery.

Here’s the Mendota Cemetery.    It’s located near the Mendota Post Office and the Mendota United Methodist Church.   It is where my parents and grandparents are buried.

Block for Vista

Here’s Mt. Vernon’s Cemetery which is located by Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church.   Although I’ve walked by this sign well over 100 times, I did not notice that it had “and cemetery” on the bottom.

Mt. Vernon Church Sign

I was actually at this church this morning with Mike, Dale, Oscar, Jenna, Ashley and Daryl. Daryl fixed some breakfast. We’re talking about a variety show we may have in Mendota in October, and something I’ve always wanted to be in — an old fashioned jug band — I want to play the spoons!

Plans and more plans. Life is good out here in Mendota.


Mendota Cemetery Quilt Progress Report

Hi!   I have not been on the RiverCliff Cottage blog for a few days.  I couldn’t find my camera cord!   Tonight, I found it in the car, and I was so happy!    Grabbed it and…here I am!

On Wednesdays, a group of ladies meet in the afternoon at the Mendota Community Center.   It really should be Hamilton School because our Mendota children that attend public school shouldn’t be put on a schoolbus in the dark and returned home in the dark, but there are others that must answer to that poorly made, badly thought out, disgusting and selfish decision.    Can you guess my opinion on this?      

Anyway, back to the quilt.   Do you remember the name of it?   I’ll Fly Away.   We sing this at church.    Some glad morning when this life is over,  I’ll fly away.   To a home on God’s celestial shore,  I’ll fly awayI’ll fly away, O Glory,  I’ll fly away. In the morning…  

Months ago I posted about a trip to get the fabric.   Here’s the post,  but here’s a picture of the fabric that was selected. 

Fabric for Mendota, Virginia Cemetery Quilt

There’s been steady work on the quilt since that day, and I stopped in and pinned eight squares and checked on the progress.  

Here’s what the quilt currently looks like…there’s been a lot of cutting going on.   In my mind’s eye, I see all of the ladies jumping up on the table singing.. “There’s a Whole Lotta Cuttin’ Goin’ on!”     Jerry Lee Lewis on the piano, the Mendota ladies singing into their scissor mics.   

Check out those little squares that have been pieced together.

Quilt 1

Here’s a test.  What do these squares have in common?  Scroll down for the answer.

Quilt 2

The answer is that the blues always face the upper lefthand corner!   Did you notice that?     That is one of the things I learned Wednesday.   Here’s some more squares.  The ladies who are leading this quilt project have a firm vision of what the completed I’ll Fly Away quilt looks like.

Quilt 3

Here’s Margie…sewing up a storm.    Yep…she’d definitely be up on the table singing.

Quilt 4

Mendota hands working at putting pieces together.  I love this.

Quilt 5

And…more Mendota hands sewing away on this vintage Singer.  
Quilt 6

 This quilt will be “coming out” on Friday, April 26, when Dale Jett & Hello Stranger return to Mendota for the second annual Mendota Cemetery Benefit.    




Mendota Cemetery Quilt 2013

Hi! I’ve been gone for a few days. Well, not gone, but not online. I’m back!! I’ve missed you!!

When I started blogging in April, one of the earlier  posts  involved our Mendota and Mt. Vernon cemeteries and the fundraising that supports the upkeep of these cemeteries.  Dale Jett and Hello Stranger put on an amazing show right here in Mendota during May.  Here’s our talented and kind pals….

That show also was the kickoff of our quilt raffle. Both were very successful. And fun!

Now…present day!   It’s time to get ready for 2013! In just a few weeks, we’ll be setting the date for the 2013 benefit; and earlier this week, a few of us met in Kingsport to purchase fabric for the new quilt.

We planned to visit several quilt shops, but we found exactly what we needed at a shop called “Heavenly Stitches Quilt Shoppe” on Ft. Henry Drive in Kingsport. One of the owners, Paul, was there,  and we yakked it up with him. Very nice.

The quilt we’re making is a “flying geese” pattern, so this year’s quilt will be called “I’ll Fly Away.” Recognize that? “I’ll Fly Away” is a song made popular by the Carter Family and one that Dale, Oscar and Teresa sing regularly and DO AN AWESOME JOB!! It all ties together. Beautifully.

And Heavenly Stitches has lots of fabric to choose from…a rainbow of color!

Fabric Array at Heavenly Fabric

Here’s the fabric we selected for the new quilt.  The first one in the lineup…the black and blue…was the “inspiration” fabric.

Fabric for Mendota, Virginia Cemetery Quilt

Since I’m a quilter wannabe and not a true quilter, I can only tell you the little bit I know about the fabric selection…you have to have a dark and then a light for this quilt.

Mendota Cemetery Quilt - The Chosen Ones

We’ll have several work days on the quilt, and I’ll be participating. I’ll take you along and show you the progress of how these fabric selections become a beautiful quilt.

Paul, the owner of Heavenly Fabrics, invited us to look around at some of the quilts on display.

Black Quilt at Heavenly Stitches

Have you heard of the Shiloh Baptist Quilters in Benhams (Bristol, Virginia)?   I’m not sure what the relationship is or how this quilt ended up at Heavenly Stitches, but Paul said this is their work.




My Letter

It must be trendy to write letters to God. There are billboards that say “God…” with the “…” being something about how we’re failing.   I’m not sure what to think of that particular ministry.

However, this is not about those signs.  If I were writing my own letter to God this evening it would read like this…

Dear Father,

Thank you for the wonderful success of our Mendota and Mt. Vernon Cemetery Benefit Friday night.    As you know, I’d prayed for 200, and you sent over 350.   What was I thinking???   Why did I doubt you?  Maybe you did try and tell me, and I was so busy worrying that no one would come that I missed the message about the 350 you were sending.    I believe it was my sister Nancy’s fault as she made me worry more because she was worrying so much.

We ran out of food, since we only planned for 200.    I was left hoping the food would multiply or perhaps baskets of fish would be delivered, but you opted a different solution — you only sent kind people.   They were gracious even though they were hungry.  We will do better next year, as we have been reminded that we do serve a BIG God–one that doesn’t fit in a box.   We’ll plan for 350 plus some extra!

As for the quilts we’re raffling, we keep running out of tickets to sell.  What is this about?

But for this year, thank you for seeing us through this.  Giving us ideas.  Giving us donors.  Giving us musicians.   Giving us salvation.  Giving us your closeness, your humor, your love.

That’s what I’d say…if I were one of those people who write letters such as this. 


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