A Patchwork of Memories

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Mary Hazel McKelvey Lydick, born July 9, 1911 in Monmouth, Illinois; the third child of four to Wi1liam McMillan McKelvey, and Cora May Morgan McKelvey. My parents were Missionaries in India; lived and worked there for over fifty-two years, and are both buried in that land they loved.

I lived in India for fifteen years as a child. Came to U.S.A. for high school in Wisconsin, my maternal home, and for college in Wheaton, Illinois, my paternal state.

I was married a year after finishing co11ege and lived in India for twenty years, from 1940-1960. My eldest child, <name deleted>, was born in Asheville, N.C. My son <name deleted> in Bialkot City, Punjab India, (now Pakistan). <name deleted> was born in Ferozepore, Punjab, Indian, and <name deleted> in West Palm Beach, Flordia.

Christian Education is my field of work, and I have long been interested in Nurseries - Plants, AND children. I volunteer----!!

<complete except for names of children>



I, Mary Hazel McKelvey, was scheduled to arrive in September of 1911 in India. Instead, I jumped the gun and appeared in very small form, two months early in Monmouth, Illinois, and took that six weeks journey to India with my parents and older siblings at the tender age of six weeks.

My mother's physical condition probably triggered that premature birth. She had uremic acid poisoning, and because of that, the necessary physical correction of my two and a half year old brother had to be handled by others. Though at that time Mama couldn't spank, she certainly made up for it in later years, I thought! Though the rod was not spared, the twig was bent with much love and patience so that we grew into happy cooperative children.

Mother reported that when the family walked up the gang-plank for the 1911 voyage to India, she had 5 year old Evelyn clinging to one hand, and a strong grasp on my bother Morgan's hand, while Papa carried a large suitcase in each hand, with a market basket and "contents" strapped across his shoulder. Evidently I was a happy infant. When curiosity got the better of fellow travelers,

they would peek into the quilted market-basket, and would exclaim with surprise, to see such a "wee mite" lying there so contentedly.

Early recollections are hazy, but with the help of sepia-tinted photos I almost remember posing for a picture hand upraised as tho coaxing a dog to jump, with a huge bow on my head, and a seraphic smile upon my small face. Other pictures showed Evelyn, Morgan and Mary with two or three lightly clad Indian children, probably the children of the cook or house-boy, sharing the trycicle and a little red wagon. We played hop-scotch, scratched out with a sharp stone on a hard sun-dried surface. The Indian children had balls made completely of rags, wound around with very light string. No, they did not bounce! The older children played jacks endlessly, but with stones for jacks, and a larger stone for the ball. This was thrown into the air far enough up so that a hasty grab could be made for the "jack" before the "ball" came to earth!

Though we lived far from a city, where other Missionaries lived, our life in Bawa Lakkhan was anything but dull. On Sundays, when we did not have to go to a village to "proclaim" to the Christians, we'd go to the Leper Colony, down the road, where a suave and handsome doctor greeted us with courtly manners. Dr. Singh loved having us come to break the monotany in the lives of his hundreds of patients.

I'm not "halo-izing" my mother when I say she was an unusual and gifted person. There were only two things that I know of, that she could not do, or perhaps I should say, that she didn't care to do! She never seemed to exercise or take any part in active games, like hop-scotch, badminton or races! And rarely did she ever have needle and thread in her hand. I suffered because of those lacks in her life. I dearly loved activity and games AND I sure hated looking like I did, because Mama wasn't up on her sewing. She was an artist. Her fine pen and ink sketches are framed and hanging in our homes. She had perfect pitch and played any tune by ear that was hummed, sung, or whistled for her. She could sight-read music as though she had practiced it for weeks, and she played with verve and accuracy the organ, piano, violin and guitar. She was an educator and a linguist, and in a very short time she conquered Urdu, the language of the Persian elete, and Punjabi, the language of the Punjab. masses, and then she became the principal of Landour Language School where missionaries from many denominations and countries came to learn the languages of their area. Mama taught the native Pundits how to teach a language to put some life interest and zing into it, so their students would learn more rapidly, happily and correctly.

Mama was also gifted in being able to do three things at once. One day I remember standing beside her typewriter upon which she was writing a letter with flying fingers. I was saying my spelling words to her, when the cook came in, and she had him give an account of the money he had spent in the bazaar that week for our food.

When we were at the Leper Colony, mother would be singing in her beautiful and strong alto voice, playing the baby organ, and pumping it with her feet to keep the air in the bellows, AND leading the singing as she taught the lepers a new song. Those Sunday mornings at the Colony were truly special. Even at that very young age I noticed how happy those disfigured people looked. Those ear-less, nose-less, finger and toe-less men and women with faces miss-shapen and bloated by the ravages of their disease were at peace with themselves, and in love with the Lord and life! I remember staring at them as they tried to follow Mama and Papa in the songs - clapping their hands together in rhythm. Hands? No, just palms, for their fingers one by one had dropped off. Watching them sing made me feel very happy. But I was unhappy too, because the children, the healthy children, were fenced off from their parents, to prevent them from becoming diseased also. But EVERYONE was smiling and clapping and singing and I could feel their happiness and so the ache in my small heart was soothed and I loved them all, and HOW they loved us!

I used to wonder what instrument the Lepers liked best? The little baby-organ which could collapse and fold into a very small size, or the violin Mama would start out playing, standing so all could see her as they came in to sit on straw mats on the ground. I know I loved the singing wailing, whispering of Mama's violin the best!

Bawa Lakkhan, where we lived, many miles from the city of Sialkote was a lush oasis in that Punjabi desert. I remember tall Neem and Sheesham trees around the spaciously built, flat-roofed brick house. A tall hedge of pink, maroon and white oleander formed two colorful columns bordering the road leading to the bungalow, as the British called their huge homes. We had roses of many varieties, but the "cabbage roses" truly the size of cabbages, were the ones that I loved best. They tasted as good as they smelled, but one had to be wary of sniffing a honey-bee when burying one's nose into the deep cool fragrance of those pink roses. What a terrific gardener my parents must have had. In later years, I never had the superfluity of beauty and vegetation that mali could produce!

We used to have breakfast in the cool of the early summer mornings outside under the grape trellis. It was a lovely little enclosure, like a gazebo. An orchard of white and purple figs grew to one side of the grape arbor. Rose bushes and flower beds were in abundance, but it seemed to me that the mali was always in his precious vegetable garden! Of course, it behooved the gardener and his helper to dig, mulch and water well, for whatever was surplus in the house of the "master" was divided very generously among all those who served us on the compound.

We had no refrigerator, nor any canning or preserving devices, nor any way to freeze our delicious fruits and vegetables, so we ate what was in season. Actually, the only lean time we had in the vegetable line was in the summer when it was too hot for man, beast, or vegetable! During the summer watery squashes like zucchini and cucumbers abounded, plus onions, tomatoes and potatoes. It was dreary eating indeed, for a white man, used to variety, during the monsoons and hot summer months on the Plains of India. Mama and we children escaped to the cool of the Himalayas during those stifling summer months, so only Papa had a boring diet. Poor Chap!

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