Giving knows no bounds — Lois Meitzler

Published 2:03 am Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lois Meitzler of Nicholson knows it is always better to give than to receive. Being homebound has not stopped her from “giving back” to the community, but on the cusp of her 90th birthday — in June of this year — Meitzler has so much more to give than material things.

Meitzler was born and raised close to the land she still inhabits today. From this spot, she has seen many changes to Pearl River County. Growing up in the great depression, she is no stranger to hard work, yet she feels prosperous. “I was raised hard, but I still had a good life,” said Meitzler.

Traveling two miles to the Picayune School and back, was the easiest part of Meitzler’s day. Once home from school, she would change out of one of the two dresses she owned, and get to work on the family farm. The work was grueling, she said.

Her senior year, 1938, she was sent to school in the Kiln. The journey was approximately 18 miles on what was essentially like a cattle bus, over roads that were barely passable, on a seat with no pads. She would leave her home at 6 a.m., only to return at 6 p.m. each evening. Through it all, she still managed to graduate with good grades, which should have afforded her the chance to go to college. However, financial obstacles forced her to go to work instead.

For eight dollars a week, Meitzler toiled in a garment factory formally located in Picayune. “I will never forget my first payday, that was the most money I’ve ever seen in my life,” she said.

In 1939, she married Clyde Meitzler, and together the couple had 11 children — seven boys and four girls.

Meitzler remembers having 10 dollars with which to buy presents for all 11 children, but she said that her children never complained about what they didn’t get, because they had imaginations. “I love to brag on my young ones,” said Meitzler. “I’m so happy with my children, they’re all so wonderful.”

Today, her children are scattered all over the place — Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Colorado and Mississippi — and they have given Meitzler 31 grandchildren and many great grandchildren. “Not a lazy one in the litter,” she boasted.

The Meitzler household was rich in love, even when it was poor in cash. “There was no running water, but Momma never complained,” said daughter Kay Lee, who resides with her husband in Florida. Meitzler always took care of her children by sewing all of their clothes and feeding them with food she helped to grow. She helped take care of neighbor children too. “She always takes care of others before she takes care of herself,” said Lee.

Daughter-in-law Bonnie Brown, who travels frequently from Atlanta, Ga., to stay with Meitzler said, “She’s been good to more people than I could ever think about being good to.”

Meitzler has wisdom to impart, great stories to tell, and no one leaves her house empty handed. She loves politics and always has to point out the picture of herself standing next to Trent Lott. She started a book about her life, and she painted a few pictures which hang in her home. Due to cataracts, she had to quit painting but has several first place winning pieces to show for her past efforts.

Arthritis has also taken its toll on Meitzler, so one of her daughters, a practicing nurse, suggested Meitzler do something with her hands — she is, afterall, a woman who must stay busy. Meitzler decided to make throws. She spends all of her time, and a lot of money making these blankets, which she donates to the sick, ailing or the elderly. In the past, she has even made sure that the graduating football players from Picayune Memorial High School had a warm throw to bring with them to their college dorm rooms.

Now, for a little extra cash, she sells her handmade throws on the Internet. Daughter-in-law Brown made her a page on Craigslist where one of her blankets can be purchased under the heading “Granny’s ol Miss Fleece Blanket.”

In Meitzler’s home, whether it be words of wisdom, local history lessons or throws for the sick, her giving takes many forms. From her chair where she works on the throws, Meitzler said, “I thank the good Lord he’s let me live this long, I really do. And I think, really, I got more years to live.”