Zula (Hart) Likens
"A Beautiful Old Woman"
By Diane Bloomfield - Contributed by Carole Dick
My mother, Charlene Brown, was only thirteen when her great-grandma Zula Hart passed away in 1975. But before Zula was gone forever, my mother got to spend quite a bit of quality time with her and got to know her very well.
Zula Madge Hart was born and raised in Illinois. She was born on August 27, 1887 to Charles & Anna Hart in Barry, Illinois. Zula grew up, went to school, got married to Carl C. Likes, and had her children, two boys named Charles & Dale, in Barry, Illinois. But, she spent a number of her last years in Clyde, KS, where my mother was born and raised.
Zula Hart's son, Dale Likes, moved to Clyde, KS when he got married to Helene. Dale & Helene had three daughters, Connie, Nanci, and Anna. Nancy has the middle name of "Madge" in honor of Zula, and Anna, who passed away, had the name of her great-grandma Hart. My grandmother, Lourilee Hart Likes, who was also born and raised around Barry, Illinois, would travel to Clyde, KS by train when she was a teenager to visit her uncle Dale, aunt Helen, and her three cousins. While on a summer visit, she met her future Husband, Charles O. Brown. That's how Clyde, KS eventually became a destination for Zula Hart.
After Zula's husband Carl died, she was all alone in Barry, Illinois. So, she decided to move to Clyde, KS to be closer to her son Dale, her granddaughter Lourilee, and her great-grandchildren. My mother would spend the night almost every weekend with her great-grandma Zula. Her favorite memory of the time spent with Zula was looking at old photographs and hearing stories of Zula's family and what it was like growing up in the 1800's.
According to my mother Charlene, she claims her great-grandma Zula Hart was a soft-spoken woman with a catchy, trill of a laugh. Her laugh was contagious and Zula and my mother would giggle, laugh, and have a fun time! But, Zula was very hard of hearing, and wore a long chain around her neck with a "megaphone" attached to it. So, when anyone wanted Zula to hear what they were saying to her, they would have to talk into one end of the megaphone while Zula held the other end to her ear!!! Grandma Zula used to call my mother a honeysuckle rose, and my mom said that when Zula called her that, it made her heart fill with happiness and love! She can't imagine being called anything better in this entire world than a "honeysuckle rose."
Zula had a soft feather mattress bed, and she would wash the sheets in sweet smelling soap every time my mother spent the night with her. Mom said that it was the most comforting and secure feeling in the world to snuggle up in that bed with her great-grandma Zula, and drift away to sleep with the scent of rose in the air. When mom woke up in the mornings, her great-grandma Zula Hart would always have breakfast ready for her. Zula didn't claim to be a good cook, but mom said she sure could make some good scrambled eggs!
Nobody but Zula, her hairdresser, and my mom knew that Zula's hair was pure snow white. Every six weeks Zula would go to the salon and get her hair colored BRIGHT red! But, now that my mother looks back at it, she said it must have been pretty obvious to everyone that Zula dyed her hair, but nobody mentioned it to her! They knew better! At the time my mother thought she was in on a really big secret...and she never told a soul that her great-grandma's hair wasn't really Miss Clairol Flaming Red, #6!!! Mother claims that when you were in Zula's presence, you automatically had class. You had to know how to behave. That meant no rudeness, no lying, no bad manners; it meant respect for yourself and for others. Zula wasn't a "mean, old lady, thought" says my mother. "She came from a different time, with different values & ideas. She was a LADY...there's a big difference between a lady and a real LADY."
Zula loved rain, and in turn, my mother learned to love the rain; the scent of rain to fall...the soft hypnotic patter of raindrops on the window pane...the beauty that it spreads across the land as it gives flowers, grass, and trees a drink and encourages them to grow... An air of elegance...an aura of sophistication and class...those are the words that describe Miss Zula Madge Hart.
She was a beautiful young woman in the pictures that my mother remembers seeing of her. In those old yellowed photographs, Zula possessed a calm, serene smile, and kind, ageless green eyes. She was truly a beautiful woman in every sense of the word. My mother hasn't seen great-grandma Zula's face for thirty years now. The life that used to sparkle in Zula Hart's eyes disappeared in 1975, at the age of 88.
My mother has no photographs to remember the beautiful woman who made such a difference in her life. But, in her mind's memory she remembers a beautiful old woman...inside and out, through & through. So beautiful in fact that her beauty & kindness spread out to her everyone who knew her. A beauty and kindness so unforgettable that it lives on...in my mother...in me, and in my sister...and in everyone else who believes that what is lovely never dies; instead it passes into other loveliness...into honeysuckle roses, soft feather beds, and the scent of rain soon too fall.