FC: Sydney and WALKER Fifty Years
1: This album is presented to Walker and Sydney Pettyjohn in celebration of fifty years of marriage and the way they lived their lives with love. For the ways you treasure broken people and broken things, for the commitment you have to your family, and for the way you honor everyone's belovedness, we honor you. In this book, you'll hear the voices of your family, near and far. Photos pulled from from many dusty albums, memories shared from many different people. It is all of us, together, gathered around Mimi's old table for a happy chat.
2: Sydney Elizabeth Smith | Sydney and Walker were married on March 25, 1964
5: Mom and Dad gave me the greatest gift parents can give a child--unconditional love. My first sense of being a beloved child of God was from them. My mom told me stories of Jesus starting when I was very young, not in a proselytizing way, but just to share Jesus with me. I remember feeling the presence of Jesus' love as she told the stories. My father spent a lot of time with me, especially when I was young. One special memory I have of him is when he took me to see The Sound of Music when I was 8. I remember him buying me an orange soda in one of those plastic oranges they used to sell at the movies. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for all your love and for all the memories. Blessings, Peace, and Love, - -Blair
6: Evan and G-Momma | Sydney and Evan | Mark and Evan | Thanks Mom and Dad for all the memories, laughs, giggles, stories, snafus, etc. A few of the memories I will always cherish are the rides to and from Junaluska with me and Kemp laughing up a storm at just about anything!!! Perhaps the most lasting memories are your cherished and loving phone calls with Dad's muffled voice in the background. Love you bunches!!! --Evan
7: Three Brothers
9: He was beautiful, beautiful to my eyes, From the moment I saw him sun filled the skies. He was so, so beautiful, beautiful just to hold, In my dreams he was springtime, winter was cold. Ah, but it was beautiful, knowing now that he cared, I will always remember times that we shared. Now it's all over--still the feelings linger on, For my dream keeps returning now that he's gone. For it was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful to be loved.
10: "Look at Walker's stylish pants!" --Susan Arthur | It's so easy to dream of the days gone by It's a hard thing to think of the times to come But the grace to accept ev'ry moment as a gift Is a gift that is given to some What can you do with your days but work & hope Let your dreams bind your work to your play What can you do with each moment of your life But love til you've loved it away Love til you've loved it away
11: Walker, Sydney, and Kemp in Scotland
12: When Aunt Sydney laughs, you can't help but feel good. She reminds me of Mimi when she gets ready to say something funny, but starts giggling before she says it. --Susan Cato
13: In this world, there is no one’s laughter that ever has, nor probably ever will make a more lasting and joyous impression on me than that of my Uncle Walker! --Susan Cato
14: One of the most special episodes of my life, though short-lived, was spent with Walker, Sydney and their young boys in Charleston when I was 27. I was between jobs and very confused about my life's direction. I went to Charleston hoping to spend some time surfing and then go on to Florida for more surf. I ended up staying with Walker and Sydney for over a month. The whole family "took me in" and made me feel so at home. I'll always remember how warm and loving they were as a family and how accepting and non-judgmental they were of me. I remember morning breakfast with Walker and Sydney after the boys had gone to school. Just sitting around the table talking. Also basketball with the boys and even Walker in the backyard, going out to eat as a "family," and watching the Super Bowl together. Over the years Walker and Sydney have remained so interested in me and my family, and so caring. --John Pettyjohn
15: My memories of Walker & Sydney are of special family times--our family-only wedding, and Christmas get-togethers at Susan's. When John and I decided to marry, Walker graciously offered us his church as a venue and to do the service. Sydney booked the little restaurant at Ivy for our small reception. All three boys attended and my memories are vivid of how kind and sensitive all three boys were, which always attested to me that they were most certainly raised "right." I continue to be impressed by Blair and Evan and what wonderful men they are and how they respect women. That only happens when they are raised by loving parents, and especially a wonderful mother. What also has always been evident to me is the relationship that Walker and Sydney have. They are so close and so loving to each other. That is rare, and very special. --Terri Pettyjohn
16: I love the way that Aunt Sydney treasures things that are worn and cracked, or a little bit broken. It makes them special--signs of having been loved and used. I feel that way too. Some of the "things" dearest to me are the ones that aren't so shiny and maybe not "perfect" anymore. I know Aunt Sydney gets it. I like when she calls you "Darlin'." My earliest memory of Aunt Sydney was the feeling that she was the prettiest lady I had ever seen in person. She looked pretty and she sounded pretty and she smelled pretty. I remember her blond hair tied back with a colorful scarf. | One funny memory is of a time when I was a prepubescent girl spending a summer visit with Mimi and Papa at Lake Junaluska...Aunt Sydney and Walker were there with Blair, and he was just a toddler. Anyway, Mimi and the Smith women-folk seemed to be keen on conservation long before it was fashionable. One evening as bathtime approached, someone (probably Aunt Sydney) came up with the great idea that Blair and I could share the tub. Oh, did I forget to say that Aunt Sydney was fairly open-minded and liberal before that became fashionable, too? She would even call body parts by the correct names (can you imagine?!) "There's nothing to be embarrassed about," she assured me. "And Blair's just a baby," I, on the other hand, was mortified. I had never even changed a diaper and I sure didn't want to see a naked little boy now! I looked to mom, thinking she would save me, but noooo--she and my sister thought it was no big deal. Too embarrassed to protest, and realizing that I was the only self-conscious one present, I took the inevitable plunge. Yes, Blair and I took a bath together! He happily splashed and made bubbles in the water while I tried my best to avoid seeing or displaying any nakedness whatsoever. That may have been the quickest bath I ever took. Years later, that same open-mindedness and unabashed nature proved Aunt Sydney to be the easiest person to talk to about anything and everything. Her insight, compassion, humor, and grace are just some of gifts she has shared with us all. I admire her more than she could possibly know.
17: When I was little, Uncle Walker would take us out rowboating on Lake Junaluska. There were usually several kids that went. I don't remember my age, but I know I was pretty young because I didn't know how to ask questions or express myself very effectively yet. One question that caused me much consternation was why Uncle Walker sat in the boat backwards!? He always sat toward the "bow" of the boat (another thing I found curious, since I never, ever once saw the boat or anyone on it "bow"). Anyway, he would face the rest of us, and he would row the boat with these great big oars, lifting them out of the water, pushing the handles forward, then smoothly dipping them back into the water and drawing the handles back toward him. He would do this over and over, and the boat would smoothly glide over the water, sometimes lazily, and sometimes fast enough to make us giddy. But why doesn’t he turn around and look where he is going? I thought. What if he runs into something? Maybe someone should tell him he’s backwards..? I wondered and wondered until one day I came up with the answer.... Years later I learned that it way was the correct and most efficient way to row a boat. But by that time it didn’t matter anyway. Because years before as a small child gripping the sides of the boat as it skimmed across the great expanse of Lake Junaluska, I had cleverly deduced that our Uncle Walker rode the boat backwards so that he could keep an eye on his precious passengers, and make sure that we were always safe. | Aunt Sydney and Uncle Walker, you are two of the most wonderful, genuine people I've ever known, and I feel blessed and proud that we are family. I love you higher than the sky. | XOXOXOXOXOXO, --Susan Cato
18: The first time I met Walker was when our family was living with Mimi and Papa in Chester, SC. He had come to see Sydney, and I don't know if they were married yet or if he was still in the marines. I do know that he took Randy and I out back and cooked up some K-rations. It was then that I knew he was the coolest and most "urbane and traveled" uncle I would ever have. | Of course Sydney was beautiful and elegant, but one afternoon when Mimi and Papa were out, Sydney and Walker were sitting on the couch, and Walker had his feet on Sydney’s lap. All of a sudden, he started snickering and weaved his foot up her blouse and underneath her bra, all the time whistling and yahooing. Sydney didn’t try to move his foot, just giggled like a school girl. In my little 8 year old brain, I thought it was funny and proved my aunt and uncle’s coolness. But the most valuable lesson I think I learned was that “sex stuff” was healthy and sometimes even funny! Thank you, Walker and Sydney! When I was about 11 or 12, I rode with Walker and Sydney to Lake Junaluska in their VW bug convertible. They had the top down and I was sitting in the back on top of the roof with my feet on the seat. I know exactly how Leonardo DeCaprio felt when he was on the bow of the Titanic, because baby, I was Queen of the World!! Walker and Sydney have always meant something special to me because they were the first family members I knew who were groovy. In spite of the years, theirs and mine, they still laugh, and are playful, and never take themselves too seriously. Walker and Sydney, you are still the grooviest! --Debbie Wilkinson
19: I grew up thinking Sydney was a princess. She was 11 years older than I was and she was so "cosmo" to my young eyes. I wanted to be just like her...as pretty, as independent, as sassy. She was my role model of what the modern woman was like...AND she had the coolest husband in town! He was tall, handsome, athletic, outspoken and together they turned our world upside down! As I grew into adulthood, we continued our relationship via phone calls and occasional visits when we were all together at Thanksgiving or summers at Junaluska. Laughter was the element I most remember. We laughed about everything...each other, the stages of life we were in, life in general...it was always such a blessing to be together. You just went away feeling like, "ahhhh, that was fun!" and you looked forward to the next time. Our world, during those days, had ups and downs but mostly we felt protected from the tragedies the rest of the world seemed to experience. Since those days, the loss our family has known has been immense. It has also been heaven's gain. The faith in God that our ancestors gave us has been our strength, but it is our love for each other that always binds us wonderfully together! --Connie McLeod | Thank you for your love and thoughtfulness over the years, Sydney. You’ve been such a good keeper of the family memories that we all cherish. One fond memory I have is when I was twelve years old. My mom and 3 sisters and I came to live with you and Mimi and Papa for almost a year in Chester, SC. Where did we all sleep? I remember your cool Marine boyfriend, Walker, who would come visit you when he was on leave. I don’t ever remember you being impatient or unkind, even though I can hardly imagine that it wasn’t a difficult situation for you. Your 2013 Christmas card and wishes to my family express our feelings to you both: “Love, love, love to all, Shalom." --Randy Heisley-Cato
20: The picture to the left is a special favorite of mine that has been on my refrigerator for years. Sydney is holding up my son, Walker, who appears to have taken "something." Sydney is having a little sustenance and Cecil is checking it out. This is probably from one of our last Thanksgiving get-togethers. Sydney is the best cook and always brought good things to share. --Susan Arthur | We did have good times! I remember our beach trips. We all adored being with Blair, Evan, and Kemp. I think we all remember Kemp's lack of fear of the ocean and waves. He was never tentative--just took off running, right into the waves.
21: You guys are an inspiration to us all--what a happy couple you have been throughout the years! As I look back at the memories we have had together, I remember playing with Blair, Evan, and Kemp in South Carolina. We used to love playing Cowboys and Indians, going to eat hamburgers at Bessingers, and playing hide-and-seek in the barn at Papa and Mimi's place in Mullins, SC. We've had some good conversations on the porch of Bonnie Braes and look forward to many more good times. Sydney, you have cheered me up on many occasions and I've enjoyed our talks about my father, Steve. Winnie has enjoyed your conversations about life and such throughout the years. We have so enjoyed being close neighbors at Lake Junaluska. Happy Anniversary, with lots of love and admiration. --Mark, Winnie, and Charlie Smith | Sydney with Steve Smith | Charlie, Mark, and Sydney
22: I sent a "tea time" card to Sydney on one of her last birthdays. She was so sweet, and sent me back some Oolong tea bags--her favorites. These pictures are from Christmas 1999-2000 in Virginia, at Susan's house. All of my brothers and sisters came to see me and we had the best time! Walker was so funny and called me, Susan, and Sydney the "3 Buddha Babies" because of our full tummies--it was because of Susan's great spaghetti! --Lots of hugs and love, Nannie O. and Terry | Walker with Cecil, Evan, John, and Jimmy | Sydney with Sherry, Kara, Terri, Lynn, and Anna | I was the babe of the clan and was not around for much (I have lived away from the area for most of my adulthood), but I do remember babysitting for them as a teenager when young Blair was a babe. Walker was finishing school at Lynchburg College at the time. Somehow we both (Blair and I) survived. Blair should know he was a perfect gentlemen from the start as I never had to change his diapers. That would have probably left a dangerous psychological scar on him if I had. Happy Anniversary, Walker & Sydney! --Jim Pettyjohn
23: We all met for the first time on Thanksgiving, 2001. Mom, the way you listened to me has stayed with me since that day in Chatham. When I told you that both of my parents had passed away, you reached across the beautiful Thanksgiving table, took my hand, and asked, "What were they like?" No one had ever asked me something like that before. In an instant, I felt that you cared about me, that my story was important, and that there was something sacred about our bond. That question has meant everything to me in the years since. I feel in my heart that nothing can come between us. You belong to me and I belong to you. Dad, when I told you that day that I had old home movies of my parents I'd never seen, you hurriedly brought up your old movie camera from the basement and gave it to me to keep. You sat with me at the dining room table and patiently showed me how to use it; I think you wanted to help me hear their voices again. I will always remember how loving you were to me. I pray you always remember how much you are loved--by me, and by everyone in this family. Love, Diane
25: With Huggins and Holly
26: 2014 | Mimi and her Sarah "D"
27: Walker and Sydney became grandparents on June 9, 2012. Their love and their story live on and on and on.
28: Walker and Sydney, know in your hearts that you are beloved. Thank you for letting us be a part of your fifty-year love story.