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The First Meals on Wheels
Alice Phipps

Image: Rug 10 - The First Meals on Wheels
The First Meals on Wheels
Alice Phipps

Tell Me ‘Bout Series, 1999.
Dimensions: 42 x 58 inches.
Hooked on twelve-thread-count linen; Hand-dyed wool strips cut on 3/32", 5/32" and 6/32" wheel.
Views: 800px - 1024px - Zoom

Commentary by Mary Sheppard Burton

Before the first decades of the twentieth century had passed, there was literally no help, no network within a community, to provide for those in need. Except as individuals took an interest in nurturing the elderly and those unfortunately ill, there was no one to lend a heart and hand.

'Bout 1910 Salisbury's network for giving those in serious need developed. I remember hearing 'bout some of the old doctors when I was small. I heard the grandmothers and my parents talk 'bout two Doctor Freenys at Pittsville, Dr. Dick, Dr. Mann and later Dr. Warner; and my beloved Dr. Burris, and Dr. Lankford at Tyaskin.

One of them got the idea that some of his patients needed a healthy meal in order to recuperate. A phone call was made on one of Salisbury's small phone lines to the head operator. Her name was Mamie Phipps; a relative. Mamie in turn plugged her phone line in to the butcher, the grocery, and a few others who found a way of providing necessary ingredients for a good healthy soup.

My grandmother, Mary Frances Phipps, agreed to put the soup together. My mother, Alice Phipps, agreed to take it on her bicycle to those who were so ill.

It must be remembered these were very lean times for most Salisburians. This was a community of caring people.

A box was bolted and braced to the rear fender of my mother's bicycle. It was just deep enough to secure a large pot of soup and a ladle. Alice knew through the grape vine where to go to give a little cheer and a bowl of soup. This was a daily routine. She became the little angel of mercy to those who were ill.

In those days, both the young and the old put their hearts and hands together to give joyfully to many who were so desperate. This was a love well received. True bonds of hope and loving care became the bridges beyond despair.

The first Meals On Wheels began on the wheels of Alice Phipps' bicycle with a cheery word and a bowl of hearty.

"Footsteps on History: Tell Me 'Bout Series"
Family Portraits by Mary Sheppard Burton. Undated


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   May 15, 2015
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