Sheila Ingle’s husband John was brought up in Ingle Holler in Union, South Carolina, with eight other Ingle families. They worked together in the mills, shared their gardens, attended church, and enjoyed the playing and singing of the songs from the Grand Ole Opry. When five of the brothers went off to war, those who couldn’t fight took care of their families. The Ingles stuck together, just like they were taught in the Appalachian hills of Erwin, Tennessee.
Love of God, love of family, and love of country were modelled in each home. In fact, one year Make Ingle put his sons and grandsons together to build Hillside Baptist Church. Adults kept up with the newspapers and the radios; world happenings were important. Any type of sickness brought a barrage of soup and cornbread, because children still had to eat.
On those twenty acres, the children played in the creek, cowboys and Indians, and hide-and-seek. They built their own wagons and sleds to race down the hill on the dry, hickory leaves. All the boys learned to shoot a .22 caliber, and John’s mother Lois could light a match with her shots.
Living in Ingle Holler was home, where each one was accepted.
“The family stories told in Tales of a Cosmic Possum took me back to my childhood and the many evenings I spent at my grandfather’s knee begging for one more family story of hard work, struggle, and living a simple, Christian life with kindness and generosity for those in need. These stories will resonate with you and leave you with a sense of appreciation and nostalgia.”
~ Krista L. Newkirk
President, Converse College
“The eight women so vividly described by Sheila Ingle knew hardship, but found ways to make a home, earn a living, encourage education, teach values and manners, and most of all instill a sense of self worth and pride in honest work. As I read, I could taste the cornbread and molasses, smell the clean clothes billowing on the clothes line, envision the cherished quilted and tatted keepsakes, and hear the beautiful hymns. Most of all, I could see a ninth woman who was a single mother who worked in the local mill for fifty-two years, took her daughters to church, taught them to value education, good manners and hard work. For I am a daughter of the ninth woman and a ‘daughter’ of Sheila Ingle’s pioneering women and I enjoyed immensely visiting with my kin!”
~ Dr. Ann Bowles
Administrator at Spartanburg Methodist College, formerly Textile Industrial Institute
“Like her characters who preserved peaches and beans in the summer to be enjoyed in the winter, Sheila Ingle has preserved the stories of her husband’s family to be enjoyed now that they’re gone. From hardscrabble Tennessee farms to upstate South Carolina mills, the women of this clan kept their heads up and their hands moving, quilting, cooking, and serving hot grits to hungry hoboes. Thanks to these clear-eyed, God-fearing women, their families survived fearsome poverty and a lacking education to endure the diseases and numbing physical labor of textile mills. Once so common, these Tales of a Cosmic Possum are fast becoming more uncommon. You’ll want to celebrate them and their heroines again and again.”
~ Aïda Rogers
Editor of the anthology series State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love