Christmas comes early to Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 1999

Christmas has come early to Jackie Gardner’s house in Ferriday, La., as she helped her granddaughter make Christmas presents Sunday for her teachers.

Gardner lives on U.S. 84 in Ferriday near the intersection of Mack Moore Road.

The house she lives in now is the house she grew up in.

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&uot;When my husband retired from civil engineering, we moved back to Ferriday and bought back the place,&uot; Gardner said.

Twenty-nine years later, Gardner is helping her daughter, Kitty Smith, and her 10-year-old granddaughter, Kaci Smith, make Christmas gifts for Kaci’s teachers at Vidalia Upper Elementary.

Her daughter and granddaughter have inherited Gardner’s love of art. Paintings around the house bear Gardner’s signature.

Gardner also paints T-shirts, sweatshirts and saw blades as gifts.

Between making personalized Christmas ornaments and decorations, Kaci enjoys playing with her grandmother’s menagerie of animals.

There’s Bo and Buffy, the toy poodles; Shiloh the orange tabby cat; Rambo the Doberman; Polly and Paul the parakeets; and Wobbles, a gray tabby cat with a deformed spine who wobbles when he walks.

Wobbles was rescued by Gardner’s son from a local veterinary practice where he was to be euthanized.

Good-natured Bo tolerates impromptu dress-up sessions with Kaci and Gardner’s other grandchildren.

A retired beautician, Gardner has four children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. She sees her life as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother as a growth experience.

&uot;You get wise about these kids,&uot; Gardner said. &uot;I’m better to these kids than to mine,&uot; she said nodding to Kaci.

&uot;When you’re younger, you don’t realize your own children,&uot; she said.

During the growing up years for her children, Gardner said they lived all over the country since her late husband’s work demanded travel.

&uot;We didn’t have a lot of friends,&uot; she said. &uot;We had each other.&uot;

Now Gardner enjoys bowling. She and her daughter Kitty are members of the Southern Belles bowling league at Rivergate Lanes in Natchez.

The Dart is a weekly feature in which a reporter throws a dart at a map and finds a story wherever it lands.