The Dart: Natchez woman not deterred by hard times

Published 12:06 am Monday, August 14, 2017

By Lyndy Berryhill

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Georgia Harrison Williams Holmes says she has always had to be creative to make ends meet.

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When The Dart landed on Mascagni Avenue in Natchez, Holmes was sitting in her front yard, reflecting on the many years she has worked and scraped by to afford her house.

In her 68 years, Holmes has sewed, taught arts and crafts to senior citizens and sold wreaths she made from old potato chip bags among a myriad of other jobs.

“You name it. I’ve done it,” Holmes said.

Holmes is no stranger to hard times.

“Financially, sometimes I would be doing very well, but then again, sometimes I was at flat zero,” Holmes said.

She grew up in a large family where she had to share rooms with her siblings or other relatives, but she never gave up a dream of having her own house.

Forty-four years ago, Holmes pinched pennies for the down payment on her house. But when she came with the money, the banks told her she had to have a husband because women could not be trusted to pay their bills on time.

Holmes said even though she wanted a house of her own more than a husband to take care of, she got married. Her husband at the time did not want to help pay the bills at all much less pay them on time.

But Holmes was not deterred. She worked multiple jobs, hemming pants on the side to make the mortgage.

The marriage did not last. But Holmes kept her house.

“I wanted the house bad enough,” she said. “So I’ve been working a long, long time.”

One son grew up with health problems that weighed heavy on Holmes’ purse and her heart.  To cut costs on raising her children, she made all of their clothes and adjusted hand-me-downs.

Thankfully, Holmes said, her son has a pretty good quality of health now.

“I had stressful days and a lot of emotional problems, but the Lord … helped me out of it,” Holmes said.

These days her dream home is not what it used to be.

The roof needs repairs and the ceiling fell in one night last year while Holmes was sleeping.

Holmes said she plans to get her house fixed soon, but now she sleeps on a futon in a small storage unit next to her house. She was frightened to live where the weather or a snake could get inside.

“I bought (the storage unit) to have somewhere where I could stay until I can finish getting (the house) worked on,” Holmes said gesturing to her one-room living quarters.

“Until the day I die, I still want to be independent.”

She does not know how long it will take her to save up each month to afford the repairs. Whatever it takes to stay in her house, she intends to stay.

“I have never left it,” Holmes said.