...The following is text of article in the FLORENCE TIMES 1968. I did not have a digital copy to attach to my earlier post about Goldie Clayton (Allen) Balch & Robert Villard Balch. Kay
For The Land Is Forever
By Catherine Robbins
Late evening warmth spreads over the land and softens the outlines of a modest white house just out of Lexington. The rays tangle and spread out from the branches of a huge weeping willow off to the right, which long ago had been "set out as a sprout."far down the lawn a son, now grown into manhood, romps with a huge collie.
"Buddy," his voice rises in unhurried gladness across the expanse of green and the beautiful animal is quiet. The black cat, El Gotto, glides across the front porch and peers through the screen, his fur ruffled in the breeze, his ragged ears poised and listening for welcoming noises from inside the house.
From across the fields a man comes home, taking the long strides of the farmer accustomed to walking the land, and a brisk, petite woman leaves the house and walks with shining eyes to meet him.
For forty-two years Villard and Clayton Balch have lived out the age-old drama of the sharing of two lives. Thirty-nine of these years have been spent in this house, filled now with the memory of laughing children---eleven were born to them - - the passing parade of dogs and cats and horses that usually accumulate where there are warm and loving hearts.
A faded red barn stands at the end of the drive and several old cars are "parked" down there, symbols of the passage of time. The children come and go now in shining new automobiles, but Mr. Balch drove Lauderdale roads that were sometimes little more than trails to court his wife.
"I don't know how many times we turned that buggy over." His eyes twinkled and a mischievous smile softened his face as he remembered. It seems that "hot-rodders" were not born yesterday.
On May 27, the Balches were honored on the occasion of their daughter, Melinda's, graduation from Lexington High School. They have had one or more children in the school continuously for the past thirty-five years.
"We are so thankful for the children's good health." Mrs. Balch thought back over the years. "Marcie's rheumatoid arthritis was the only really serious illness."
The entire Balch family has enjoyed long life and good health. Recently, Mr. Balch's parent's Mr. and Mrs. R.D. Balch, celebrated their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary.
To the eleven children, twenty-three grandchildren have been added, all living within a few minutes drive of their grandparents home, with the exception of Marcie's children, who are in Maryland.
The children.....the children....their names fall softly from the lips of their parents as pictures are brought out, accomplishments retold, Melinda's beautiful wedding dress that she designed and made and wore only last week, is shown. Wendall, Ralph, and Louise (Mrs. Hobert Williams) are in Lexington; Zelma, J.V., Carol (Mrs. Dempsy Young), Raymond, Anthony, Melinda (Mrs. Larry McGee), in Florence; Ruth (Mrs. Billy Joe Mashburn), Loretto; and Marcie (Mrs. Oris Bullock) in Silver Springs, Md. vintage boho wedding dress
Mrs. Balch's own mother died when she was fourteen and she became "mother" to her younger sisters, three sets of twins plus two other children. When they visit her now it is as if they were going "home to mother."
The gracious generosity of this couple has spread far beyond the family circle. They are active members of the Cumberland Presbytarian Church and a great number of friends and even just acquaintances have reason to remember the Balches with pleasure -- for visits when they were sick, for gifts of Mrs. Balches home-made rolls and doughnuts, for just that certain quality of steadfastness that has held through the years.
You walk through the shining rooms, run your fingers over the keyboard of the antique piano, let the dellicious home-made cake served by this charming lady melt in your mouth, listen to the laughter in their voices, and you know that you are in a house that love bult.
"I might have been more successful in the eyes of the world if I had left the farm - several times I did work for Reynolds and TVA - even went to Michigan a few times to work for the Pontiac Corporation, but always, in the spring, I would come back to the land. Here was something I could share with the children - something I could do and still be with the family."
You walk to your car - you had meant to stay thirty minutes, but you have been there almost three hours - and you're not quite sure why you fumble with your door or why the trees blur before you. You feel an unaccountable lift to your chin and a fierce pride that burns somewhere within you. A certain sense of satisfaction shapes a smile on your own lips and you know again that life is good and life is even beautiful.