Alysen Land’s Memories as a Girl
on Markham Hill in the 1960s
Oral account by Alysen Land, written by Lisa Orton
My name as a girl was Sara Alyce Lumbert. People called me Alyce. In the mid-1960s, I was 11 years old and a fearful, active, nervous child who preferred being alone. But I loved animals. I would get into trouble climbing onto the back of any horse, cow, or bucking bronco I encountered. My Aunt Lou, who was friends with Mrs. Markham, suggested to my parents that I might enjoy riding and taking care of Mrs. Markham’s horses. So, for the next 3-4 years on Saturdays, my parents would drive me up to Mrs. Markham’s place and leave me for the day. I loved it. I cleaned out stalls, brushed the horses, and exercised them. I especially remember Douglas, a welsh pony, and Pet, a dabbled grey that was half Arabian. Once Mrs. Markham rode with me side saddle. I thought she was a real lady.
About once a month my mother would stay awhile and visit with Mrs. Markham. In nice weather they would sit in the yard at a white cast iron table and chairs, among the daffodils. Mrs. Markham would serve tea and butter cookies. Both Mrs. Markham and my mother enjoyed talking about history. They would yack like crazy. My parents admired Mrs. Markham and helped out any way they could. My mother would sometimes do house cleaning and my father did handyman work, like stacking wood, fixing things, and washing Mrs. Markham’s two collies.
Mrs. Markham was a great storyteller. On winter days, she would read aloud marvelous books to me from her library. I loved listening to her voice and its cadence. She showed me a book on how to identify animal tracks. We would pick one out and I would have the assignment to go find it. She had art on her walls in every room and cool things to check out like a trundle bed. I learned the benefits of teas, herbs, and vitamins from Mrs. Markham because she believed that the body can usually heal itself without the need for doctors. I think this had a big influence on me working at Ozark Natural Foods for 23 years when I became an adult.
Mrs. Markham would attend my junior orchestra recitals in the then new Fine Arts building. We would walk through the art exhibits afterwards. I remember when Mrs. Markham wanted to attend my oldest sister’s high school graduation. My father drove her and my family to the ceremony in her Rolls-Royce. We received a few stares which I was oblivious to at the time. Mrs. Markham gave my sister a graduation gift of a set of Tourister luggage.
Even though in high school I moved on to boyfriends and working at my cousins’ farm in Magazine, Arkansas in the summers, I will always remember and appreciate Mrs. Markham’s influence on my life.
About the photo: Neighbors on Markham Hill (in Haskell Heights, University Heights, and the Marinoni property) often kept their horses for a time in each other's pastures in the 1960s through 1980s. Here are Marion Orton's horses Jada and Jing and Jane Scrogg's horse Yazou in the Nichol's pasture in Haskell Heights on Markham Hill.