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Libby Lord 1922-2017

Elizabeth Gordon Lord (nee Topp), 95, beloved wife of the late Robert I. Lord and mother of Gordon Lord (Laurie) of Goshen, IN, Mimi Lord (Jim Wilson) of Shaker Hts. OH and the late William Lord. Grandmother of Mary, Geoffrey and Sarah Lord, and Heather and Nathan Wilson, died November 28, 2017.
Libby was loved by so many and she loved everyone she knew as well as those she never met. She had a full and happy life due to all of her treasured relationships.
Libby was born on April 14, 1922 in Pulaski, Tennessee to Mary and Gordon Topp. She grew up with three sisters on a beautiful farm in Pulaski, riding horses and playing in the swimming hole that her father would dredge every spring. Libby attended public schools in Pulaski and Lynnville, TN, followed by Peabody College in Nashville Tennessee with a degree in English and Education. She met Robert Lord who was attending Vanderbilt at the same time, and they were married on April 29, 1943. Robert served in WW II and worked in civil engineering while Libby worked as a bank teller and English teacher. Their first child, Gordon Lord, was born in Columbia TN in 1948.
After moving to Washington Indiana in 1950, Libby and Robert had two more children: Mimi in 1951 and Bill in 1954. Robert owned and managed a hardware store in Washington for more than 40 years. Libby helped out at the store while taking care of the children and her mother following a severe stroke. Later, she began teaching again, first in kindergarten for several years and then at Washington High School where she taught English literature and composition for 15 years. Many of her former students and friends recently sent her messages to her Facebook page (under Libby Lord) which you may choose to visit.
After Robert died, Libby moved to University Heights and became active at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, helping with Project Renewal, Church Women United, and various service activities with the Women's Guild.
Cleveland-based friends may make contributions in her name to The Memorial Fund of Fairmount Presbyterian Church; 2757 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Hts., OH 44118 where Funeral Services will be held in The Chapel, Friday, December 1st at 2:30 PM; others may make contributions to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Washington, IN.
Interment will be in Washington, Indiana.
From the 1970 & 1971 WHS Yearbooks: Elizabeth Lord; English.
Peabody College B.A.  Indiana University M.S.
By Libby Topp Lord Dec. 1954
As I drove toward Indiana my mind and the acceleration of the car were in perfect harmony. Happily, I anticipated seeing my husband and six-year- old son in a couple of hours after a two-week vacation with my family in Tennessee.
My four-month-old baby was sleeping angelically on a pillow on the front seat of the car and Mimi, three years old, was doing a diabolical job entertaining herself with new toys, and, as I found out later, my favorite lipstick.
It was cold outside but so nice and warm inside. I was elated with the progress we were making. But woe unto me for nurturing such optimistic thoughts. Alas, the car began to vibrate slightly. Thinking it was a washboard pavement, I speeded up. The vibration was no longer slight but was so vigorous that when I slowed down and pulled off the road into a private drive, my handle and arms were numb.
The baby, now pivoted on the edge of the seat, was a screaming demon and Mimi was terrified. So was I when I looked back and saw her flaming red face.
We walked up to the door of the nearby house. I greeted the gentleman at the door with a warm smile. Mimi sobbed and Bill alternated between sucking his bottle and whimpering. The man’s expression was readable. He was trying to decide whether we were long lost friends, acquaintances or who the devil? When he learned of my dilemma, I suspicioned we were placed in the latter category.
As I now know, if you are planning on having car trouble away from home on a Sunday afternoon when garages are closed, try to get acquainted quickly with people who have a couple or so kids. People are so kind to ladies in distress with small children, and this man, bless him, was no exception.
Walking to the car with my new friend, I realized what a spectacle we presented. Mimi’s face was still bathed in lipstick and I was trying to walk, hold, comfort, and feed Bill. The car had several coats of mud on it and protruding out the rear end was an old kitchen safe with the original tin—not much to look at in its present condition, but I could see its potentialities. This gentleman saw the situation as it was in glaring reality—a dirty car, a bundle of dirty clothes, suitcases, baby bottles, books, toys and the backseat cover unique with red lipstick designs.
After driving the car a short distance up the drive, Mr. R. decided my trouble was a worn-out bearing or tie rod. He tried calling several garages to no avail, leaving him no alternative but to take us to Evansville to catch a bus home.
Getting the necessary gear out of our car was no small job. I had to have diapers, baby’s milk, some clothes, our coats, and my pocketbook; and Mimi had to have her doll, toy iron and her doll baby’s bottles. Patiently, Mr. R. loaded the car and then did some rearranging when Mimi refused to ride in the front seat. In about an hour from the time I stopped we were all loaded and on our way.
About two miles up the road, Bill decided he wanted his bottle which was ice cold. I very nicely asked my benefactor to stop the car and hold the baby while I scrambled through the back seat for the bottle warmer, which is a wonderful gadget and, incidentally, we sell them in our hardware store.
Once more we are on our way. Something begins to flap. The car is stopped. There is nothing to do but return to his home and call his son to taxi us.
The bags, the bottles, the toys, the children and I are transferred to another car and we reached Evansville in no time flat. I always felt the men were anxious for me to catch the earliest bus possible. After parking at the station, we unpacked, making sure we had everything. The men each carried a bag. I carried my diaper bag, my pocketbook, Mimi’s doll, iron and her baby’s bottles because she refused to carry them or let the men carry them. I carried them, refusing to have a scene at this stage of the game.
Profusely, I thanked the gentlemen, paid them and went to inquire about my bus. The younger man made the mistake of waiting until he could see that I had bought my ticket. This I did not do as I was at the wrong station! The one I needed was across town.
With saintly patience, my paraphernalia was taken back to the car. At the second station I thanked the men even more profusely, and with their assistance we entered the station. I assured them everything was fine and insisted that they go on their way, which they did, and for which I could not censor them.
On finding my bus would not arrive in Evansville for three hours, I called my husband, knowing that he had no car for rescuing us but wanting to hear his voice. The operator finally located him at the home of friends. To my delight and relief, Robert and a friend came after us and brought us home.
The next day Robert called a garage in Henderson, Kentucky to tow our car in and repair it. Before calling, he checked on the reliability of this particular company. Three days later this “reliable” company phoned and informed us they had tuned up our car to the tune of two hundred sixty-two dollars and sixty-three cents.
I called the bus station for a schedule so that I could travel the sixty-two miles to pick up our car which had suddenly become so valuable. In a few minutes I am waiting for the 9:30 A.M. bus.
The minutes tick by. Nine-thirty. No bus. ten o’clock. No bus. I inquire. The bus must be late. Ten-thirty. No bus. Again, I inquire. The ticket agent looks at her schedule. Yes, the bus must be late. I sit down. The agent continues to investigate and in a few minutes reveals she had read her chart incorrectly. The bus would arrive at nine-thirty P.M. With this information, I leave.
A day later I arrive at Henderson at approximately four-thirty P.M.
My anger mounted with each step I took. By the time I reached the garage my ire was evident in every feature of my face. On entering, I asked to see the manager and one look at me put him immediately on the defensive. He began at once to explain that he was only following in good faith my husband’s instructions. I didn’t like this man.
He took me to the head mechanic, a soft-spoken fellow, who gave the manager the protection he needed.
I then proceeded to tell them how to run their business. “And for heaven’s sake,” I expostulated, “granting you are honest, never make a major repair on an old car without affirming it with a letter or phone call—particularly,” I ranted on, “when you know the owner of the car has a hardware store and sells parts for a living.” They kept assuring me they were honest and I kept asserting they were lacking in common sense. Their assurances and my assertions got me nowhere.
My hand trembling with rage, I wrote out a check for the two hundred and sixty-two dollars. The soft-spoken mechanic corrected me. The bill was two hundred sixty-two dollars and sixty-three cents. I replied: “By all means.”
Hanging out the rear was my beautiful old broken-down safe. I was so relieved. The car started right up and with excess politeness the repairman guided me out of the crowded garage and thanked me as I left. I in turn muttered he was NOT welcome.
Two blocks from the garage the car stopped in the middle of the street. Cars honked, men drivers glared at that fool woman and I fumed.
Since another garage was right at hand, I asked a mechanic to push my car out of the street. He did. He also informed me I was having trouble with the voltage regulator and charged me two dollars and seventy-five cents. I left, drove two more blocks and the engine died. The attendant at a service station used a booster on the battery and the car started. This cost me two dollars.
About four blocks farther the car did it again, this time sputtering. I checked the gas gauge and it was on empty. Fortunately, I was near another service station and some kind soul pushed me out of the street. The tank was filled with gas and the oil checked. There was not that first drop of oil in the crank case. Six quarts went in. I thought it must be running straight through and I even got out and looked under the car.
Two hours had elapsed and I had gone less than a mile. As I was leaving the city limits, the motor failed again. Fury raged inside me. Once more the booster was put on and this mechanic was sure my trouble was in the generator. For this repair I paid one dollar and seventy-five cents. After driving the car around several blocks, starting and stopping it, the garageman assured me I would get home without further trouble. He had been so nice I gave him another dollar.
By now, I was very much like a pressure cooker that had built up too much steam. I needed a safety valve to allow the steam to escape without explosion. To be completely truthful, I was too angry to be driving. I followed the traffic into Evansville, racing my motor at each stoplight to keep from killing my engine. At the fourth light I just followed the traffic and failed to notice the signal. I did notice a truck approaching on my right, and in the center of the cross section it hit the side of my car right smack in the middle, damaging both doors and post.
The driver jumped out and began pointing his finger at me accusingly. Two very nice policemen came. They seemed surprised when I admitted I had run the red light. I suppose it was a novel experience for them. The truck driver was abashed and I believe disappointed when I agreed with him. He couldn’t argue alone so he quit.
When the patrolmen asked for my driver’s license I was beset with fear. The stark truth came to me. I had left town from our store, had reached in the cash drawer for twenty dollars and put it in a small purse I had with me. My billfolder was in another pocketbook and in my billfolder was my license. After explaining this I had to admit I didn’t even know the name of our insurance company. One of the policemen advised me to call home to find out about insurance and get my license number before the traffic officers would arrive.
My six- year-old answered the phone and had to know where I was, what I was doing and why I didn’t come home. Frantically, I begged him to call his father to the phone. My husband gave me the insurance company but could not find my driver’s license. I knew I was headed to jail.
It was so cold we got into the patrol car to fill out the papers. When the truck driver was satisfied about the insurance, he left and I awaited my sentence.
I was fined five dollars for running a red light and had to promise I would mail my license number to the Police Department and notify my insurance agent the next morning. They drove me to the Police Station and after paying my fine, I had very little money left.
My car had been pushed out of the street up to the service station from which I had called. Although the accident had done nothing to the motor, the darn thing still wouldn’t start. The attendant suggested he would give the battery a quick charge. He did and I gave him one dollar. Unrelentingly, the car refused to start. He did not give me back my dollar.
Actually, I was in no condition to drive home, the car was in no condition to run, and my pocketbook was in no condition for further repairs. On asking, I found out I was over a mile from the station. The fellow who gave me this information suggested I get a cab. What a joke! I wasn’t even sure I had enough money to buy a ticket home.
When I stepped over to the car to get the keys and lock the doors, I felt in the glove compartment and there was thirty cents. Such wonderful, wonderful good fortune!
The walk to the station cooled me off and relieved the pounding in my temples. I counted my money and that thirty cents meant the difference in buying a ticket home and sleeping on the station benches.
Remembering the previous confusion about the two bus stations, I made certain that I was at the right one. There were no more buses until seven the next morning. I then inquired if there were any buses I could take from the other station. A man standing behind me said I could buy a ticket to Montgomery and pull the cord to get off in Washington. He cautioned me not to ask for a ticket to Washington as the company didn’t have the franchise for my town but if I bought a ticket to the next town six miles further the driver would not refuse to let me off.
This I did and I arrived home about one-thirty A.M. My husband was sitting up waiting for me. I kept telling him how sorry I was about the car and he just grinned. He was glad to have me home. I ran up the stairs, tip-toed into the bedrooms of my sleeping children and kissed three seraphic cheeks.
Nothing like that ever happens to Robert. The next day, he got a ride to Evansville, paid eight dollars for a starter and cable, and then drove home without consequence. For the repair of the doors, which the insurance company would not cover, he paid one hundred and five dollars.
We now have the most valuable car in town for its model. To complete the repair job, we plan to have it painted. My husband suggested gold.