In the 1920s, churches would hold “proms” where young ladies could make a picnic lunch to be auctioned off to the highest-bidding young man, who would have the honor of enjoying that picnic with the young lady. Hugo Handley had his eye on Pearl Ross, so he purchased her picnic basket for the opportunity to “court” her. They went for a walk around the pond and set up their picnic together. They had such a wonderful time together with him telling jokes and stories, the afternoon ended far too quickly. Soon enough, Hugo and Pearl were spending quite a lot of time together.
Later on, Hugo realized that another fellow was attempting to court Pearl as well. One day, while the other young man was sitting on her front porch, Hugo took Pearl on a walk to the well in the back yard and told her she had to make a choice. If she chose the other young man, Hugo would leave and never interfere with them, as he only wanted her to be happy. Pearl must have been waiting to see which of the young men would make such a move, because she told Hugo she chose him!
They married September 11, 1927, and had two lovely daughters together: Jeannette and Juliette. Tragically, Hugo passed away shortly after Juliette was born. Pearl raised her girls as a single mother, working as the school cafeteria manager, until they were in their late teens. That’s when she married Bill Padgett, the other fellow who had tried to court her at the same time as Hugo!
Pearl always had an extensive garden, and would spend all summer putting up vegetables and fruits and making jellies to be used throughout the year. She was the epitome of a hardworking, sweet Southern lady. As a grandmother and great-grandmother, Pearl was known for her baking skills, particularly teacakes, which the children helped her roll out.
After Bill also passed away, Pearl moved in with Jacob and Juliette at their Paulk Vineyards home. She helped around the house and even worked the pick-your-own, selling muscadines by the pound.
One of Pearl’s secret special talents was that she could name all the counties in Georgia in alphabetical order! She had to memorize them when she was in grade school, and she still remembered them all even when she was in her 90s! Her list seemed to be incomplete though, as there were a few of the 159 counties in Georgia she would leave out; however, at the time she learned all the counties, none of the ones she missed even existed!
Pearl lived to be 99 although she celebrated her 100th birthday twice before she passed away in 2006! The family decided that no one else was old enough to argue with her about her age, so why not just round up to 100? What a blessing Pearl’s legacy is to the Paulk family!