Maie You Always Be Strong

My daughter, Lennon, as many of you may know by now, was named after John Lennon.  The name
Lennon had been my secret girl name for years and when I found out I was actually having a girl, it was honestly the initial most exciting thing about the news.

“I get to use my girl name!!!,” 
I remember saying during the ultrasound reading.

I was crying, tears streaming down my face and I was in a state of shock after the surprise of hearing that this little life inside of me was, in fact, a lady life.  So the only thing that I could grasp on to, the only thing that truly made it all seem real was remembering that she already had a name.  A name that I had picked out for her when I was merely dreaming of one day, being a mother to a little girl.

My husband, and then almost 3 year old son and I went out for pizza that night and we discussed middle name possibilities.  I knew it had to be something simple because Lennon, let’s face it, is a pretty far-out-there kinda name.  My middle name is Marie.  I liked having something from my name in hers, but Marie has too many syllables to tag along to a name like Lennon.  But we liked how the Lennon-Mah sound played off the tongue.  We thought about it some more, ate our pizza, drank our beers (non-alcoholic for mama), and then I just started thinking of who I wanted my little girl to be.  I was raised to be as strong, if not stronger than my brother.  My parents, my father specifically, placed a lot of influence on his baby girl being able to do whatever the boys could do.  It must have been because he grew up around a lot of strong women.  And let me tell you, his baby girl was finishing all sorts of fights that the boys started in school, much to her teacher’s dismay.  But, thanks to how my father raised me, it just never occurred to me that because I was a girl, I needed to let the boys do all the rough and tough, dirty stuff.

My father taught me to reel in a fish,

he had me racing him on the track around the football field and up and down the stadium steps, playing soccer with the boys,

he took me to baseball games and taught me to throw and catch a ball,

he taught me how to throw a good right hook (I unfortunately do not have a picture of that), and that, most importantly, I am the only true boss of me.

So as I was thinking of good strong women names, I thought of all the strong women I knew, and most of them, if not all of them, are in my family.  My father always told me that I come from a long line of strong, independent women.  And as I got older, I slowly began to see exactly what he meant by that.  These women, who came before me, walk barefoot on the rocks, aren’t afraid of a little dirt, stay on the beach and in the ocean all day, speak their minds, drink beer from the bottle, and are some of the coolest women I’ve ever met.  With beautiful and interesting names like Settle, Dockery, Mary Hamlin and Fletcher, how could they not be?

One woman in particular came to mind during the middle-naming process:  My great-aunt, Carrie Maie.  She lived in Wrightsville Beach and, as a young girl, I simply knew her as the sandy toed woman with the big dogs, whose summer tan never faded, whose voice had a comforting Southern growl to it, whose hair smelled of the ocean, and who gave the best hugs a little girl could remember.  Her grandchildren called her Ma Maie and sometimes even I did too.  Her husband, Jim or Daddy J as the kids called him, had to be quite a man to be married to such a woman.  Patient, kind, and so, so, funny.  Funny in a way that was so obscure.  Take for instance his boat- He had a little boat, that he was constantly capsizing in the inlet, that he named, ‘The Hershey Bar’.  (If any of my family members reading this know why he named his broken boat after a candy, please let me know.)  I remember, even at a young age, admiring their relationship.  They seemed to just have fun.  And he seemed to know that his job was to sit back and let his wife be who she was (which is always the best advice for anyone dealing with us Wade/Landis women).  After Carrie Maie passed, it was only 10 days before Daddy J left us as well.  It is my belief that after she died, he just couldn’t stand being without her.  That shows you how special this woman truly was.  The tight bond holding them together was still so strong that he just couldn’t fight the pull.  Their relationship, and how each of them left this earth, will forever be regarded in my mind as a love story that deserves to be retold over and over again.  That one is for the books.

Now, I’m sure Carrie Maie had some disagree-ers in her time, like any strong woman would, but I like to think that if you have people who disagree with you then that only says you had the guts to stand up for something in your life.  But for all I know, she was an amazing and strong woman and that’s why I decided her middle name would be perfectly suited for my Lennon.  Plus, when my husband and I researched the name Maie, we found that it means Star of the Sea.  It seemed perfect.  I would love to tell you more about my late-Great Aunt Carrie Maie, but I was too young to really and truly know her.  So I thought it best to have my father, who always considered his Aunt Carrie Maie his favorite, do it for me.  I asked him, several months ago to speak a bit about his favorite aunt and any similarities between her and his granddaughter.  So, ladies and gentlemen…I now present to you, my father, Jay Wade-

“Carrie Maie was a one of a kind. She was born to Wrightsville Beach and
lived out her days by the ocean. Carrie Maie had an opinion on most
things, including you, and was not shy about speaking, usually with a
curse word or two . In fact, she was the opposite of shy. She once
challenged her son’s manhood because he did not have a drink on his 18th
birthday. You would find her most days either on her porch or in front
of the television with some sporting event on, but always with a drink
in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She always had a tan and her
skin seemed to have that almost leathery texture that comes from
spending hours upon hours in the sun on the beach. She seemed to
personify the toughness that we associate with the Landis family. 
comes Lennon Maie, who appears to be every bit as stubborn as Carrie
Maie, even at this young age of one. We think she is left handed, as was
Carrie Maie and we are not sure but she seems to be uttering curse
words, albeit in her own language. Some would consider Carrie Maie not
the perfect role model, but I disagree. She lived life on her own terms,
with no apologies. I hope that Lennon Maie lives life on her terms and
what better role model than her great, great Aunt and her namesake,
Carrie Maie.”

After I received this from my father, I knew I needed more.  I felt like I had only scratched the surface on really getting to know this colorful and charismatic woman.  Carrie Maie had three children, one of them works for my father and the other two, her daughters, I haven’t seen or spoken with since before I got married.  All the memories I have of Carrie Maie, her children, were present for.  So it seemed wrong to not ask them to share.  Here’s what my cousin, Jim, had to say about his mother when I asked him to share…
(By the way, Jim ‘Two’ is what we call him, as his father was also named Jim.  I always thought that was funny and very, very indicative of how my family operates, doing something just a bit different than the rest of the world…‘there’s more than one Jim?  OK, let’s just start numbering them!)

you know through stories you may have heard, my mother was quite the
character. She was the oldest of three with two younger brothers she
dearly loved….Jake the middle and Ham the youngest. Her father, my
grandfather, Julius Jennings Wade was the Sports Editor for the
Charlotte Observer for years and then retired to become the sports
information director at UNC Chapel Hill. My mother grew up in a sports
family as Jake and Ham were very accomplished athletes. My mother loved
sports of any kind and I think she grew to love it to gain acceptance
from her father. She was a natural athlete, playing ball with us as kids
but she was also a very competitive person. From board games to
puzzles, she was always trying to win.
in High school, on many a Friday night, my mom would challenge my
friends to a game of Scrabble and they loved it. They would give up
their weekend party times to sit down and argue with her about her
choice of words. My mother loved to make up words and she kept a
dictionary at her side and dared you to challenge her. She won most of
the time, but on the rare occasion that she had to pull up her letters
from the board, you felt like you had won a major victory.  She would
watch sports on TV and keep up with stats. She especially loved the
Olympics and would get very emotional when the US won gold.
mother also had a very strict understanding of etiquette. I was
corrected more times than I care to remember, and mostly in the presence
of others. It quickly made me “remember” my mistakes and I was not to
repeat them again, or suffer the correction. I brought home a date one
evening to meet my parents. Ma-Maie as we called her, was sitting on the
porch at the beach and watched me pull up to the driveway. We came in
to visit and make the customary introduction. We chatted a bit and then
we were off to enjoy our evening. My date went to her side of the car
and me to the driver’s side. What happened next is burned into my memory
forever. A shrill scream of displeasure and disgust filled the salty
air…”Jim II, I can’t believe you….you get out of that car right now and
open the door for your date. Don’t ever let me see you do that again!”
and the rest is history. I open the door for everyone, men, women,
children and dogs. A lesson that has served me well.  
was very proud of her place in southern history and knew everyone and
remembered everyone from her past. She never forgot a name. Our family
(your family) has played a very prominent role in not only North
Carolina history but also of US history. I have become the family
historian and am compiling information to share with the family. You
come from a long line of Governors, Senators, Congressmen, Lawyers,
Judges, Military Officers, Ambassadors and political and social policy
makers. We can trace our lineage on your fathers side of the family back
to the 1500’s through the Dockery line. It is amazing stuff and
something my mother was very proud of.
am thrilled and honored that you chose the name Maie to carry on.
Carrie Maie, my mother, was named after Carrie Maie Dockery
affectionately known as Bama.  Bama would have been my great grandmother
and the original owner of the infamous Landis Hotel at the beach. She
died before I knew her but understand that she was quite the southern
lady as well.  She would have been very proud to know the name lives on.”

…It’s amazing that I have been a part of this family for years, (30 to be exact) and yet there are still so many things I have yet to learn about where I came from.  It’s funny what having children can do to one’s family pride.  After reading what Jim II had to say, I realized what I really need to do is contact
all of Carrie Maie‘s children.  That’s how you can really get to know a person: You ask their kids.  I would imagine that if you were to ask
my brother and me to write something about our parents, you would have
two entirely different stories, but if you pieced them both together, the real people would be revealed.  Every person, every child has a
different version of their parent.  When that parent passes, our
memories work together and form a complete person, whether it be made of
fact or hopeful fiction, or as it usually goes, a combination of the two.  The children see the vulnerable and sweet side of their parents, and also the disciplinarian and stern side.  They have liked and disliked that parent off and on for years and can give you the honest truth behind what most people see, as all of us present ourselves differently to the outside world. The best way to piece someone together who has passed is to
ask her children and you will most likely get the best version.

Here’s what Carrie Maie‘s daughter, Dockery, had to say when I asked her to share any food memories she had of her mother…

“I am so not the COOK…in
fact I have a sign in my kitchen that says I KISS BETTER THAN I COOK!!
Poor Eddie admitted it years ago but says he’ll take the kissing and go
to Fresh Market for food.   Don’t get me wrong…I love GREAT FOOD that
has been prepared by others.  In fact I don’t even pretend to want the
recipe, I just want a dish of the results of someone else’s cooking. 

You are clear that Mother was not Gama, the gourmet cook, either.  Mom
and I shared the “Gift of Gab” while someone else was cooking. Mom and I
both loved sharing our opinions and ideas about food but neither of us
wanted to do the execution of the recipe.  Drinking wine and talking to
the cook were right down our alley but she was a collector of recipes.
But there was one cooking memory that popped into my mind…”
“Cooking Memories with MaMaie”
It was October, my
birthday month, and I was visiting Mom and Dad at the beach.  Anne
Spangler, their next door neighbor, had brought over a big bag of
Granny Smith apples.  Mom didn’t eat raw apples so she said let’s make
an apple pie.  She went to retrieve a recipe she copied from GMA that
sounded really interesting…BROWN PAPER BAG APPLE PIE. A pie that you
cook in a BROWN GROCERY BAG? I knew she had lost her mind.  I questioned
if she had copied it correctly.  She convinced me this was the latest
thing in cooking.  When we checked to see if we had the ingredients and
we didn’t, I headed to the store to get what we needed.  We put
everything together as mother had written it down, put it into the bag I
brought home from the store and stapled it shut.  It was to cook for 1
hour.  As was the case more often than not, neighbors dropped by for
some of MaMaie’s “Gift of Gab on the Porch” along with her favorite wine
and we forgot about the pie.  The next time we thought about the pie
was when the smoke came billowing out of the oven door.  Apparently a
brown paper bag will burn in an oven..Imagine that!!!!  Needless to say
that pie never made it to a plate for company or anyone else.  But Mom
was not one to fail at anything so the very next day we went through the
whole process again and put Daddy J on timer duty…SUCCESS…Best damn
pie I have ever eaten…Daddy J  had paid his dues and was a Happy Man
when he went to take his Sunday afternoon nap.

The one thing I can remember eating with Carrie Maie and all my cousins at Wrightsville Beach, besides the occasional frozen french bread pizza, was a Low Country Shrimp Boil, or Frogmore Stew, as they called it.  It’s a traditional thing for my family and I still cook it to this day during the hot months on special occasions.  We spread out newspaper or craft paper onto the table tops and belly up.  This is an eat-with-your-hands kinda meal and it goes down oh-so-nicely with an ice cold beer, straight from the bottle.

*Recipe for Frogmore Stew, in the words of my cousin Settle, Carrie Maie’s eldest daughter
My husband and son last year enjoying a 4th of July Shrimp Boil
“Here is the recipe we use for Frog More Stew. You will need to make the recipe user friendly ’cause we never measure.”  
(I loved when I read that so I had to share it.  So that’s where I get it from :))


-In a large, large pot add waterseveral
shakes of Old Bay Seafood Seasoning and a can or two of beer
. Any beer
will do so don’t drink the good stuff and use the cheap stuff for the
-When water/beer comes to a boil add a
package of smoked sausage or kielbasa
(the kind that is pre-cooked, but
you just heat up, like Hillshire Farms) Sausage should be cut into 1 or 2
inch pieces. Let boil a few minutes to goody-up the liquid. 
-Then add a
mess of little red potatoes
. Cook about 15 minutes. 
-Add fresh corn on
the cob
, shucked and cut into 3 or four inch pieces.We prefer white, but
sweet yellow will do. Cook about 5 minutes. 
-Then add a few pounds of
un-shelled shrimp
. Cook ’til shrimp is pink, just about 3 minutes. Don’t
overcook shrimp or it will get rubbery.
-Drain water from the stew (we have a pot
with a spout in the bottom so we drain that way.) 
-Cover table with a
plastic cloth or lots of newspapers. Dump the mixture on the table or in
a large bowl. 
-Choose what you want; shrimp, corn, taters, sausage.
Serve with cocktail or tartar sauce.* Peel shrimp, leaving peelings on
the table, roll everything up when your done and toss away. GOOD STUFF.

*Eddie, (Settle’s husband..not to be confused with the other Eddie that her sister married) makes a killer sauce called Come Back Sauce.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbs chili sauce

2 tbs ketchup

1 tbs water

2 tbs Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp prepared mustard

1 tsp pepper

dash paprika

dash hot sauce

1 small onion, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

Combine everything, cover and chill. Makes about 2 cups.


…”As for my thoughts on Mom and
entertaining, She always told me to keep things simple and stay relaxed.
If the hostess is stressed no one will be comfortable. If the hostess
is having fun, then the food won’t matter and everyone will enjoy
themselves. These are words I have taken to heart.”
think we can all learn a thing or two from Carrie Maie:  Have fun,
don’t stress too much, the pie isn’t
ruined if you’re around good friends and good wine, open the door for someone else, spend as much time
on the beach as you can, sports aren’t just for the boys, good food
doesn’t require measuring, find someone special, patient and funny to grow old with, and be the kind of woman who someone simply can’t live without.
Star of the Sea
Carrie Maie would have been 87 years old on May 15.  She would have loved my little girl.


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  • Reply Everyday Champagne May 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    I love hearing these old stories and memories about our family! I remember Aunt Carrie-Maie exactly how your dad described her… except with puzzles. I remember her always in the process of completing a complicated jigsaw puzzle. 🙂 And I absolutely LOVE family names. Maie is the perfect compliment to a name like Lennon with a great story behind it!

  • Reply Abbey May 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Haha! Puzzles! I had forgotten about the puzzles! Always the really small pieced kind. We have quite a family, cuz!

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