Coralee Mae Kinney Fussell, wife, MOM, grandmother, multitalented artist, seamstress
moved from Dover Foxcroft Maine to Lake Placid FL, graduating high school there and went to church with her parents Fern & Paul Kinney in Ortona, FL.
Coralee’s husband to be joined the Army Transportation Corp before he was old enough with the help of a forged permission slip from his older sister. According to family history, Jinks mustered out of the service a month before he would have been eligible to enlist.
Arriving back at home at age 18 he met Coralee at the church in Ortona, FL. She was three months older than him when they married.. He got a job with the Atlantic coastline Railroad and moved into one of their worker supplied houses in Palmdale FL. Nine months later their first child Anna was born. Two and half years later child number two was born. That day son number one was born mom announced that it was time , halfway between Palmdale and LaBelle Florida Dad ran out of gas and started walking to LaBelle to get fuel .
A few hundred yards away a car pulled over and asked if they could give him a ride, when they found out that mom was back in the car they turned around had dad steer while they pushed mom and dad to LaBelle at around 80 miles an hour and let them coast into the gas station while they continued on to work. Mom said we made it to the hospital on time as Derrill wasn’t born until 8:30 that night in Ft Myers Fla Lee Memorial hospital.
The family story relayed that six months later: there was a flooding storm and Fish Eating Creek was out of its banks. Jinks was out shoring railroad bridge abutments. Coralee waded, while pushing her son in a washtub that floated him, as the owner of the Cypress Knee Museum put sister Anna on his shoulders and waded to his establishment, the nearest dry building located on US Highway 27.
Dad quit the Railroad after they moved him to Everglades City. My earliest memories at around age five was playing under our house and Everglades City that was up on piers due to the tide and hurricane flooding.
Coralee was a workaholic.
She never learned intense cooking skills but her other talents shined wherever she went. She played the piano and or the organ in Church, sewed suits for our preacher Dad and shirts and dresses for us kids.
For relaxation Mom would sort through her seashells and compose beautifully arranged flowers and beach scenes.
Her husband quit the railroad and went to work as a gas station attendant. To make ends meet Coralee went to work at the Drapery Shop in Naples and enrolled her children in the Peter Pan Day School 4 blocks away.
Mom never made it to the race-track but every summer when the sugar sand Kelly road would dry out, the race would be on by the time she left the pavement of Route 45 and turned into the sand, the ruts would take over and the g forces tossed us around like ping pong balls. Weaving and bobbing the ruts grew deeper as we traversed the 2 miles home. Occasionally a car would be stalled and buried to the running boards while the ruts veered around them. The key was to floorboard the accelerator and keep the momentum while ploughing sand like a wave of water. As the bottom of the sand gave way the bouncing of the entire frame of the car on the sand gave a grating sound of a thousand cats scratching under our feet.
What a grand adventure, we kids squealed in delight as the sweat would break out on Mom’s forehead. Mom always kept enough speed to forge on to the house.
We were halfway home when the ruts turned ugly crooked, we bounced up and down always landing sideways to where we ascended. The car crashed into the sand, a thousand cats rebelled and like the phoenix rising, the car went airborne, suddenly crashing back to earth, the roar was deafening, but good ole stable Mom never took her foot off the gas. The crash had disabled the muffler which had caught the car like a catapult and propelled the car skyward about three feet.
It was so loud we could speak and Not be heard in the car. That was the day we learned why cars had mufflers.
Through the back window you could see the muffler laying in the soft sand reflecting the sun and probably still usable, but we drove on never slowing. Mom was in tears as we pulled into the stable oyster shell driveway of home.
Weekends were special as Mom made pancakes. Afterwards, Mom would open a special book like folder that held large 33 1/3 vinyl disc records. A man with a French accent would narrate our Saturday trip to the Spanish countryside, French Rivera or somewhere far away with a strange sounding name, someplace on the planet. We loved to travel on Saturdays. Sister and I have been to most of those places as adults, filling in where Coralee’s trip ended all those years ago.
Coralee had the gift of art and could draw like a professional. No matter what the school project, Coralee always had a suggestion that would bring the child first place. Her motto was be prepared and always research. We had a World Book Encyclopedia set that was brand new!
She would draw the cutest characters then erase them and say now you try. The results were 1st prize portrait of Dad noted on the front page of the Collier County News, Inside front cover of the 9th grade yearbook, and 1st place in all the Science Fair projects. Daddy always said, ”Son I don’t expect you to be in 1st place but I do expect you to be way ahead of the person in second place!”
Coralee made up for cooking skills with canning skills. Moving to Washington, started with wild huckleberries in the mountains, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries in the Summer. Apples, Pears and plums in the Fall and rhubarb in the Spring, made for cobblers galore!
Dad made Mom a sewing room and she contracted to make all the custom drapes ordered through Sears in Bellingham. Another little talent Mom picked up in Florida was upholstery. The drapery shop did both. Chairs and couches filled in when drapes were slow.
Arriving in Texas found the drapery trend giving way to blinds. Mom started hemming pants and sewing for a laundry. Quilts were big and Coralee had every machine to make a quilt without hand stitching. The Judge wanted the state seal as a quilt and Mom garnered all the gold braid and colored thread to build a quilt that she should have been paid $5000 for. He was pleased and Mom was tired.
Coralee wrote a few “HOW TO” books and sold them in the local mercantile stores. Baby carriers, knitted baby caps, socks and vests were gifts to all the girls in Mom’s circle.
After work until the wee hours of the morning Mom would transcribe her husband’s Bible notes into booklets stapled and sent them to Africa, free of charge.
A gallant soldier of the cross, wife and mother, as she raised 3 boys and 2 girls without complaint or ever giving up. Mom left us with the same message, “If I could just open your heads and plug in a tape of all my mistakes, you children would save yourself so many stumbles and falls!”
Coralee’s Legacy of “Hard Work, Do your Best and thank the Lord”
lives on today in all her linage. Start recording your legacy today, Legacytoo.com