It is worthwhile for anyone to have behind him a few generations of honest, hard-working ancestry.” John Phillips Marquand once wrote. My family has been fortunate to have many industrious relatives. The story behind a small cup that was owned by my great-grandmother, Hattie Margaret Paralee Atchley Manning, is a perfect example of how my family has been taught to value hard work. Sitting on the table, the cup’s designs seem quite warm and inviting. It stands about three inches in height with a slender white handle. The colorful alphabet runs around the middle of the cup and is surrounded by two chickens and a rooster. Not only does the cup produce an eye-catching sparkle, but it also has a unique beauty. Although the cup looks empty at first glance, it actually holds a timeless story of its own. The cup was given to my great-grandmother, Hattie Manning, as a reward for her perseverance and hard work during the school year. In the year 1912, she would walk approximately five miles every day to Walnut Grove Elementary School in Sevier County, Tennessee. When she arrived at the one-room schoolhouse, she would see the cup sitting on the teacher’s desk. She thought it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. She always dreamed about owning the cup and asked her teacher if there was any way she could acquire that piece of shiny porcelain. Her teacher promised her that if she would complete her chores for the year, then the cup would be hers. All during the school year, she arrived before the other students. She would sweep the floors, dust the desks, clean the chalkboard, and start the fire on cold winter mornings. At the end of the school year, the teacher told Hattie how much she appreciated her efforts and Hattie proudly received the beautiful cup. Hattie would no longer have to dream about owning the cup, but she could now happily claim ownership. The cup has been in my family since that day. It was fir…
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