Saturday, August 27, 2005

Golden Oldies





Some "Golden Oldies" from my past:

#1. My great-grandparents on the occasion of their 71st wedding anniversary (no, it's not a misprint). They married very young, and stayed married for 72 years, and then died within 6 months of each other.

#2. My father is the young baby, and the girl is his older sister. Dad was born in 1904, so this photo has to be in either '04 or '05.

#3. My mom, at the age of 16, in 1924. If she were still alive, she'd be blown away by her photo being on the web.

My great-grandparents lived on a farm about 100 miles from my home as a child. We didn't get to see them often, but every summer we would have a family reunion, and all their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would gather for a huge outdoor picnic. The children would wade in the creek, bedevil the chickens, pet the horses, play hide and seek in the hay lofts and trample what was left of the corn and other vegetables in the fields. Their old farmhouse had a tin roof: it was great to spend the night in their upstairs bedrooms, atop a feather bed and under a down quilt, listening to the rain beating a tattoo on the tin roof. It wasn't so great if you had to relieve yourself, as they had only outhouses until I was about 10, when they had a bathroom installed in the house. In the winter, it was as cold as the proverbial brass monkey. The only heat was derived from the large, coal-burning fireplaces in each room. My great-grandmother cooked all her meals on a wood burning stove; huge meals, in which she fed her family and all their farm hands. You might have been amazed at the quality of the food that came out of that old kitchen, and they grew all the food they ate and usually raised all the animals they needed for food. I don't think I have ever known two kinder people than they; I never heard them raise their voices at anyone. My great-grandmother never left her bedroom in the morning (usually by 6:00 a.m.) without fully dressing, with stockings and jewelry, and with her hair "put up" in a bun. They died when I was 12 and 13, and I still miss them.

I never met my dad's sister in this photo; she died before I was born. Daddy had two sisters and two brothers; one of each sex were half-siblings. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was five years old and his dad remarried a few years later. Having written quite a bit about my dad before, I will not reiterate here. I did not know his family as well as I knew my mom's.

My mom was born on a farm near where my great-grandparents lived. It was a working farm, with many acres of crops and many animals to care for. She told me lots of stories about the baby animals (mostly lambs) she raised every year - only to have to give them up for slaughter. It shattered her every time it happened, and I am glad I was not raised on a farm, as I could not have taken that! Her mother also had to cook huge meals, as they fed their farm hands twice a day too. They would start the wood fire to bake biscuits at 5:00 am, then move on to bacon, ham, sausages, eggs, fried apples, all types of homemade jams and jellies, and fruits in season. As soon as they cleaned up from breakfast and washed all the dishes, they had to start preparing lunch! It makes me tired just thinking about it. I used to think that no one lived like that anymore, until I read a series of books about Amish life in Pennsylvania and Ohio. A lot of Amish still live like my great-grandparents did, and have just as few conveniences as they did. My grandfather, in addition to running this farm, was a school teacher and principal of a one-room school, in which he taught all his own children, as well as a good many more. My mom told a story about when she would talk too much in school, her dad would flick a piece of chalk and hit her squarely across the bridge of the nose. She developed a small bump on that spot, and she always said it was from the chalk. Of course, if that was done nowadays, he'd be fired and probably taken into custody for child abuse.

When my mom was about 18, her parents divorced. That did not happen often in those days, and my mom was always embarrassed about it and felt stigmatized. My grandmother, along with her six children, moved to the "big city". She lived in a large house and took in "roomers". I am betting that some of you have no idea what I mean by that. She ran a rooming house for young working women; most of whom had come to the city to work or for school and needed a safe, clean place to live. Visiting her was fun, as there were always people around to talk to. Some of them became like older sisters to me and we kept in touch until they married and had children of their own.

What a walk down the proverbial memory lane! To be continued... (sometime).

33 comments:

Mike said...

Geneology is always cool.

Michelle sent me.

Angie said...

You should come to my house. Upstairs when it rains you can hear it on the tin roof at the back of the house (the kitchen and dining room have a tin roof). All the beds have feather beds and cozy down comforters. A clawfoot tub is up there, too. We don't have fireplaces upstairs but we do have central heat and a/c and nice ceiling fans. The big fireplace is down stairs and a wood stove is in the kitchen. It is a lovely feeling to have such luxuries. Yes, I think they are luxuries.

zazzafooky said...

I love the old photos. I have a collection of old b&w's of people I don't even know. I find them from estate scavenges I've been on over the years.

You have a very intriguing family history. ... I'll be looking forward to the continued part.

brendalove@gmail.com said...

This is a great post, Judy. I was unsure...were your great-grandparents in NC?

Its amazing the conveniences we simply take for granted this day and time.

Peter said...

Oh for a family history like that, I never knew either of my Grandfathers and both my Grandmothers died when I was quite young.
I have quite a collection of photos of most of my forebears but would have loved to know them personally.

Hoots Musings said...

That was a nice post and a tribute to the legacy they left behind...YOU!

Raehan said...

So nice! There is the stuff of a very good novel in these memories, Judy.

-E said...

Memory lane.... sure is an interesting journey isn't it? Thanks for sharing part of yours with us!

Michele sent me.

Dave said...

visiting from Michele's... it's nice to know old family stories and where your roots are. and wouldn't it be something if someone stumbled onto your site and saw the pictures and said, hey those are my family too!

srp said...

My grandparent's farmhouse in Illinois had one bedroom for them, one for the only girl and an add on big room for the four boys off the kitchen. That's where we stayed on visits. The roof was tin there and in a hail storm...whew forget about sleep. Soft rain was nice but hail sounded like the roof was going to cave in.

Peter said...

Thanks for the follow up, I've had a look at some of your archives and will go back for more!

Paul said...

Good going, Kenju. Have you ever looked at my other blog?
http://douglasaz.blogspot.com/

The "story of my life." I'm not just tooting my horn, I like to encourage people to do the same thing. You're certainly off to a good start.

Encore. Encore.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Well written, Judy.

Michele sent me this way.

Yaeli said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Just thought I'd check yours out. 72 years just totally blows my mind!!! I can't imagine knowing someone that long, let alone being married to them!!! Crazy!

Michelle said...

I loved reading this. Knowing your history is so important and valuable and makes you appreciate where you came from. My grandparents where married just shy of 60 years when my grandmother died. They never went to bed mad and kissed 10 times every night before they went to sleep. My grandfather passed away 5 years later, but he was never the same after she was gone. I miss them too.

Michele sent me today, but I stop by often :-)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

That really is quite a walk, Judy, a very interesting walk.

I once worked on a farm where the lady of the house cooked like that. Never ate so good before or since.

Kim said...

I love this story, kenju! We have a farm on the CA/Oregon border that John's grandparents homesteaded in the Tule Lake, so I really related to the story. I had "Grandma's Feather Bed" by John Denver going through my mind!

FTS said...

I'm back from Colorado and catching up!

This was a lovely look back in time. Can't wait to read the next one.

As I sit here contemplating my next step after this trip, your post about having a FITB really hit me. It's one thing to dream and want, but it's another to take the actual steps to make it happen.

Colorado, here I come. :)

kenju said...

Thanks to everyone who has left comments. I am grateful for your interest and glad I can spur memories for you also.

chatty said...

My favorite thing to do is pour over old family albums. You have a rich history indeed.

Michele sent me.

Carmi said...

I spent some time this month going through old pictures in advance of my parents' move out of the home they've owned for over 40 years. Your entry has brought back a flood of memories for me, and I think you for sharing this with us.

You've motivated me to do the same on my own site in the days to come. I wish there were some way I could thank you for doing this - mere words will have to suffice for now.

Carmi said...

Oops, forgot to say that Michele sent me. I've been away from home, and away from my beloved little world of blogs. It's good to be back.

Beanhead said...

Here from Michele's What a great trip down memory lane.

J Anderson said...

Yo, Michele sent me!

panthergirl said...

Wow, Judy! I came by via michele and I'm so glad I did. I loved reading that (well you know how much I love family history). You did such a beautiful job of painting that picture for us... so vivid.

I was reminded of Silence of the Lambs when I read about your mother growing up on her farm.

Cannot wait to read more...

lovelesshusband said...

A lovely story. Thanks for cheering me up a bit.

Jamie Dawn said...

I love that your grandmother didn't leave the bedroom without being all fixed up with her makeup and jewelry. She was making a fashion statement!
I also really enjoyed the old photos. Your mom looks so pretty.

Laura said...

I really enjoyed these pictures and the stories behind them. You reminded me of family members I've known and bits and pieces about our past.
just loved this post!

Jennifer said...

And I thought 23 years of marriage was an achievement. Holy cow!

Indigo said...

Hi Michele sent me! 72 years, that's impressive.

Michelle said...

I'm back! Hope you're having a great evening! Michele sent me.

moonbatty said...

Michele _didn't_ send me this time. :) Your comment on my blog sent me.

I love the history in what you write. The tin roof, the view into how people viewed things differently, that things like boarding houses used to exist. This world has changed rapidfire.

claude said...

71st anniversary! That is truly amazing. Those were the days when people didn't get a divorce for trifles. A beautiful photo of your grandparents too.