Sunday, July 3, 2011

B12. Grandma's Childhood: Memories of Family

(part 3 of 8 of a series written in memory of my grandma, Ellie Irene Nance Vestal, born on the 4th of July, 1914, near Boonville, NC)

In 1986, when Grandma was 72 and I was 24 I gave her a birthday gift that I thought might help her fill her days.  It was a memories book filled with prompts for her to write about her life.  She had lived alone since Grandpa’s death in 1977, and she enjoyed writing.  I forgot about the gift, but months later she gave me a far greater gift, which has become one of my most treasured possessions, the same book, completely filled in with her memories. 
In her honor, and to share this precious gift with others who love her, I continue here a blog series of her own memoirs in her own words: 

Special Family Gatherings:  Christmases at home and school.  Thanksgivings and Easters.  Eggs being colored for Easter was always a fun time, and then hiding them for the many nieces and nephews to find. 
When my brother and his family came from Iowa* to visit, family and friends would come to be with them.  We would sleep piled together in bed or on pallets Mama made on the floor.
We had huge cherry trees, and relatives and friends would come to pick some cherries to take home with them.  Most of the time they ate dinner with us and visited a while after that.  My daddy would pull the wagon under the trees, put a big board across, so women and children could reach lower limbs.  The boys and men would take their buckets and climb way up in the trees.
A birthday I remember:  The year I was seventeen, one of my brothers came from another state and brought me a beautiful new dress.  I put it on and was so excited when I started into the dining room to set the table I dropped six plates and broke five of them.
A sad time:  the death of my little sister when I was eight years old.  I missed her so much.
Some relatives’ names and nicknames:  Uncle Charlie, Aunt “Sissy,” Uncle Henry, Aunt “Duck,” Uncle “Lum,” Aunt “Sal,” Uncle John, Aunt Mary, Uncle Henry, Aunt Whitney
A special Christmas:  One year for the school Christmas program my daddy and Thurman went to Elkin and bought presents to put on the Christmas tree for me.  Daddy’s gift was a small basket made of silver wire.  (I wish I had kept it.)  Thurman’s was my very first compact with mirror and powder.
A Thanksgiving memory:  One year my daddy had his corn shucking on Thanksgiving Day.  We had neighbors and some city visitors (an aunt and some cousins) and all our family.  Such a big dinner we had.  All the visitors and all the workers ate lunch.  A lot of dishes were washed that day!
Our most talked about relative:  Probably a cousin who married three times and was a city cousin who wore the latest fashions and hair styles and very beautiful shoes.  I wanted to grow up and dress like that. . .
One “black sheep”:  I suppose that would be an uncle who liked to tell tall tales and to drink too much, so when he put the two things together the sky was the limit!
Our funniest relative:  I guess that was one of my brothers who liked to make funny faces and tell tales to all the children.

Note:  *Grandma and her siblings pronounced Iowa "I-way."

See also:
Grandma's Childhood Memories  first of this series
Grandma's Childhood World  second of this series

coming soon:  Grandma meets Grandpa, Grandma becomes Mama, Grandma becomes Grandma . . .

Age 70 in 1984

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