(part 2 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 coninue here a blog series of her own memoirs in her own words:
Some of my most memorable (childhood) days: Starting to school, Birthday trips, Christmas Eves, Thanksgiving Days, Easter egg hunts, Family dinners, Commencement exercises, Playing in the snow, When my brother returned from military service, Visits from another brother who lived far away, Sixteenth birthday
Costs way back then: licorice 1c, ice cream 5c, candy 1c, bread 18c, sugar 5 lbs. 20c, milk 10c gal., bicycles 12.50, comics 5c, soda pop 5c, stamps 1c, movies 10c, bus rides 7c, newspapers 5c, gasoline 10c gal., new cars $600.
The dances they were dancing: waltzes, the Charleston, blackbottom*
The music they were playing: Singing in the Rain, Yes Sir She’s My Baby, Yes We Have No Bananas, Happy Days Are Here Again, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Take Me Out to the Ballgame
The books they were reading: Pilgrim’s Progress, John Halifax, Jane Eyre, The Bible
The people who were famous: Bible characters, Political leaders, Tom Mix, Mary Pickford, John Barrymore, Rodolph Valentino, Al Jolson, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Lottie Moon, Amelia Earhart
What people were talking about: the first World War, women voting, short skirts, politics
The movies we were watching: The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Tom Mix westerns, Al Jolson in the very first talking movies, “My Mammy” and “Sonny Boy”**
The fads that were popular: bobbed hair, the flapper era, rumble seats, skeeters***, double dating
What I wanted to be when I grew up: So many things!! Store clerk, famous writer, speaker, teacher, nurse, actress, missionary, wife, mother, grandmother (I actually did some of them)
See Also: Grandma's Childhood Memories (the first post of this series)
*The blackbottom was a 1920s dance of the flapper era: Blackbottom video
**When I looked for "My Mammy" and "Sonny Boy," I found them as Al Jolson songs, both available on youtube, but not as movies. It's possible Grandma meant to list them under music rather than movies, or it's possible there were also movies, and I just didn't find them.
*** Skeeters were scooters, made of aluminum because all steel was being used in war production. I didn't find evidence of their existence before the 1940s, so Grandma might have been remembering them from her children's era, or, again, they might have been around before and I just didn't find them.
Grandma as a baby with her family