(part 5 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:
Some of my happiest moments: Walking to school and church with friends while growing up; playing croquet and hopscotch in the yard; taking trips on my birthday with my family; going chestnut and chinquapin* hunting in the mountains in the autumn and seeing all the beautiful leaves; later double dating with friends and finally dating (your grandpa). I quit double dating then!
One dress I’ll always remember: That has to be my wedding dress. It was white chiffon.
My most unforgettable friend: A girl named Maude who lived nearby. We were together a lot walking to church and visiting each other on Sunday. We would go home with each other from Sunday School and stay until service at night. I met (your grandpa) at her house.
Songs that bring back memories: Patriotic songs at school, hymns at church, records played on the old wind-up phonograph we had at home, fun songs sung together around the old pump organ
A vacation I’ll never forget: I went to Virginia to visit my oldest brother and his family. I spent two weeks. I had never been that far away from (home) or ever stayed away that long in my life before. I enjoyed my visit very much and made a lot of new friends, but I was very glad to get back home and thought I would never leave again!
A gift I’ll always remember: The first gift given to me by (your grandpa) was a pair of black kid gloves. The cuffs were trimmed in little diamond shaped figures of white kid leather.
My favorite pastimes: A lot of my pastimes were spent with the nieces and nephews I have mentioned so often (in this book), as some of them were always around. We played usual outdoor games and lots of board and guessing games inside. But I have always been a bookworm, and some of my most contented days were rainy days in summer when I didn’t have to work on the farm and I could just curl up somewhere and read for hours.
When I was a little girl: Life was so different then. One of my first memories is riding in a buggy. Being small, I was put in front at my parents’ feet. I liked that better than our first car because I would always get car sick when we rode in it. We walked nearly a mile to school down a very muddy road. We wore long underwear which we tucked down into long black stockings. Our shoes had high tops, and over them we wore rubber overshoes. There was one room and one teacher for grades one through seven. Boys sat on one side, girls on the other. Boys chopped wood and kept the fire going in a heater in the middle of the room. Girls swept the floor and kept the room neat. We did learn things and never felt a loss, because that was the way things were back then.
When I was a teenager: I was a teenager in the worst of the depression. Money was hard to come by. But lots of families had a radio, and the ones who didn’t would visit ones who did, so people were closer knit by such programs as “Amos and Andy” and the “Grand Ol’ Opry.” Visitors would stay ‘til midnight on Saturday. A lot of Rook was played also. The boys who had cars or the use of the family car (like your grandpa had) really had their pick of the girls.
Note: *Chinquapins are a type of chestnut. Grandma pronounced them "chinky-pins."
Grandma's Childhood Memories (first of series)
Grandma's Childhood World (second of series)
Grandma's Childhood: Memories of Family (third of series)
Grandma's Birth and Ancestry (fourth of series)
coming soon: Grandma marries Grandpa, Grandma becomes Mama, Grandma becomes Grandma