Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Memories

This is a letter I wrote to a cousin about my great grandfather's family. Some of you may enjoy the stories. The names have been deleted to protect both the innocent AND the guilty. - lol

I don't remember Grandpa, of course, but I remember Grandma, as we called her, very well. She was absolutely the sweetest little old lady ever. I always liked to visit her. As long as she was living, Aunt Mary would go over and stay for a week or so as she could. I think she did that with your grandma some, too.

Grandpa lived and preached at X for many years, but I know that he also spent a year preaching out in Kansas City, Kansas, where his brother John was a doctor. There should be a photo of John on his cavalry horse in the photos I'm sending you. John's home was damaged and his $1000 grubstake washed away in a big flood in Kansas City soon after he moved there. That must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

Grandpa preached at New Haven, West Virginia (down river an hour or more), for 2-3 years also. Aunt Mary was just little then and remembers always getting in trouble for reaching through the picket fence and pulling the red hair of the little boy next door. She said she always figured the fascination was that his hair was about the same shade as her mother's hair.

Another place that Grandpa preached was at X, West Virginia, up in X County. He grew frustrated and left after a year, though. He said that he never saw such a place. Half the people who lived there were running around on their husbands or wives, and those who didn't spent all their time talking about those who did. He said he couldn't make a dent in the situation no matter how hard he tried. The funny thing is, forty years after he passed away, I drove a route truck through there for Red Rose Feed (bought out by Carnation by that time) and the town was STILL that way!

He told a story, I guess, of when he first began preaching as a circuit rider. A young couple in some back county wanted him to marry them, and when the time came, the weather was rainy and all the streams were swollen. He rode for THREE DAYS to get there, very nearly drowning a couple times along the way. After the ceremony, the groom asked him what he owed him, and he gave the joking answer “whatever you think she's worth.” The young fellow gave either a dollar or a quarter, I can't remember which now. Of course back then, a dollar was a day's wages and didn't come easy, so he told the story not as a complaint against the young man, but as an illustration that being a preacher wasn't always an easy task, or the job well paid.

Something we don't think about, perhaps, is that the old-time preachers led some pretty rough and tumble lives due to the circumstances of the day. They couldn't always afford to be the mild mannered guys we often think of as being pastoral material. Grandpa was no exception. Sometime while he was still preaching at X, a young man from the community sat in the back of the church and began heckling Grandpa. I think he gave him a warning or two, but it went unheeded. SO, Grandpa walked back to the young man, grabbed him by the back of his jacket collar and his belt, drug him out the door and pitched off the steps and into the lawn. He then calmly walked back to the front of the church and continued his sermon. A few weeks later, the young man was saved and soon became a respectable member of the community. Years later, I went to church for a few years with a lady who was either his daughter or his niece, but I never mentioned the story. LOL

Grandpa came from a large family, and one of his brothers was named Steve (Stephen, I assume). He was a big strapping fellow and became a policeman in Chicago. Because of his size and abilities, they kept sending him into the roughest most dangerous parts of the city. After a few years, he quit, for fear that, like so many of his coworkers, he would die young on the thankless job. He then moved to the Northwest and became a logger, where he eventually got an infection from a splinter under his nail and died of blood poisoning. I guess you never know!

I don't know if Uncle Albert just went from job to job all his life in the oilfields or if he ended up working for one particular company, like South Penn. I DO know that he worked some for my Granddad, and then worked in Texas for a while. I only remember meeting him once, over at the old home place. I don't know if you remember it or not. I know there were cattle in the field, and he had a small garden near the little house. I think the barn was still standing at the time, but I don't remember any horse. I mention that because Norman used to grin and tell of trying to talk him into getting rid of his old work horse. Without thinking, Albert replied, “But I wouldn't have anything to haul out the manure!” He had to laugh at himself as it sunk in that there wouldn't BE any manure if it wasn't for the horse. I think he kept the horse, though. I don't blame him. People are a dime a dozen, but a good horse is hard to come by! ;-)

I think I only met Uncle Charlie one time also. It seemed to me that he was living somewhere downtown in an apartment, or maybe a boarding house or old-time nursing home. He couldn't remember my name and kept calling me “Sam,” not that it mattered. He gave me one of those little hammers with the brass handle that has screw-drivers inside. It disappeared somehow over the years, but I think they still make them. He lived with my grandparents and helped at the farm some after he retired. One day, they were up at my Uncle Jim and Aunt Cora's putting in hay. Charlie arrived and walked into the barn just as the big steel needle-like hay hook broke free from the rope, came right down in front of his nose and stuck in the oak floor of the barn just ahead of his feet. I guess he turned white as a sheet, turned around, and began walking home, all without saying a word.


Janet said...

I've really enjoyed this post from the past. When I was just a little girl, there was nothing better than crawling up on my grandma's lap and asking her to tell me stories about the "olden" days. She was born in 1888 and was very interesting. I am not terribly ancient, but came from "long" generations. My son is 34 and had a grandfather born in 1909.

Gorges Smythe said...

I grew up in a family of old people, Janet, and like you, I LISTENED!

Chickenmom said...

What I wouldn't give to hear my Grandparent's stories now!

Gorges Smythe said...

I know what you mean, Cm. I wish I'd asked the old folks more questions and written things down.