Monday, November 03, 2008

Ancestral ruminations...

One of the worst things about driving around all day is that it gives me too much time to think. I didn't have any CD's with me today, The radio had nothing on but the election all day, and so I sat around having random thoughts all day.

Maybe it's because it's so soon after Halloween, All Saints and All Souls days... when, according to tradition, the veil between this world and the next is thin... but I kept thinking of my Grandmother. She was the youngest of 4 girls born to an English immigrant and his Scottish wife. In order from oldest to youngest... Sally(the brunette) Clara (the strawberry blonde) Mary (the blonde) and my Grandmother Nellie (who had auburn hair) Sally died of scarlet fever when she was 19 years old, Clara married, had children and died before I was ever born, Mary caught polio when she was four and lived until she was 98, confined to a wheelchair and Grandmother married, had 9 children, and was widowed when the youngest, my mother, was 5 months old. She raised all 9 children by herself, working as a maid, scrubbing the floors of the local bank and became one of the most respected people in the small town of 500 that she lived in.

When she was 16, grandmother was a teacher in a one-room school house, but she had to quit that job to go live with Great-Aunt Mary, who had married my uncle Ot and had one still born child. (He was named Adam, and there's a picture of him around here somewhere, laying in a coffin in an elaborate christening gown)

Aunt Mary, at this time in her life, was crippled from the polio, but not entirely confined to her wheelchair. While Grandmother was living with Mary and Ot (short for Otis) she met Ot's brother John, who had just gotten released from prison. It seemed that he had been living in Arizona, with his wife Goldie, when he had fallen asleep in the parlor and started to talk in his sleep about his wife who lived in Missouri. Goldie, of course, lost no time in trying to get to the bottom of this, and upon questioning, John admitted that it was true, he had been married to another woman in Missouri, named Golda and also called Goldie, and what's more, he had never bothered to get a divorce.

This put everybody in a bit of a tizzy, and the current Goldie's father was called in. The father-in-law came up with two options. John could formally divorce the first wife then remarry his daughter, who was, by this time, with child, or he could go to prison post haste.

John said that quite frankly, he'd rather go to prison.

Which he did, for one year, after which he ended up with both marriages annuled at Aunt Mary's and Uncle Ot's house with my Grandmother.

Now John was working at the Railroad, and making a good living, and he proceeded to get a little sweet on Nellie. One day, he asked her to go to a dance being thrown at the local church, but Nellie said that she couldn't go because she didn't have a nice dress. So he gave Nellie one dollar to buy some Calico so that she could make herself a dress for the party.

Mary, who, like some disabled people, was extremely jealous of those who weren't crippled and besides, by all accounts was just a holy terror, got wind of this dollar bill and accused her sister of doing immoral things in exchange for money.

After which, quite frankly, all hell broke loose. To make a long story short, well obviously not too short, Nellie told John that she would marry him on the condition that he get her out of that house... and that's how my Grandparents got married.


  1. What a great family story! Well told! Poor Adam. And after all of that, eventually we (the world) got you! A great guy who blogs and tells great stories and loves plants and cacti especially well!!! YEAH. Happy ending.

  2. Julie, it looks like we were reading each others blog and leaving comments at the same time!

  3. I don't know how I missed this post! Very interesting bit of geneology, and humorous. Thanks for sharing.