Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More on Grandparents and Then I Want to Talk about Today

Well - I said so much about Ella in yesterday's post.

I loved her.  Can you tell?

To be fair - Ella was about 50 when I was born - so she had that in her favor - time to interact with me and all of her grandchildren - and the energy - plus we lived in the same town - and she was just very very maternal.  I know that she was.  I saw her in action.  Even when my children were around her and my cousin's children - she was rather aged by then - but had not lost her enthusiasm toward her offspring - not at all.

I remember the first time I took Ann home to Evergreen - she was 2 months old and I knew my aunt Florence was on her way over with Ella  to see Ann - I think Ella must have been 79 - and I was standing by the baby bed where Ann was and Ella came in the room with much excitement and laughter and speed and saying, "Oh, I can't wait to see what Elizabeth's baby looks like!"  I could have sworn I saw the glistening of tears in her eyes.  I think I did. other grandmother - my daddy's mother -

Antoinette Murphree Wilkerson.  She was 79 when I was born.  She born in 1872 in Troy, AL

She had a gleeful smile and demeanor - a high laughter, I think.  She really was fond of Mary Ann and me and I think loved our little girl ways.  It was just always so much more formal at her house when we visited.  My favorite memory of her is during one of our visits - and I had to be very very young - like 3 or 4 - she walked me down Murphree Street where she had always lived and knew all of her neighbors - and she had me by the hand  -  I had on a very nice Sunday dress with a short full skirt - she was literally showing me off to all her neighbors.  I loved that.  They were oohing and ahhing over me and I was loving the attention - I can feel myself strutting and strolling and feeling very good about the situation.

Other memory - even now the smell of clean sheets remind me of visiting her.  Well, of course  -  I finally realized - it was because she naturally had had her maid (not herself) put clean sheets on the beds when we were coming to stay overnight.  Ivory Soap - simple plain soap smells to me like her bathroom.  It was very large with a clawfoot tub - the bathroom had a fireplace in it.  Her bedroom doors and I suppose all other doors had transoms over them.  Mary Ann and I usually slept in her sleighbed and besides smellling the clean sheets I can feel myself staring up at that transom and being a bit nervous - also on the mantel in that bedroom (all the rooms had a fireplace) was a picture of my dad when he was very young.  I would also stare at it.

(Edit to this post:  I found the picture of Daddy which I would stare at - periodically - besides the times I was laying in bed.  I was just curious about all of it - I knew it was a time when Daddy belonged to Grandmother and Granddaddy - and not to us - it was a mystery to me - they loved him first)

And - I remember one evening watching her comb her long thin gray hair before bed.  A classic image. When I saw the movie, Driving Miss Daisy, Jessica Tandy's character, Miss Daisy, reminded me so much of my grandmother.

Here, let me show you a picture

Below is a picture of Grandmother in 1936.  
She was 64.

and here she is a young lady, probably before she married
and probably in her parents' home in Troy.

Do you see the piece of furniture in the left side of the picture?
That is a music stand.  It is in Mary Ann's house now, in Evergreen.
But it was always in Grandmother's Library - across the room from her Baby Grand Piano.
When Grandmother had it, it had a burgundy curtain across the front of the shelves which held the piano music.  

Once when we were in Troy, Mother and Daddy were visiting some of Daddy's friends and had left Mary Ann and me with Grandmother and Granddaddy.  Not a common occurrence. 
Mary Ann and I were roaming about their large house and the memory has us in the Library
and I was curiously separating the burgundy curtain to see what was behind it.

At that moment G'mother and G'daddy appeared in the room
and with a very gentle, kind tone
told me not to bother the curtain or the music stand.

The whole situation was so very intimidating that I slipped away into the back bedroom and unintentionally fell asleep.  I woke up to Mother's face. She was waking me from my nap.
I have no recollection of how Mary Ann handled all of that.

Here's a sweet memory of Grandmother - she must have realized that Mary Ann and I were somewhat bored as all the adults conversed in the living room - or what they always called "The Front Hall" -
She invited Mary Ann and me to go out back with her and she showed us some mossy areas on the ground and gave us flat sticks to scrape up the moss.  It was something she had done as a child, I think.  I can't remember what we were supposed to do with the moss.  Also, she took us to a sandy area just outside the door of my Uncle Halbert's Art Studio/Work Shop and gave us, again, some sticks and told us how to recognize the holes of doodle bugs???? and how to use the sticks to coax them out.  I remember preferring the playing with the moss.  Wasn't too keen on the bugs.

There really are a lot of good memories of visiting my grandparents in Troy - it was just so different from our life in Evergreen.  So different - but with just as many, or more, relatives living there.  Not as many first cousins - only 4 - but Daddy had so many cousins and distant cousins there.  I was always under the impression we were related to just about everyone there.  Of course we weren't, but it felt like it. Well, Grandmother was one of 5 siblings and Granddaddy - well - he had multiple siblings - but it was Grandmother's family that always seemed to be in the forefront.

Something unique - when we went for a holiday dinner - like Christmas or Thanksgiving - we sat in their formal dining room and Grandmother had a little bell by her plate.  If we needed something, she'd ding a ling that little bell and magically would appear her very very very sweet and comfortable maid/cook, Willy.  Willy had a limp and had a few freckles over her nose - much like Morgan Freeman, the actor.  Do you know what I mean?

Willy had the best nature and disposition and is the cook I remember.  She always greeted us with many hugs when we drove up into their back yard.  I wonder, now, what she thought about her life, working there amongst the upper crust of Troy, AL - the deep, segregated south.  What did she think of all of us and our white ways and white opinions and white attitudes?  I have some things from Grandmother's kitchen - things I use.  A very large pot.  A rolling pin.  I have her enamelware table.  I love those things and while they belonged to Grandmother - I always think of Willy when I use them.  I imagine all that she did with those cooking utensils.  I think about her life.

I must end this post.

Looks like there might be a few more things I'll want to say on the subject.
I hope I can remember what I wanted to say about today.
It had a lot to do with a conversation I had in Express Lube today.
Just the different kinds of personalities we can run into during our daily routines.

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