Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Election Day in West Virginia

I'm sad.

The weather was rainy and cold today: A typical election day.

This was to have been a day off from the constant struggle to get-it-together I find myself in every working day.

The things I have to do list got modified and some things never got finished.

We almost lost NCIS to the election reporters on Channel 5 - Dumb guys. That's a story for another day, too. Election Day in November!!!!

I read the blogs about the grandmothers.
I reflected upon the fact that I, too, have grandmothers (and I know many grandmothers now that I am one myself.) My grandmothers were STRONG women. I loved and feared them at different times in my life (for different reasons.) I will have to look for a picture of my Grandmothers to post, but the generic picture above will do for now.

I didn't know her when she had any other hair color than gray. Her hair was long and she kept it braided. She was so heavy that I could not get my arms around her to give her a hug. And she always gave me one. Amanda Olive Wright worked hard and, with my Grandpa Clem beside her, she raised her sons and daughters: Erse, Red, Buss, Ray, Eveline, Louise and Marg (and there was at least one baby whom I didn't know about as a child, who died soon after birth). Even while raising her family, she took care of my great grandparents (her in-laws) who were bed-fast toward the end of their lives, in her country home. Columbus, I believe, and Mary were gone before I got on the scene.

At Thanksgiving time, Clem and the men of the family would butcher a hog and she would "put it up" - make sausage and put sausage patties in crocks with fat poured on top, to set in the cellar house..., and then there were the pickled pigs feet - I didn't eat that. When the butchering was finished, she would roll out her famous (chicken) noodles - I DID eat that. She rolled out dough on the porcelain top table under the window in her kitchen, and cut them in long strips to boil in the chicken broth. We had farm killed chicken every weekend. I saw eggs inside the chicken, heart, gizzard, liver, too. I loved chicken livers and still do. (and I ate her fried chicken even though I saw her pluck the feathers and cut up the chicken ;)

Clem and Mandy didn't have indoor bathroom until I was big enough to remember (4 or 5)the shower and toilet in the very back of their one story, three bedroom home, with the cellar house up the hill almost under the garage. By that time, her daughter Marg, had died of cancer, and we saw our cousins from in and out of state in the summertime at Grand Dad's birthday on the 4th of July.

One weekend, in the winter, I stayed over in Wetzel County, with out my parents. I slept in the middle bedroom - it had at least three double beds at the time and was heated by gas space heaters....They slept in the back bedroom near the kitchen and bathroom. I heard her tell Grandpa as they were getting into bed that I was a handful. I didn't like the sound of that - I didn't know what a handful was... and I brooded about that for a long time, but never asked.

She was a big fan of Eisenhower. She had a little plastic statue of Ike about two inches tall, sitting on the radio in the "parlor" (living room with the big red velvet couch and chair.) That's the same couch that Uncle Jake flaked out on after every Sunday meal at Grandma and Grandpa's. We always had a big family meal there.

She and Grand Dad got me something to plant in the garden one summer. I dug into a burned patch of ground with my shovel ( a spoon) and planted elbow macaroni... what great fun.
When she died, she was in the hospital. The doctor had "opened her up" to see if he could fix whatever it was that was hurting her. She had told him: if it's bad, just sew me up. At 86 or so, she had lived a long time and she had never been bed-fast. He did just what she ask.
He daughter, Louise, came in the room to help care take her after the surgery. Louise had many children, by then, most of them grown men by 1970's, and she lived nearby outside of Mannington. She was one of the best caretakers and God fearing women in the little country Christian church she and her family attended. Grandma complained of her legs aching and Louise massaged them to ease the pain. Grandma Mandy died that evening in the hospital.

On the other side, I hardly knew my Grandma Jessie Pearl. She took care of my Grandpa Harry during the 1st five years of my life - he had Lou Gehrig's and we seldom stayed at her house. When I did, I slept upstairs in the room with the maple chest of drawers, but not in the spool bed in the front room. Their house was a two story with a bathroom - and a claw foot tub, on the second floor. The furniture was dark and heavy - a round claw-foot oak table, a big heavy rocker, a metal knight statue at the top of the stairs....kitchen in the back of the house, grape arbor and chicken coop out back... the basement with the dirt floor and cold storage room and that huge garage out back....

Grandpa's bed was downstairs, in the original parlor. I didn't know why at the time. Someone remodeled the house to make the dining room bigger - more of a living area. Come to think of it, I never saw my Grandpa Harry in his bed the whole time I visited Burt Town Hill (that's what we called the homeplace). I can't imagine my Grandma caretaking him, but she must have.

Jessie Pearl was a shorter stout woman. She always wore dresses. Sometimes a hat. She went places - to town, to church and to visit relatives in other places. The Straights were Baptists. She and Grandpa Harry raised five children Elba, Roy, Edward, Freda, Stanley. All the kids went to college. Mom is the only one who didn't graduate. They travelled on vacations.

She collected salt shakers and porcelain statues.

Grandpa died when I was little -- 5 or 6 mebbe 7. Grandma Jessie came to live with my Mom and Dad when she was unable to live by herself -- just after I got married ( 20 or so years later). I was gone from my parents' home, but I have stories from that time that I will never forget...

It's time for me to go to bed. I'm not so sad now. At least my mind has something new to think about.
And, oh yeah, Mollohan has conceded to his opponent - I should have changed my registration so I could vote in the democratic primary. That is where the decisions are being made. Another hi-jacked vote. Chicanery!


  1. I can not remember staying overnight in Wetzel county. Funny, isn't it. I love your memories, wonderful. I do remember sitting on the landing at Grandma Straight's and playing with the big shell. I loved that shell, I thought it was the most exotic beautiful thing I had ever see.
    I remember Grandma Snodgrass (Amanda Olive) staying with us at Sun Valley. We took her to UHC for radiation treatments on her throat. She had to be in a room alone for the treatments, and I could only watch through a lead window. I was scared for her, although she didn't seem afraid. My Daddy was with her and took her for the treatments. They were the strongest people I've ever seen. No whining. Unlike me. ;-)

  2. The one uncle I remember sleeping after those huge dinner was Uncle Bill, Louise's husband. I can still remember the mounted deer's heads in the living room.
    I can picture Grandma standing in that kitchen over the white porcelain table rolling the noodles. I vividly remember her sturdy legs, not so different from my own legs now. ;-)

  3. You are correct. It was Uncle Bill. I don't know why I said Jake. Jake never came to dinner. Marg was gone by then. I don't really remember Jenny Olive and Wayne at the 4th of July picnic, but the memory is hazy. They might have been there once in a while.

    I remember Amanda sitting downstairs on that brown chair. She didn't climb the stairs. I remember the burn scars on her neck from the radiation. I don't remember what kind of cancer they were treating.

    I miss them, (Daddy, too). I know Daddy never forgot them; he talked about them to me a lot. Lots of stories about growing up in the country.
    Mom did not talk about Jessie or Harry, or maybe I just didn't ask. I know his birthday was flag day. I don't know hers. She didn't tell stories... But she knew so much I wish I had ask her about them.