Friday, June 25, 2010

Granny's Favorite

My cousin Neal (we call him Rob) is editor of The Waxchechie Daily Light newspaper in Texas. We don't tell him cause we don't want him to get the big head but he is pretty darn good and we are very proud of him. I copied and pasted one of his articles to share with you. I have to tell you though I emailed him to let him know that HE and Wanda were Granny's favorites. They were younger than the rest of us and we were kinda jealous of the two of them. We made things hard at times but I hope he forgets and forgives all of us older cousins. We really did love you guys. We just had different ways of showing it. LOL

Granny’s Favorite
by Neal White, Editor

Last weekend was “Decoration,” an annual tradition my mother’s family has celebrated for as long as anyone can remember.
On the fourth Sunday of May, everyone gathers in Bryson City, N.C. to put flowers on the graves of relatives no longer with us, followed by a picnic at Deep Creek where the rest of the day is filled with remembrances and favorite stories that usually end up touching every branch in the family tree.
Unable to get away, I missed this year’s Decoration Day — but my cousins made sure my name was mentioned on several occasions.
There is also some good-natured ribbing that goes on as well. According to several sources — my mom being one of them — there was quite a debate at this year’s picnic among my cousins as to who was Granny’s favorite.
I was blessed to descend from a very close-knit family on my mother’s side. Mom was the baby of 12 children. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many cousins I have — let alone second- and third- and even fourth-cousins that have now sprouted from the family tree. Suffice it to say when we all get together, you need a program to keep up with everyone.
While my aunts and mom have done research on the family tree, as far as I’m concerned, the roots begin with Granny and PawPaw.
Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, my grandparents, Lawrence L. and Bertie Mae Woody met, married and settled the old family homestead not far from Bryson City. They began a family and worked the land until the Great Depression hit. From what I was told, life was hard but good. PawPaw found work in town and for the most part, the land provided a bounty for their table. Not even the first World War, when PawPaw enlisted in the Army, could shake them from their mountain home — until the Depression. To make ends meet, PawPaw found work with the Civilian Conservation Corps, working in eastern North Carolina and sending his paycheck home to Granny.
In 1939, he landed a job at a factory in Asheville, as manufacturing picked up to support the war effort in Europe. From that point on, Asheville became the hub of the Woody clan, though there are still deep ties to Bryson City where both Granny and PawPaw are buried.
The old Woody homestead, long since abandon, is now part of the U.S. National Park system. If you walk the Appalachian Trail through western North Carolina, you can still see the chimney and what’s left of the frame of the old Woody home.
By the time I came along in the early 1960s, PawPaw had retired. Sometime in the 1950s, he and Granny moved to a modest frame rent house on the side of a mountain just outside of Asheville. Though their house was “electrified,” they installed indoor plumbing the year I was born. And until the day PawPaw and Granny moved into an assisting living facility in 1980, Granny cooked every meal on a wood-burning stove using a cast iron skillet. While Social Security provided their only source of income, they had a huge garden and a mountain filled with cherry, apple and pear trees and more berry bushes than you could pick clean in the spring. Granny also had a big hen house to provide fresh eggs and I swear the roosters that roamed the yard knew when Sunday was rolling around because Granny always served up fried chicken when the clan all got together after church.
Though I never thought so at the time, their self-sufficiency and knowledge of working the land provided all they needed.
We were poor from a bank standpoint, but I can’t ever remember missing a meal. In all the years since, I can’t ever remember having food as good as that Granny put on the table.
Of all my memories, Sunday afternoons at Granny’s house with all my uncles, aunts and cousins are among my favorites. All my relatives that lived within a 60-mile drive were there.
Back then, before we all spread to the four corners of the earth, everyone came to Decoration Day.
Yesterday morning, my cousin Wanda sent me an e-mail to tell me how I was missed at this year’s gathering — and to get in the last word about who was Granny’s favorite.
In a bit of family teasing, my cousin Bryan began carrying on that Wanda was Granny’s favorite, which prompted an all out battle of words as nearly a dozen of my other cousins chimed in they thought they were her favorite.
“You should have seen Kathy’s face (another cousin) when Bryan told her I got all the inheritance. She forgot for a minute that we had the same grandparents,” Wanda noted in her e-mail. “You know we had very special grandparents that could make so many grandchildren think that we were special.”
Reading Wanda’s e-mail, I could just picture everyone circled around the picnic table roaring with laughter over both the comment and my cousin Kathy’s expression.
Granny and PawPaw left this earth not owing a dime to anyone. They also left without a penny to their name.
Sometimes I wonder if society isn’t racing backwards as we rush to keep up with all the technological advances and related economic pressures that supposedly make our lives better. Sometimes I wonder if Granny and PawPaw figured out a long time ago that all you really need is food on the table and a loving family to share it with.
Wanda was right; we really did have special grandparents.
And for the record, even though I wasn’t there, I was Granny’s favorite grandchild.


Mike said...

I always like reading your posts. It's taken me all of my 55 years to realize that a lot of money isn't required to live a rich life. A good partner, a dry/warm/cool place and food is all that is needed. I only had one grandparent that I remember so, no memories for me. I know I've been blessed and, for some reason, someone (up there) is watching over me.

Granny J said...

Your cousin is a very talented writer. I love that story. My dad was born in 1890 and my mom was born in 1901. I can relate to much of your grandparent's story. Thanks for sharing it.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a neat story, Peggy.... I yearn to have been in a large family... My family was so small ---and there's nobody left much. Granny and Paw Paw were wonderful people... I'm sure that all of their kids learned so much from both of them...

My father-in-law worked for the CCC in the '30's... That's when he met Mom Adams --and they got married.

In so many ways, I truly wish life was more like it was back then. Even though times were hard--it was all about family and love...

Thanks again for a great story from your cousin... I'm sure though that YOU were Granny's Favorite.

Lib said...

Lol Love it thanks for sharing!
So much of it sounds like my Family!Thanks for sparking memories:o)
Have a Great weekend Friend!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this heart-warming story of how blessed and simple life was back then. I enjoyed this so much. Enjoy the weekend.

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing the sounds like you had wonderful role models while growing up.

Marci said...

I love it. What a great story!

JoyceAnn said...

Enjoyed reading about you family , it's wonderful to have those memories. Hope your weekend has been good.

~ Many Blessings ~

Connie said...

Hi Peggy,
I enjoyed the story so much. My Dad came from a family of nine and I can remember going to my grandmother's home for those wonderful dinners and family fun. I was born in 1941 and my Daddy was a coal miner and my mother was a nurse. They worked hard but we all had enough to eat and a roof over our head and I had a happy childhood. I realize today how lucky I was to have been raised in a Christian home and a loving home.
I so enjoy reading about your many wonderful animals and I know they are a lot of work. BUT, you dear lady make them feel so loved by the way you treat them - they are all very lucky to be in your care.