I mentioned this in passing on another blog, concerning why people are short (random thoughts). Someone asked about the family history involved therein.
Grama's folks were a doctor and nurse. Her dad died in a typhoid epidemic. A year or so later, her mom remarried. A year or so later, her mom died in another epidemic. Don't know if it was typhoid or not. The stepfather kept the house and land (of course, this being Texas and no will) and pushed my three year old grama out the door.
You could get away with stuff like that. He wasn't her dad, you know. So of course he wasn't responsible, kind of thinking. Her uncle, or some more distant relative, took her in. Apparently only because they felt they had to. They were farmers. She went out to pick cotton with the rest of the bunch. Well, they didn't feed her well and she worked hard, so she didn't get very big.
It was rare that a truant officer came out, but they did come to the farms, to make sure farm kids were going to school. They told him she was five, when she was about 8. Finally, the truant officer figured out she couldn't possibly still be that young and made them put her in school. Unfortunately, she hit the maximum age in three years. So she only got a third grade education.
Not being a stupid woman, she left home and found a job where she might actually be appreciated. She was a maid but felt more a daughter of that house than of the relative she had worked for.
She met a tall cowboy in a leather jacket and a fast car and the two of them rode off into the sunset together. They had 6 living children, 17 grandchildren, and a smattering of great-grandchildren and had been together over 50 years when the cowboy/farmer died.
She lived on for a few years, aggravating everyone on purpose, I think, because she was aggravated that Grampa was gone. She died when I, the eldest of her fifth child, was teaching college. So, I was 24 maybe?
She could make the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet. They were good fresh out of the oven or two weeks old mailed in a package. They were only okay otherwise.
She catered to her grandkids' tastes, peeling five and ten pounds of potatoes for breakfast every morning when my family would come to visit so that my brother and I could have mashed potatoes for breakfast.
And she told the best scary stories. My favorite was the boogie man's toe. But another, equally scary, was about a rocker in an abandoned house that rocked on its own.
She had an interesting finger naming game. Tom Thumbkin, Billy Willkin, Long Jerkin, Betsy Bobkin, and Little Dick. Don't know where it came from or how old it is. But I think only two of the grandkids knew it. I am not sure any of the greats do. Not even my boys.
Note: I looked up the finger game. I found a book from 1849 that identified the finger-naming game as varying by county in England. Page 105 sats that “in some parts of Yorkshire,
and little Dick.”
from Popular rhymes and nursery tales: a sequel to the Nursery rhymes of England by J. R. Smith