Couldn’t help but think about my maternal grandmother today. Mary Alice Montgomery Carrico was a lovely person, but as a grandmother she was rather stilted. When we came to visit she was always sitting in her rocking chair and offered her cheek for us to kiss. There were no big hugs. We were expected to sit on the couch and behave. The cherry tree in the back yard always drew our attention, and we eagerly climbed the small tree to eat all the tart cherries we could pop in our mouths. Outside we could run and play and wear off some of the energy that was not allowed inside. Back inside it was more time on the couch, hopefully with a book. Grandmother Alice was a fabulous cook – everything was just perfection – especially her baked chicken and dressing. Although long before my time, mom talked of the butter she made from their cream, decorating it with flowers and designs. Cottage cheese was also homemade. Bread puddings, cakes and pies were all on the menu.
In contrast Grandmother Alice’s mother, Frances Barber Linton Montgomery, was quite the opposite. Unfortunately, I did not know her, she died in 1945, years before my birth. Mom told all the wonderful stories of good times at her grandmother’s house, always met at the door with hugs and kisses. During their weekly stay in the summer Great-grandmother Frances let her seven grandchildren play with her canned food and pantry items in the living room on tables and bookshelves. Frances would don her best hat and with purse on her arm go through the stores and purchase items for five cents each. At the end of the week she held a big party, in the dining room, with lace tablecloth and many goodies and desserts on glass dishes. Mom always talked about what a treat it was. At Easter the grandchildren would find baskets on the porch, with eggs and other items. And at Christmas the girls received a doll and the boys a ball. Since this was during the Depression these items were very precious. Another thing that was special each year was the fair. Grandmother Frances love the fair and took a picnic lunch for her children and grandchildren to enjoy. She died the week of the fair, and everyone was encouraged to go since it was a yearly event she dearly loved.
My mother, Catherine Lyons Carrico Hill McIlvoy, was more like her Grandmother Frances. Mom always met you at the door, hugs and kisses, and, ‘Are you hungry? Can I fix you something to eat?’ Her children and grandchildren were her pride and joy. My children love to tell the story that one day, when they were small, Gran, as they called her, asked if they would like to see a flying saucer. With their eyes big and watching her every move, she took one of the glass saucers they were drying and gave it a whirl into the dining room. It landed on the carpet and turned and rolled into the living room. Linton and Kate, of course, said, ‘Do it again! Do it again!’ When Kate was in middle school mom picked her up every day – and was usually talked into going for ice cream. Myself, I remember coming home from school and having a treat in the Lazy Susan on the table – exactly four spots for four children (little sister Laura came much later!).
My paternal grandmother, Nannie Bell Coulter Hill, was a very quiet woman. She rarely spoke to anyone. But she loved us dearly, loved to give kisses and hugs. She was such a good cook – and cooked on a wood stove all her life. I still remember the smells from her kitchen, and how much everyone loved to sit at her table for a meal. One of my earliest memories was at Easter. When we drove in, the yard was filled with suckers standing straight up, eggs and other goodies. There was a garden to explore and every time we left during season we were given a brown bag to hold some of the fresh vegetables on the back porch – our own tomato, potato, zucchini, etc.
I did not know Grandmother Nannie’s mother – Mary Elizabeth Crow Coulter. But I was told she loved to dance and smoked a corn cob pipe! How could she have been so full of life and not her daughter?
Now that I am Nana, I fall into the line of my mother and great-grandmothers. Julian and Percy are met at the door with kisses and hugs. Julian has a basket with Kit-Kats and M&Ms. We play wild games like Old McJulian Had A Beach – where we sing and run after him, our fingers a crab’s claw trying to catch hold. We sit in the floor and make traffic jams with his cars. Play color games out on the porch. Blow bubbles. Casper Babypants is our favorite music to listen to when he’s here. How different will Percy be? It’s hard to say since she’s just two weeks old. But I’m sure she will be a match for her brother, and an individual to boot!
What wonderful memories do you have of your mother, grandmothers or great-grandmothers? Remember to write them down for future generations. Precious memories made and to be made.