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Staying at Grandma’s House

Kentucky History and Genealogy Network, Inc.


 

Staying at Grandma’s House

I remember when I was growing I would get to to stay all night at Granny and Papa’s house. I always looked forward to the visit. Granny always had things cooked and left on the stove because she was afraid someone would go hungry by chance. Granny and papa had both lived through the depression and had known what hunger was. Papa had his own version of how things should work (most of them leaving me scratching my head now however).  I remember there weren’t any street lights or utility lights anywhere but Papa had sufficed and put a big green porcelain light globe nailed up in a tree beside the road and the house and in the globe was a huge clear glass light bulb. It didn’t put out much more light than our led flashlights do today. I believe he had it just for the bugs to fly around! After dark you could walk about five feet away from the light and you were in total darkness. He always made sure it was on before dark though.

Now when we would get to grandma’s,  it would be during the day and we would play in the “Branch”, (that was what the creek was called behind the house),  all day if it wasn’t too cold. On the weekends the cars would be pulling up and the back doors would be opening up before the car even got stopped as my cousins would bail out of the back seats. All of us were heading to the branch first thing.  we would play in the water all day catching minnows and crawdads and building mud dams. At suppertime, Granny would call out for you to come in. She had a huge closet she called a chifferobe where she kept clothes and canned stuff in. It seemed to me to be as big as a bedroom inside of it. It had a faint light in the middle of the room with a string you pulled down to turn the light on. Most times it had a cord plugged into the socket going to her sewing machine.

Inside the chifferobe were blankets, all kinds of canned items from the garden that year, any size, shape or color of clothes, shoes, socks, coats and sweaters all stacked on shelves or hanging from racks. The first thing we had to do was change clothes and get washed up. Now getting washed up involved taking a dish pan of water that had been heated on a coal stove and mixing cold water that had been drawn from the spring that was on the bank across the one lane dirt road in front of the house. It had a wooden lid built around the spring and you lifted a door and got the water out. That was Papa’s two main chores would be to get water in and bring in coal and kenneling for the fire. I liked to help him but most of the time I just gathered eggs from the nests scattered all around the place. Papa always thought they laid better if they ran loose.

Coal

Water Spring                                                                               Block of Coal

When the water was just right to wash in, we would gather close to the stove and hide behind a sheet hung up and we washed off. Granny had to wash your back, neck and the backside your knees. Then you got dressed in a clean set of clothes she had gathered for you, most of the time different shoes too. We would find out later they had originally belonged to all of our cousins, but not on purpose. Grandma would wash our clothes that we came in with and they went to the chifferobe. So you walked around with all your cousins clothes on after you changed to eat supper. Of course your cousins ended up with your clothes too. I remember being at school and a cousin would call out “Hey, you got my shirt on. Where did you get that?”. Of course it came from grandmas.

We would gather around a dinner table that looked about twenty feet long when I was little and ate all kinds of homemade and homegrown food. Granny always made biscuits in one huge pan and called it biscuit bread. (My Aunt was the one who made the regular biscuits and Papa called her “Dough Roller”). We would eat till we were full and couldn’t move and then everyone went to the living-room to watch TV while papa got the stoves ready for the night. Papa would sit with us for a bit if he was caught up. It was during one of those times that all of us finally got a solution to the Bonanza Genealogy Puzzle.

You see, for a long time Granny had thought if something was on TV then it was true and most definitely real. Papa, being a self-proclaimed Cartwright expert, knew better. Well Granny always thought that Hoss, Little Joe and Adam were the real sons of the Old Man Cartwright. Papa had tried for the longest time to convince her different but she just knew he was wrong. I mean it is on TV and it has to be real, or so she thought. She also thought that he was trying to convince her Cartwright was trying to deny his legitimate sons. She thought that was the most terrible thing that Cartwright had boys and papa was trying to claim that they belonged to someone else. This conversation had gone on a long time and always ended up in the past as a stalemate. On the fatal night in question we were watching Ponderosa and Granny looks over at Papa during a tender time in the show, and said defiantly “See there John, Old Man Cartwright can’t deny them boys, they look just like him”.  Papa looked at her and gave in saying “Yup your right Sib!” He winked at me after he said it. So that settled that huge question then and there. After Ponderosa and Gunsmoke and maybe a western or two, it was time for bed.

Papa had bedded the stoves down with slack coal and he had gotten the stoves hot before he banked them. Banking the fire involved putting very fine coal on top of the fire in the stove so it would have coals to start up again in the morning. You would be sweating when bedtime came around.  Granny would put you in a huge bed, most of the time with your brother or a cousin or two, and pull the blankets up on. You had to kick the covers down to your feet as soon as she left because it was so hot. Granny’s beds had goose feather mattresses and pillows. When you got into bed the mattress and pillow would wrap around you as you sunk in. The pillows were so soft, it is just hard to describe. The quilts and blankets were all hand-made by Granny and were made from any piece of scrap she could round up. Seems like she would pile six quilts on top of you at bedtime. You would be sweating when you went to bed and the house would cool off during the night. You would reach down and pull a blanket on you. As the night progressed you would keep dragging another quilt till all of them were piled on top of you and you couldn’t roll over for the weight of them. Then you would put another pillow over your head toward morning and it would eventually be to where only your mouth was showing.

Early in the morning you would wake up by the rooster crowing (somewhere between 5 or 6, because he was on fast time) and you would wake up to the smell of breakfast cooking and papa’s poking at the stove. Papa always got up about four am to chunk up the stoves before leaving to check on the neighbors. We would lay there for a while and you could feel the house warming up. When you felt the heat starting to hit your face it was about time to get up.

Now getting out of bed involved a mad rush to the stove. You see the house would be warm but the floor wasn’t. When the covers came off you would be sweating. Jumping onto a freezing floor with wet feet didn’t mix well either, thus the dash to the stove. Hitting the floor with sweaty feet would freeze your feet to the floor if you stood still. So I would jump out of bed and go straight toward the stove and a warm stove. You could see the red tint to the pipe when you got there. I would stand there almost against it and move farther out as it warmed up. Then it was off to the kitchen to start the day!

Author, Marty Wyatt


 

{Did you know?} Kentucky has had an active feud in every county of Kentucky and some counties with multiple feuds. The Hatfield/McCoy was made famous because it involved two states and ended up in Federal Court. It was by no means a comparison for some of the other feuds which were more costly, lasted longer and involved more bitterness, with one becoming an assassination in Frankfort of a governor.


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