Tuesday, April 9, 2013
| My Aunt Peggy Bartly Arnett|
Just like my grandparents I know my Mothers brothers and sister better and consequently I know those cousins better. As children we did spend a lot of time with my Mom's sister Aunt Peggy. Several summer vacations were spent in Dallas hanging out at her house in Oak Cliff. Who knew that as I was sitting in the Texas Theater a few blocks from her house watching Bruce Lee movies one summer, my husband- to- be was in New Jersey reading about Lee Harvey Oswald and his attempted getaway that resulted in a murder in that very theater. (Weird how our lives overlap even when we don't know it, yea?) So time spent in Dallas meant time spent with our cousins Marladean, John, Terry Keith and Terrilynn. We liked all of our cousins and enjoyed time with them. They were all older than us, but each in their own way built memories with us. Marla by mothering us right along with her own two children Tommy and Monica, Terrilynn by taking us along on the wild ride that was her young adult life, John by spending happy hours around a dinner table playing Spades and telling funny stories and Terry Keith by zipping us all around Dallas in a silver corvette and then treating us to dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse in the West End back when it was cool. Of course there is also Uncle Clarence and Aunt Jean and their kids, the twins Russ and Rene, and Myra Lynne. They lived in Oregon, so we did not spend much time with them, though they did come several times, and I do feel as if I know them. I am facebook Friends with Myra, and its nice knowing I can contact her whenever I like. Mom also has another brother, Uncle Ken. I guess of all her siblings he is the one I know best because he has lived in Clovis since the early 1990's and in Mom's house for a large part of that time. He is what could be kindly described as an odd duck, not because of his "alternative" lifestyle, but for numerous other things, each when taken individually is only mildly quirky but the cumulative effect of them all over a span of time gets down right annoying. This is why he and Mom finally had to part ways. He is still in Clovis, at an old age facility sporting an ankle bracelet to help ward off his unsafe wanderlust.
I have not really addressed the question of family vacations. I can only remember two official family vacations. Both were trips to Dallas, where we all piled into the car and made the 8 -10 hour drive from Clovis. The last one was during Thanksgiving and I remember it well. Granny lived two doors down from Aunt Peggy on Brooklyn. The Oregon contingent came down in an RV and we were all together for that one glorious extended family Thanksgiving. Uncle Ken was still living on the edge in California, but everyone else was there. Those were not the only times we went to Dallas, but they were the only times Mom was with us. We went several times on our own. We flew once, but more often we rode the Greyhound bus. Try putting two kids on a bus alone now and see where it gets you! But we did it more than once back in the day. One time in particular I remember staying at Granny's house over the 4th of July. We wanted to see fire works but there was no one to take us so we were out of luck. Granny tried to console us with the offer of watching them on her TV that was in her bedroom. No, we opted not to watch at all rather than on a 12 inch black and white TV. That was the summer of the doodle bugs and the flu. I came down with the flu and spent the bulk of my Dallas visit laid out alone on the living room sofa with no TV and no one to talk to. Jamie, who was well went with Marladean, Granny stayed in her room watching soap operas and I laid on the sofa with tears in my ears suffering from not only the flu, but an epic case of homesickness. When I felt well enough I would sit in the sandy patch in the front yard and torment doodlebugs by digging up their little sand funnels just so I could watch them spin around and make a new ones. Its amazing how little it takes to entertain the truly bored...
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Martha Bridget Rhody Bartley
Lets start with Sol and Gertrude. No they did not live near me. In fact Gertrude did not live at all in my lifetime. She died when Daddy was a boy and I never met her, though in a weird way I feel very connected to her through her quilt which I have inherited. I did get to visit her grave in West Plains a few years ago when Daddy's brother Dale joined me there for a family reunion. He drove us all over the countryside showing us places and telling us stories. Gertrude is buried in a beautiful little cemetery in the woods, and I wonder if I could have ever found it on my own.
I did meet Grandpa Sol though and remember being given a ride on his tractor. He lived in Oklahoma and we lived in New Mexico. I only remember making the trip to see him one time, but I do remember that trip, we saw a longhorn steer in a pasture and Daddy stopped to pick cotton bolls out of a field for Jamie and me to play with. We could see them whizzing by as we drove down the highway and we desperately wanted to have one to look at. I remember being astonished at his daring, picking cotton bolls right out of a field that was not his own! That is about all I can recall about my encounter with my grandpa Sol. I am left with the vague impression that I liked him. I was a highly sensitive child and if he did something to upset me, or that I didn't like I would have remembered it.
My memories of PaPa and Granny are far more elaborate since I spent much more time with them. They lived in Amarillo, only two hours from our home in Clovis, so we went to Amarillo frequently, and they came to see us too, though not as often. There was a convenience store across the street from Granny and Papa's house on Taylor Street and PaPa would give us each a quarter to spend on candy whenever we came for a visit. They took us to Thompson park Zoo and Wonderland Amusement park...trips to Granny and PaPas were almost always fun. Granny's back yard was a little paradise that we loved to play in, and her front porch had a swing to loll on when it was too hot to do anything else but wait for a breeze. Whenever we were leaving to go out we always had to wait for Granny to catch the weather report on TV. This was before the days of 24/7 news and weather coverage. You had to catch the News at noon, the evening news or the late night news or not at all. As a child I never understood what the big deal was but later learned she was making sure we were not headed straight into a tornadic thunderstorm. Growing up in the Texas plains I guess she had her share of tornado scares.
We actually spent the most time with Granny not just because she lived the longest, but because she actually moved in with us for a while. I don't remember how long she stayed, maybe a year or so? I do remember that she was in our house when I was in the third grade because that is when I came down with the chicken pox and was sent home from school. I got to go home because Granny was there, otherwise I would have had to languish in the nurses office until Mom could come get me.
It did not last long, Granny's time living with us. We did not know it then, but she and Mom were not able to live together, Granny unwilling to see Mom as an adult, and Mom, then in her thirties, not willing to explain her every move to her mother. Jamie and I were blissfully unaware of the discord, they did a good job of keeping it out of our world. All we knew was that Granny made the best pickles ever from the cucumbers she grew in the yard and that every Thursday night we could pile into Granny's room and watch Barnaby Jones with her, and I am glad to have a happy memory of that time. She moved from our house to live near her other daughter, my Aunt Peggy in what was soon to become our vacation Hot spot, Dallas Texas. I have it on good authority that there will be more on that subject soon.