We lived with my father’s parents on a farm overlooking the Yadkin River for the six years before I started school. More of my time was spent with my grandpa, but I have many memories of my grandmother too. We called her Mama Hoots. My own children called my mother this same name.
Mama Hoots had been raised in Yadkin County. That was where my grandfather was born. The family had lived there until three years before my birth. When Roosevelt funded a dam project in Yadkin County. the government purchased Grandpa’s farm. The dam was never built, but my family used the funds to purchase the farm from Mr. Patterson. This property is now owned by Dr. Charles Branch.
Grandma’s father was a Williams, and her mother was a Hutchens. One brother and his wife lived in Yadkin. Two brothers lived in Indiana. She had a sister in Yadkin also. There were various nieces and nephews we saw at intervals.
Grandma was the typical farm wife. She wore everyday dresses made from cotton. Some were made from feed sacks. Grandma and mama ran the house, harvested the gardens, and preserved the food. I remember seeing her put dirty laundry into a large black pot filled with boiling water. She used that same pot to render lard by boiling fat from pigs. Grandma tended rose bushes that ran up the garden fence. They were ivory with pale pink centers and a sweet fragrance.
Grandma had few luxuries, but she looked good when she dressed up for church. She had a corset that laced up the back. I got to tighten the strings. This fascinated me. Her nieces gave her gifts of face cream and powders. They also gave her linens at times. These were items I never knew her to buy for herself.
At home, she dipped snuff. She filled an empty snuff can with a mixture of cocoa and sugar and made a brush from a twig so I could dip too. Grandma spent more time with my sister Faye, but I remember when grandpa promised to buy Faye the material for a dress if she would give up her pacifier. She purchased material for me as well.
After we moved to the March farm, I would visit weekends and stay when my parents would let me. During one of these visits, I developed the mumps. Grandma kept me the entire week and nursed me until I was well. There I got to raid the refrigerator. They had honey and jams and jellies.
None of my uncles went to college, but I remember grandma encouraging my cousin Gene to go. My grandparents attended my eighth-grade graduation and my wedding and were always supportive of us. They had four sons, and the entire family was always welcome to come and to stay as long as they wished.
Grandmother had a dry sense of humor. One of her nieces had raised two or three children before having a change of life baby boy. When his mother spoke of him, you would think he was the only child ever born. She was telling my grandma how pretty and smart he was. She stated he talked earlier, walked earlier and learned faster than others. “You can’t know, you would have to have one like him to understand,” she said. Grandma replied, “I do understand. I had four just like him.”
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