I realized quickly that I’d have to “think outside the box” to learn about my ancestors. I LOVE to interview people, and listen to stories about "the older days" when life seemed a little slower and simpler. I study USGS maps, plats, read chanceries, look for long forgotten cemeteries and try to help preserve memories people share with me. This blog is ad free, so it's easier to focus on sharing stories. Feel free to sign the guestbook, or join the FaceBook group. Even if we aren't related by DNA, I'd still love to hear about your research efforts and family stories. I am interested in posting (to this blog) stories relevant to the Mecklenburg-Brunswick families.

22 December 2013

June Stowe remembers Fannie Gray

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This 4 generation picture was taken in 1955. Fannie Gray was 61 years old in this picture, but I think she looks much older than that. I hear she had a hard life. She passed away 4 years after this picture was taken, in the year 1959. She died before I was born, so I asked my grandma to tell me about her.

After the war (WWII), the brothers all bought lots next to each other and their children grew up together. At Christmas time they drew names for presents. On Christmas Eve, all of Fannie's children and grandchildren went to Grandma Fannie Gray Stowe's house. Sometimes Aunt Flora's. (Ten of Fannie's children grew to adulthood, the youngest one, the11th- died as a baby).  They exchanged gifts and had cookies. Then they hurried home, to make sure they were in bed when Santa came.  On Christmas Day they had a nice family meal together. Probably a nice meal with chicken as the main course that Fannie cooked herself. She kept chickens in the back. She cooked on a wood burning stove. Her sons would bring in the wood for  her. My grandma said she could not believe the most amazing biscuits and fried chicken her grandma (Fannie Gray Stowe) made on that wood burning stove! That she was such a great cook! She said she always remembered seeing her grandma in an apron, except to go to church. Looks like she took it off for this picture too. I asked my grandma for permission to post this note she wrote for me about 10 years ago. She happily agreed.
      "Grandma always wore black shoes that were laced up with a thick heel and she would have her stockings rolled down. I remember during World War II when she and grandpa had I think seven sons in the war, we would be playing gin rummy,  on Sat or Sun night. And on the hour when the news came on the radio we were shushed and not a word was spoken while they received the latest news on the war and held their breath as they anticipated where their boys were. My own father was in the Pacific in the US Marines. All sons came home safely! 
     Shortly after returning-a few years I guess it really was, Arthur was killed in an accident at work.
My grandparents received the news while listening to the radio. Our family made a trip to Arizona to my grandparents house there to move them back to Illinois. They had gone there for grandpa's asthma. Their son Shirley lived there as well as daughter Catherine. 

      Grandma could wring a chicken's neck in the AM and have it on the table for dinner, and I've seen her do it. She had a hard life. I often went to the local grocery and bought her snuff and grandpa's chew. My mother always said grandma was very clean about spitting her juice in a can. I never thought anything about it. It was just something she did. My mom said she was the best mother in law on earth. She was a person with no guile. I would like to have her very special qualities of love and kindness for her family and all those around her. When my own parents could not decide on a name for me, she was the one who named me. Thank you grandma. I love you very much and I miss you." 

What Christmas traditions do you have? Ask your family what they did during World War II. Did they listen to the radio for news? Did they use their benefit to get a house close by other family as Fannie's sons did? Do you go visit your grandparents for Christmas? What did you do at Christmas when you visited your grandparents? Type up a paragraph or so about that, and email it to your children or other relatives. I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

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