Grandparents

 

  What would our childhood memories be without including grandparents? Although I wasnít as close to my grandparents on my fatherís side of the family, I still have memories of being in their home quite often. My Grandmother, Ninnie McCormick, was a wonderful cook, and I especially liked her fried chicken. I have never before or since eaten fried chicken as good as what she could cook. My Granddaddy, Marvin McCormick, did a lot of painting for people, and I still remember how a lot of the time, he would smell like fresh paint. But I must admit, when I look back over my childhood days, I tend to favor my motherís parents, and thatís probably because during my very earliest years, we lived right across the street from them. I can still picture every room in their little house. There was a living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a back porch. Grandma always kept it spotless.
 They rented the house they lived in, and the person they rented from also owned the building where Mr. Bradford had a shoe shop for many years before he died. There was some kind of printing business that operated in that building at that time. Grandpa and Grandma were allowed to use the bathroom at the back of that building since there were no facilities in the house they lived in. There was a sink and a commode in the back room of that building with a door that opened from the outside.

I have some happy memories of being in their home. Probably a day didnít go by that I didnít go across the street and visit with them. Grandma had very long hair that she wore in a bun at the back of her neck. She used hair combs to keep it in place. I have one of those combs in my jewelry box today. She always wore dresses with an apron. Her shoes were kind of high topped and were either brown or black. The shape of her slender fingers and hands is something else about her that stands out in my mind. Grandpa was one of the happiest people I have ever been around. Other than having "sick spells" from time to time, nothing ever to seem to get him down. He had the bluest eyes that continue to be passed down in the family, and he had a mustache. He was never without a knife and a piece of cedar to whittle on. Sometimes he would save the cedar shaving, especially in the summer months, and make what he called a "gnat smoke" in the front yard. He said that kept the gnats and mosquitos away. He was one of the group of elderly fellows that sat at one corner of the courthouse and whittled the days away. He chewed tobacco and Grandma dipped snuff.

Their little house was heated with a wood stove that sat in the living room and Grandma cooked on a wood stove in the kitchen. There was always a wood pile in the back yard, and I remember well how my younger brother, David, got in trouble once for throwing wood chips at Grandpa. Grandpaís nickname for David was "Jack Rabbit". A great big box of wooden matches was always on the mantel in the living room, and sometimes I would slip behind the stove and sneak several matches out of the box and sit there by the stove and strike them one at a time. Grandma had to know what I was doing, but she would never tell me to stop doing that. In fact, I canít remember ever being scolded by her not one single time. She always had King Leo stick candy as well as big boxes of vanilla flavored cookies that she let us have as many as we wanted when we came to visit. In the summer months, she would spend a lot of time sitting on the front porch in the swing. I have spent countless hours sitting there beside her in that swing. I can remember on one occasion that Grandpa had to be hospitalized for a day or two, and I spent the nights while he was in the hospital with Grandma. There were two beds in the bedroom where they slept, and I slept in Grandpaís bed while he was away. When we retired for the night, which was much earlier that I normally went to bed, I remember how Grandma told me she always had a certain way she fixed her hands underneath her pillow before going off the sleep. We got up before sunrise, which Iím sure was something she always did, and I can remember looking out of the window in the living room to my house across the street thinking everyone in my family was still in bed. Grandma was in the kitchen baking biscuits, and we enjoyed a big breakfast together before I went back across the street to let my mother know I had taken good care of Grandma during the night.

There was a dresser in one corner of the living room in Grandpa and Grandmaís house, and on that dresser sat a picture of one of my cousins, Donald Copeland, in his naval uniform. I had no memory of ever meeting Donald during my childhood days since he was away serving in the Navy, plus he was quite a bit older than I was. Because he was the only person in the family that I knew was serving in the military, I always thought of him as being very heroic as well as quite distinguished in his uniform. That picture always sat in the same place on the dresser for what seemed like to me many, many years.

Something else I can remember Grandma having were some pieces of pottery that had been made by another cousin, Colleen (Beaty) Norris. Grandma kept those in the extra bedroom. She told me how Colleen learned to make pottery at a pottery school held in Alpine. It was beyond me to understand at that time how in the world this was done, and I remember being quite fascinated by the pretty green glaze that these pottery pieces had been finished with.

Grandmaís life raising eleven children, five boys (one died at birth) and six girls, was not an easy one, but I never heard her complain. It was not until I was grown that I became aware of the fact that there were times when my motherís family didnít have enough to eat. One of my aunts told the story of how on one occasion she could remember that the only thing in the way of food in the house was a pumpkin. But despite having a hard life, my memories of Grandma and Grandpa are of two very loving, gentle people, and both of whom were always glad to have my company, and I was always just as glad to have theirs. The memories of Elza Allen Copeland and Lou Dora Ledbetter Copeland are ones I will always treasure. My childhood just wouldnít have been the same without them.

 

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