Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stories by Mom: Part 1, Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end.

Those were the days my friend, I thought they’d never end!

By Virginia Williams Kelly

I love to walk. I have walked all my life. I used to walk three miles every morning, seven days a week not for my health but simply because I loved to do it and I got such a ‘high’ from just strolling along that I wanted  to walk and walk. But everything comes to an end eventually. 
My journey into my childhood started when I was about six years old and this story is part of it.

I was born on 29 July, 1918 into what Tom Brokaw called the Greatest Generation and if you were that lucky then you have seen almost all life has to offer, both good and bad.

My earliest memory was at age two. It was of my grandfather Williams (Daniel Williams, 1852 – 1920) who ask me to pass him his spittoon since he was chewing tobacco. I did not know of course that he was dying of kidney failure. He died on 19 April, 1920.  I can picture very vividly the room he was in, the couch in the corner and the wall telephone by the window next to the couch. That old telephone always fascinated me.

Daniel Williams (1852 – 1920), about 1919

My memories at about age three were the worst of my life and I think it set a pattern for the way I viewed many other things. We were living with my maternal grandparents (Joseph H. Whetstone and Catherine Elizabeth House Whetstone) and I had two uncles only seven and 13 years older than myself. They were always playing tricks on me. They loved to sit my little backside on the scrub brush, bristles up so that I could not get down and to leave me crying for my mother. They loved to torment me in every way their devious little minds could think of.

Me with a hair bow and the three “evil” uncles:
Left to right: George, Leslie Lawrence, and Joseph Edward.

I also had a big old rooster attack me and since his feathers flew everywhere I was afraid of feathers. The uncles would put feathers all around the porch so I couldn't even play on the porch which was the only place I was allowed to play.

I also disliked open umbrellas for some reason and they always had an open umbrella on the porch. I think I had developed many phobias by the time I was three because of these incidents and many more. I did get back at them later when they hid their candy bars under the dining room table and I was small enough to reach them and eat them, and they were delicious too.


The Whetstones with some of their grandchildren:
Joseph Hampton Whetstone (1858 – 1939), Catherine Elizabeth House Whetstone (1865 – 1947). That’s me in the big hair bow, third child from the left.
The children are, left to right: Gene Knowles, my sister Dot, me, Chuck Knowles and Sandy Whetstone.
Times and daily life were very different then. Two things happened at that time that left scars. The most horrendous one was to see my Dad shoot his hunting dog. No one ever explained to me that the dog had distemper and had to be put down because there were no treatments or cures for it. So this led to my championing of all animals especially dogs.
The other horrible event was to watch my grandfather kill chickens twice, once with a hatchet and once by wringing its neck. I know now that these things were common but that didn't help a three year old to understand them.

My younger sister, Evelyn, died at age three and I can still recall how pretty she was, always smiling but she got diphtheria and never got over it. I can still see her in Grandmother's cabinet pulling out the towels so she could lie down on the shelves.

I remember my Aunt Edna dying of tuberculosis, although I didn't know that it was happening, when I used to sit on her bed while she told me little stories. She died on 11 May, 1922. She gave me a paper doll which I still have.

Yes indeed, times and daily life were very different then.


Me with one of the many dogs in my life.

My sisters and I: left to right, Dorothy “Dot” (Williams) Conrad (1920 – 2007),
Evelyn Marie (1921 – 1924), and me.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment!



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