Dwight asked me to write down some of my memories, of our family, so I’m going to give it a try. Now bear with me, I’m not real good at putting down all the periods and commas in their right places, and I don’t know where one paragraph should end, and another should start, but here goes;
First off, I guess I’m getting sentimental in my old age, because I often think back to the “Old Home Place” on Hobson Branch, and I’m so grateful that my Father was part of such a large family that showed so much love and affection towards a little “Yankee, City Slicker” like me.
I’m going to start off first, by telling you some of the things I remember most about our Granny Margaret Jane Shepherd.
As a child, I must have been about 4 or 5, I remember Dad and I pulling up to the house on Hobson Branch and seeing Granny, Uncle Harold and Aunt Ola out next to the house. I got so excited, that I must have started to open the car door before the car had stopped, because I remember Dad telling me to “Hold on Son, let me get’er stopped first”. Thank goodness back then, we weren’t roped into a child seat or seatbelts, because I know for a fact, I would have hung myself, or tore my head off trying to get out of that car in such a hurry.
As I ran towards them, I remember Granny bending down with her arms outstretched and plucking me up. She didn’t put me down for the longest time, and while she was holding me and talking to my dad, I remember looking into her face and her blue eyes and feeling very safe in her arms.
Some of the other things I remember about Granny during our semi-annual trips to the farm, was watching her and Aunt Ola prepare breakfast. Granny always made the biscuits, and as a child I watched in amazement, how she would open the oven door on that wood stove in the corner of the kitchen, put her hand in the oven and know that it wasn’t hot enough yet to bake her biscuits. I watched as she would then chunk another piece or two of wood into that stove, wait a couple of minutes and then test it again. I also don’t know what it was about that “Stove”, but it made the best biscuits in the world. Thinking back on it now, everything that was cooked on it, or in it, tasted great.
I remember how our Granny always sat in that Maroon Mohair Chair, the one in the far corner of the living room. I know, a lot of you reading this, remember that chair. One day she was sitting there peeling apples, for an apple pie or applesauce she was going to make for Dinner or Supper. I was sitting on a little foot stool next to her, hypnotized by watching her peel those apple’s.
With every apple she peeled I sat there in dropped mouth awe, watching the peel of each apple form a long thin red snake, that kept getting longer and longer and longer, until she was finished peeling the apple and letting the peel drop into her apron. I just knew when she started to peel the next apple it would be impossible for her to get the peel to reach such lengths again. But with each apple she peeled, the peel was just as long, if not longer than the one before. Come to think of it, their was another and better reason for sitting there, because as Granny sliced those apples for whatever she was going to make, after about every 4th or 5th slice, she would hand a slice down for me to taste test.
I recall one day while walking past that chair, on my way to the bathroom, I spied her can of “Tube Rose” sitting there, and being the inquisitive or should I say “nosey” child that I was, I opened it to look inside. I didn’t know what I was looking at, all I knew was, as a child I would watch our Granny with precision and exactness put a small tree twig into that can, twirl it around several times and with what looked like great pleasure and enjoyment, place it in her mouth. So I figured it had to taste good and I wanted try it.
So I picked up her “Snuff Brush” put it into the snuff can and performed the procedure that I learned from watching her, after I got some of the delicious, yummy brown powder on the brush, I placed the brush in my mouth and licked it off.
Oh Yuck, I can’t put into words how bad that stuff tasted. How in the world could our Granny enjoy this stuff and better than that, why in the world did I put this stuff in my mouth. I’m not sure, but thinking back, this stuff tasted so bad, I think my eyes rolled back into my head and I almost passed out. Now what I do know for sure is this, when it started to run down my throat, I started to gag. I ran out onto the front porch where the adults were sitting, and tried to tell them, with my tongue hanging out, drooling all over the front porch and jumping up and down “get it out, get it out”, my father right away knew what I had done, he kind of laughed under his breath, he picked me up, put me over his shoulder and took me into the kitchen, and with the room spinning uncontrollably, proceeded to help me rinse my mouth out.
From that day on Granny put here snuff up on the Fireplace Mantel whenever Dad and I came to visit. I like to think she was trying to protect me from such an evil vice, but I now know, she was wisely putting it out of reach of a very nosey child. But in all reality she could have placed it anywhere she wanted, I would have never touched it again. To this day, if I see a can of “Tube Rose” somewhere, I get a little light headed.
Here is a story, that to this day, my cousin Betty Jean (Sheppard) Smith always tells me about our Granny. She says she was about 8 years old; she was down home with her father Dennis and her mother Pauline visiting her Grandmother. Her Grandmother was our Aunt Mary (Allman) Sheppard, and they had stopped by the Old Home Place to visit with our Granny, who was Dennis’ Aunt.
Granny noticed Betty Jean picking at a big wart on her hand, Granny told her she could get rid of that wart for her. Betty Jean looked at Granny and asked how; Granny took her into the Kitchen and pulled a bean pod from a string of beans hanging behind the stove drying. She took a bean from the pod and split the bean in two, she started rubbing the bean half on Betty Jeans’s wart, all the while whispering and mumbling something under her breath. When she was finished, she placed the bean half in Betty Jean’s hand, took her outside and told her to put the bean under a rock she was pointing to. Betty Jean did as she was instructed to do, then Granny took Betty Jean by the hand and as they started to go back into the house, Granny told Betty Jean “When that bean rots away, that wart will be gone”, Betty Jean didn’t think much more about it, but about a month later her wart was gone, and it never came back.
My Dad told me stories of how our Granny would be called on by all the folks in the area to be doctored by, when they were ill or laid up. How someone from the community, was always pulling up to their house in a horse and wagon, at all hours of the day or night, when my Dad was very young, and asking Granny to come to their house and try to nurse someone back to health, or help deliver a baby of one of their loved ones and she would always go. I guess she was the closest thing they had to a Doctor in the area back then.
Here’s a story that was told to me by our Uncle Harold, and I’m probably guessing some of you may have heard it also, it always fascinated me and as a young child, I would try to visualize this story in my mind (I still do today).
The story goes, when Granny was a young girl living in Yancey County, her mother, her, and some of her younger brothers and sisters were sitting in their cabin late one evening, catching up on various chores, when all of a sudden they heard a noise coming from under the cabin. The floor boards of this cabin were just laid down and were not nailed in place, all of a sudden several floor boards raised up and to their fright, they saw a large Black Bear trying to get into the Cabin. Our Great Granny gathered the children together, and pushed the children to one of the corners of the cabin, to get them away from where the Bear was trying to push through the floor. I guess our Granny was pretty quick thinking, because the story goes, after several attempts by Her and our Great Granny to scare the bear away, it wouldn’t leave. She knew she couldn’t load the Black Powder Rifle fast enough to shoot the Bear, so she took some black powder, poured it on the floor were the bear was and lit it. The flaring-up and the odor caused by the burning Black Powder was enough to scare the Bear away. I just hope after that, they nailed them “thar” floor boards down.
I remember to this day when Granny passed away, I remember my Dad picking me up, sitting me on his lap and telling me the very sad news. I remember the hurt I felt, and I remember it was the only time I ever saw my father cry.
I’m going to end my rambling now, I hope you enjoyed it, I hope you can make sense of it, but most of all I hope that many more family members can share their memories of this sweet little lady.