On Eagle's Wings

On Eagle's Wings
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31


Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Memories - My Family

I am joining Retired not Tired today in sharing our memories of family. You can join in the nostalgia with us and link in here.

This is a difficult one to write about, to keep short and not get lost in too much detail with all the memories from a lifetime ago.

Dad grew up in a family of six kids in the hills of Arkansas.
They lived in a small two room house.
The kitchen and living area were one room
and everybody slept in the other room.
How they managed to have six children in those living quarters is beyond me!
Grandpa McCoy was a sharecropper and a carpenter. 
My Dad had typhoid fever when he was 8 years old and almost died from it.
He told me how my Grandpa would walk 9 miles to town and back
each day to get the medicine my Dad needed.
I think they lived a pretty rough life and Daddy told us his school
only went through the 8th grade so he repeated it three times.
Most of the time he had to help with the farm.
He was a hard working man all his life,
a quiet, loyal, and faithful husband to my Mom,
a man who loved his family and made many sacrifices to provide for us.

My Dad standing tall in the center with his brothers,
along with his Dad on the far right.
All of them were farmers.

 My Mom was brought up in the city and thrust into country life when she was just into her teen years. My Grandad moved his family from the city life
to a rural town in NW Arkansas to keep the kids "off the streets."
(Actually, I understand that was my Great-Grandmother's idea. She was the
matriarch and. she. ruled! Not only that, but she was a "preacher" woman!"
And not just a preacher, but a Pentecostal preacher!
Needless to say, my Mom and her family lived in a very 
strict and legalistic lifestyle, due to this.)
I have seen pictures of Mom pitching hay and know that her life was also hard.
She had to leave high school in her junior year because my Grandad's leg was cut off in a mowing accident. She and her siblings had to take over the work until he healed up and was able to work again.

(Sister Viola on the accordion and Sister Brewer with the guitar)
These ladies traveled with my Grandma to play
and sing a few songs before my Grandma would preach.
In her teen years before she met my Dad, my Mom went along with them and sang.
She's the pretty young lady on the right.

When my parents met, he had recently returned from World War II and was the mature age of 22. My mom was at the tender age of 16 and had grown up in a very protected environment. 
They met at a church meeting and most of their courtship was with other couples. Most every picture I have of them while dating, they were laughing. In many of them, it looked as though my Dad was tickling her.

Anyway, Dad rescued, er, stole Mom's heart away from the travelin' band.
(Great Grandma wasn't too happy about that.)

Despite my Great-Grandmother's feelings, 
I'm happy to say my parents were married in June, 1948.
He was 24 and she was 18.

Here they are the happy couple on the right about three months later 
glowing with anticipation over the news that they are to be parents of me!!

My Dad followed after his Dad in the farm life for a couple of years after my parents were married. 
They then decided to make a move to Tulsa, Oklahoma with high hopes
that Dad could provide a better living
for his little family of three and my sister, who would come along shortly after the move. He labored each day in a company that made steel oil well derricks. Grueling work in the heat of summer and freezing winters. He was very proud of the work he did there.

We lived in all kinds of interesting places.
I applaud my parents for staying together through thick and thin.
I'm not sure how many couples could hold a marriage and family together
these days if their first home had been a small and flimsy wooden shack in the hills off a dirt road with no running water, no indoor bathroom, wind blowing through the cracks in the walls in winter, and critters running freely through the house. I'm wondering how my Mom survived that first year. 
She became pregnant with me three months into the marriage and was sick the whole time. I would have to say it is no exaggeration to tell you that my mother was truly a woman of grit, even though she was one of the most quiet, gentle spirited and sweet ladies I have ever known. She always had a smile and I never heard her complain. She had a good word for everybody and they were always welcome in her home. At church, she had a reputation for NOT being the gossip. You confided in Sister Betty about something and you knew it would go no further.

Their first home in the big city was a basement apartment.
We then moved to three rooms in the back of a house
with the landlord living in the front part of the house.
With each move they made, things were progressively better.
My parents had intestinal fortitude!
They had the guts to keep on going no matter what.
And I can honestly tell you with a straight face that never once ... never ...
did they have any disagreements in our presence. 

On the other hand, my sister Roberta and I ... ;-)
We were playmates and are still close friends and, of course,
I love her dearly. We shared a room and a bed together until I left home.
There were times when I wanted to slug her (and I did)
and she was pretty sneaky. Somehow I'm the one who always got the spankings. See how cute she is? I'm guessing that's how she got away with it!

My Mother made these dresses. Pale blue organdy
with blue tulle over them. She made
almost all our clothes.
Here we are - this happy little family of 4 was about to become a family of 5!
I remember my parents calling us into their bedroom to ask how we would
feel about having a baby brother or sister.
That sounded like a great idea to both of us!
I did realize later they weren't asking our permission - I'm
thinking it was already a "done deal" and about to happen very soon.


Yep! Not too long after that, our baby brother was born.
My Dad was sooooooo proud of this boy!
And, did I mention I love him too!

This isn't a very good picture of us, but I believe it is the last family
pic ever taken of us all together.

Well, this one probably doesn't count as a family portrait.
We had just returned from Branson, Missouri BEFORE it
was the big booming tourist attraction that it is now.
Every year our family vacation would be to visit the relatives
in Arkansas, go to Branson, Roaring River, Eureka Springs and Marvel Cave. We waded in the War Eagle and White Rivers in Arkansas and had picnics on the beaches.
We never tired of it!

My Grandma and Grandpa McCoy moved closer to town and their house was on a highway across the street from a creek. One year Dad took all three of us kids fishing a couple of miles down
the creek. Roberta and I would play in the woods up the hill behind their house or sit on the front porch swing and wave at the people who passed by in their cars.
Grandma and Grandpa had a well and all their water was drawn up in a bucket. 
Oh man, I am so thankful that we moved away from the hills! It wasn't that much fun walking in the woods at night when you needed to make a trip to the bathroom.

My Granny and Grandad by this time had moved to the city and lived on a beautiful tree-lined
street in town. Roberta and I could walk to the store down the street. Granny and Grandad had a cellar filled with interesting stuff like old books which I enjoyed and she always had a current Sears catalog which Roberta and I would go through page by page and "select" what we liked best and wish from the Wishbook! The bedroom where we slept had a record player and lots of records. I remember Granny dancing around the room with us. Their yard was filled with trees and snowball bushes and it was great fun hiding Easter eggs with all the cousins. 

Christmases were simple, but festive. My Mom loved Christmas and would bake and make fudge and other goodies. We all went together to buy the Christmas tree each year and I still remember the smells of Christmas. We decorated with glittery ornaments and sometimes paper chains and popcorn. Mom and Dad would hide in the bedroom to wrap gifts. We always (almost always) got
at least one thing we had desired and extra little things that Mom thought of. And until we were much older, Mom pretty much gave my sister and I the same gifts. She was very big on "keeping things equal" to the point that sometimes I think can drive a person crazy!
I remember the gift of this year in the above picture. 
I was in sixth grade and Roberta and I had wanted wrist watches. 
We got our wish. She had a Snow White watch and mine was Cinderella.
How we loved those timepieces. And I was so very excited ... until
Christmas holiday was over and we went back to school proudly wearing them on our wrist.
Surprise, surprise! My best friend, Melba, had also gotten a watch for Christmas.
A. Real. Honest. To. Goodness. Grown-up. Watch.
I felt like such a baby with Cinderella smiling at me from the face of my watch. Sad, huh? 
But I never told my parents.

This is my brother Phil holding his BB gun and standing in
front of the fake fireplace which was part of our Christmas decorations.
Besides the Christmas tree was the Nativity Set which my brother still sets out in his home over 50 years later. We have laughed about this fireplace because of the fact that it was fake.
I only found out recently that some of the people I went to school with years ago also had these in their homes. Thank you, Sears catalog.
By the time the above picture was taken, 
my family had moved into a lovely, brand new three bedroom
brick home which we watched being built from the ground up. 
Can I tell you how proud my parents were? 
How far they had come from that tiny shack in the hills of Arkansas?
How hard they had worked lovingly over the years bringing up their family?
I sometimes weep with tears of gratitude to my parents for the life they gave us
and the way we were brought up and the Christian values we learned from example and teaching. Of course, we thought they were too strict on us.

Here are my parents on a road trip with us to Colorado.
My Mom, ever being the way she was, enjoyed every minute
of her life even while suffering with leukemia.
Both my parents died too young.
Trying to express in a short blog about my family seems an impossible task to me. Suffice it to say that I grew up in a loving and safe environment, always secure. 
Never did I know a day of hunger or lack in any way.
I remember there were hard times. I remember my Dad being laid off from work and knew at the age of eight that wasn't good, but did not have to worry because I knew he would always find a way to provide for his family. I believe the legacy of their example to us was greater than any material inheritance they could ever have bestowed upon us.


NanaDiana said...

Oh-I read every word. What a wonderful story and what a beautiful couple your young parents were-He was handsome and she was beautiful. I love all the pictures you shared here and the story of your grandmother- that was quite a feat to be a woman traveling and preaching back then!

I am so glad you wrote this out! I loved reading it and now you have it preserved. Make sure you back your computer up and put this on a zip drive so you have it! xo Diana

retired not tired said...

What a lovely tribute to your family. Life was hard after the war for many families and it is amazing that everyone survived as well as we did.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your family story, it was quite different from my own. (You had the kind of family I always dreamed of having) I enjoyed all of your pictures, as well! It's good that you have it all written down now.

Susie said...

Nonnie, I love your story. What a great family you had. So glad you appreciated what all your grandparents and your parents went though raising families. You looked like a sweet happy girl in the pictures. Oh I loved the photos of your family too. Bless you heart. xoxo,Susie

Linda Kay said...

Lovely story, Nonnie. Don't you just adore those old photos of family? Looks like you had a great live. Hopefully your grands were from the Hatfields and McCoys! ;-)

Karen Whittal said...

There is no better story than a true story, thank you for sharing, I love the old photo's love anything old, just looks more loved... if that makes sense

April said...

My grandparents, both maternal and paternal, were from the hills of Arkansas...Ash Flat and Bandmill/Melbourne. How about that? Great stories you shared!

Terri D said...

Your family's story is so lovingly told here!! Kids today just don't have a clue about what hard work and commitment means. I loved seeing your photos and learning more about you and your family!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Nine miles each day, that was a great dad your father had. The picture you shared are awesome. I just love looking at photos from the past. Love the Christmas watches you both received. I wanted a mouse one year and got it from Santa! Love the fake fireplace. Sounds like you had a happy childhood.

Rory Bore said...

I often wonder how it must have been for my grandparents, raising a family of 11 on the farm. the original farmhouse was small - but they did expand it once over the years. But still my mother also shared a bed until she left home to marry my dad.
I am sure it must have been a hard life for my grandparents - but they stayed married over 60 years until they each passed away. And they certainly passed on a strong work ethic to all of us.

Empty Nester said...

I was also raised by parents who had great work ethics and my grandparents did too. But I don't see this too much anymore. Your family story is wonderful. I enjoyed every word of it! Thank you for sharing.

Mary said...

What a wonderful story!

Stacy said...

What a wonderful history! I enjoyed every word and seeing all the pictures to bring it to life. Thank you for sharing it with us. :)

Rick Watson said...

I love old family photographs. It's so easy to be swept back in time down memory lane :)
Good post.

Romi C said...

Thank you for sharing the history and the precious photos of your family.