Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Memory Lane: Granny's

My Granny Hill was one of my favorite people in all of the world. She was tough as nails, opinionated, but soft, gentle, and kind when dealing with me or my sister. My sister and I stayed with her quite a lot and tried to sneak in an overnight stay as much as we could. We would have just moved in and lived with her if we could.

Granny lived at the foot of a hill on South Street in Neosho. Her house was a white plank, small home (about 900 sq. feet) with a tiny living room, big kitchen, and a bedroom that ran the length of the whole house. Her bathroom was a closet it was just itty bitty. Granny rented from Mr. Burr, Homer Burr. He was about four feet tall and always wore a straw hat and overalls. He smelled of chewing tobacco and sweat, but kept a gentle grin firmly planted on his face. He loved my Granny and always shocked me because he called her, "Fleetea" I always thought that was so rude she was, "Granny." As a boy the yard was enormous, but in reality it was probably the size of a double lot. just down the alley was a little grocery store where we would always go with .50 and come home with tons of candy, Grape and orange soda and indulge ourselves.

Granny kept her yard immaculate with a lot of plants. Her coolest plant was the Venus fly trap. A plant that is carnivorous is really cool to a 5 year-old boy--well it's still cool. She always said that the plant would bite my finger off and I believed her (the plant's head was about the size of a lima bean). Granny was always telling me bizarre stuff, and I was always believing her. She got the biggest kick out of my gullibility. I was, and kind of still am, convinced that she had a picture of the Booger Man. I also believed that drinking coffee black would turn certain parts of my body that color (boys have it girls don't). I believed that if you dropped a tea towel on the floor someone was going to visit, or if you got a cold chill that a spirit had just passed through you. She was always telling me stuff like that. She didn't have many pictures hanging in her house, but she did have Billy Graham and John Kennedy on her wall. They were places of honor. Even though President Kennedy had been dead for years (this would have been 1975) she still honored him by hanging him on the wall.

Saturday meant going to town with Granny. We usually picked her up around 10 (we left the house as American Bandstand was starting, right after the Justice League was over) and would pull up to her house and honk. She came out of her house with her black pattened leather purse, Coffee can, white sweater, a very starched Cotton dress, knee-high hose, and ked's. The coffee can? Granny chewed tobacco--that's right tobacco. She chewed twisted tobacco, a brand called Good Money, it was twisted in a figure eight pattern. She chewed a hunk of tobacco always and would spit in that can. We went to Consumers for her usual groceries, and to Wal-Mart, sometimes we had to go to JC Penny to buy her clothes, but not often.

Granny loved steak sandwiches and french fries and had a weakness for ice cream. She really loved every thing that I loved. She also had a huge thing for Long John Silver's. "Let's go to Silver's for some fish. I just love that fish and mouth won't be happy until I get some." She always got the two piece fish, hush puppies, and Cole slaw. She ate every single bite of that fish! She didn't have one tooth in her head and could gum everything and eat just like she had teeth.

Granny was about 5'2" tall, she had a bowed back, snow white hair pulled into a tight bun. She had very distinct Cherokee Indian characteristics. Her skin was very wrinkled all over. I can remember holding her arm and feeling that very loose, cold skin on mine. Her hands had worked so hard for so long, you could almost see every row she hoed, every diaper she changed.

Granny told great stories and would get herself tickled at some of the things she had done. I always asked her to tell me stories and she would oblige. Just listening to how mean her whole family was makes me VERY thankful I didn't know them as I'm convinced I would have been killed early on. She tole me that once when she was in school (she only finished the 3rd grade) her school master was upset with her behavior and said he was, "gonna wear me out." " I told that teacher he could and better make it a good 'un 'cause I's gonna go home an tell my Daddy and brothers what he done and they come up and take care of him." As she tried to finish the story through the laughter, "that ol chicken didn't lay a finger on me cause he knew Daddy'd kill him, after all my brothers got through working him over." I totally believe that it would have happened. Most of Granny's brothers were all killed, murdered, or died in prison. One was drowned because he was cheating at Poker, one spend life in prison for killing a man because he took a tomato out of his garden, the list goes on.

One of my favorite Granny stories I've heard a thousand times and never, never get tired of it. Granny's husband (he left after Uncle Bill was born and she never remarried) was an alcoholic and at times could be very abusive. There was one time that he was drunk and not in a good mood, Granny became his target. He beat her up pretty bad, which made her really, really mad that he would to that to her. When he passed out to sleep it off, she tied him to the brass bed. "Well...we had a feather bed and when you tied someone in, they didn't move. I waited for him to wake up 'cause I wasn't going to waste what I was going to do on a sleeping man. He woke up and started fussin' that he was tied and that he better get untied. Well I walked in to the bedroom with my iron skillet and beat the fire out of him. He was laid up in that bed for three days getting over the beatin I gave him." Granny told me that she looked him in the eye, "and I said if you ever so much as touch me again you'll never wake up." He didn't and can you blame him.

So, so many great Granny stories. I'll post many it's so fun to walk down memory lane! I found a picture of Granny and will try to scan it and post it so you can see how sweet she was.


Tracy said...

wow Granny was a tough cookie huh? good for her. he didnt deserve her did he? you know she musta been something special the way you talk about her :-)
(and i think everyone of a certain age - had a grandparent who had JFK's picture on the wall - i know i did!)