Friday, January 18, 2019

The Maze of a Small Town


My Grandmother and Grandfather Cardiff with their four daughters (Mom on the left).
The faces of my mother’s hometown all look familiar, as if there is a mold somewhere which makes each family member.  A distant cousin has the same nose as my aunt, and the way someone smiles calls up the memory of a long dead parent. 

When I visited my mother, we went out to the local restaurant frequently.  We always planted ourselves where Mom could see who entered and where they sat.  All it took was for me to ask:  “Mom, who is that lady?  Do I know her?”

I know my grandmother is the tall girl in the back, but...

Mom would lean back.  “Well.  That woman is Lydia Roberts.  NOW her maiden name was…..and her mother was….”  The twists and turns of births, marriages, and deaths plus maiden names and odd events that happened down through the years led deeper and deeper into a maze of genealogy. 

Mom knew it all.  All the names and relationships, all the side events that make small-town life interesting, and all the history of decades past were imprinted in my mother’s mind. 

 My grandmother was the same, and I would guess that there was an oral history of telling family lines at Sunday dinners, funeral memorials, and births of new generations.

Mom, who is the lady on the right?

My mother traced back through to the early 1800s, and then, “…NOW Orley Jenkins came here from Kentucky at that time.  BUT his mother’s family—the Jones family—were from Wales.  What was her name?  Lizzie?  NO.  Margaret, that’s her name…”   


She would pause then, glanced at the woman who was eating her fried catfish and coleslaw.  “Oh.  No, no you don’t know that woman.”

I had gotten lost at the second turn in the maze, but I didn’t dare interrupt Mom.  When Mom was weaving her journey through over 100 years of people, it was best to let her find her way back to me. 

This blog post is part of two families who merge when my parents meet and marry. "Roads Run Both Ways" is a way of recounting their lives.  You can find this collection at Susan Kane, Writer, where the most recent post is shown. 



My parents, Irma and Bud Peck in back; Donald, Robert, Bill, Mary, and me



Mom
Dad
Dad, Aunt Helen, Uncle Bill, and Grandma Peck



50 comments:

  1. It's lovely to hear the old folks reminisce about times long gone..I miss my old folks so much.

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    1. It tells me that it is important to provide that experience for my grandkids. Writing gives me that and also the oral telling.

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  2. Sounds like my grandmother's home town. Fascinating.

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    1. I drove through towns from my childhood when I visited back home last summer. Many of those are still the original people and their descendants.

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  3. Makes you want to start recording those moments, doesn't it?

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    1. It certainly do. I hope bloggers reading this will do just that.

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  4. I never had a hometown, BUT your mama could be 'my wife Sherry' when we are in a restaurant in Belmont. She knew everyone in that small town. She goes over the history as if I knew it, somehow expecting me to know. Yes the inter actions of a small town are amazing. Belmont is no longer that small mill town, we are a bedroom for strangers. The old folk are finding it hard to adjust.
    Anyway, you sure know how to take someone back.
    Funny that although the picture is slack on definition. I thought I could see you in your mom in the first picture, before reading the post. That just from your picture.
    Love from Florida,
    Sherry & jack

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    1. You're right about my mom and me. We do have that resemblance which I see more now that I am older.

      So true to see a small town to die out and simply replaced by those who live only in their houses. Our town did that slowly as the older people died or went slowly into dementia. So sad.

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  5. Susan:
    ---I think people from our parents generation (and before) had a better sense of RECALL...and it didn't matter if you lived in some small town or in a big city (Philly).
    And news traveled fast, too. Didn't need an Internet, or even a "party line"...lol.
    I see a lot of my parents in those photos.
    We should be so fortunate to be able to remember as much as they have. Every picture DOES tell a story.

    Very good post.

    Be well & stay safe out there.

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    1. We had more personal interaction in our small town. There were all sorts of gatherings, funerals, parties, church events where people shared stories. I think that makes the difference.

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  6. You have no idea how much I loved this. I feel it is so important for the family stories to be told. Your mother had all these rich memories in her.

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  7. Those stories can be fascinating.

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  8. Your are so lucky to have those precious memories. I didn't know any of my relatives and my mother didn't reminisce. Or at least not truthfully.

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    1. I know, you have written about that hole in your life.

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  9. My grandmother knows everyone and where they came and onward and so forth. Sometimes I let it go in one ear and out the other lol

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    1. For some reasons, many men do that. My brother Don was talking with our WW1 gr=pa and didn't listen or remember his stories. I was in the other room and listened.

      You still can listen to them and record their memories.

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    2. Pat Hatt; talk her into writing it all down! Think of future generations who might want to know this.

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  10. Hi Susan :) It's nice that you have a rich family history. My parents and grandparents didn't talk much about our ancestry, I know very little.

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    1. Grab them and a recorder! They must have memories of their lives. I regret that I did not nail down more relatives.

      Now I regret that I haven't yet grabbed WW2 men and gotten their stories.

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  11. Both my grandmas would go on like that. When I have lunch with my aunt, she can fill me in on how our relatives' lives are interconnected with the townsfolk. I think people got out more back then, and interacted, making memories. Not much other entertainment, like TV and internet and smartphones, back then.

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    1. When I see a family sitting in a restaurant all on their cells, I want to scream at them. TALK!

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  12. What a lot of wonderful memories and great family pictures.

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    1. Family photos are split between our three remaining siblings. We're sending flash drives to each other.

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  13. How i wish i'd known some of my family elders long enough to write down the stories.

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  14. Small towns are always like that! Everyone knows everyone else's business!

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    1. I was well into college when the party line along our road was discontinued and new phones installed. News traveled along that line for decades.

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  15. I wish I had grown up in the town where my Mother grew up. Just to better know my cousins, aunts and uncles would have been so wonderful. But Mom didn't want to live in that small place, it was too small to hold her dreams.

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    1. After the War, young people left to explore the world or stayed to keep the community strong. My mom was the latter, it sounds like your mom was the former.

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  16. Lovely family history, Susan. How wonderful that you have these stories from your mom to pass done to your children.

    I don’t know a lot of my family’s past but the dimple on the corner of my middle daughter’s cheek came from my dad, and my youngest daughter’s eyes are a reflection of my mom’s. Those that came before us are always with us.

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    1. Seeing physical bits appear in our children make me so happy.

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  17. Wow this is such PRECIOUS post dear Susan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i loved reading each bit of it!

    your mom's memory resembles to the memory of my (late) mom and grandmother .
    and may be this was due to the time and peace that generation had ,

    their stories about family and details of all the relationships still echo in my head in lonely times

    thank you for sharing such treasured images of your parents and grandmother ,she was graceful lady
    your mom was beautiful in all stages of her age and father looks a handsome gentleman

    what would be the life if we don't have these treasures with us

    hugs!

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    1. You said all very well. Thanks! Mom was a beautiful woman, and Dad, too. He had pale blue eyes and Mom gave me green eyes!

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  18. If all those twists and turns and origins had been written down, that would be a real treasure trove for today's young generations wanting to sort out who is related to who else.

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    1. Maybe someday this generation will discover more about the eras that came before them.

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  19. I've moved around so much I can't imagine spending a whole lifetime in one small town.

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    1. Moving around a lot does take away that chance to form connections with all.

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  20. While I love small towns and tend to settle in one, I have never been on the ground floor cause we always moved every few years. I learned early on never to say anything derogatory about any one to another for they are probably kin.

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  21. Oh, that is so right!

    I hope you find your small town.

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  22. It's nice to look at old photos and wonder how they lived then.

    God bless.

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    1. Life was much harder then, but they were happy and together as a family.

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  23. Hello, it is great to have these old photos. It is nice to live in a small town where everyone knows everyone. It seems to be a friendly place. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and new week ahead.

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    1. I miss that small town feeling. Mine now has only 425 pop. There are few whom I know.

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  24. I love this, Susan. And I can relate, having lived in my small city all my life. I don't know everyone, but boy -- you learn a lot of stories. The photos are real gems and you are incredibly fortunate to have them.

    Thanks for stopping by my place the other day! Always nice to see you!

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  25. I love going through the old black & white pictures. My grandparents used to do the line of stories behind people when they'd have discussions. I'd forgotten about it until I read your post. :)

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    1. Do you remember any of those stories? Can your parents? Oh, please write those down! This will keep those people alive.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!