My grandmother used to love to sit and tell me stories from when she was young here are a few…
All of her childhood was spent on the farm except for a short time spent with her grandparents when her mother died. She was around three when that happened; her mother died giving birth to her younger sister who died as well. Her grandparents kept her until her father got remarried and came for her. Her father told her he had found her a new mother, she didn’t like that at first but soon came to love the new mother not the same but to love her anyways.
On the farm; they grew all their own food including cows, chickens, and hogs for meat, their main income was from growing cotton to sell. I remember her telling me that the only thing they ever had to buy was coffee and sugar or maybe fabric to make clothes; they made everything else even soap and candles. It was a hard life but it was the only life they knew.
The Gypsy Story
One day when my grandmother was around 4 or 5 years old her parents tied her baby brother in a rocking chair so she could take care of him while they went to the field to pick cotton. It was harvest time and you had to get the cotton in fast when it was ready. So with her parents in the field she stayed there with the baby, she said she would rock him if he got fussy.
Everything was going fine till she saw a funny dressed man come to the front door of her home, he told her that if she didn’t make any noise he would leave her and her baby brother alone. She said there were lots of the funny dressed people that came into her home. They wore brightly colored clothes that looked very different from what she was used to seeing. She said the men wore long knives that hung on the belts they wore around their waists and they had black shiny hair.
They took everything, all the food from inside the house and the furniture that was there as well, the only thing they left was the rocking chair the baby was in. While they were taking everything from inside there were also lots of people outside busy gathering the animals into their wagons, they took all the animals down to the very last chicken in the yard.
My grandmother said she stayed next to her baby brother gently rocking him so he would be quiet. She said she was very scared but didn’t cry or make any noise. She said it didn’t take the funny dressed people very long to take everything and they left in a hurry.
Her parents came in for lunch and discovered everything they owned all their food, animals and even their extra clothes were all gone, they were left with a rocking chair and two small children.
Her father made inquiries and found out that there had been a band of Gypsies in the area and some more farms had been robbed in the same way.
New Baby Chicks
My grandmother was expected to help out on the farm with lots of chores, but maybe her young father didn’t understand that very young children didn’t know all he thought they knew. At the age of five she was helping her father feed the chickens and observed her father giving the new baby chicks a drink of water from the trough that was too high for them to reach, so little Mary Lou (my grandmother) wanting to help the new chicks also caught a small yellow ball of fluff and held it to the trough until it was still and not drinking any more water. She did this with about seven little yellow balls of fluff till her father shouted “no Mary Lou your drowning them,” my grandmother said she didn’t know it was killing the babies she was just trying to help, she said she was very fearful of getting a whipping from the destruction of the chicks but her father, (whom she always called pa pa), didn’t do that he did take the time to show her how to hold them up to get water. She learned not to put their heads under the water just close to the water.
My grandmother said she didn’t get to attend school much and not at all past the third grade, there was just too much work to do on the farm. She spent her days cooking, cleaning, harvesting, caring for animals and helping to raise her younger brothers and sisters. All she knew was hard work and not much happiness.
When she was sixteen she saw a young man in town standing by a store window, she turned to her younger sister and said that’s the man I’m going to marry. Of course that would never happen! Well it did! She saw him next at a church meeting where there was an all day singing and dinner, he noticed her and found out who she was. His name was Richard Butler Worthington, but everyone called him Bud. He could not read or write but had his cousin to write to Mary Lou; well that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
They wrote to each other for a few months and saw each other when they could, Mary Lou’s father was against her seeing Bud, he was trying to arrange a marriage between her and a young man she didn’t like. So Bud and Mary Lou made arrangements to run away together and get married, he was to pick her up on the old dirt road near her farm, after several delays she was able to get away and sneak down to the road, where she jumped into the car and they took off. It had been raining a lot so the dirt road was not dirt that morning it was very muddy.
Just after she got into the car she and Bud heard a horn honking. It was her father who was supposed to be in town for the day! Bud stepped on the gas and the chase was on! She said that the cars were sliding all over the road and she was holding on for dear life. They came up to a sharp curve and Bud made it around the curve while her father didn’t! He went off in the ditch! She said she could hear him yelling, we shall not repeat the words he was yelling, for a long time, but she was determined to go and make a new life with this wonderful young man.
Bud drove them to the next county and they were married that day. They stayed with his cousins for a while till they could get their own place. (She lied about her age she was 16 and said she was 18 so they could get married.)