I have no idea why this song has been stuck in my head for two days now. My best guess is that I’ve enjoyed having my brother helping me paint most of my house the last couple of weekends, and that brought up many talks about music and our parents. This was one of our father’s favorite songs.
I’m not going to get into anything about the song other than it’s a blues standard. I will mention that Maria sang backup for many other artists including Linda Ronstadt. And you know how I feel about Linda.
May I present to you; “Don’t You Feel My Leg (Don’t You Get Me High). Enjoy!
I’ve mentioned my father’s first wife, Trudie, before. It’s taken close to eight months of research and hard work but I am ready to close this door. (You can read the other posts here and here.)
As a quick recap, dad didn’t speak much about Trudie. In fact all I knew of her was her name. Even then, was Trudie her given name or a nickname? Doing searches in every genealogy database I had access to for both Trudie and Gertrude (hoping that was a good guess for a given name), and in all the pre World War II locations that I knew dad lived in, turned up next to nothing. The first link above gives more detail, but it wasn’t until I found the 1940 census records that things started to fall into place.
With a little luck, and some help from the Blair County, Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, I found the marriage license (that’s the second post above). All that was left, as far as unanswered questions, was what was the cause of death?
One of the resources I have used for many years is VitalChek. This organization has found birth and death certificates for many of my ancestors over the years. I hoped they could help me again.
I won’t go into all the problems that occured with this request. Just know that it took about two and a half months to get my request filled. It wasn’t VitalChek’s fault. They were helping me the entire time. The Vital Records folks in D.C. were the problem. But in the end, I got what I needed.
The cause of death is listed as Uremia, secondary to Nephritis. Basically, she died of kidney failure. Now I can close this line of inquiry and go back to my “regular” genealogy quests.
Several folks on other social media have questioned why I have spent the time and energy on researching someone that I’m not related to. In my mind it wasn’t about adding another branch to the family tree. Dad would not let my mother buy him a wedding ring. He wore Trudie’s ring until the day he lost it doing yard work. He and I (and I think my brother) spent hours going blade by blade of grass looking for that ring. We never found it. He never wore another ring either. If she meant that much to him, it was worth my meager time, energy and money.
I find it amusing at how many of my family birthdays seem to come in groups. I understand that there are only so many days in a year, so it’s probable that some birthdays will fall near each other. But as I posted before when my father and both of his parents birthdays fall within 3 days of each other. So here is the next “installment”.
First, is my maternal grandmother;
I spent many summer vacations at either her house, or a nearby aunt’s house, but I barely remember her. I was too busy playing with my cousins I guess.
Switching “families”, the next two are wifey’s parents.
My in-laws were every bit of parents to me as my parents were. They supported wifey and I every step of the way.
(A.K.A. The longest post ever!! In start to finish time)
So, yes, I started this post about 5:30 AM this morning, and it right at 8:30 PM now. I had this song in my head (as the title implies) for several days. I just couldn’t come up with anything to say about it other than how much I enjoyed the song.
The song is a beaut. In its album version, the song segues from “Have A Cigar” (A wonderful semi-true story) as such;
In the original album version, the song segues from “Have a Cigar” as if a radio had been tuned away from one station, through several others (including a radio play and one playing the opening of the finale movement of Tchaikovsky‘s Fourth Symphony), and finally to a new station where “Wish You Were Here” is beginning. The radio was recorded from Gilmour’s car radio. He performed the intro on a twelve-string guitar, processed to sound like it was playing through an AM radio, and then overdubbed a fuller-sounding acoustic guitar solo. This passage was mixed to sound as though a guitarist were listening to the radio and playing along. As the acoustic part becomes more complex, the ‘radio broadcast’ fades away and Gilmour’s voice enters, becoming joined by the full band.
The intro riff is repeated several times, before Gilmour plays further solos with scat singing accompaniment. A third verse follows, featuring an increasingly expressive vocal from Gilmour and audible backing vocals. At the end of the recorded song, the final solo crossfades with wind sound effects, and finally segues into the second section of the multi-part suite “Shine On You Crazy Diamond“.
I really loved the “AM Radio” sound of the 12 string with the overlay of the full on six string acoustic.
The song is often thought to be tribute to Syd Barrett, one of the founding members of Pink Floyd. But as Co-writer (along with David Gilmour) Roger Waters said, and as the best music always is;
Waters later adds that the song is nevertheless open to interpretation.
And, of course, that’s not what I came here to talk to you about. Today has been a bittersweet day for Wifey and I. Son-The-Elder is once again deploying with his National Gauard unit overseas. Do not ask me where is is going, I will not tell you. As an Army retiree I strongly believe in Operational Security policies. “Loose lips sink ships” was an old military poster, and it still is the truth today. I will only tell you, he is not going to a war zone. So family members can rest easy.
Although he may not have left yet, we already miss him. Here is Wish You Were Here. This is for any and all service members the world over that are seperated from family and loved ones for any damn reason. Hopefully one day there will no longer be any armies and we can all live in peace.
This is a repost of last year’s Memorial Day post. I don’t think I could say it any better.
While it’s never wrong to thank a veteran for his or her service, that is not what today is for. Save that for Veteran’s Day. Today we remember the ones who never got to take off the uniform, those that never came home, the ones that paid that ultimate sacrifice. So we do not “celebrate” Memorial Day, we respect what it stands for. Now granted I will have my cookout and drink several adult beverages, after all, it is an extra day off of work. But in the back of my mind, and hopefully yours too, we will remember our brothers and sisters of all branches of the military and hope that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain. As an Army retiree and the proud father of a soldier, today weighs heavily on me and my family, I am so very grateful for those that served before me and after me. So lift a glass of whatever beverage you choose, and thank those we can only remember, those who fell on the battlefields the world over. And pray that the wars will end, and peace will reign. Amen.
Today would have been my mother’s 98th birthday! So happy birthday to her!
Today is also the Celtic festival of Beltane. So, happy May Day as well!
Beltane was one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals: Samhain (~1 November), Imbolc (~1 February), Beltane (~1 May), and Lughnasadh (~1 August). Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season, when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, and this mainly involved the “symbolic use of fire”. There were also rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, and to encourage growth. The aos sí (often referred to as spirits or fairies) were thought to be especially active at Beltane (as at Samhain) and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to appease them. Most scholars see the aos sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. Beltane was a “spring time festival of optimism” during which “fertility ritual again was important, perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun”
First a little back story. I was in the Air Force, stationed at Homestead AFB, just south of Miami. My family home was also just south of Miami, just not as far south. My parents had a 32′ motorhome that was used to travel around the eastern seaboard for vacations.
This particular summer, my brother and his wife were going
to join mom and dad on vacation. Their
plan was to go to New Orleans, then up into the mountains of North Carolina,
then to the Atlanta area, finally ending in Disney World where my brother was
to play in a company golf tournament. My
plan was to take some leave and stay at the house and basically party the
Of course, I didn’t tell them that. As far as they knew my
leave was not approved, which was a big fat lie. I can say this now since both
mom and dad have passed.
During this trip, they would call back to the house on a
semi-regular basis. Obviously checking up on me. I’m guessing my brother knew
what was up.
Everything was fine until the one evening they called, and I
was, shall we say, just a bit drunk. While
talking to my brother I let it slip that my leave had been approved. Plans were immediately set for me to fly up
to Greensboro, NC to meet them and spend the rest of the trip with them. I was
not too happy about this plan. The motorhome didn’t have that many sleeping
places. Dad was an emphysema patient and had a nebulizer in the back of the RV
where his and mom’s beds were. Having spent several other vacations in that RV,
I knew how loud that nebulizer was at 2 AM.
I wasn’t looking forward to cramped sleeping quarters and being woken up
at any hour of the morning.
In the end, it was a good thing I joined them. The new plan was for me to fly into Greensboro and rent a car, then drive to meet them at the campground, just across the state line in Greensboro, SC. Big problem. I was only 20 at the time. The minimum age to rent a car was 26. Even with a military ID, they legally could not rent me any vehicle. So, the family unhooked the motorhome and drove up to the airport to rent a car and pick me up.
I’m not sure who exactly rented the car, but I was listed as the primary driver. Following them back to the campground I noticed something very bad. None of the lights on the back of the RV were working. No tail lights, no turn signals, no brake lights, nothing! When we made it back to the campground and got everything hooked back up we started looking at what was wrong.
If I remember correctly (always a challenge), we found a bundle of wires that had been burned out. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Every single wire in the RV was brown. Not brown as in burned or singed, but molded in brown plastic. None of the usual red, black, and green wires. Everything was the same dull brown, from the front to the rear. It would appear that the previous owner rewired the RV with only one color of wire. We had no idea which wire was hot, neutral, or ground! That meant one thing. I was to follow, as closely as possible, the RV to Atlanta where we would park it in a friend’s driveway and rewire the entire motorhome. An entire weekend of vacation would be lost. But it was something very critical.
As I remember (again – we’re talking shaky ground here), we
fixed all the wiring and all the lights worked, and we took off for Disney for
that golf outing. That’s when the next issue showed up. And now, we’re up to date, and where are
somewhere around Duluth, GA.
As I mentioned dad has emphysema. While we were working on the motorhome, we could all see he was sinking into a major breathing issue. That’s when we made the stop at a local hospital to see if we could get dad breathing better, hoping a more powerful breathing treatment would allow him to continue with us. It didn’t work. He spent a night or two in that hospital (my brother thinks it was “Joan Clancy Hospital”). Then he and mom flew back to Miami, while my brother, his wife and I went to Disney.
But, that’s not what I cam here to talk about. While dad was in that hospital, my brother pointed out someone to me. Down the hospital hall was a young guy with a big beard and longer than usual hair. His room was the only one that didn’t have a name outside the door. We would see this gentleman walk up and down the hall, stop and chat with the nurses, and really look like he didn’t need to be there. Plus, he looked very familiar to us. It took me a little bit, but then I saw it. If it wasn’t Kenny Loggins, then it was a doppelganger! It looked just like him. But why was he in the hospital? To complete the conspiracy theory, once he realized we noticed him he didn’t come back out of the room while we were there.
Was it Kenny?
Doubtful. But it’s fun to look back and wonder.
All this finally leads to today’s video. The song was originally released on the 1976 album The Best Of Friends. The video isn’t the best, but I used this version for two reasons. The live version, while musically beautiful, is very boring. They just stand there nothing exciting. Second, the image of Kenny Loggins (the guy on the left) is who we saw in the hospital!
We are at T minus 30 days for our long overdue trip to Scotland! I say it’s overdue because we’ve been trying to get there for about five years. Well, it’s finally happening.
That’s all for the travel plans, I’ll have more, hopefully when we’re there. The two issues that will make it difficult will be lack of internet connection and that I’m only bringing my tablet, not my laptop, so I may need Wifey’s help in transcribing stuff. You think my regular typing is bad, wait until you see if from a virtual keyboard!
Genealogy – specifically DNA. (Disclaimer: I am very new to this whole DNA stuff. My conclusions may be way off. Please correct anything in the comments.) I have posted about genealogy and DNA before, but this time I have some specifics.
Most of my testing has been done through Family Tree DNA (FTDNA from here on out). The main reason I used them instead of Ancestry (which I have also used), is that FTDNA does Y – DNA testing. For those that don’t know the difference, Y-DNA is a male only test. The Y (and X) chromosome are sex chromosomes. Men have one Y chromosome and one X chromosome, women have two X chromosomes. Each father passes an almost exact copy of his Y-DNA to his sons.
The other types of DNA testing that are common are Mitochondrial (mtDNA) and Autosomal (atDNA). I won’t go into specifics of each test, but everyone can do these types of tests. Ancestry does atDNA, and FTDNA calls their atDNA “Family Finder”. These kinds of tests look at genetically stored data that give you a greater sense of where your origins are. They can help you find cousins, half siblings (that maybe you didn’t about), and also help adoptees find birth parents. But are accurate to only five to seven generations back. Y-DNA and mtDNA can go back (generally) thousands of years.
But I’m interested in finding where my male line comes from. I have several goals in this endeavor;
Find the “Immigrant Ancestor”. Who, and maybe why, did they leave wherever they called home? And when?
Where did the ancestor come from? Family stories indicated Scotland. According to my dad, specifically Argyll. Of course, Argyll is a large area in the southeast part of Scotland. Not exactly a simple place.
Do we have any connection to older peoples living in whatever area I find?
Can we go beyond that time? Was it even possible since there wouldn’t be any written records.
I did my first Y-DNA test with FTDNA way back in 2008. More than 11 years ago now. The first test gave me a very generic Y-DNA Haplogroup of R-M269. Think of a haplogroup as a branch on a tree.
The R-M269 haplogroup is the most common group in Europe for males. It is estimated to have arisen about 11,000 BCE. And makes up a large part of the R1b main branch of the haplotree. The image below may help.
Starting near the top of the image, you’ll see the M269 subclade, just left of center in the red. Follow that straight down and near the bottom of the red go left to the big P312 in dark green with yellow letters. From there continue left to the light green with yellow letters L21. Now it gets a little harder. From L21, you go down and slightly right to DF13, then a little more right you’ll find Z39589. Almost there, don’t give up, as we zig just a tad right to Z251 and stop there, for now. My line continues down from here, but this tree doesn’t go that far.
About eight branches further down the tree you will, hopefully, find BY69143, just not on that image above. That’s as far as my DNA can be traced at the moment. It’s referred to a “Terminal SNP”. But it’s anything but terminal. In the less than 6 weeks since my last test has been completed, I have moved “downstream” two branches. It’s a constantly changing environment.
So, lets jump back up to my lists of goals. How does this DNA test help me? I was hoping to find a cousin with the Campbell surname that had some more of a paper trail than I have. The biggest problem that I have encountered in this genealogy quest, which I started back in 1999 before DNA tests were commercially available, is the fact that my father was an only child. That means I had no Campbell uncles. I knew his father’s name, but that was about all.
I was lucky that my dad’s mother had many pictures and notes from her late husband. And then just by chance I found my oldest sister’s baby book in a long-forgotten box at our mom’s house. In those pages I found my great-grandfather’s name. That allowed me to find him, and my grandfather and his siblings in census records in the correct area of Pennsylvania. But not the next generation. I had several leads on that generation, but I couldn’t nail it down. Basically, I was looking at two men, a James R. Campbell and a Richard Campbell. Each of those men had different fathers.
Enter DNA. My hope was that one of my grandfather’s siblings’ son’s (my great uncle’s) had done a DNA test, AND that we would match enough to be sure of our findings. That cousin hopefully also had a good paper trail to help me along. Yeah, it was pretty one sided at this point.
However, I do believe that any one named “Campbell” is deathly afraid of taking a DNA test! I had absolutely no matches with a Campbell surname. Nothing, not even a fourth or fifth cousin. I guess they were afraid of being charged with cattle theft or some such thing from medieval Scotland. Only thing left for me to do was to order a more advance test. And wait… Lots of waiting with this DNA stuff.
Out of nowhere I received an email one day. I did have a Campbell cousin that had completed a Y-DNA test. Not from a sibling of my grandfather not even my great-grandfather. But from a sibling of my great-great-grandfather. Just like that the problem of which man was my 2x great-grandfather was solved. James Richard Campbell was my line, and a different Richard Campbell (not the one I was also researching) was this cousin’s line.
This cousin had records too! He had lived in Pennsylvania before retiring here to Florida. He could back everything up with history! Needless to say, I commenced to doing the genealogy happy-dance (you don’t want to see that). Oh, this newly discovered 2x great was a junior. At least that takes some of the guess work out of his father’s name. But my cousin also had his information as well. James Richard Campbell, Sr. was quickly entered as 3x great-grandfather. Now, how to get that next generation?
Another great DNA site is GEDMatch. They don’t offer any DNA testing, you just upload your DNA data to the site. They have so many free and paid tools that will allow you to search their database of uploads for matches. You can do a wide one-to-many search or even compare two kits on a one-to-one basis. GEDMatch takes uploads of DNA data from several different DNA testing companies. You’re still limited by only being able to compare kits from folks that uploaded, and agreed to allow their kits to be searched, you can match folks that have tested at different companies. Ancestry and 23 and Me, do not allow the uploading of DNA to their databases. GEDMatch takes both of those company’s results and several others. By using my DNA, my older brother’s DNA, and this cousin’s DNA, we were able to find another cousin. This time way down in South Africa.
This cousin had the next generation. Once again, the unusual name and the senior/junior come into play. John Campbell. Really? Now there are two John Campbell’s to look for. A father and son. Out of what, maybe 10,000,000 listed in archives strewn all over the internet? Most old records don’t list things such as a senior or junior. Just the names. This new cousin claims to have a passenger list of when this Campbell family came over, but looking at the reference, I’m not positive about this claim. But that’s another job, and another post.
This gave me a partial answer to the first question. I now have two possibilities of the “Immigrant Ancestor”. It was either my newly discovered 3x great, or his father. The “two John’s”. If this is making your head spin, you can imagine how I was feeling. I put all this away for a bit to just look at DNA to see if I could get any answers to my goals.
All these Campbell’s do come from Scotland. The lead we have on John Sr., states he was born in 1745 in Perth, Scotland. Well, that’s not in Argyll on any map, in any time frame. Not a big deal, as the Campbell Clan is quite large, and has several branches. Maybe I am a descendant from one of the cadet branches.
Going back to FTDNA and the Campbell discussion group, I ask if there is a way via DNA to see if one belongs to the right haplogoup that indicates which, if any, Campbell one can trace back to. Sadly, it appears that I do not belong to the Argyll subclade (R-FGC10125), my path branches off right after the Z39589 subclade a couple of thousand years ago. Hey – not a problem. This just means that some ancestor in the way back past either swore an oath of loyalty to the clan chief, was absorbed into the clan (either peacefully or…), or maybe married into the clan and took the name. If I can go back to the mid 1700’s and still find Campbell in my direct line. I’m good with that.
So, if not Argyll, where does my line come from? I do have a DNA marker, S145/M529/L21. This marker, usually just listed as L21, is highly correlated with the geography of ancient Celts. In the words of Bill Murray “I’ve got that going for me.” Just where is the L21 most prevalent? Seems to be in area of Stirling and Falkirk, Scotland. Which is just southwest of Perth! Hey! I may be on to something here. It would appear to my untrained eye that my line stayed in the lowlands area and those with the Argyll marker continued westward across the island. But I’m just guessing here. Could be the other way around for all I know.
All in all, it means my Y-DNA Haplogroup is R1b1a1a2a1a2. At least that’s the last one I can find. I believe that stops at subclade R-P312, and there are 13 further mutations I have listed to get me to the R-BY69143 SNP.
It does appear that I am a Scot, as the top image says. I don’t have to go back 100 generations to find Scots roots. But I can, my DNA points to a Copper or Iron Age Scots ancestry. Wifey too has Scots heritage. Of course, I can’t test her Y-DNA (she doesn’t have any). Her brother has done the Ancestry test, but Ancestry doesn’t give raw data, only their visuals and estimates. Which leaves me unsure of their Y-DNA Haplogroup. Maybe one day I can afford to have him to the Big Y-700 at FTDNA. We’ll probably find out our tribes fought each other all the time!
In a way, this trip to Scotland will be a homecoming.
If you are using any of the DNA resources I’ve mentioned and wish to contact me about those sites, please use the links below to contact me on social media (Twitter works best), or leave a comment. I would be very happy to see if there is anything we can do to help each other!
Specifically, two ladies that gave me a love of good food and how to prepare it.
Those two ladies, are my paternal grandmother “Nanny” and my great aunt (my maternal grandmother’s sister), Arline. I’ve mentioned Nanny several times before on this blog, so I will start with Aunt Arline.
Just about every year of my childhood we would all pile into the family station wagon (mom always drove a station wagon) and head out to visit mom’s family in South Carolina. We would leave way before the sun came up and drive the 14 or so hours straight through, stopping only for gas, restroom breaks, and a quick meal. Since this was before I-95 was completed, we had to travel the entire distance of the Florida Turnpike. The turnpike is, without a doubt, one the most boring drives in America. Flat and straight, and the same damn trees the entire way. Since it runs through the middle of the state, there aren’t even any alligators to break up the monotomy.
But it did have well maintained and clean rest areas. Several of them, such as the one at Fort Pierce, even had full service restuarants. Dad wouldn’t dare pass up that rest area. It was a great place to gas up the car and fill our bellies as well. The only other stop would be somewhere in Georgia at a Stucky’s for the filling up of both car and kids.
Finally arriving at our destination of Marion, SC things would go downhill quickly as all the cousins showed up. Many days were spent running around in the yards of various family members; especially Aunt Arline’s yard. You do remember Aunt Arline right? This part of the post is about her.
She had a pond in her back yard. I wasn’t allowed to go down to the pond by myself. My mom couldn’t swim and was deathly afraid I would fall in and drown. And with good reason, as when I was abvout 5 I did fall into a pool at a friend’s house; and if it wasn’t for my brother who noticed my struggling to get to the side of the pool and jumped in a brought me safely out of the water, I probably would have drowned.
Out of that pond Aunt Arline would catch some little brim or sunfish. She would scale and gut them, then fry them whole. Remember, this is South Carolina in the 60’s. Damn near everything was fried. I will admit that at first I didn’t even want to try a whole fried fish (I means bones??). But one of my uncles showed me how to open them up and get to the good stuff. I was hooked after that – bones and all. Aunt Arline also had a cage that she kept crickets in for bait. She would somehow catch these crickets by hand! I never did figure out how.
So, let’s talk about Sunday dinners at Aunt Arline’s. There would so much food! There isn’t a buffet around that could compare. Of course there were, at times, 20 or so of us eating. I was not allowed in the kitchen then. That was all the women. My mom, her sisters, my older sisters and some cousins that were old enough handled all the cooking. The “men folk” sat out front talking weather, politics and such. My cousins that were too young to take part in the serious talk would be outside playing in the mud, trying to get down to pond, and just basically getting into trouble.
But then, those magic words – “Dinner is ready”! Naturally, we all had to wash up, which took quite some time since there was only one bathroom we were allowed to use. But by the time the kids got to our table, our moms would have a plate ready for us.
And what a plate! There would be at least three kinds of meats; ham, the fish she caught, and my all time favorite – fried chicken. Fried chicken is still my most favorite meal. Many times there would also be a turkey or a beef roast! Then there would be so many veggies – all fresh. Lima beans (another of my favorites), corn, black-eyed peas, collard and/or mustard greens. Then mashed potatoes and rice. Three kinds of bread – cornbread, dinner rolls, and just plain white. Three or four sticks of real butter would be placed around the tables, along with the usual vinegear for the greens, and if needed, condiments to make sandwiches. One thing I don’t remember is ever seeing a “garden salad”; you know lettuce and chopped veggies. But I don’t think I missed it. To this day, I still don’t care for greens.
We would sit around and eat and drink (Carolina Sweet Tea) until we couldn’t move. Then at some secret signal (unknown to “men folk” and kids), out of nowhere large white bed sheets would be used to cover everything up. Nothing put into little plastic containers that go “burp” when you do that other secret thing men folk are not allowed to understand. Nothing even close to a precaution except keeping the bugs off (and kids out).
Then, at another prearranged secret signal the sheets would be taken off and everyone would sit back down and eat. Remember, this is the 60’s in rural South Carolina. Microwave ovens are still a good 10 – 15 years away from general use, so everything was at “room tempature”, whatever that is.
Now, I had no issues with the meat not being reheated. And as much as I love mashed potatoes and limas, I balked at eating them cold. This was where the sandwich fixings came in for me. But mom still wasn’t happy. I had to have a “balanced meal”, meaning veggies. But I would not eat them cold like that. So Aunt Arline came up with a fix. She would take a big helping of the limas (she knew I would eat them all), toss them into a small pan with another stick of butter (Paula Dean has nothing on my family), and heat them up for me. Such a sweet lady! I would then take the entire pot of butter and beans and pour it over a mound of mashed potatoes or rice, depending on which I could get my hands on. Guess it’s not really odd that the majority of my mom’s family died of cholestrol issues, and that I fight that myself.
Let’s switch gears and sides (in a civil war theme). Obvisiouly, my mom is from South Carolina. The little town her daddy’s tobacco farm was in, Fork, is no longer there. She couldn’t remember exactly where the town was but believed it was swallowed by Marion. And that’s where Aunt Arline lived, Marion, South Carolina.
Dad, on the other hand, was from central Pennsylvania. I joke we had the civil war in our house growing up. Mom was a southerner and grew up Baptist. Dad, a yankee (and a damn yankee at that), grew up in a Methodist church. After WWII they settled in the south (if you can consider Miami part of the “south”) and went to a Methodist church. Best of both worlds?
Nanny (again, you do remember Nanny, right? This part of the post is about her), was an exceptional lady. She was widowed at the age of 34 in 1919. Dad was all of 6. She never remarried. From 1919 until she came to live with us about 1968 or so, she was out on her own. She spent a lot of time going between Pennsylvania and Florida, playing the snowbird roll, before she stayed permantly. This was mostly before my time and when I was an infant, so I don’t really remember it.
What I do remember is her cooking. We may not have had the big ol’ spread that we had in South Carolina, but the quality was every bit as good. Nanny was the one that really started me cooking. I was old enough (well almost) to stay around when she was preparing meals. It also helped that I was the only child at home then and our little kitchen had a dining table. I could sit there out of the way and watch, ask questions and more importantly taste!
Not only did she cook your basic meals, she could bake. She would make bread from scratch. This is where I learned how to use yeast. Being the smart woman that she was, she always made me a small loaf when she was baking bread. As soon as it was cool enough to remove from the pan she would give me the first loaf and yet another stick of butter and send me off to get out of her way.
And here is another example of fried chicken; yet completly different from Aunt Arline’s. The crust was different and she would use a buttermilk bath on the chicken pieces. Still every bit as good, just different. Not to brag (who am I kidding??) I have been told that my fried chicken is better than either of their’s. That may be, but I will admit that I am nowhere as consistent as either of these ladies.
But Nanny taught me something more than fried chicken and bread. She taught me BBQ. We didn’t have a smoker growing up, and I can only remember my dad grilling something once. But both my brother and I love to cook with fire. We had to get it from somewhere. It was Nanny. She had a BBQ resuarant in the Altoona, Pennsylvania area. I can find city directories from 1935 and 1936 that list her as the owner. Can you imagine being a widow with a young adult son, in the middle of the Great Depression, and making a good living from a restuarant? The industry that has a very high if not the highest failure rate? Blows my mind.
Her potato salad, fresh made coleslaw and beans were out of this world! And a meatloaf to die for. Somewhere there is a recipe book with all these notes. I really think the printed recipes were there as a distraction. The true treasure were the handwritten notes in the back. My mom, a better than average cook in her own right, added to that collection.
It makes me a bit sad to know that I didn’t get the chance to cook for these ladies before they shuffled off to wherever great cooks go. I’m sure there would have been lots of “this is nice, but if you had done ….” comments. And I would have taken everyone of those comments to heart and tried to live up to their legacy another time.
Just a few photos of our random life. And I promise, no pictures of food (my older brother laughs at me for posting pictures of my food. But there’s lots of that on my Instagram – link at the bottom of the post).
All pictures were taken on my Google Pixel 3XL cellphone. Only the first picture uses the “Night Sight” option, all others were a simple point and shoot.
Hope you enjoyed these. Post some of your photos in a comment!