Week 36: September 4, 2014
Dear Photograph – Thanks for the Memories…
From the writing of the past 35 stories in my Ancestor Blog I’ve taken longer looks at some of the photographs in a different light – and I’ve enjoyed that second look. I thought what better story this week than to share a few photographs and reminisce about what has sparked a memory.
I’ve always loved this photograph of my grandfather Paul Pinkney Bryan as he stood there admiring his work on the goat cart. Now if you knew my granddaddy Paul you’d know that he’s a little out of character in his dress – his daily attire was always overalls – and only the Pointer brand with the dog. Now why only this specific brand, I’ll never know but maybe it was just the local brand sold there. There weren’t choices for things back then and especially in a small town. Here in this photo he’s wearing one of his more ‘dressy’ clothes and hat. Maybe he was going somewhere because he usually wore overalls daily, even to work. I wonder what happened to that hat – I’d love to have it sitting on a shelf! He loved overalls because of all the pockets – he always had a cigar stuffed somewhere, along with matches, pocket watch and toothpicks and probably much more. The toothpicks sent him to the hospital once when he dozed off while holding onto the toothpick between his teeth, that ended up with an emergency surgery to remove from his throat. I wonder if he still continued that bad habit of holding onto the toothpick?
Well back to the photo…. The car shed pictured was one of my favorite places to play – underneath was a sandy floor and that’s where I played doodlebug. You took a stick and swirled it around and around in a circle as you sang “doodlebug doodlebug come out, your house is on fire, doodlebug, doodlebug come out.” Now whether I ever found a doodlebug – I can’t remember! But that often entertained me most afternoons. Granddaddy’s tool shed was in the center of the car shed – if no one was looking I’d sneak inside to play with the vise hooked on the work bench until I was discovered there by my grandmother – and yelled to come out. Tools can be interesting even for girls – they’re used to build things like that cute goat cart!
The two sling back chairs sitting there at the edge of the car shed were my favorite chairs to hang outside in. They were pretty comfortable and you could take a long nap in them quite easily. From the pictures here of my mom and I you can see we sat in them quite often.
Faintly behind the car shed I see the tall corn growing in Granddaddy’s fields. He grew a lot of corn – growing more than they could ever eat; he sold it around town and it was feed for the mule. Boy what I wouldn’t give to have a “mess” of just picked corn from his garden! We never went home in the summer without a car loaded with fresh vegetables. My mother never bought produce from the store – never even thought about it. To the right of the car shed are a couple of cedar posts that was part of his scuppernong vine arbor. I remember hanging around under there when they were ready for picking. I have so many memories in just this one photo.
Here’s Granddaddy McKinley, known to family and friends as “E.T.” This is a favorite photo of mine as he’s holding onto two of his fox hounds, Smoker and Bill. Fox hunting was his passion and he went every Friday night like clockwork. Often we arrived at the farm on Friday evenings and I’d take up my perch at the window, which faced the road – watching for Granddaddy. From there I faithfully waited for the lights of his Ford pickup as he came home. I’d run to greet him and the dogs as he unloaded them from the back of the truck. The two dogs in this photo were the yard dogs who alerted you if anyone entered the yard, and they were quite protective. After my grandmother’s mind became bad, they watched over her faithfully and tugged on her clothing if she tried to leave the yard. His Walker hunting dogs only went with him on the Friday night foxhunts and were always kept penned up – or they’d be chasing every rabbit and small animal that they picked scents up on. But my favorite activity, when I was small, was to let the dogs out of their pens. No matter how high he put the locks, I’d find a way to get my small fingers up there. Granddaddy did a lot of grumbling through the house when I was around, but he never stayed mad at me – for too long – I was the only grandchild.
The photograph of the boy sitting on the ground is my father Clayton Bryan. This photo was sent to me by a cousin – it wasn’t in my grandmother’s album. And until I had the tin photo cleaned, I couldn’t even tell what he was wearing. Just recently I learned from a man in his nineties that he was on a baseball team for the town he lived in – Union Point, Ga. The man said he was on the other team from the mill town area in Greensboro – the closest town over. Whether it really was what he played ball in – or just his “good clothes,” I’m told he was a pretty good baseball player, something I never knew. Isn’t it amazing when you learn information on a close family member – from a perfect stranger!
This photograph of Granddaddy Bryan’s house shows the front porch – my favorite place to relax after a Sunday meal – and also the back porch, another place to hang out. Granddaddy and I would sit and swing there after a Sunday dinner, and it wasn’t long before he’d fumble for one of those toothpicks – in one of those many pockets. Sometimes he’d enjoy a cigar out there too as Grandmamma wouldn’t let him smoke in the house! The back porch was where I usually found them whenever we arrived – it seemed to be their favorite sitting place. Grandmamma often was shelling peas and Granddaddy would be taking a little relax time.
This was probably one of the last times spent on the famous “back porch” at my grandparents home in Union Point. Whenever we arrived, you would find one of them sitting there. If it was Granddaddy, he was usually taking a snooze – if it was Grandmamma, she usually had the tin dish in her lap shelling peas. That porch saw more family dinners than the dining room – it was where we ate until the winter set in. They had a large table out there for the family dinners. The table you can slightly see on the left of the photo. I don’t know why all the buckets hanging, other than to go pick a ‘mess’ of something in the garden. Everything he needed, he had hanging out there. And you always found him wearing his “pointer” brand of overalls – he never looked right in any other clothes to me.
Granddaddy McKinley also had a swing on his front porch as most Southern homes did. When my mother left the farm she took the swing that her father built and I have that swing today. There is a lot of memories stirred up in remembering swings. Granddaddy McKinley enjoyed sitting out there during big thunderstorms – it seems he loved a good lightening storm.
Photographs of your parents as young children are a treasure to have from years ago but camera’s and film were expensive back then. Most photographs were usually taken when the more wealthy relative visited who had a camera. My mother had an aunt that came quite frequent in the summer and always brought her camera, so I guess I have Aunt Lena (McKinley-Van Dusen) to thank for all my early photos.
Here is my mother and her brother Leroy standing next to Granddaddy’s Model T. Mama talked about this car all her life – its the car that Granddaddy courted my grandmother in. Even after it stopped running, he kept it parked under the car shelter for many years. It became Leroy’s favorite toy, against Granddaddy’s wishes. Leroy never liked school but let him put his hands on a piece of machinery and he knew all about it quickly. One afternoon he took the entire motor apart and laid out all the pieces on a sheet – Granddaddy blew a gasket when he saw that – but Leroy put every piece exactly back where it went. One day Granddaddy sold the old car for scrap for a measly fifteen dollars.
This photo of my grandparents, Edgar and Ola McKinley, shows them standing in front of the smokehouse; the farmhouse is behind them and still standing today (2014). There was a long enclosed porch on the side of the farmhouse – this was really not the front of the house, but this was where everyone entered – into the kitchen. No one ever went to the front door. The dirt yard was my play area when there – peeking inside the smoke house, chasing the abundance of wild kittens, letting Granddaddy’s fox hounds out of their pens, throwing feed to the chickens in the yard and playing with Smoker and Bill – the two fox hounds who ran loose in the yard; they were the security system.
One of my last photographs of my dad on a trip to Vermont, for work, and he stopped at my house. I had made him this apron for Father’s Day and its a treasured photo as its the only picture I have of him wearing it. You can tell from this photo that I loved antiques as far back as in the early eighties. In this photo I already had my Hoosier cabinet and Daddy is standing next to my 1940’s porcelain stove – which I wish we’d kept when we moved. That stove was so heavy – and if my husband wasn’t as strong as he was, it never would have gotten up to our second floor apartment. It was still in perfect condition when we moved and I should have taken it, but I think we were reminded of exactly how heavy it was; it had been bought for forty dollars in West Haven.