Sunday, August 12, 2007

My World....Part II

Hufflepuff, values hard work, loyalty, teamwork, patience, friendship, and fair play above all else. According to Rowling, Hufflepuff corresponds roughly to the element of earth.

My Dad's Heritage:

Both sets of my Dad's grandparents were 1st generation Americans, and PROUD of it! They settled in southern MN, homesteaded virgin farmland, and raised proud, hard-working families.

Dad's maternal grandparents were total opposites.
Great-grandma S(Witch), was 100% Slytherin! The nicest thing anybody EVER heard her call great-grandpa S(Gramps), was: "You old fool!" Our family has hundreds of pictures of Witch. She NEVER smiled! Witch had a permanent scowl etched on her face. The only time my Dad ever saw her smile, was when someone had encountered a tragedy in their lives.

Witch managed to leave her mark on each of her 7 children. Her eldest child, J, was conceived out of wedlock. Witch blamed J for everything bad in her life. Witch never would have married Gramps if it wasn't for J. J was the reason Witch had to spend her life as a "lowly" farmer's wife. J left home as a teen to seek his fortune as a logger in northern MN. He promised to return to rescue my Grandma, when he got settled. J never returned. He sent many letters to Grandma. The last letter Grandma received, said that J was working on a railroad crew in Montana. When J's letters stopped, Gramps hired a Pinkerton detective to find J. No trace was ever found of J. This devastated my Grandma!

My Grandma was the 2nd oldest, and was little better than a House Elf to Witch. It was her duty to keep her younger siblings clean and out of trouble. She, and her younger sister N, were also in charge of keeping the house clean, clothes washed, and food on the table. These chores weren't uncommon to farm girls of that era. However, nothing was ever done good enough for Witch. She constantly belittled Grandma and N.

The worst notion that Witch instilled in all her children, was paranoia. Witch told her children that people were always talking about them, behind their backs. According to Witch, the world was out to get her family, and they shouldn't trust anyone. This sad legacy carried into their adult lives. There were many times when the siblings wouldn't even associate with each other, because of some imagined slight. I still remember Grandma's 80th birthday party. My great-uncle attended the party, but refused to talk to my Grandma. He stood in a corner in the kitchen, and told everyone that he'd heard that Grandma had insulted him....over a year ago!

The one saving grace in Grandma's miserable childhood was her father. Grandma worshiped Gramps! Grandma's fondest memories were of the times she was sent to help Gramps around the farm. Gramps adored kids and animals, and passed this love on to his children. Gramps was the nurturing influence in his family. His kids could always count on his comforting words after Witch had belittled them.

Gramps grew up playing with the Indian children in a nearby village. Here, he learned to love and respect nature, and all living things. Gramps had a life-long love of learning. He constantly tested new farming methods, and gadgets, which paid off handsomely. Gramps built a room in his barn, which became his study, and a refuge from Witch. His kids and grandchildren were always welcome in his wondrous little room of learning.

The pictures we have of Gramps, show a bandy-legged man, barely over 5 ft tall. His mouth, beneath his bushy, white, handlebar mustache, was always twisted into a mischievous grin. I always wished I'd known him! Witch towered over him. I'm hoping that my height is the only gene I inherited from her.

Before marrying Witch, Gramps single-handedly created a prosperous farm on his homestead. The farmhouse he built was the envy of the surrounding area. Gramps passed his carpentry skill on to his sons and my Dad. Thanks Gramps!

My Grandpa rescued my Grandma from her abusive mother the same way my Dad rescued my Mom from Bink.

We don't know much about Grandpa's past. We DO know that he and his siblings were the kindest bunch of people you'd ever want to meet! Grandpa didn't come from a prosperous family like my Grandma did. Grandpa did manage to keep his 6 kids fed and clothed through the Great Depression, by eking out a living on a rented farm. Grandma and Grandpa were masters of making something from nothing. Grandpa could rarely afford new equipment, but he was a genius at repairing and maintaining the equipment he had. Grandma was the best seamstress I've ever known. The flour sack dresses Grandma made for her daughters were works of art. She NEVER used a store-bought pattern! Grandma's flower and vegetable gardens were the envy of all the neighbors.

Grandpa's love of children and animals was legendary! His draft-horses and dogs were always extremely well-trained, and were totally devoted to Grandpa. He was strict, but loving with his children. He always explained why he expected certain behavior from his children. Grandpa hopelessly spoiled all 10 of his grandchildren. He didn't have the money to spoil us with material goods; Grandpa spoiled us with his TIME. As the youngest grandchild, I only knew Grandpa for 5 short years, but his kind eyes are forever etched in my brain. Grandpa would spend hours listening to my inane chatter. He wasn't just absent-mindedly listening either; he really LISTENED! He would constantly ask me questions about what I was saying, and always remembered what we had talked about. I loved to make Grandpa laugh, which wasn't hard. His laughter was infectious.

As the baby of the family, I was always Grandma's favorite grandchild. My cousins say this was because we didn't live in the same town, and my visits were special. I think it was because my grandparents had retired from farming by the time I was born. Grandma could spend quality time with me when she wasn't trying to run a farmer's household.

I was also the only grandchild that ever showed an interest in sewing. Grandma always saved her fabric scraps for me. What a TREASURE! I clothed my Barbie's for years out of those bags of scraps. Grandma always had infinite patience with me in her sewing room, garden, and kitchen. I learned a LOT from her!

I was also the only grandchild who would go through the family photos with Grandma and listen to her stories. We spent many happy hours scrounging through the cigar and shoe boxes stuffed full of tintypes and other photos. My only regret is that I didn't take notes on Grandma's stories. At the time, I thought I'd always remember all the details.

My "Hufflepuff" Legacy:

My life revolves around children, animals, and nature.
I'm a genius at making do with very little.(L's words, not mine.)
Learning is a lifelong pursuit.
I have my Grandma's green thumb. Most of my houseplants started as cuttings I received from Grandma. Those plants are quite precious to me.
I'm an adequate carpenter.
I take pride in my work.
I can sew damned near anything! My Dad once sewed a portable ice fishing house out of canvas, which he attached to a collapsible wood floor.
I work hard for what I have.
I'm extremely loyal to family and friends.

I think we all have Slytherin ancestors lurking in our closets. I was fortunate to have stronger Hufflepuff genes to override the Slytherin traits. I am ashamed of the Slytherin members of my family, but you know what they say......"That which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger!"


At 8/12/2007 12:43 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

That's a fascinating family history, some of it sounds like my own. It's amazing that good people can persevere despite all the negative situations

At 8/12/2007 5:26 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Hammer, I agree!! Human nature amazes me.

At 8/12/2007 6:12 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

You gave me the idea to write about how J and I grew up. Thanks. Now you all know something about each of us. What a way to grow up. I love listening to stories about how people grew up or how the grandparents did. History in its own making really is neat. We are part of that history and it keeps right on going so we are part of it. We are just the new parts. Thanks for sharing.

At 8/12/2007 9:14 PM, Blogger DirtCrashr said...

Holy crap! Sounds like my Wife's grandparents! The Witch was definately among them.

At 8/12/2007 10:28 PM, Blogger Gardenia said...

What a lovely memoir of your grandma and grandpa. What a sweet heritage.

At 8/13/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger Cherie said...

That last quote, I use it all the time. It's a good one!

This was a very interesting post, tshs, a little history, some family lore, some hard times (and mean people), some good times (and good people.) We are not all so different from one another, are we?

Enjoyed it!

At 8/13/2007 10:41 AM, Blogger Squirl said...

There probably are Slytherins in my family tree, but I never had to know them. I forget how much crap some people have to deal with.

Thanks for the family history. So interesting. I, too, heard loads of family stories from my grandmother. Never bothered to write them down. Heck, my own mother told me lots of stuff but I didn't write that down either.

At 8/13/2007 4:51 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Tweets, now it's up to US to make a GOOD family history for our kids to remember!

DC, we've ALL got 'em in the closet. ;)

Gardenia, I got a warm-fuzzy feeling writing this.

Cherie, LOL, the 2 of us live by a LOT of the same words, don't we?

I think we all want to forget the bad seeds in our ancestries, but we shouldn't. They're part of who we are too.

Squirl, as a teenager, I thought I could remember stuff forever. Dumb...really DUMB!
My cousin and I are trying to sort through Grandma's pictures and identify the family members. Why, oh WHY didn't we label the pics when Grandma was alive?!

At 8/14/2007 7:09 AM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

It sounds like you got the best your family had to offer. Your Gramps sounds like a treasure. I didn't really have any male influence in my upbringing. The women in my family ruled over all and if the men didn't die off early, they were rotated out for a newer model. I know I missed a lot not having a good man around.

At 8/14/2007 7:08 PM, Blogger Pam said...

Every family has at least one witch, I think! Do you ever wonder how you'll be remembered in a hundred years or so? Undoubtedly with great affection!

At 8/15/2007 11:16 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

So Witch alienated J, who understandably disappeared from the face of the earth as soon as he could, and THEN she felt devastated? Isn't that interesting. You never know what you have until it's gone, eh?

At 8/16/2007 9:54 AM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

You got that right and I bet you have changed so many things with your kids as I have with my two. Lets all keep up the good work on History here and bring in the new stuff for the kiddies as best we can. Cheers for History.

At 8/16/2007 9:19 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, I like to think so. ;)
L didn't have any male role models when he was growing up either. A lot of things would've been easier for him if he had.

Pam, I think that between my kids, grandkids, and nephews, I'll have a reputation as the bizarre, loving relative. ;)

WC, I don't think Witch(great-grandma) ever mentioned J again, after he left. J's sister, my Grandma, was devastated.

Tweets, my kids have said that they'd NEVER trade me for my Mom, so I guess I'm doing something right.

At 8/17/2007 10:00 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, perhaps I misread, then...

At 8/17/2007 8:40 PM, Blogger Jay said...

I don't know anything about HP but your family history is beyond interesting.

At 8/18/2007 9:19 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

What hammer said. That's what happened in my fam, and obviously in both of yours.

At 8/19/2007 2:17 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Gee, that would require so much more effort than The Most Spoiled Cat In The Universe is inclined to undertake.

For my part, however, has anyone here ever seen the movie Practical Magic?


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