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Grandma’s Stories

3 Aug

I feel like I’ve been sitting on a lot of information and not posting. I’ve been researching for sure, I just haven’t blogged in awhile. Perhaps, it’s because all I seem to have are a lot of random bits and pieces of facts and photos and ideas; a mish-mosh if you will. In an effort to move forward with my grand original plan of tracing each of my grandparents branches back to my great-great-great-grandparents, though, I’ll let a few discoveries sit a bit longer and share what I’ve uncovered about my Grandma Hastings’ side of the family tree.

The unique aspect of this research is that Grandma is still alive for me to ask for names, stories, and hopefully a few photos. This is wonderful for many reasons, and I absolutely encourage anyone who ever even THINKS they might ever THINK that they MIGHT be interested in doing family history research to ask their grandparents, great-grandparents, and even their parents what they remember. Perhaps, this method wasn’t as useful for actual hard dates and names, but the stories she told are priceless.

I started out by asking Grandma for the names of her parents and their birth and death dates. This is what she could tell me: Her mom, Cora Alaine Maret was born Cora Alaine Thayer, and died in 1986. I do vaguely remember meeting my great-grandmother Maret, however, I can’t recall a thing about her; just that she was there at Grandma’s house once upon a time when I was quite small. Mom and Grandma enjoy telling the quip of a story about the time she was watching me play in Grandma’s living room and then turned to Grandma and said, “I’ve never seen a little girl just sit there and play quietly like that. I just love to watch her play.” Mom believes that trait never left me, for now I sit for hours and hours and edit videos. Though, not nearly as quietly. Ask anyone. I definitely blast the sound.

I never had a chance to meet my great-grandfather Maret. He died in 1946 before Grandma was even 20-years old. His name, according to Grandma, was Hellick (spelling, in question) Floyd Maret. He never went by Hellick though, because quite frankly he hated it. Who can blame him really? Hell-ick? He went by Floyd.

Grandma also related the names of her grandparents, though she wasn’t 100 percent sure she had them right. She recalls her Grandma Maret very well, and believed her name was Martha. She remembers that this grandmother lived fairly close to her family growing up and that whenever her and her brothers and sisters (she has nine) went to visit they would insist they were hungry, “Grandma we’re hungry,” they would whine in their most pathetic little voices. Then their Grandma would open up a bread box and give each of them a piece of bread with butter and sugar on top. Sometimes, if they were lucky, she would sprinkle coffee on top instead. I couldn’t quite get my brain around that one. Coffee grounds? Prepared coffee? Coffee and sugar? I think I need to try to clarify again.

Grandma Maret wore long dresses with aprons. She put her hair in a bun, and had tall lace-up boots. She was also very short. One time, grandma recalls that she was riding in a car with her mom and grandma and she must’ve been behaving poorly, because her grandma turned around and lifted her dentures up out of her mouth; scaring Grandma to bits. It sure must’ve been memorable to make her list of stories 70-some years later!

She doesn’t have as fond of memories of her Grandmother Thayer. That is, if you want to count the tooth-raising story as fond. She believes her grandmother Thayer’s name was Ida, and her grandfather Thayer’s name was John. She said she knew them well, but she didn’t recall a single story about her grandpa. These grandparents lived in Hastings, Nebraska, and it took my grandma’s family all day to get there in the old car they owned at the time. They lived, as Grandma says, “way out in the country” near Moorefield, Nebraska. The way grandma described her grandmother, it didn’t sound like it was much worth the drive.

She told  me one story in which her and her sister Peggy found a little basket of their grandma’s buttons. They thought they were so pretty that they took them outside to examine them in the sun. They were happily enjoying gazing at each one, when they were caught by their grandmother and as grandma said, “She got after us!” Then Grandma made her disgusted face, which is quite rare, and told me that her Grandmother Thayer wasn’t her favorite. The only other thing she told me about her was that she died of pneumonia when Grandma was in around the 4th grade.

After telling me all of these stories, Grandma told me the names of all of her father and mother’s brothers and sisters. On her mother’s side there was Benny, Warren, Doris, Viola, and Elmer. On her father’s side there was Jeff, Thomas, Adeline, Nellie, Myrtle, (“They have funny names,” she laughed), Ellen, John, Elmer, Dan, and Art. It actually blows my mind that she remembers all of them. She told me the ones she knew well, but I didn’t ask for any stories about them this time. I actually met Uncle Benny at a family reunion several years back. Now, I finally understand how he’s related. Though if he’s my Grandma’s uncle, I’m not sure what that makes him to me. No quizzes, please.

Having the names of my great-great grandparents other children actually proved quite useful in tracking them all down in census records. But that my friends and family, is (as my 9th grade English teacher Mrs. Crafts would say), a story for another day.

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