Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bess Eileen

June 15, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of this lady's birth.  This lady who my brothers and my cousins called "Nanny", the mother of my father and his sister. This particular picture was taken at her 80th birthday party and has long been one of my favorites.

Even though we'd always had the traditional grandmother/grandchild relationship, as in she freely gave hugs and kisses and laughs, and of course fed us whenever and whatever we wanted, it wasn't until I was in my thirties that I learned of the incredible journey that brought her to Texas.

As far as I knew, seeing as how my life began in Amarillo, as did my parents, my entire family came from the Texas Panhandle. I later found out my paternal grandfather came to Texas from Colorado to work in the oilfields. My maternal grandfather was from Oklahoma, but the rest of us were certainly tried and true Texans, which of course included Nanny, or so I thought, as her brother lived in Texas as well.

Her story unfolded to me when I gave her a call one Saturday afternoon just to chat.

"Hi, Nanny, what are you up to?"

"Watching basketball."

"I didn't know you like basketball.  Who's playing?"

This is where it takes a turn.  The game being played was Michigan State against a Texas team, and come to find out she was cheering for MSU.

"Really, Why?"

"I used to live there, right outside of Lansing."

What?!?!  Not my native-Texan grandmother! I then found out that not only had she lived in Michigan, she was born and spent her early years in Ohio.

At this point I realized there was much I didn't know about her. I don't think that's too uncommon given the generations and the typical roles that are played, but now I wanted to know more, so I asked her to write about her life growing up.

I wasn't prepared for the incredible trials Nanny had faced growing up. From my perspective, there wasn't one single indication of her hardships.  She was always quick to laugh and quick to love. From what I recall she used to work in a hospital-like setting while in Amarillo, but not in a medical capacity. Instead, she cleaned the floors, doing what she'd done for years, whatever it took to make ends meet.

For now, I'll leave you all with her opening paragraphs.

"Sunday, June 15, 1916 at 6 am on a farm in Henry Township, Wood Co. Ohio, a baby girl was born to Roy and Nellie McCrory.  I was the 3rd child born to this union.

Donald Herbert, age 4 and Forrest Elroy, age 2 were my brothers.  Dr. Spitler, with the help of Mrs. Givens, delivered me.  Mrs. Givens had been helping my mother for quite a while as she was ill with T.B.

This Sunday was the day of the Foltz reunion.  (Don't know who made the announcement about "me".)  Oh, by the way, I was named "Bess" after one of Mother's sisters.  "Eileen" was from a piece of sheet music called EILEEN.  It was an Irish song.  I had the sheet music for years.  There was a picture of a very pretty girl on the cover.  The name Eileen was printed in white letters on a green background.  Wish  I still had the music

Mother died Jan 1, 1917.  That was 3 days after her 26th birthday.  I don't know how soon after her death that her mother and father took me to raise as Dad and the 2 boys moved to Tulsa OK to live near his parents." be continued!

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