Marie has always been the shortest member of the family, at barely 5’2″, in a family that averages closer to 6 feet and over for the guys, and 5’5″ for the girls, except for Carol, who was also short.
Marie Blandford Ward recalls: When we were growing up, though much different from kids these days in many ways, we were always “starved” when we came home from school. Our snacks were usually a concoction of vinegar, sugar and water with Mother’s home-made bread, or left over home-made biscuits, split in half and fried in bacon grease–very good. But the best aroma and treat was on Friday when Mother always had two pots of vegetable soup on the stove, one with onion and one without. She didn’t start putting meat in it until later years when she found that way to use beef steaks. It may sound strange, but anyone who ate her soup thought it was delicious.
Having had Grandmother’s soup, I can tell you for myself, it was delicious. I was lucky enough to grow up across the pasture from her house, and would run across and spend afternoons with her during the summer, when my cousins were busy doing other things, and Grandmother and I would have lunch–with Papa of course, then after cleaning up the kitchen, would watch soap operas on her TV. She may have been the first in the family to have a TV, and it was great living so close to her.
Fr. Ray Goetz recalls: When Aunt Maude wasn’t looking, Uncle Joe would give us “samples” of ice cream or barbecue. He would always offer it as if he really needed an opinion, and he would keep giving us more until he was “satisfied” that it was as good as we were saying it was. He is also the one who told us that if we would look under the bleachers at the race track, we might find some nice surprises. So Doug and I learned that if we went to the track the day after the races and looked under the stands we would find all the change that fell out of people’s pockets. I used to get to ride on the tractor with him as he was working in the field. He was always very kind and friendly, but it was rare to get a conversation out of him. I suspect that he just didn’t know what to say to kids. He liked us though. He and Maude were my godparents. Shortly before he died we were and Marie and Haymen’s and I asked him if he remembered that they were my godparents. He not only remembered, but he told me about the baptism (which was pretty typical of all infant baptisms of that day).
Carol Blandford Medley recalls: Once I asked Grandmother how in the world she raised all those children when I find three is more than I can handle. She replied, no problem at all. They each had a job to do (or a chore). My Dad’s (George) was cutting everyone’s hair. She said, “He did a great job too.” That was told to me when she was 97 years old. I also remember when we would visit Grandmother and Papa. Daddy always said “you can’t wear those shorts to Mother’s house”. He really had a special respect for Grandmother.
Mary Blandford Goetz (sitting in window) recalls: On rare occasions Mother would take her egg money and buy a big beef chuck roast. She would try to have some left over for hash on Monday. Then there was country ham. Papa and the boys always killed about a dozen hogs in the late fall, as soon as it got cold enough that the meat wouldn’t spoil before it could be processed. So we had ham some Sundays.
I’ve always felt so spoiled when I have heard these stories from my mom. How hard the times were back then, and how easy we have it today. She is a wonderful woman, still going strong at 93, and healthier than all of her 7 children combined. And she never takes having food on the table for granted. We grew up poor, but I never felt that way, because she always made us feel like we had it all. And from what I remember, the same thing went for all of my cousins. Most of us grew up within a mile or so of each other, so we definitely were each others first friends.
More to come for many more days.