Sunday, September 13, 2009
Stories About our Riverview Grandparents
A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart.
A garden of Love grows in a Grandmother's heart.
Grandparents are similar to a piece of string - handy to have around and easily wrapped around the little fingers of their grandchildren......
WITH THAT, HERE ARE STORIES OF OUR GRANDPARENTS IN OUR HOMETOWNS:
FROM THELMA WATTERSON:
Calvin, here is a people my Grand's sent when THEY were tots, with their mother's help of course:
Everything my Grandma does, is something special made with love.
She takes time to add the special touch that says, 'I love you very much.'
She fixes hurts with a kiss and a smile, and tells good stories, Grandma-style.
It's warm and cozy on her lap, for secret telling or a nap.
And when we say our prayers at night, we ask God to bless her and hold her tight.
'Cause when it comes to giving hugs, our Grandma's arms are filled with love.
We have the best Grandma in the whole wide world.
Love you Grandma!
Ashley & Jarell
FROM CANDY DAVIS HAROLD:
Myy grandmother's name was Kitty Whittington, and my grandfather's name was Emery Whittington. They came from South Carolina and moved to Dante, Virginia. What I remember most about my grandmother is how old you were on your birthday, that's how many pennies you got. They couldn't afford to go out and buy big presents, my grandfather worked in the coal mines at Dante. That name Emery has trickled on down, somebody in the family has the name Emery, and somebody also has the name Kitty. Of course, growing up, they spoiled us kids rotten.. They loved you so much, they took up for you when your parents were mad at you. Grandparents are very special. One day, my grandmother Kitty took me from Dante and brought me to Kingsport, and my grandfather missed me so much he all the way from Dante to Kingsport to come and get me and bring me back home! My mother had to go back home to Dante with him, too.
FROM JOHNNIE MAE SWAGGERTY:
My grandparents on my mother's side were Fannie and Alfred Smith from Kingsport on Dunbar Street.. on my daddy's side were Luther and Adailae Swaggerty of Newport, Tennessee. I remember Grandma Fannie swinging on the porch swing, 'you can't swing that high, don't do that. Granddaddy Alfred had a cornfield in back of the house on Dunbar Street. He had a horse back there, too! And then Grandmama Adailae's home cooking , and Granddaddy Alfred had a shoeshine place, Swaggerty's Shoe Shine. They were just humble people. Lordy, I got into trouble all the time. Grandma Smith used to run after all of us on Dunbar Street with a broom, all my sisters, Doris Jean, Page, all of us would get whuppings for being too LOUD. She wanted us to be seen, and not heard! We would all outrun her, but sometimes she didn't miss with that broom.
FROM KATHY EVANS:
My mother's parents were the same as Candy's, Emergy and Kitty Whittington from Dante, Virginia. My grandmother on my daddy's side was Ada Evans . I remember her making quilts, and I wish now that I had learned that from her. I was young and didn't think about stuff like that. I never got in that much trouble, Candy was always like a big sister to me, she and her sister Linda. I wanted to grow up and be like her, she was real pretty and prissy! I didn't know my granddaddy on my daddy's side, I remember with daddy's mama, she used to babysit children and now I'm into daycare, so I guess I kinda inherited that instinct to care for children from her. I always felt the love of grandparents around them, and I liked being around them. One time, me and Gail went to the store and bought steaks, and had steak dinner with her, and she enjoyed that..we always said we need to do it again, but never did. I always said we needed to do so much more with our grandparents.
FROM VAN DOBBINS, JR.:
I never knew my grandfathers, but my mother's mother Elizabeth Bynum lived with us on Dunbar Street. She lived with us 20-some years, and died at the age of 109. My best memories of her were that we were blest to have her that long there at home. She would prepare meals, and Mother didn't have to cook. Another thing is, she made the best cupcakes..I'm really sad that we didn't get to get the recipe for those cupcakes, 'cause everybody talked about those cupcakes. They were the biggest cupcakes, chocolate-covered, the best thing that ever hit your mouth. She also specialized in a lot of other foods that I can't even remember.. Was she strict?.. You don't come in her kitchen when she's cooking. She would call you when it was time to eat, but until she called you, stay out of my kitchen. You don't cook and you don't do nothing else, so stay out of my kitchen... Bless her heart, she spoiled me and my sisters rotten. She could take something that was nothing, and make it great. A lot of times, people think you need to have a lot of good food and stuff.. Daddy had a garden, so she was able to improvise with the vegetables and make real nutritioous foods.
FROM TACIA PRICE-GREEN, CLEVELAND (NEW CANTON, KINGSPORT):
I am the granddaughter of the late Frank Price & Nellie Phipps Price of New Canton, Tennessee. My grandfather was the son of Robert Haynes Price & Liyiaisto (Lizzie) Armstrong Price; my grandmother was the daughter of Victoria & George Phipps.
Together they built a one story house on New Canton Road where they reared seven children and 38 grandchildren. In later years, a second house was built next door, where they lived until their deaths. Along with the homes they had farm land all around.
As a child, I remember coming to my grandparents house with my parents, the late George Lee & Ann Lee Price, depending on what season, determined what type of fun I had. There were always children at our house, with such a large family it couldn’t help but to be children at the house. Many of us were either close in age or the same age.
One of my favorite times to visit would be the summertime because you were free to run and play outside all day. I remember playing a lot with my cousins, Melissa Price and Tonya Leeper, we would run until our legs fell off and my Uncles, Buddy and Floyd would always do something to make us laugh, which would give them all the pleasure in world to see, and then you have the “Famous Water” as I use to call it, it was water from Grandpap'a spring, cold water that you can’t get from the city.
When evening came we would be on the porch with Grandmaw and Grandpap, as he told us stories from the old times, such as our family roots.
In the first house a great memory would be bath time. The old house as we called it had no running water or indoor bathroom. Bath time would be in one of the bedrooms with a fireplace and water was drawn and put in a long tin tub for you. That was the best bath, when you have your girl cousins around laughing and playing while you bathed. It seems so small, yet so big in your heart.
The best time for me would be Christmas, which was also Grandpap’s birthday. We would load up the car with gifts and food headed for New Canton. When we got there, we would be greeted by family; Aunt Geraldine, Aunt Janie and Uncle Owen and of course my grandparents. Christmas morning, in the old house you would smell Uncle Buddy frying potatoes and onions (my favorite) and in the new house you would hear my momma and Aunt Geraldine in the kitchen fixing breakfast and boy, did it smell good. Then after breakfast we would open gifts and give thanks for what we got, neighbors would come and share in the joy of Christmas like Mr. Vincent and Ms. Elizabeth, Ozine Bly and the Pastor of Lyon’s Chapel, and then there would be some folks that brought joy with them that appeared in a jar, which would make my Grandmaw very upset.
We would go to Kingsport to visit with Aunt Lillie (Smith) and Aunt Parthenia and Uncle Ed (Deal) on Dunbar Street; we use to live there back in the day. Then we headed back to New Canton where we had family coming over all day and that’s when the fun really started. My Uncles Calvin, Buddy and Floyd would aggravate my Aunt Janie and boy would she give them a run for their lives; Marie, Chuck, Caroline, Frankie, P.D. (Phillip Dale) and Kenny and so many more would come by too. Grandmaw and Aunt Geraldine would play the piano and we would start singing” Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
Then it would be time for church at Lyon’s Chapel. We would go to the Christmas program and some how I would end up on the program with either a speech or a solo, but back then, your family could do that to you. We would have a birthday cake for Grandpap either at the church, or at home to celebrate his birthday. Lyon’s Chapel had good Christmas programs, and still today has good services.
Now, the old house was been torn down and a lot of our family and friends have gone on, but I’m thankful that the memories of those times are still with us. It’s funny when you look back, times were hard, but as children we didn’t know it because we were taught that family is everything.
FROM MILTON RONALD RUFFIN:
Henry Stokely traveled to White Pine with our family to visit our grandparents, Roy and Edith Leeper, my mother's parents. Both of us were about 9 or 10 years old, so this had to be the summer of 1958 or 1959. When we arrived, my parents, and my brother and sister, Cassius and Connie, went into the house. Henry and I went out to Grandaddy’s field and started playing in the haystacks. Grandaddy told us to be careful, and watch out for snakes and to watch out for the electrified fence around his property, cause it would shock us. The first thing we did was try to touch the fence, and needless to say, we got shocked. Apparently, Grandaddy had watched us,and played a joke. He came out and told us to be careful with this one large haystack, that there was a large copperhead in it. We told him we weren’t afraid of any snake. Apparently, a couple of days earlier he had killed a snake. He placed it near the top, just under the hay. When Henry and I started poking around in it, the snake fell down, and we ran, and ran, and ran. Grandpa Leeper and my father laughed and laughed. Needless to say, we didn’t go out in the field anymore that day.
FROM CHARLENE HODGE:
I have very fond memories of my grandfather and miss him each and everyday. I am sure everyone would remember Paul Turner, better known as “Paul Daddy”. He rode his bike to and from work and you would see him riding his bicycle everywhere he went. He had more energy then anyone I ever known. His bike had a basket and that is how he carried the clothes to and from the cleaners. The majority of the time when you see him he is delivering dry cleaning to someone in our community. There were times he had us delivering for him. He worked part-time at the cleaners and part-time at the filling station on Sullivan street, but he was known more from working at the Cleaners.
FROM ROBYN RUSSELL-HODGSON, SHERRY RUSSELL AND TERESA RUSSELL:
In Honor of our Grandmother Corrine Johnson
Strong, beautiful black woman, so peaceful and serene,
You deserved to live in Paradise and shown the finer things,
Life has dealt you plenty of cards, some winning, others bad,
And tides have brought in waves of memories; both happy and sad.
Gracious, beautiful black woman, so wonderful and divine,
You've endured many heart aches----oh the world is so unkind!
Your speech is confident, your eyes are soft and your walk is hard and bold,
Your laugh equals happiness; your heart contains love, and hides the stories untold.
Tried, beautiful black woman, so patient and so calm,
It's funny how you held the family's fear within your palm.
When we think of our Grandmother Ms. Corrine Johnson, we think of smiles, tears, laughs, and SOUL FOOD. She had her own ethnic cuisine at Riverview Apartments inside and outside of her house. Her food was traditionally prepared and eaten by many. Whether it was fried fish in a cast iron skillet sitting on a grill with charcoals, fried chicken given to us to take to church for a lateeeeeeeeeeee Sunday Service tied up in a shoe box with napkins and plastic forks, or fancy homemade dishes cooked in stainless steel pots and pans at the "master's house." She was known for her good ole Southern food by many.
She would have people knocking on her door at all hours asking her, "Ms. Corrine, will you fry us some fish?" As she stuttered with her answer, she would say, "Boooooooooooy, yoooooooooooo, bedddddddddddder gitttttttttttttttttt away from here at dis tttttttttttttttttttttttime of night asssssssssssssssssin me to frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry you some fish." But she would do it anyhow because she wanted some herself.
Her favorite saying was, "JOHN HENRY, YOU BEDDER NOT MESS WIT ME, I'M SANCTIFIED, AND FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST."
She passed away singing her Ole Spiritual Hymn; "Something deep down inside of me telling me to go head, something deep down inside of me telling me to go head, go head, go head, go head. It was the Holy Ghost yeah, it was the Holy Ghost yea."
"Something deep down inside of me telling me go head."
FROM WILLIE HODGES:
My favorite memory is that my Grandpa Ed, who lived in South Carolina, took me fishing and showed me how to make sinkers out of shotgun shells.
FROM SONYA SNEED:
I remember Calvin and I spending Friday night with Miss Sneed and Papa Sneed. They would stock up on all the junk food that we could never get enough of at 345 Dunbar like Cheese Puffs, Chips, and assorted candies. These goodies were always in a lower cabinet in the kitchen - maybe so they would be within my reach... Miss Sneed, Calvin and myself would play a board game of "Sorry" and Calvin would cheat. In the mornings we would have pancakes and sausages - and be sent home for Uncle Dewey (Long) to take us to Horse Krickers at Eastman.
FROM BERNICE HORTON:
My grandfather, Bennie Albert Crawford was the minister of the Bethel First Christian Church in Forest City, North Carolina, a Methodist church, where he and my grandmama lived. She was about 4 something, and we would pull tricks on her because she was so little, but we loved her dearly. She would get you, though. Once though, I accidently poured out her starch she made, a great big potful..back then, they used to wash clothes with it, and I thought it was dirty water, so I was trying to help. I got it off the stove, I was only about 10 or 11, and poured it every bit out. Then, she asked.. 'where is my starch' the next morning, and we were hunting for it. I said 'where was it?' She said, 'it was on the stove, a big pot.' I said 'oh, mama I poured it out (we called our Grandmama 'mama.') She didn't whip me, not at all, she just thought it was a terrible thing to do, but I never did something like that again, even though it was an accident. I always asked before I did something from then on. I loved both my grandparents..they could always seem to understand when you were playing, and when you were serious.
They milked cows. We had an orchard of apples, peaches, pears..we didn't have to go to the store to get anything of those things, and she raised chickens. My mama (grandmama) would not buy frozen chicken from the store. She liked the chicken that she raised. She said, the store chickens were not 'sweet' enough. She passed away about 40 years ago..she lived to be 86, my grandfather was around 87 when he passed. He was the founder of the church there in Forest City, and it's there in his name.
He was very strict with the children in church.. you couldn't talk, you couldn't chew gum like kids do today. But every Sunday evening, we were all treated to ice cream, homemade ice cream.
FROM CHARLOTTE YOUNG MAXWELL:
Calvin one of my favorite memories about growing up with my grandparents, who lived on a large farm in Mountain City was, my brother ( Howard Jr) Billy could crawl behind the stove that sat out from the wall.( a wood burner where she baked bread ) and take our favorite blank and take a nap and our grand mother would give us fresh homemade cookies right from the oven. Are when the whole family spent the weekend in the country, ( cause we lived in Kingsport the big city ( HA HAHA) was there was always a discussion ( for lack of another word ) as to who would sleep in the family room,where there was this wonderful fire place and our grandfather or one of the uncle would keep it going all night,and you would sleep and hear the gentle crackling of the wood and the room was so nice and warm and you would wake up early to the smell of fresh baked biscuits, and bacon frying . Now that was living.
My grandparents are gone now but their memories and lesson taught will be with me forever. Their work ethnics not only for my grandparents but all grandparents is something we all need to cherish, because it is these ethnic that build out communities and instilled in all of us a sense of "community pride">
FROM JANICE HENDRICKS:
Calvin, one of the things I remember about Papa (my father's father) Thomas Hendricks, was his beautiful head of white hair and his love of playing checkers with the late Rev. Frank Lynch. One of the things I instantly remember about my grandmother (my mother's mother, Lavenia Brown) was riding the bus downtown on Saturdays in Abingdon and the excitement of buying my favorite candy from the Woolworth's candy counter. Thanks for the opportunity to remember.
FROM KANDES DUNGEY:
OK Calvin, this one was about my grandmother’s (Mrs. Goodson’s) mother, Minnie Hardy. When she living down in the Riverview Apartments unit on Louis Street in her latter years in her 90’s, members of the family would go visit every day to talk with her and keep her company. One day my mom went by and was talking with her and asked what was the matter? My great-grandmother said she felt so bad for those boys fighting in the war. OK, what war? She watched them every day and just felt so bad for them and wished and prayed the war would stop so they could come home.
Well, come to find out.. she was watching M*A*S*H!
FROM RHONDA GRAY HOLLY:
Yes I do have wonderful memories of my grandparents, Harrison and Rosa Lee Gray in Rotherwood.
I guess the one that really comes to mind when I think about them. One Sunday at Central I had the awful giggles. Well you know Granddaddy always sat on the Deacon's bench with your Father and Grandfather. Well Grandaddy looked at MaMa Gray, who got up came to the back of the church, borrowed Allen Daniels' belt, took me downstairs in the basement and torn me up. And to top it all, I had to go back into the church crying with the sniffles. Well that taught me a lesson about laughing in church.
I was really blessed to be raised by my grandparents who taught me about God and life. I will be forever grateful to them.
FROM DOUG RELEFORD:
I can remember staying with my grandparents on my father's side well. When they lived in Big Stone Gap, VA, we would go there and spend a few days in the summer. My grandfather worked in the mines and then worked in what the called the coke ovens part of the mining process. There is where they would burn the coal in big old brick ovens to make it into coke and the coke would then be sold to places like the Kingsport Foundry because the coke would burn longer and hotter then the regular coal.
And when he moved to Kingsport he worked at Douglass High School along with Mr. Bristol as the school custodians. My Grandmother worked in the cafeteria as one of the cooks.
ANOTHER REMEMBRANCE FROM MILTON RONALD RUFFIN:
The spring of 1970, when my daughter Toya was three, we again visited my grandparents in White Pine, near Morristown. I remember traveling down Highway 11-W through Rogersville, then turning south on 25-W towards Morristown and then White Pine.. Toya would always be picking out houses as we traveled that were “her” houses, and picking out outhouses as my house. When we got to White Pine, Toya was trying to impress my Grandmother with her singing of nursery rhymes. We asked her how she knew all the rhymes and she said that Mamma Zula (Reverend Stokely’s wife, who baby sitted for her) had taught her. She was very proud of her accomplishments. Grandma asked her about her ABC’s. She said she knew them. For some reason, I told her I didn’t think she could do it. She started singing the ABC rhyme, and paused at the letter "P." Grandma looked at her, smiled, and encouraged her to continue. She finished, Grandma smiled and gave her a hug. That was the first time I saw my grandmother in a “extra positive” light. Whenever we visited, I remember Granddaddy letting us run all over the place, and Grandma would always be the one with the belt or switch who would discipline us. I just regarded Grandma Edith in a different way after that.
FROM THELMA WATTERSON:
Things I remember about my Granddaddy.. My granddaddy was a small statue of a man he stood about 4’ 11” and he was the greatest story teller ever. I did not realize until I was grown that he was a lot like E.F. Hutton, when he talked you listened.
We would gather around him and he would tell those tales and it felt like the hairs were standing on the back of your neck, and if someone touched you, you would jump out of your skin. He would put all the emotions along with his words and we sat there hanging on every word and this seemed to go on for hours, but no one complained about the time you just wanted to hear more. My granddaddy liked to trade knives, he would whittle for hours he used to say that he done his best pondering while he was whittling. His birthday was in July, and every year he would throw himself a birthday party, everyone far and wide attended. No matter where the children were they knew they had to be at Granddaddy’s birthday party. He loved people, he was so happy telling his jokes and stories, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed them he was the life of the party.
What I remember most about my granddaddy was that he was logical, fair and his ability to always make the right decisions concerning the family. As a youngster I thought that he was the smartest person in the world, because I thought he knew everything. He was my rock, my fortitude. He was known far and wide and everyone gave him the utmost respect, because that is the kind of person he was.
FROM VICKI (WOOD) SMITH:
I can remember climbing up on a tall white metal cabinet that was full of dishes. Well, needless to say it overturned and broken dishes were all over the floor. I knew that I was going to be in big trouble when my momma found out. Of course, she was furious and I was about to be severely punished.
My grandmu came to my rescue and told my momma that she was taking me to visit my aunt. Mu, momma said, “Mu (her children called her Mu instead of Mother) I know what you’re doing, but Vicki will be punished when she comes back home.” By the time we returned, my momma had cleaned up the mess that I had made and acted as though nothing had happened. Whew, talk about feeling relieved; I was so thankful grandmu was there!
That was just one of many times that my grandmu rescued me. When I was about four years old, my momma enrolled me in nursery school. They would teach us how to dress ourselves so we had to take pajamas to school for nap time. I was always the last one to get my pajamas on, and the last one to finish eating, so I was nicknamed “Christmas” because I was so slow.
Of course, grandmu wanted to know what I did at school, and I would tell her my version of everything, knowing that I would get empathy, sympathy, and understanding. Whatever she gave I was there to receive it. The nickname didn’t bother me, but my grandmu didn’t like it one bit. She would come and get me at noon everyday so that I wouldn’t have to take a nap. My momma would come home from work and wonder why I was so cranky.
My grandmu’s excuse was – she just doesn’t like that nursery school. My momma eventually found out and I was enrolled once again and had to stay at school all day!
No more going home at noon for me, but my grandmu would be waiting for me when I got home. I would climb up on her lap and receive lots of hugs and kisses.
My grandmu was the greatest whistler and loved to iron clothes. She could whistle better than any old man I knew, and when she would iron clothes the wrinkles would magically disappear. I remember a familiar grandmotherly scent-the sweet smell of doublemint gum on her breath. I can never remember my grandmu having any teeth, but she could chew gum and make it pop so loud it would sound like a firecracker! Her gums had gotten so tough that she could eat anything, even fried chicken.
I don’t mean to make her sound like she was a little gummy granny. Not at all, she was a tall stately woman, a strong woman that raised ten children practically by herself after the death of my grandfather at the early age of forty-five. I’m sure that it was not easy bringing up seven girls and three boys virtually alone.
I was like her shadow; wherever she went I was there too. We would take long walks around the neighborhood and visit her friends. I remember one of her friends; Mrs. Grace, she always had candy for me. It was always those big orange peanut shaped marshmallows, big juicy orange slices, and those yellow and orange triangles; I believe they were called caramel corn. I would be content with my goodies while they talked about what was going on in the neighborhood.
One day when I came home from school, my momma told me that my grandmu was in the hospital. I was so heartbroken to know I couldn’t see or talk to her. I found out that we were going to be able to go visit one weekend. I couldn’t wait for that particular weekend to arrive. When it was finally time to go, that weekend was the longest trip of my little young life. When we finally got there I was heartbroken because children under twelve were not allowed to go inside. I had to sit in the car with my aunt and we locked all the windows and doors. People were standing all around the car windows peeping in and pointing their fingers at us. I was terrified and I thought why are these people acting like this. I was too young to realize that is was a mental institution. My grandmu didn’t belong there, which was soon evident. She was diagnosed as having hardening of the arteries, so she would have memory lapses.
After her release from the hospital, she came to live with us. During this time, we became very good friends. I guess she could relate to me because I was always there. She sometimes didn’t remember her own children’s names, but she always knew who I was. One day she packed her clothes in a suitcase and started walking down the street. Luckily our neighbor saw her and convinced her to come back home. Incidents like that were so scary we had to watch her like a baby.
I t was really devastating seeing my grandmu like that, but she was still my grandmu and I loved her even more! I can close my eyes now and see her hair braided up on her head with her blue print dress on and her stockings twisted in a knot just below her knees.
Winter mornings brings memories of her getting up at the crack of dawn and firing up the old coal cook stove. I would awaken to the smell of homemade biscuits and hash. I’ve never tasted a breakfast like that since then and probably never will. We would finish breakfast, dress, and walk two blocks to church. Her favorite hymn was “Peace in the Valley.” I knew every word and would sing along with her. She was always humming, whistling, or singing. That was just her nature. I never hear her say an unkind word about anyone.
On July 4, 1965, she finally found her peace in the valley. I still miss her very much. I wonder sometimes what it would be like talking to her now about my children, and grand children, that didn’t get a chance to know and love her. I have never known a more patient, kind, and loving woman. I’m feeling sad now but happy to have been an offspring of this fine lady that was my grandmu.
Grandmu was my friend, babysitter, guardian, but best of all she was my “Grandmu.
FROM AUDREY FAYE HENDERSON:
Of course I remember my grandparents. I was blessed to have my maternal grandmother and grandfather, plus my paternal grandmother alive well into my adulthood. I saw my mother's parents more because they lived closer (on Newman's Ridge just outside of Sneedville), while my father's mother lived in Mississippi, which was more of a drive. If you've been to Sneedville you know it is barely a wide spot in the road. But at the same time it is the home of "Walk Toward the Sunset" which is the famous (if not totally accurate) play about the Melungeons. We are not Melungeons, but I knew some of them. Everyone in Sneedville knew my grandparents, and especially my grandmother. My maternal grandmother was mentally alert until the day she died at age 99. My maternal grandmother made it to age 90. My memories of both sides of my family center around meeting lots of uncles, aunts and cousins.
FROM CALVIN SNEED:
Every time I think of Miss Sneed and Papa Sneed, I get mad because I always took the little things they did for granted.. from his daylily garden, to him lying on his stomach at the pond out front, where the fish would come up out of the water to grab the bread he was holding in his mouth.. to waving at him and Uncle Buck Leeper at 4:30 every afternoon on their way to Eastman.. to him always carving something out of wood or plaster or stone.. to him and Mr. Bud Hickman always working on some church thing or neighborhood project..
His complete devotion to taking care of Miss Sneed after she got sick was so typical of the husband-wife relationships of our forefathers. It wasn't a necessity..it was a responsibility. I once asked him if he had ever thought about the day he'd have to put her in a nursing home because she might get too difficult to handle by himself at his age, and after a beat, he said 'Son... I wouldn't have it any other way.' You just don't find that kind of devotion anymore, and I never asked him that question again.
Papa Sneed was the wisest man I knew. Everything he ever told me, had a Biblical reference. I could never get into his Bible Class at Central because it was always too crowded. He never spanked me when I did something wrong.. he'd just talk to me and say how disappointed he was in me because he knew I knew better.. He could make you feel 2 feet tall if you did something wrong.. or 10 feet tall if you did something right.
When I was 5 and in Central's nursery school, Miss Betsy Sneed wouldn't let me call her Grandmama, Grandmother, or Granny.. I had to call her 'Miss Sneed,' like all the other children.
She always hummed and sang softly when she cooked, always. And they were always different church hymns.
She always poked Papa Sneed if he fell asleep in church..
Her favorite phone friends were Miss Mutt, Miss Bradford, Miss Pinkie, Miss Sarah Kincaid, Miss Ruffin, Miss Gray out in Rotherwood, Miss Stokely, Miss Blye, Miss Callahan, Miss Stacy, Miss Ervin, Miss Parthenia, Miss Watterson, Miss Bernice, Miss Bristol, Miss Leeper, her sisters Glaydese, Anna, and the wives of all her brothers. I told her she had the best gossip party line in Riverview..
When Papa Sneed was making you work for money, Miss Sneed was giving it to you free.
She hated that big, late 60's Afro.. so did everybody else. But she was the one who'd tell me. She knew I hated the piano, but she'd make me practice that stupid piano every day at 4:30 (I can carry a tune now, thanks to her).
Occasionally, I had to share my grandparents' attention.. it turned out everybody needed them as much as I did. That's why FAMILY is so important to me now.
AND THAT'S THE GREATEST THING ABOUT ALL THE GRANDPARENTS YOU'VE JUST READ ABOUT: THEY WEREN'T JUST 'OUR' GRANDPARENTS.. THEY WERE 'EVERYBODY'S' GRANDPARENTS, EVEN THOSE WHO DIDN'T HAVE GRANDPARENTS.