Over the River and….

Over the river and through the woods…. To grandmother’s house we’d go.

My dad as a teen in front of my grandparent's house


Seriously. Literally, every Sunday that I can remember. I both LOVED going to my grandparent’s house and FEARED going to my grandparent’s house. I guess not so much feared going to their house as much as it was that I feared my grandmother. 

My first memories of going to my grandparents house, we lived “in town” if you could call it that. Everywhere you went in our small town WAS “small town” but there was a small area that I guess you could consider being in the town “proper” and that’s where I first remember us living and we did literally have to go over a river and through the woods to get to my grandparents. And if we lived out in the sticks, which we DID, then my grandparents lived in the boonies. I mean my aunt lives way out in the sticks (which coincidently is next door to where my parents NOW live) but you had to go to her house FIRST and then take the trek about a mile back in the woods up a dirt, rutted road to get to my grandparents. 

My parents on their wedding day with Granddaddy and Big Mama


I have fond memories of going there as a little girl. I loved and adored my grandfather. My memories of him are of a hard drinking, hard playing, yet very loving man that always had a twinkle in his eye and a bounce in his step and he was strong as an ox. And he LOVED to play jokes on people and loved to laugh. My grandmother, on the other hand, was not as easy going or as easy to know. She kept her emotions in check and did not dole out her love and hugs and kisses nearly as freely as my grandfather. I looked at my Granddaddy as my hero and he literally WAS. 

I remember once I accidently broke a lamp in the “sitting” room at my grandparent’s house. Now, first off, we children were NOT supposed to be in there in the first place. I don’t remember why it was that we weren’t allowed in there, only that we weren’t. Probably because she was afraid we’d break things, like her lamp! DUH!!! 

Or because they had one of those old phonographs in there with those old, old records. Was it the 78 rpms? I remember on the rare occasions I was allowed in there, it was with my grandfather and he would play the phonograph and I remember one of the records he loved to play was “Earth Angel”.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsgOZM3AJDI  He would play that record and pick me up and dance around with me and I would giggle and I loved it. He was the only man I ever danced with until I was an adult. My father did not dance but I remember dancing with my Granddaddy! 

It seems that I only remember being in the kitchen, dining room, their bedroom, or outside most of the time I was there. I’m not sure if we were allowed to go upstairs, but, the upstairs creeped me out, so you wouldn’t catch me up there anyway! There was an old photograph of my great granddaddy Llewellyn that hung on the wall in one of the bedrooms up there and going in there always scared the bejesus out of me. 

Great Granddaddy Llewellyn


Anywho, back to breaking the lamp… I remember breaking it and being scared to death to say anything. I finally went to my Granddaddy and confessed my sin: I had accidently knocked the lamp off the table and broken it. He was sitting on the front porch on this old metal glider they had and the sitting room was right on the other side of the window behind where he was sitting. He had to have heard the crash. I guess he was just waiting for me to get my courage up. I remember him pulling me into his lap (me boo hooing the whole time) and hugging me and telling me it was okay and that he was glad I had told him when all of a sudden I heard my grandmother swear and I KNEW she had found the lamp! I was SO scared and by the look on his face, he was TOO! He scooped me up and ran with me out to the old barn and told me to hide in the old hayloft (where we weren’t supposed to go, but I guess he figured she’d never find me there) and told me to stay there until she calmed down. 

It seemed like I stayed out there for HOURS. I was probably only about 5 or 6 at the time. He had left me out there and went back to the house and I could hear her yelling all the way out to the barn. I knew she was mad. I stayed until well past the yelling stopped. Then I sheepishly made my way back to the house and found my grandmother. 

I apologized and cried and then cried some more. I probably could have gotten away with never ratting myself out because there were always a gazillion grandkids running around there and I could easily have let one of them take the blame. I never claimed to be real bright now did I? Big Mama (that’s what we called her) was in the kitchen frying chicken when I went and confessed. I can vividly remember her wiping her hands on her apron, throwing the dish towel on the counter, then grabbing my arm and taking me out the front porch where she directed me to go “break off a switch”. This meant I had to go and break a “limb” if you will, off of whatever tree I desired and bring it back so she could switch my legs with it. And believe you me, if I didn’t pick one that was satisfactory, she would go and get one herself and it would be worse if she had to get one. I dutifully got the switch and brought it back and she sat on the glider and I stood in front of her while she held my arm with one hand (I guess so I couldn’t run away?) and switched the tar out of the back of my legs with the other. She didn’t get too many licks in before my Granddaddy reached out and put his hand on her arm and stopped her saying “That’s enough.” Yes, he was my HERO. 

He was also strong as an ox. He wasn’t a BIG man. He was fairly tall but not BIG. But I remember more than once when we’d go up there and he’d been “in the shine” and he would demonstrate his strength to us by holding out his arms and telling us to “pile on”. That meant we (meaning all the grandkids who happened to be around at the moment) were to find an open spot on either of his arms that we could wrap our hands around and hang on. He would proceed to lift us off the ground and parade around for a few minutes laughing and saying “That all you got? Ain’t no more young’uns’ around? Where is everybody?” Then he’d drop his arms dramatically and we’d slide off, down to the ground in a heap, giggling and laughing. 

Daddy and Granddaddy at my Aunt and Uncle's house


And he was a jokester. I remember once he caught us climbing on top of my uncles “tool shed” which we were NOT supposed to do. We had found a ladder and propped it against the back of the shed and climbed up and were peeking over the edge of the front of the building thinking we were smart and hiding. I guess our plan was to spy on any unsuspecting adults who happened by. Well, Granddaddy happened by on his way down to check his mail. I guess he heard us giggling and playing up there. I’m sure contrary to OUR belief, we probably weren’t very quiet. 

We watched from our perch on the edge of the roof as he sauntered back up the road. We were breathless with anticipation of what we might “catch” him doing. He didn’t even let on to us that he knew we were there. He calmly walked around the back of the shed, picked up the ladder and carried it across the yard and leaned it against a tree. Then he looked straight up at us where we were hiding and said “That’s what yall get for doing what you ain’t sposed to.” Then he started calmly walking back up the mile to his house. We were up there screaming and yelling and pleading with him to come back and help us down and he just smiled and kept walking. So, he taught us by lessons that we would NOT forget… but not by resorting to spanking or switching. 

Unfortunately he passed away when I was only around 10 years old or so. But, I still have those cherished memories of the times I did get to spend with my beloved Granddaddy. To me, he was the epitome of a man’s man and I will cherish those few memories of my childhood Sundays spent with my Granddaddy. 

 This post has been part of a writer’s workshop sponsored by: 

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About pegbur7

South of the Mason/Dixon Line
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15 Responses to Over the River and….

  1. Angelia says:

    What a memory!!! I loved my Papa too. He died when I was 16. Ahhhh, brings back good times reading this. Wait, I was beat with a switch too. What is it about getting your own switch? That’s a mental whipping there.

    Love seeing the pictures.

  2. Awww…..Great memories!!

    Thanks for sharing.

    The pics are great too!
    My grandpa died when I was around 10 also. I have some fond memories though : )

  3. suzicate says:

    Aren’t you glad you got those pics from me? Esp. the one of Granddaddy Llewellyn which was courtesy of Pam. I remember you all having to break off your switches…guess I was lucky, the aunts only got me with the hand! Most of my memories of Granddaddy are about him rubbing his “prickles” against my face or trying to take my hippie beads! Too bad you didn’t get to know Big Mama in the later years…after her resposibities dwindled she was a fun and compassionate woman. That is hilarious about the ladder and the shed!

  4. Adore this! Fabulous photos! Wonderful memories! Peg, I have a “Beautiful Blogger Award” for you at my site. Come on by!

  5. GregoryJ says:

    Beautiful story.
    I love old photos and old memories.
    I think it was in their generation’s make up that there had to be a room that kid’s were not allowed in, or we could not use the front door, etc.
    I remember a lot of ‘don’ts’ from those days.

    You’re welcome, beautiful blogger. My pleasure.

  6. Aw, Peg, such beautiful memories.
    And how you captured that fear we have as kids when we mess up; it’s so huge.

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