There is a time in my life that I hold onto more than any other. This time was spent with my Great Grandmother on my Mother's side. She was destined to be great from the start of her life. She was born, Lake Erie Blankenship, on March 20th, 1893. In 1911 she met and married Francis Mathers Harless and they were married on September the 3rd of that year. Francis and Lake lived a happy life together for the next 59 years until Francis "went to be with the Lord". For some reason when we speak of them that is what is said, they"went to be with the Lord". I think it is because we just can't stand the thought of them dieing or being dead and out of the great respect that we all have for them both. All the great grandchildren called them Big Mawmaw and Big Pawpaw although we don't know where those names came from nor did we ever question it. The names fit and stuck. I can hardly remember Big Pawpaw, only a few images in my mind of how he looked. Those memories are of him sitting in his rocking chair in front of the ever present fire place.
The time that I remember most is when my mother and I lived with Big Mawmaw while my father was away on a cruise in the Navy. This was only about 6 or 8 months and I was just a small boy, but the memories are were burned into my mind by that old coal fireplace. I was probably between 4 and 5 years old at the time. We had electricity but no cable tv, there was a tv in the room where my mother and I slept and sometimes you could even get a little bit of a picture on it but never any sound. That was fine though, there were many good stories to heard, much better than anything I have seen on tv since that time.
Big Mawmaw and Big Pawpaw had live in the old house since they were first married, no one knows for sure who built it or how old it was. Big Mawmaw said it had always been there and I say she's right. Little more than a tar paper shack, there was more love shared in that old house than any other I have been in. I can remember when my mother and I were staying there, I would lie on the feather bed at night and listen to mom and Big Mawmaw talk about everything from chickens to the Vietnam War. When they had something to say that they didn't want me to know, they would spell it, knowing that I would not have any idea what they were talking about. One night that we all remember even now, I was hungry and wanting to get in on this spelling thing, I ask my mom if she would fix me a 'G O P T'. They had no clue what I was talking about so after a few laughs I told them that I had spelled grilled cheese sandwich. At my moms house we still call 'em that, fix me a GOPT. To this day I still can't spell. I can also remember mom waiting outside the outhouse door for me during those cold nights of winter. No bathroom in the house, besides that's nasty, poop right inside your house where you eat. LOL How times have changed. Now we use the bathroom in the house and go outside to eat, crazy folk we are. Staying warm was never a problem in that old house. Big Mawmaw could get that old fireplace so hot it would burn the front of your pants off. Peoples faces would glow red after just a few minutes in there. We all gathered in what was really Mawmaw's bedroom, it was in the front of the house and the room had 2 old wood rockers in there. People would sit in the floor or on her old feather bed and there was a stool for the electric organ that she would play. Oh, that organ. She loved to play and loved it even more when someone ask her to. She would wobble over and pull the stool out and take a seat, turn the switch on and that thing would hum so loud where she had it turned up all the way. It was such a funny site. She would then play the prettiest and loudest music you ever heard. On Sunday after church, many times people would stop by Aunt Lake's house and many of the old timers called her. They would have church (round 2 for the day) right there in Mawmaw's bedroom, organ music and all. Many a preacher had dinner at that house. For years, Sundays were spent there, family and friends from all around would come.
This is a picture of me and my Big Mawmaw. I was maybe 10 at the time. I'm sure it was around Christmas because you can see present on the bed. If you look close you can see a picture of the Last Supper hanging on the wall to the right.
This is the old house where so many good memories where made. As you can see there are 2 chimneys to keep the house good and warm and another that you can't see for the old wood cookstove. There was only a walk bridge to the house across the creek. This photo was taken on the side where you parked your car. To get a car or truck on that side you had to drive through the creek at a spot just left of the picture. Me and my cousins would have the time of our life around this old place. Located in Logan County West Virginia in an old coal mining community called Emmett. The creek that flow by Big Mawmaw's house is Elk Creek, and that is what eveyone calls the area, no one ever calls it Emmett.
Here is a picture taken from the same location only different season. The old house is gone now. A flower garden takes it's place as a tribute to the woman that held the whole family together. The last year or two of her life she bought a small mobile home and placed it behind the house. It was much easier for her to take care of during those last few months. My uncle lives in the mobile home now with his wife and they take good care of the place. Visiting with them always brings me back to the old house where Big Mawmaw lived and the good times we all shared there. Big Mawmaw went be with the Lord on February 3rd, 1990. Named after one of the great lakes, Lake Erie Harless was surely The Greatest Lake of all.