Friday, December 12, 2008

She was the Greatest Lake of all !!

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.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute! Oh, that everyone had a Big Mawmaw in their life--what a better world it would be! Gen--IL Homesteader

The Scavenger said...

Hey Gen, thanks and it's always good to hear from you. Big Mawmaw was a huge influence in my life as she was many others too. It would be a much better place it we had more of them like her.

Do you write a blog too, I would love to read it if you do. If you don't have one maybe you should think about one, I know you have much to share.


Joanna said...

I was hanging on to every word. I certainly could relate your story to my own. Well written and thanks for sharing. You can spell! :-)

The Scavenger said...

Joanna, thank you very much. I just wish Big mawmaw was here today so I could share her with the world. She was quite the woman.

Thank you for your comments, love to hear from my readers.


Anonymous said...

I too had the most wonderful grandmother. She would sit us in front of a huge open fire in her family room and make fairies out of the fire sparks whilst we toasted marshmallows, take us for walks along the river near their home and tell tales of Billy Bunyip (Aussie fairytale). We baked gingerbread men in her massive kitchen lined with marble benches and a stove that seemed as big as the house itself.

To this day I miss her terribly and like you wish the world was full of more of her.

Cath said...

Chris, that was beautiful! Lake is smiling down from heaven right now with that tribute! They sure don't make 'em like that anymore, do they? Tough as nails when they had to be, yet so full of love. And look at you - sweet little whipper snapper - full head of hair too! hehe
Thanks for sharing...

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Love this post Chris! Keep them coming!

They would be very proud of you. :)

The Scavenger said...

Molly, hang on to those memories with both hands, like me that's all we have left. This post almost makes me cry each time I read it, I miss her so.

Cath, tough as nails is right for sure. She caught me and my cousin in the garden playing were we knew we shouln't be and took a switch from and apple tree and tore us up. She then made cookies for us that night, when our parents found out what we did they were gonna whip us too. Big Mawmaw would not left them even close to us. lol

MOH, thanks, that means a lot to me. I think of her so often, even more during the holidays.

warren said...

She was a great Lake! Excellent story! Grandma's are a special breed...Mine was the same way!

The Scavenger said...

Warren, we should all be so lucky as to have someone like that in our lives. Very few today have the oportunity to even know who their grandparents are. Pretty sad.

Thanks buddy,


Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

I so enjoyed reading about Big Mawmaw Chris. Thanks for sharing some pieces of her life with the rest of us. That cabin was just perfect, with TWO chimneys no less. Now THAT'S my idea of livin'. I bet she could teach a fellow a thing or two about living the good life. I would have loved to have spent a few days with her, learning how to cook proper.

Marie said...

Wow! Big Mawmaw would love this--it's wonderful that you have pictures and such great memories! I hope that you have it written on paper somewhere too, for your kids--there's nothing like learning about what your great, great-great, etc. grandparents are/were like. Of course, now they can just check your blog... :) Thanks for sharing!

The Scavenger said...

Amy, thank you, you would have loved Big mawmaw's kitchen. Big woodstove with the bun warmer on top, long table with cane bottom chairs. It was a wonderful place for someone like me. I think of it all too often.

Marie, I called my mother to tell her about this post, they con't hae internet. My sister had already seen it and printed several copies for her and other family members. I am so happy to share the good life the Big Mawmaw provide for us all.

Thanks girls for the comments, I love to hear from you, thanks for taking the time.


Anonymous said...

No, I don't have a blog. I just read a few that are living like me! I'm not a great writer--I would 'hem and haw' over every word I tried to write! It would be way too much stress! I'm more of an "Amen to that" kind of person! :-) But thanks!
Wow! Molly's grandma sounds like Tasha Tudor! Gen--IL Homesteader

thatguyinkentucky said...

I really loved that post. It is so strange that some of us seem to have such a shared history even though we are scattered all over the place, for some of us this just hits home. There ain't alot of Big Mawmaws or Grannies left, but those of us lucky to have had such folks in our lives really do have a special shared heritage. Thank you for such a great post.

The Scavenger said...

Gen, just wondering. If you did write a blog I know it would be great. Maybe that would be a good New Years Declaration for you. hehe!!

Guy in Kentucky, Glad you can relate to my story. I'm sure you can tell by reading that she had a great influence in my live and many others. You're right man, we all need Big Mawmaw's in our live. Thanks a bunch buddy and come back often.

Thanks to sharing in a little piece of my life that means so much to me.


rsae718 said...

Buddy we had some good times at that house. The family reunion was held there I think every year. Coming from the flatlands running through those mountains with you and the rest of the clan was some of the best times that I have ever had or ever will have. Although MB was pretty fun too.

I love your picture on the top of the page. I don't know what it was with that house but I always loved seeing it with its weathered wood with no paint, surrounded by the green grass and flowers.

Its funny that she lived in the house for most of her life with none of todays modern conveniences and I think she was probably happier than someone who lived in mansion.

Buddy thaanks for the memories. talk to you later.

Your Cuz.

The Scavenger said...

rsae718, some of the best memories buddy. I always got excited when we would pull in at Big Mawmaw's and see that old gold car the your mom and dad had. That old house provided a lot of good times for us all, Thanks Russ and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Chris said...

Loved the story. Brought back lots of memories. Didn't think you had it in ya. Let's not forget about the dipper that hung on the kitchen faucet. Those were the best drinks of water ever. Always the coldest.
Love ya,

The Scavenger said...

Barbie, thanks sis, and let's never forget that dipper. It must have been Holy Water because it was out of this world. Never had anything even close to it since. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and leaving a comment, means a lot to me.

Your Brother,