Friday, April 27, 2012

Flashback Within Flashback

My late mother-in-law, Helen Prout, Ellie's mother, lived with us during the last few years of her life.  She was a pleasure to be around, and as for annoyances, I probably provided more of them for her than she did for me.
The last several months of her life, Helen was bedfast.  However at no point was her mental capacity diminished.  I would sometimes sit at her bedside in the evening and listen as she regaled me with her memories of days gone by.  Sometimes I would listen carefully, then before retiring for the night I would go to my desk and record her stories.  I tried to keep them in her voice and as closely to her words as possible.  As I was culling some of my myriad file folders, I came across these records.  Let me share a few of these tales.
Great-grandfather Richard Goodwin was highly educated and quite prominent, but my grandmother's mother died when Grandma was a girl of ten.  Richard Goodwin remarried and apparently, as I understand it, remanded Charlotte to the custody of a guardian, at least some of the time during her growing-up years.  Charlotte, though, was very strong-willed and independent, and upon nearing adulthood and wanting means of her own, learned telegraphy and took a job as a telegraph operator.  Her father, on discovering this, was so furious he cut off all Charlotte's hair, as he deemed her actions disgraceful and beneath her status in life!

The greatest mistake my mother ever made was staying with her mother (Charlotte) all her life.  My grandmother was very severe and somewhat of a tyrant.  She was not what I would call a loving person, and both my sister Elsie and I were recipients of punishments at her hand that were too severe by half.
(More, perhaps, another time.)
Helen Knapp Prout
on her 90th birthday


John Cowart said...

Hi Vanilla,

I wish I'd paid more attention to the old folks' tales around me when I was younger.


Shelly said...

Wow- what eye openers these memories are. I am so glad you were a listerner and that your recorded what she spoke. Oral histories are so valuable, and they are down right interesting.

I really enjoyed these~

Pearl said...

Aww, Vanilla, you've made me a little sad. Have you ever heard the old time (blue grass) song "I Long to See the Old Folks"?

YouTube, and my personal favorite version, by The Stanley Brothers:


vanilla said...

John, what the older generation has to tell us is gone when they're gone. Fortunately, my father was an outstanding raconteur and listening was one of the few entertainments we had, so I learned early on to appreciate people's stories.

Shelly, sometimes the apparently simplest stories contain great entertainment value, and wisdom, too. Glad you enjoyed these. There are more.

Pearl, people should learn to listen to one another. Thank you for the link! That is great stuff.
1) I really like bluegrass.
2) My mother's people came out of "Old Virginia" so the hillsongs hold a special place in my heart.

Sharkbytes said...

She looks like a great lady. I sure wish I'd written down more family stories. There weren't very many told, but even those are mostly gone.

vanilla said...

Shark, she was a great lady, and a formidable opponent at the card table.