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Grandma in Her Bonnet

"My Memories" by Irene

The earliest memories I have are when I was about 4 or 5 years old. We lived at Newberry, a little community east of Millsap, Texas in Parker County. We lived in a house just north of J.N. GAILEY, my grandfather. His house was located just after you turn off the old Millsap and Weatherford highway toward Newberry on the left. His old house is gone now, but the one we lived in, which is the second house on the road on the right (it sat on a little rise from the road) is still standing.

My father (J.D. "DOC" GAILEY) was a farmer. I had two sisters who were twins and were two years older than I named Vernelle and Maedell. I also had a cousin whose name was Wesley Hodges, Jr. I guess Wes and I were a lot alike and both mischievous. We were both the same age. His birthday was the 2nd of October and mine was the 6th - both born in 1923. Wes stayed with us a lot when he was small since his mother and dad (WES & NELL GAILEY HODGES) were separated and his mother taught school.

I also remember my mother (EDNA ALICE PUCKETT GAILEY) having to go down to the creek, quite a way, behind our house in the summertime and doing our laundry. I know she had a hard time living in the country and not having any of the conveniences of our modern days.

We children were always into something. I can remember getting a very hard spanking when we still lived in this place. My cousin, Wes, and I decided we would ride the little calf, which was really too small to ride, but remember we were only 5 years old. The calf ran through the fence and was cut up quite badly and we were, too. Daddy came home and he really was mad - sure gave Wes and me a spanking - one of many spankings I received over the years while growing up!

I don't have a lot of memories of this period of time, but I can remember Daddy building us three girls a little cabinet which was just like our Mother's. Daddy could make anything if he had the time and materials to do with; however, my father was so slow, it always took him a long time to do anything. Once he finished anything, however, it was done right. My Mother could work circles around him.

We left Newberry when I was still about 5 to move to Oklahoma. The last thing I remember is going by my Grandpa and Grandma Gailey's to tell them goodbye; the last time I saw Grandpa he was sick and sitting under a big tree in the yard. My Grandpa died while we lived in Oklahoma. He died May 6, 1930. We had a Model-T Ford. It had a front seat and a little box-like bed on the back and we three girls rode back there with what fine things we carried with us to Oklahoma.

My Mother's parents (HARVEY V. & ALICE COOK ROBERTS PUCKETT) lived about 5 miles east of Blanchard, Oklahoma, and when we arrived from Texas we moved to a farm about 2 or 3 miles from Grandma and Grandpa Puckett. The place we moved to belonged to a man by the name of Obe Tankersley. It was a two-room house and we lived there probably about a year. Daddy raised hogs and farmed. Those were the biggest hogs I ever saw and in the winter we would butcher hogs. We would make sausage and stuff them in socks or bags which Mother had sewn up, then the sausage and the rest of the meat would be hung in the smokehouses for our own use.

I was 2 years younger than the twins and they were very close and wouldn't play with me sometimes. If one got mad at me, so did the other one. Mother wouldn't let them start to school until I could start so that I could take care of them. I suppose this was because I was so much bigger than they were. They were always real small - one weighed 2 lbs. And the other weighed 2 1/2 lbs when they were born. I was always tall for my age and looked older.

We started to school in a one-room schoolhouse in a little community called Freeny. This school had a curtain that rolled down to separate the smaller children from the older ones. I took a lot of hair pulling and fights on account of the twins. Seems I had to look after them all of my life. We walked 2 miles to and from this school.

I remember once when the twins were mad at me for some reason. We had a large field in front of our house and woods on the right side of the road. My Mother had an old black dress, hat and lace-up shoes which I put on and went down in the woods and came out below where they were playing down in the field. When they saw me they thought it was an old crazy woman that lived about a mile from our house. They started screaming and running toward the house with me after them. Mother couldn't quiet them until after I took off the old clothes.

We continued to go to school at Freeney, but we moved to a house of Grady Tankersley's place where Daddy worked. We lived in a two-room house which had a tin roof. I'll always remember the sound of rain on the roof of that house. We had a spring that resembled a cave. Water dripped into the pond continuously and in the wintertime it had the largest icicles hanging down. I always enjoyed playing there with the beautiful trees and the green moss on the ground. We three girls had the measles when we lived here, and I remember Lizzie Tankersley bringing us sugar cookies. She was our first Sunday School teacher and once I remember the Tankersley's having an Easter egg hunt for the whole community in the woods above our house. We didn't have a church in our community - everyone went to the schoolhouse for church and any other activity such as pie suppers or box suppers. Pie suppers were where all the girls and women baked pies and the boys and men bought the pies. Whoever bought your pie you had to share it with them, the same with the box supper where you had to pack a box with supper which usually consisted of fried chicken and cake. I remember when a visiting preacher, usually old Bro. White, would spend the night with us. Mother would get up real early and kill a fryer and dress it and fry it for breakfast. We also had plenty of molasses. Daddy would help the other farmers cut their sugar cane and we would have plenty of syrup. We were very poor and I can remember my mother making our clothes. We did good if we had 2 dresses and she would have to keep letting out the hems. She usually dressed us all three alike. When our coats would be real worn she would turn them and let out the hems and they were just like new.

My Aunt Mildred and Uncle Edgar Ames (EDGAR & ANNIE MILDRED PUCKETT AMES) lived about a mile across the pasture from us and at that time they had four children, later they had two more. The oldest girl was my age. She was born in August before I was born in October. We all played and fought a lot. We also learned to smoke grapevines. They would call me redheaded peckerwood or the twins would make them mad and I would have to fight for them. However, since we have grown older we have been close friends and since Mother and Daddy are gone they include me in a lot of their family gatherings. The girls, Loweda, Faye, Vada, and Barbara, are very dear to me.

We lived close to my Grandma and Grandpa Puckett and we visited them a lot on Sundays when a lot of the other family would be there. All of their children were married at that time except Mother's only brother who was named Ballard (HARVEY BALLARD PUCKETT) and who was also the baby of the family. Grandpa would tell us of the old days and we kids would sit and listen to him by the hour. I will tell of one story he used to tell us. He said one time when they used to live in Parker County, Texas; Grandma Alice wanted to go to Louisiana to visit her people. I think they had about 5 girls at that time, which were all small. So they packed everything and the children into the covered wagon and started for Louisiana. One night they camped by a stream of water and they noticed a band of Indians camped on a hill just above them; but the Indians were supposed to be peaceful.

.... continued


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