Monday, June 7, 2010
Great Grandmother Pritchett
I always referred to my Great Grandmother Pritchett as, “Grandma-with-the-cane,” and, I think, Garth (Childs) did also. I don’t know how much David (Childs) remembers about her. She used a cane because she had fallen and broken her hip and it was always somewhat weak after that. Grandma and I and, also, once or twice in the company of Aunt Renee and the "Boys" my only cousins on my mother's side of the family, did visit her in California where she moved in her later years. She was lived with Aunt Jessie and Uncle Gilbert then. In her 80s, she had several strokes which, eventually, took away most of her memory and, ultimately, her life. However, since she was grandmother to me, I loved her dearly. She lived with us, in Price, for awhile before I started school and I have happy memories of those days.
One winter day, for example, she sent me outside with a salt shaker. She told me that if I could put salt on a bird’s tail, I could catch it. I really tried. In fact, I spent most of the day trying to catch a bird. She stayed inside at the window and watched me, as I worked to catch one of those ever elusive creatures. It was still a bit cold outside (early spring), and I was bundled up warmly. When Grandma Smith came home from school, I told her I had tried to catch a bird by putting salt on it’s tail. She scolded Great-grandma a bit. “Oh, Mother, how could you?” Then she explained to me that, if you could get close enough to a bird to put salt on it’s tail, you could catch it without the salt. Great-grandma had a little of the practical joker in her. It always caught you by surprise because she was, otherwise, a very practical and proper lady.
Once she told me that I needed to be careful of tramps. This was after the war when many returning soldiers could not find work. We lived on Carbon Avenue in Price at the time. I had invited a raggy-looking fellow into the house while she was taking a nap. She was somewhat handicapped with her cane, which she always used after breaking her hip. She scolded me for that and explained that I did not invite strangers into the house. There were a lot of tramps after the war. I remember seeing one walking down the street, shortly after my inviting the one in, and he was not very tidy-looking. He had rumpled hair and awful clothes. I asked Great-grandma if he was the “boogie man” and she said he very well could be. Well, we children were all afraid of the boogie man so that took care of that.
Of course, our house was always a hit for a good meal. The men would offer to do chores around the yard for food. They usually chopped wood, or something like that. It was mostly in the summer when they traveled looking for work and a better life. One day, a man sat on our front lawn and ate spaghetti. Garth and I watched, fascinated, as he slurped the spaghetti into his mouth just for our pleasure, I am sure. We tried it later and it did not go over well. But you know, and I am honestly speaking, the lawn later died just where he sat on it. Grandma Smith wondered, aloud, if he had weed-killing chemical on his pants from the rail car he had ridden to town. I have wondered, in the years since, if it had an adverse effect on him. What if he got sick and thought it was the spaghetti and not the weed-killer?
I have some great photos of Great-grandma in my “Treasurers of Truth” book which I put together in Mutual when I was a teen-ager. I was, after all, 16 years old when she died. I remember being a bit resentful that I could not go with Grandma Smith to the funeral. She, Grandma Smith, took the train and I stayed home with Aunt Renee. I am certain that it was the expense but I was pretty spoiled and thought money “grew on trees,” as I was often told. And it did not!
I have a photo, for those of you who do not know, which features Aunt Grace and Uncle Woody Selby, Great-grandma, and Aunt Jessie. Woody grew up as a Pritchett and, later, went back to his own surname, Selby. He was the son of Great-Grandma Mina’s sister, who died when Woody was just an infant. He was “brother” to Grandma, Aunt Jessie, and Uncle Frank. He did have a brother or two, who went to other relatives on the death of their mother. She died of something like appendicitis or gallbladder. Whichever it was, the organ ruptured and she died of the resulting infection.
He never had children. He married a woman, Aunt Grace, who had two daughters. The girls were babies when he married Grace and he was their father in all senses of the word. He was a Wonder Bread Regional Manager and lived, at the time of Grandma Smith’s death, in Idaho. I didn’t keep in touch, sorry to say. I didn’t used to do a good job of keeping track of people. I have repented now, however. I guess he must no longer be alive because I can’t find him. If any of you are better at “People Search” than I am, do the job and let me know what you find. His full name was Woodrow (like President Woodrow Wilson) Selby.