I remember as a young lad maybe four or five years of age going just a little way down the road from our home to see Ma and Pa Stone. Ma, Purnie, and Pa, Walter. They were my great-grandparents, Mom and Dad to my Grandpa Clell and grandparents to my dad, Clell, Jr.
The picture is of Ma and Pa as I remembered them with their kids Dan, Clell and Tressie.
Pa always sat in his big old chair near the front door with a large spittoon can sitting beside him. He had a toothless grin. Ma laid in her bed. I only remembered her with her missing leg that she lost from diabetes. I remember getting scared one time when she talked about still being able to feel her leg. I thought her leg was a ghost! Ma would often offer us a banana, which was usually black. We politely refused.
Ma’s parents were Rose and Mary Brown Cupp. They lived close to Spokane when they were alive, also at one time living in Day, Missouri on Bear Creek. Pa’s parents were William Orlo Stone and Mary Smith Stone. They were originally from Nebraska.
Lavonne Chaney, daughter of my great aunt Tressie Chaney, and daughter of Ma and Pa gave me a journal from Ma during the year 1944. In that journal, written on an old Big Mosque School Tablet, Ma spoke daily about visits from her kids Tressie, Clell and Dan, and their visits to them. In reading the journals I saw a family whose lives were tightly wound together, helping one another plow gardens, take cows and pigs for sale, canning vegetables, shucking corn, babysitting kids, and sharing many meals.
My sister Cindy said Ma and Pa’s place was the community hub. In addition to kids and grandkids coming over often, Ma and Pa hosted gatherings for neighbors, Ma’s cousins Tiny, Jessie, Glessie and their husbands, and other relatives. Back in the 50’s, Pa’s sister Aunt Faustie would join the parties, playing her harmonica or telling stories.
Cindy and brother Perry both remember Pa being ornery and jovial. He loved teasing and flirting. He adored our mom. When Dad first introduced her to Pa, he commented on what lovely legs Mom had! Mom from then on was a faithful ally of Pa.
Cindy said Pa loved to tell tall tales, putting a great grandkid on his knee, sometimes giving the kid a piece of his tobacco to chaw on while he wove his tales.
One night Ma and Pa were in bed when Ma heard what she thought was a prowler outside. She whispered to Pa, “Tod (her nickname for him), “I’m going to holler real loud for you to git your gun to scare them off!”
So, Ma hollered, “Tod! Git yer gun!” Pa hollered back, “Now, Purnie, you know I ain’t got no bullets!”
Brother Mike remembers fondly Ma and Pa’s Collie, Boots, especially when she had pups. Pa would hold the puppies up to his face and tell us if they were boys or girls. He said he could tell by looking at their eyes.
Mike also remembered Ma and Pa had a large chicken coop. The great grandkids would take a coffee can of the big green June bugs and let them loose in the coop. The chickens would go crazy chasing down the tasty treats. Pa would just watch and laugh.
Perry remembers Pa driving by in his old car while they all picked strawberries in the old patch right off highway HH (now Bear Creek Road). He would yell out the window as he passed, “Git to work!”. Relatives talked about how dangerous a driver Pa was, often speeding past in the middle of the road.
Ma was famous in the area for her big, beautiful flowers, and Pa for his giant tomatoes. Pa liked to eat his tomatoes with sugar. When Cindy was little, she loved playing in their yard and garden. She remembers, however, when staying over having trouble sleeping on Saturday nights. That was because it was championship wrestling night on channel 3, live from the Shrine Mosque in Springfield. They both really got into the matches which they swore were real, yelling and screaming for their favorites.
In reading over Ma’s 1944 journal again last night, it struck me how much she worried about her kids, grandkids, and parents. She fretted when Dan and Dorothy’s son Kenny was sick with pneumonia. She fretted over Clell and Marie’s daughter, Aunt Carolyn, when she was struck with the measles. She wrote grateful praises to God when on November 14th of that year her son, Dan, didn’t pass the physical to go into the army and war. She seemed at times to be an impatient person, as well, writing more than once of her frustration waiting for daughter Tressie and daughter-in-law Marie to come over to take her to the store. Through it all, her writings spoke of a deep love and devotion to her family.
Cindy said after Ma died from her diabetes, Pa was very sweet in the couple of years before he joined her. He loved his cat, Ralph (a female), who ended up birthing many of the cats in the neighborhood, including her own Pinky. Cindy can still hear his voice calling out from the back step, “Heeeere Ralph. Heeere Ralph!”
I enjoy hearing these stories of my great-grandparents, long gone now, but the memories remain alive and vivid. I pray someday my great grandkids will hear and tell stories of myself and my wife, of our love for our Lord and our love for our family.
And maybe a little about my orneriness too!