Tag Archive | Grandmother

Unlocking Family Stories in Memory of my Grandmother, Junie.

Today, September 19, 2018, would have been Junie’s birthday. So I thought what better way to honor her than to share her story? Happy Birthday, Junie!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Meet Junie. June Ratcliffe McReynolds to be more specific. The grandmother I never had the privilege of meeting. Wasn’t she an adorable baby? I think so. I love this picture of her.  I am especially curious about the little girl hiding behind her. She must have been playing hide and seek from the camera.

I never met “Junie” (the name she chose for her grandchildren to call her) but I did get to read a book about her family’s heritage in 1975. When I open the covers of Our Radcliffe Heritage, I can almost hear her voice as she tells stories of old. Memories and travels she made in order to complete her work. She even added photographs and sketches of old family homes.  She didn’t just list names, birth and death dates but stories about her family and what their homes looked like.  How did she remember everything in such detail?  Her ancestors came to life as she put pen to paper. This personality makes all the difference! How did she do it?

Junie, the young lady in the center front, listened.

She listened and took notes. Somewhere, there is a box containing small sheets of paper with notes Junie began taking as she listened to her “elders” tell about the good old days.  She collected notes for years and put them in her memory box to be used later as a reference for her book.

I wish I had taken notes! For as long as I can remember, I listened to Mom’s family and visualized the events until I thought I knew the mannerisms and how “Mama” and “Papa” reacted to each other and to the children. This was the basis for The Vision of a Mother’s Heart. I wrote my story as fiction inspired by a true story because I didn’t have the foresight to take notes.

Her son, my Daddy, Charles McReynolds remembers her telling him and his older sister, Bobby stories about their heritage and it ingrained a love of history in my Dad too. He put his memories in a book called Memories of an Old Geezer. If you love stories of the good old days and especially if you like cars, you’ll love this book! (It is available on Amazon.com)

So, listen carefully, ask questions and take notes!

Many thanks to Daddy and my sister, Judi for providing a copy of Junie’s book and some of her belongings.  A big thank you to my grandmother June Ratcliffe McReynolds for her foresight and hard work. She made this granddaughter feel right at home!

Sharpen those pencils and get out your notebook. Your family memories could be a book in the making. Listen to their testimony and how the Lord led the family through difficult times and filled them with the joy of His love. When I open the covers of Our Radcliffe Heritage, I can almost hear her voice as she tells stories of old. Memories and travels she made in order to complete her work. She even added photographs and sketches of old family homes.

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Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

Walking Down Memory Lane on Nannie’s Birthday

There are some special people in our lives who never forget about us. They put themselves before others. That describes my grandmother. She went by so many different names. Katherine “Isabel”, Sis, Mama, Grandma, Granny (I switched from Grandma to Granny the first time I watched the Beverly Hillbillies. I thought it sounded neat. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t thrilled. Now I do!) but to many people, she was “Nannie” and that fit her very well. Even neighborhood children called her Nannie.

Today “Nannie” would have been 104 years old. She was born on August 28, 1914. She is celebrating her birthday in Heaven with the Lord and her precious family. Parents, siblings, her husband, three children, a son-in-law and one grandson. She went home to be with the Lord in 1999 and looked forward to “going home”. I remember a few weeks before she was “called home,” she told me about a dream she had the night before. She said that as she woke up, her beautiful, sweet mother was sitting by her bed, stroking her hair. She reached up to touch her mother’s soft cheek and asked if she had come to take her home. “Not yet,” her mother had said, “but it won’t be long.”

Isabel was eleven-years-old when she lost her mother but seventy-four years later, she still remembered her mother’s face and voice.  No. I don’t think she had a vision but was looking forward to seeing her loved ones again. Someday, we will see her again!

I was thinking of different ways to celebrate her birthday. I could bake a devils food cake with her seven-minute frosting but I don’t have a double boiler or a hand mixer. She used to bake pineapple upside down cakes which were simply delicious!

One year, I bought mint julep candies in bulk and sent them to Mom and her sisters to share with their children and grandchildren. Granny had craved these candies when she was carrying my favorite aunt. To this day, whenever I hear the word Mint Julep or see the candy, I think of her. Perhaps today I will buy a Kit Kat bar in her honor.

 

Then I remember how she used to take me downtown on the bus to pay bills and shop. We always had lunch at the five and dime where we bought candy to take home for Aunt Sandara and for everyone to share. When I visited her after she moved to Richmond in the 1960’s she invited me to spend at least a week with her every summer. I loved that! I so longed for everyone to be together. She didn’t mind that we all talked at once, laughed loudly and sang in the kitchen. I think she relished it! As an adult, I lived in Richmond for a while and worked at a retail store. She would call me at work and ask me to bring her a Kit Kat bar. I usually bought a few for her. She would smile when I walked through the door with her treat.

There are so many memories of my selfless grandmother. She had a hard life but she didn’t let that get her down. This is one reason I write about her childhood. She worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant until past retirement age because she loved caring for others. She raised and helped raise at least three grandchildren and loved every child. I think her favorite thing to do was to rock babies!

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She was a good money manager and always made me laugh. She always cared about everyone. I feel blessed that she was my Grandmother. Love you, Nannie. I will see you again someday!

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The Vinton School

Vinton School (William Byrd first High School) (2014_02_18 18_15_37 UTC)

Photo provided by Angie Bell Chewning

In the story I posted for Memorial Day, “Isabel” (my grandmother) attended The Vinton School while living with relatives. She loved that school and since she spoke of it so often when I was a child, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to attend the same school. By then, the 4 classroom building sat at the bottom of the hill where the High School, William Byrd stood. Of course, it was just the little building when Granny was a student. I understand there was a common room in the middle of the building which was used as an auditorium, gym and cafeteria. The four classrooms opened into the larger, common room.

My grandparents lived close enough William Byrd that we could hear band practice. It was great! My cousin, Debbie taught me a couple of cheers and we would hop around to the beat of the drums.

My stepfather’s younger sister was a student at “the high school” and I loved looking at her yearbooks; dreaming of the day I would also be a “Terrier.” That day finally came the fall of 1970. Since the building on the hill was built in the early 1930’s, the steps were worn with age. Framed pictures of graduating classes lined the halls. (I was late for class once because I was looking for a familiar face on the wall.)

New William Byrd High School on the hill

Photo provided by Angie Bell Chewning

I was delighted to discover that my math class and I think an art class were located in the school my Grandmother had attended. The little building at the bottom of the hill which was once known as, “The Vinton School.” That “hill” was very steep. Not only did we get a lot of exercise getting to Math class but once or twice when it was snowing, I discovered sliding, rolling or tumbling down that hill was not fun. And now, that is part of my history too. My favorite teacher at William Byrd Intermediate (Middle School) was Tina Cook. She was a believer who wanted to serve the Lord too. She was an organist at her church and to my delight, a counselor at the same Bible Camp my friends from Church and I attended.

My class was in this location for one year only. There were so many sixth-graders moving up to William Byrd Intermediate (on the hill) there wasn’t enough room for us. So we got to go to the new, modern Wm. Byrd High School in the eighth grade. It was exciting, but I missed the history in the old building.

Imagine all of the stories within the walls of these old buildings! My grandmother was there only a short time but I’m so glad she told me about it! Just remember, when you tell your children and grandchildren stories about the “good old days” they are probably listening even when you think they aren’t.

Blessings,

Kathy