Oh, how Lena and I used to love our visits with Grandpa and Louise! I'm sure all the kids enjoyed them but Lena and I would get to spend a few days ~ or even a whole week ~ sometimes. It took a lot of begging before Mother would give in. I guess we just wore her down.
Louise was a terrible housekeeper but Grandpa didn't seem to mind. While we were there, Lena and I would clean that old house from top to bottom. We felt like we were living high because they had a bathroom! That was a novelty for us. Each day, after we got the house in order, we would try our best to play their old upright piano. No matter how much noise we made ~ and I'm sure it sounded pretty bad ~ they never told us to be quiet. They really enjoyed having us there and we'd cry when it was time to leave.
Every morning, they got up at the crack of dawn and we woke up smelling bacon frying. Both of them would be in the kitchen fixing a huge breakfast for just the four of us - five, if Uncle Jake was there. There would be a big platter of fried eggs, piles of crisp bacon, biscuits and gravy. There were also different kinds of jellies and preserves on the table ~ not to mention fresh butter. They didn't wash dishes until the dining room and kitchen were full of dirty ones. Lena and I took on the task of keeping the dishes clean while we were there. It was so good to see the house looking so good but we knew that a day or two after we left, it would be back the same way.
We used to go out on the roof from our bedroom window and sun-bathe. Grandpa was always afraid we'd fall off. There was a big porch that covered the front and one side of the house. On the side porch was where Grandpa did his whittling. I have seen those shavings ankle deep on Grandpa and he wanted them left there. When any of the boys came around, they would get out their knives and whittle with Grandpa while they laughed, talked and told stories of olden times. I can still hear them in my mind.
They used to let us make fudge and try out other recipes on them. I would bake my apple pies for them and Lena would make a cake. Once, we made some fried apple pies using canned biscuits and they loved them!
Grandpa raised a garden on the hill behind their house. I still remember those huge watermelons he grew each year. Many times, there would be a gang of men and kids sitting on that hillside eating watermelon. The juice would trickle down our faces and arms. Grandpa always seemed to have a dab of tobacco juice on his chin no matter how many times he wiped it on his sleeve.
The last time I remember seeing them was at the time Merkie died. Cassell and I went to Thacker to tell them. Grandpa looked so sad.
Grandpa, I'll never forget you!
Kathleen McCoy Eldridge©
May 15, 2005
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