Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Priceless Minnie, Women's History Challenge, COG 103

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

The Carnival Of Genealogy traditionally honors women in March each year in conjunction with National Women's History Month.

Thanks to Jasia and Creative Gene for sponsoring the Carnival of Genealogy.  Thanks to footnoteMaven for the poster.

For this issue of the COG I have decided to write a bit more about my grandmother, Minnie Agnes Halterman Trumbo.  I have written bits and pieces about her before here on Reflections.  Remember that wringer washer photo, where she is teaching my two eldest sons how to do laundry, her way??  Maybe you remember my Sentimental Sunday tribute to her and her lovely lillies.

Minnie was born on August 2, 1905 in Rockingham County Virginia and died June 15, 2003 in Broward County Florida. Her ashes are buried in the Halterman Cemetery (on land owned by the Halterman family for well over 150 years) near Bergton, Rockingham County, Virginia.  On July 25, 1923 Minnie married my grandfather, Leonard Homan Trumbo in Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland.

Minnie and Leonard lived and raised their two children in Broadway, Rockingham County, Virginia. Minnie was a great seamstress, working many years in the business, sewing clothes for private clients and doing alterations for a local store's customers.  She also worked in "chickens" for a number of years, when I was quite young she raised baby chicks.  At some point she went to work at the local "egg factory", looking at eggs with light to see if they were appropriate for market.  But, there is no doubt her family and friends in Broadway remembered her for her sewing/stitchery skills.  One distant cousin told me that at one time her closet was filled with beautiful clothes all sown by Minnie.

From left:  My mother, Minnie, my uncle.
For this presentation, I have decided to recite, more or less accurately, the words I spoke at her memorial service, back in Broadway in the Baptist Church.  Originally, when we were advised by the preacher that we could make comments I had thought I would not.  But, at the last minute (well, the last hour), I decided that indeed I did want to say something in her memory.  I started furiously making one-liner notes and elaborated on those one-liners as I stood in front of her friends and family.  What follows are notes I recorded in the written form a few days later, while not a perfect transcription, it is pretty close to what I said that June day in Broadway.  (Note:  Photos were not part of the memorial service.)

"When I was a small child and would be visiting her, she would try to get me to take naps, like any young lady, I did not really want to take those naps, so gramma would "bribe" me by allowing me to take one of her baby chicks to bed with me. Sad to say, a number of those chicks did not survive the afternoon nap.

She lived on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. I think she loved the river but also feared it, and its power. She constantly warned us to be careful of the river.

From left, Minnie, my grandmother.
Jessie Eloise, my mother.
Moi, holding Son #1 (1st birthday).
Her home had a very long oak stairwell, covered with a long runner, the runner was held in place on each step by a gold bar at the back of each step. She was always warning us to NOT run and to be very careful on those steps. She was always protecting us.

When I was about the age of my nephew, and was learning to drive, I came to visit, she helped me to learn to drive.

When I married and wanted antiques I knew where to come. The Valley is the best place in the world to shop for antiques. I would come with a long list of items I wanted to find. She would drag me around to Clory's (a furniture store), Harrisonburg, New Market as well as every antique store within miles and even to a sale or two. We would find everything on that list, and I would go home with a loaded car.

Minnie and Moi, about 1984
I remember her oven fried chicken. She would cook wonderful HUGE breakfasts, with the best gravy in the world.

She taught me to sew, but she REFUSED to teach me to crochet. She said crochet would ruin my eyes. I learned to crochet however, and also learned cross stitch.

When I would come to visit, she would take me "calling". She would tell me, we have to go visit Pauline, we have to go visit your gramma Halterman. Thanks to her, I met a lot of my relatives.

My twin granddaughters were born in XXXX, Minnie was thrilled with the girls, always wanting photos and bragging on them. She loved them dearly, even tho she never got to meet them.

The last time I saw gramma was in February of last year, when Man and I managed to drag our old trailer to Florida. I called her and asked her if she would like me to come visit, she cried in delight, "WHEN?". I said now. She asked how long it would take me to get to the nursing home. I think she called my mother 5 seconds after I hung up the phone. We had a nice visit over the 2 days that we were there. She told me family stories, and I realized that she still was a little bit "fiesty".

Minnie and Moi, 2002, our last visit.
Now when I lose my temper, I think to myself, I know where that "fiesty" attitude came from, Gramma.

I always have felt that my two grammas gave me different parts of my personality. One was the business side, the other was my country side. Minnie was my country side.

She lived almost 98 years, her mind was clear until almost the end of her life. I could only hope to duplicate that long life and clear mind, and still have a little "fiesty" left, and a little country left in my soul. I hope that I will be as good a gramma to my twin granddaughters, as my gramma was to me."

In retrospect, I believe I know where I got my genie bug, from Minnie.  Oh, could she cook, Man and I both recall huge breakfasts topped off by gravy, fresh green beans with a bit of salty ham for flavoring.  Her oven fried chicken, was to die for, I never could duplicate it.  I also learned about antiques, learned how to sew, and learned some driving lessons that I remember to this day, all from my Gramma.  However, her true gift to me was her unqualified love.

My Minnie, my country gramma.  Priceless to me.

* Even tho Minnie taught me to sew, I never came close to her skills with the needle and sewing machine.

**Reference to sale means an estate sale, most likely an auction.



IrishEyesJG said...


What a beautiful recollection of your Gramma, your Minnie! I love the evolution of the photographs. I can picture you going shopping with her, and sewing, and learning to drive. I can imagine all of you sitting down together to that delicious breakfast. How fortunate you were to know your Gramma, and to receive "unqualified love". What a gift! She would, I think, be very very proud of the way in which you've used your own gifts.


PalmsRV said...

Enjoyed the progression of pictures from Minnie's younger days to 2002. The resemblance between your mother and grandmother is striking.

Now I'm craving fried chicken and gravy!


Greta Koehl said...

How wonderful that you had so many great experiences with your grandmother and so lucky you are that she gave you the "genie bug"! She must have been a total delight to know.

Grandma MG said...

Thank you for sharing the "specialness" of your "Minnie". She sounds like a woman comfy in her "own skin" & willing to share with others. Also helps me to remember one of my special grandmas!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Minnie encouraged you a lot - and still does :-) Jo

Joan said...

Priceless! I wish I could say more, but I am still spellbound with this priceless piece. Thank you.

Barbara Poole said...

Carol, how nice to meet Minnie. She had a wonderful personality, and was lucky to live a nice long life. Very much enjoyed watching you grow with her also. Thanks for a lovely piece to read on Sunday.

Michelle Goodrum said...

Thank you for a very nice piece. I feel like I kinda know Minnie too now!

PS. I remember going "calling" when we would go visit our grandparents. I had forgotten all about that.

Kristin said...

You are so lucky to have been so close to your grandmother Minnie and to have her with you for so long.

hummer said...

Boy,am I running behind, but thank goodness for Jasia and the Carnival or I might have missed this great tribute altogether. She is my kind of grandma. Glad you were so blessed.

Nancy said...

Priceless, indeed! She sounds like a wonderful lady. It was interesting to see her age in the photographs. In the first one, I think she looks about the same age as her daughter! This was a great post!

Debbie Blanton McCoy said...

Wow! A beautiful tribute to your gramma.

Nolichucky Roots said...

Clearly a jewel! I'd forgotten about going calling... What a lovely job you did here.

Nancy said...

Great remembrance! Your grandmother would be very proud to know of your writing and your journeys in life. This made me think about my favorite grandma and what I may have inherited from her.
Thanks for sharing.

Linda Gartz said...

The genie bug is a great thing to have inherited. The photos are a wonderful way to see her over time. A great tribute to Minnie.