Friday, April 18, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: P is for Powell

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Powell.

The Powells were neighbors of my great grandparents Walter and Mary Frances Jollett Davis in Shenandoah, Virginia.  Just how chummy they were is not clear, but they were close enough to exchange cabinet cards. 
Sarah Long Powell with Rosalie and Lacuta 1895
Sarah Powell
Rosalie and Lacuta
about 1895

The 1900 census suggests the Powells lived on Third Street sandwiched between my great-grandparents, my grandaunts and uncles the Colemans, Sullivans and Clifts.  Eugene Powell worked for the railroad and Sarah was home caring for their three daughters Rosalina, Lacuta, and Elsie.  Lacuta and Elsie were roughly the same ages as my grandfather and his brother, so the four likely were in school together as well as neighborhood playmates along with their cousins.

In 1910, the Powells were living in Andover, New Jersey where  Eugene was superintendent of railroad construction.  Sarah claimed 3 of 5 children living, so apparently between 1900 and 1910, they lost two.

By 1920 they were back in Shenandoah.  Rosalie and Elsie were living at home with their parents, both teaching in public school.  Lacuta was married to John Neal Parrott.  The two were renting a house in Washington D.C. where John worked as a conductor for the electric streetcar system.  Lacuta was a clerk for the Internal Revenue Service.
Elsie Powell Judy Wingold
Elsie Powell
June 28, 1898 - Dec. 13, 1992

By 1930 all three girls were gone from the Powell household.  John and Lacuta owned a house in Washington D.C. valued at $8800.  Apparently motormen and government clerks made good money.  Rosalie was married to Ben Merchant, a horse dealer, and living and teaching in Fauquier County.  Elsie had married Frank Judy, a widower with sons ages 19 and 20.  She continued to teach in Page County; Frank was a merchant of general merchandise.   Meanwhile Eugene was driving a delivery truck for a local retail store and Sarah was caring for her father.
Lacuta Powell Parrott
Lacuta Powell Parrott
May 25, 1895 - Jan. 29, 1997

In 1940, at age 70, Eugene was still driving that delivery truck and Sarah was still housekeeping.  Lacuta and John were living in Arlington in a house valued at $12,000.  He was still a car operator for the Transit system and Lacuta was still an income tax clerk for the IRS; interestingly enough, her salary was higher than his by $700.  Over in Fauquier, Rosalie continued to teach but now Ben was out of work.  Poor Elsie was a widow.  Apparently she had no reason to stay in Shenandoah, so Elsie moved to Craig County where she lived in a boarding house with several other public school teachers.  I don’t know when, but sometime later Elsie met and married John Conrad Wingold, a widower. 

Apparently none of the Powell girls had children. 

For more pontificating and other pieces in print, pop over to the A to Z April Challenge.

Sepia Saturday: Hoe Hoe Hoe

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is the garden.  My maternal grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis always had beautiful flowers and delicious tomatoes growing side by side.  Her garden was not the beautifully planned and dedicated space that drives aficionados of Pinterest to pin and repin.  But she did know the value of digging a $5.00 hole for a 50¢ plant.

Lucille Rucker Davis
Grandma on Easter Sunday 1967
As I looked for pictures to show off Grandma’s beautiful camellias and peonies, I just laughed at the sorry state of her flower beds.  Sadly, we didn’t catch them in their glory.  Our pictures are of beds that needed weeding and a little mulch.   In my mind’s eye, though, I see the sparkle of white Spirea in bloom.  Camellia bushes bursting with pink and red blooms.  Blue hydrangea bending under their own weight.  Tulips and daffodils.  Tall gladiolas in pink, purple, white, and yellow held upright with a stick.  Forsythia in March.  Azaleas in April.  Creeping Phlox and Candy Tuft dotted here and there to mark the outer limits of foundation beds.

Wendy Slade
I LOVED that purple plaid dress.  And Grandma's flowers, of course.

Grandma didn’t invest a lot of time in a vegetable garden.  She simply made room in the flower beds for a few tomato plants because even in the 1960s good tomatoes, “real” tomatoes, were not to be had in the grocery store.  She also had a reliable fig tree that supplied all she needed for everyone’s anticipated gift of fig preserves.

Maybe it is Grandma’s influence that makes gardening and canning appeal to me.  When my girls were little, we had a square foot garden.  It was fairly successful and certainly easy to manage.  But when we moved to our current house, I lost all interest in gardening as rabbits took over the garden, and softball and horse shows took over our lives.

Zoe and Jordan Mathias watering the garden 1985
Zoe and Jordan April 1985

Now the girls are grown and gone. I’m retired.  I have a new fence.  And a square foot garden.

Last year at this time, I was busy planning my younger daughter’s October wedding.  I don’t know who had the bright idea to decorate with white pumpkins, but I thought for sure it would be easy to grow our own, and cheaper too than buying them in the fall.  So I purchased seeds and dedicated most of the squares to pumpkin plants. 

Of course, I had to save room for a few tomatoes and peppers because the grocery stores still don’t sell “real” tomatoes.

In July, my pumpkins were coming along really well. 

The next thing I knew, my garden looked like the set of a B-movie, some sci fi flick in which pumpkin plants devour Chicago.

In the end, I got a handful of Baby Boo pumpkins and only one Lumina, losing all the rest to rot. 

One Baby Boo was the perfect "paper weight" for cocktail napkins.

One Baby Boo added a little sumn sumn to the cake table.

I didn’t inherit Grandma’s green thumb, but I got her hoe and watering can.

I’ve planted the seed, so please visit my friends at Sepia Saturday to see what is blooming in the blogisphere.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: O is for Ollie

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Ollie.  Ollie Nathaniel Bonney.

Ollie was one of my paternal grandfather’s best friends.  They were actually part of a threesome.  Three men in tub.  Three Musketeers.  Three Stooges.  Not sure which.  But Fred Slade, “Kentucky” Thom, and Ollie Bonney hunted together and fished together in the 1940s and 50s, maybe even longer but I can’t verify it.

Their fishing trips seemed to be mainly in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Their successes aboard Ken Ward’s “Cherokee” made the newspaper several times.  Of course, fishing reports were always popular items in the cities and towns here along the Atlantic Ocean. 


O.N. Bonney, left, and Fred R. Slade pictured with the large catch of fish they made recently in the Gulf Stream off Hatteras.  Fishing with Capt. Kenny Ward of Nags Head, they made this haul in 1 1/2 hours.  The catch included 12 amberjacks and three dolphins, with the amberjacks weighing from 5 to 32 pounds and the dolphins from 8 to 18 pounds.
Greensboro Daily News June 27, 1948 

The same trip was reported in the Greensboro (North Carolina) Daily News a few days later.
Fred Slade, Ollie Bonney, "Kentucky" Thom

The big news on the 1951 trip was Kentucky Thom's sailfish.  But Granddaddy and Ollie were right there too with plenty of dolphin and amberjack for the picture.

I wish I had more information about their fishing trip to Florida.  I’m not even sure of the year.  Ken Ward was their guide on the “Cherokee” making their way along the intracoastal waterway from Virginia to St. Augustine, Florida.  

Ollie and Fred
Fred Slade and Ollie Bonney

Fred Slade, Kentucky Thom, Ollie Bonney aboard the Cherokee, St. Augustine, Florida

Ollie was born April 18, 1901 to John and Martha Bonney in Gates County, North Carolina.  He was the third of five children in a logging family.  But by 1920, the family had moved to Portsmouth, Virginia.  Ollie and his father both worked at the fertilizer plant, Mr. Bonney as a machinist and Ollie as an electrician. 

Not long afterwards, Ollie moved on as an auto mechanic.  Maybe that’s how Granddaddy and Ollie met.  My grandfather owned a cab company and no doubt needed a good mechanic.

Ollie married Margaret Price November 22, 1934 in Pasquotank County, North Carolina.  In 1940, they owned their home on Spratley Street in Portsmouth, valued at $2000.  His parents lived with them. 

The city directories include Ollie and Margaret for many years.  In fact, there is an entry for Ollie N. Bonney in 1993, two years after his death.  That makes me wonder if this was a son or if the city directory just hadn’t been updated.

Ollie died on March 31, 1991 just shy of his 90th birthday.  Margaret followed almost one year later.  They are buried in the Olive Branch Cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia. 
photo courtesy Steve Poole

You are under no obligation, but it would be obtuse for me to obstruct your odyssey to the A to Z April Challenge.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: N is for Nancy

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Nancy.  Nancy Christine Danielson Taylor.  

Momma and Nancy were friends from high school, probably because they were cheerleaders together.  How close they were, I’m not sure.  There are no photos of them goofing off and hanging out together although there are such photos of Momma with some of their other girlfriends.

Nancy Danielson
Except for cheerleading, their interests went in opposite directions.  While Momma was active with the newspaper staff and Spanish Club, Nancy gravitated to basketball and the Hi-Y Club, a service organization.

Nancy #6 Forward
scanned from the
1946 Admiral

Cradock Hi-Y Club 1946
Nancy is 5th from the left on the front row kneeling
scanned from 1946 Admiral

Nancy was the second daughter born to Gus and Peggy Danielson when they were living in Redford, Michigan.  Gus was a tool maker for a car factory, likely in Detroit as it was about a 20-minute commute to the automobile capital of the world.  Sometime between 1935 and 1940, the Danielsons moved to Portsmouth, Virginia, and settled in the community of Cradock.  Gus worked as a machinist for the shipyard.  This was about the same time that my grandparents moved to Cradock.  With the war, there were lots of job opportunities at the shipyard.

As adults Momma and Nancy were very close friends.  We lived around the corner from Nancy and Skeeter, so we grew up with the Taylor kids.  Sometimes Nancy was our afternoon babysitter until Momma could get home from school (she was a teacher – she wasn’t IN school). 

Nancy, Momma, Rusty
I wonder if I did Nancy's hair that week.
I vaguely recall some of those moments, especially when Nancy would scurry around picking up Mary Jollette’s and Rusty’s toys before Momma got home, but my strongest memories are “Hair Night.”  Nancy had very thick naturally curly hair.  When I was in high school, I used to be her “between haircuts” hair dresser.  Seriously.  I had a table-top salon-style hair dryer, brush rollers and a teasing comb.  The kitchen became a make-shift salon where I worked my amateur magic on both my mom and Nancy.  The house would be full of chatter and laughter because Nancy always had something funny going on.  When Nancy laughed, she snorted, and that would make us laugh all the more.

The Taylors' cotton tree.  

Even though we saw the Taylors practically every day, Christmas was always a special time together.  After opening our presents, we hit the road making the rounds visiting everyone to see their haul. Nancy’s family always had a cotton tree.  I believe it was actually a tradition passed down through Skeeter’s family.  The tree was so different from everyone else’s tree, all covered in white cotton and angel hair, colorful balls and lights.  Magical.

Skeeter, Nancy, Rusty 1971 or 1972
Nancy Taylor, Mary Jollette Slade, Wendy Slade 1971 or 1972
Nancy, Mary Jollette, Wendy
Skeeter, Nancy, Rusty at my parents' house

Skeeter and Nancy

The funniest memory of Nancy was the time she talked Momma into going with her to the beauty school at the shopping center to get their hair washed and curled cheap.  She thought it would be great fun to let budding hairdressers practice on them, not to mention a bargain.  Fortunately for Momma, she ended up looking rather good after that $5 investment.  Nancy, on the other hand, was disappointed in her own, to put it mildly.  In fact, the two of them couldn’t wait to get out of the salon because they couldn’t contain their laughter much longer.  What was so bad about that hairdo?  Was it the tight curl?  Or that black velvet bow above her bangs?   Sure wish I had a picture!

My parents had wonderful friends that I miss as if they were my own.  Skeeter and Nancy are buried in the Olive Branch Cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia. 

photo courtesy of Steve Poole,

Lest I neglect the niceties, all neophytes, newcomers and novices are welcome to navigate the numerous news, narratives, novels and notes at the A to Z April Challenge.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: M is for McCauley

My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for McCauley.  Vallye Virginia McCauley.  Sounds like a place.  Valley of Virginia.  And that’s about the truth, too.  Vallye was born and raised, lived and died, right there in the valley of Virginia, in particular New Hope in Augusta County.

She was a friend of my grandaunt Violetta Davis when they were students at the State Normal School (later Harrisonburg Teachers College, then Madison College, now James Madison University).

Like Violetta, Vallye (or Vallie as her family spells it) was in the High School Club for students planning to teach on the secondary level.  They were enrolled in the two-year program which enabled them to teach anywhere for seven years before needing to seek recertification. 

Vallye Virginia McCauley 1923
Vallye Virginia McCauley
scanned from School Ma'am 1923

The description under her senior picture describes Vallie as the epitome of “dignity and womanly virtue.”  Supposedly she was a good writer, but her classmates remembered her as being “fastidious in dress, courteous in manner, and reserved in speech.” 

Vallye Virginia McCauley 1923
This photo of Vallie McCauley in Violetta’s photo album seems to match those words perfectly.  I can picture her in a classroom. 

Vallie appeared in each census year – 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 – living on a farm with her parents Charles and Edna McCauley.  She was the second of 5 daughters.  In the 1930 and 1940 censuses, she was enumerated as a public school teacher.  The 1940 census shows that she earned $800 in 1939.  That equates to about $13,512 in buying power today.  Still not much, especially considering the average salary in 1940 was $1900. 

Vallye Virginia McCauley Patterson
Vallie Patterson
photo courtesy of Michael Lindsay

Vallie married rather late in life compared to women of her generation.  On August 18, 1945, she married Crawford Patterson, a farmer in Augusta County.  

Crawford Patterson
Crawford Patterson
photo courtesy of
Michael Lindsay

The importance of family was evident in the family reunions held faithfully at the McCauley farm in New Hope, Virginia.

The 5 McCauley sisters and parents
Vallie is 2nd from the right
photo courtesy of Michael Lindsay

photo courtesy Marlin Diehl at

Vallie died November 19, 1973 and is buried near her parents and other McCauleys and Pattersons in the Edgewood Cemetery in Weyers Cave, Augusta County, Virginia.

photo courtesy Marlin Diehl

Avoid malady and malaise but be malleable to being mesmerized by the maelstrom of magniloquent and mellifluous myths and metaphors offered by the mavens of the blogisphere at the A to Z April Challenge.