05 January 2013

gramma & granddeddy 'nem

There aren't a whole lot of photos or keepsakes from my ancestors, so I always cherish any that I can find. And in case y'all are bored on this lovely Saturday, you can pretend we sittin' on my couch lookin' at pics of my rural NC tobacco-growin ancestors, mmmk?

The picture below is my Meemaw's maternal grandparents on their wedding day. My great great grandfather and great great grandmother.
That'd be my mama's mama's mama's mama.

{cue Mrs. Jackson by Out Kast on Grooveshark }
Got that?

It's crazy to think of a wedding day in the 20's compared to a wedding day now.


If you have been reading for awhile, and especially if you know me in real life, you know I am an analyzer - especially of people and relationships.

Have y'all ever thought about marriage and what it has really meant over time? What it meant for your parents, your grandparents, your great grandparents compared to how you view marriage today?

Although I never met any of my great grandparents, I find them fascinating. If I could meet anyone, just for a day, I think I would pick one of my great {or great great} grandmothers.

I come from a rural tobacco town in North Carolina, and most of my ancestors were poor tobacco farmers. Life was hard. I mean, in our society today, we work a job (somewhat of our choosing) all day to make money to buy things we need to survive at Target, Food Lion, the mall or online. It's crazy to think that in the past, your daily life would've been growing your food, milking cows, making butter, etc. Toaster strudels? Keurigs? Sheeeeit. People got married young, really young. Like, 14 or 15 young, often to someone they may have practically grown up with. Everyone pretty much lived in the same town that they'd grown up in, with both sets of in-laws in the same town. {And people made their own liquor. Ha! Joking ... kind of.}
I get that it wasn't necessarily like this in more affluent, larger areas, but this be story time at Shug's house, remember?

My great grandmother (the daughter of the woman in the picture) had five kids by the time she was 25! Holy mother of pearl, y'all! Mad props to her! Her life was cooking, cleaning, gathering eggs, helping on the farm, raising kids, going to church, walking with five kids in tow to take food to a family when someone passed away. No yoga or zumba to regroup. No girls' weekends. No Starbucks fix. No checking Facebook to be jealous of the life her friends were pretending to lead. No pinterest, no instagram. No money of her own. Money was for feedin' the fam.

check out more hilar goods here

Today we have marriage counseling {before you get married, and during} Tips to help husbands be more romantic and books on how to spice up your sex life, kama sutra and shit. Umm, can you imagine five {or more} kids and two adults in a three bedroom house? Can you imagine a life where you and your spouse worked hard, physical labor all day? Sweaty menfolk, callused hands, {okay, that doesn't sound so bad}. But, who had time or energy for hanky panky? I think about how devastating it was for me to lose one baby, but women in those times lost numerous children, many as infants and toddlers. No prozac, no anxiety meds, no therapy sessions. Just keep on goin.

I could write a book on stories I've heard from old folks about how life was then. Can't say that I'd trade life now for what they went through.

Of course, this is not to say that their life was miserable, but certainly very, very different from what we know now. And speaking of now, marriage is viewed in many different ways in our society and in the world. Have y'all read the comments on this post over at Erin's? {Yes, I am a Living in Yellow fan if you can't tell.} She had a post where readers told their 'secrets' anonymously. Let me tell you, I appreciated my marriage a lot more after reading what some of these people were dealing with. 

For me, marriage is serious bidness. Just know that it won't always be the stuff lies and bullshit that romance novels and movies are made of. I view divorce as an absolute last resort. Many people think I am painfully old fashioned. I want nothing more than to have babies and be a good mother and a good wife. I could give two shits about a career. I understand that not everyone thinks this way, and that is super okay. To each her own.

love some anne taintor

Some people have kids together with no intent to ever get married. Some people are married but never want children. Others can't understand why you would 'bother' getting married if you don't want kids. Others go into it, with the idea that they may be married several times before it's over. Some people live together for 20 years and don't want to get married and ruin everything.

But, at least now, it's a choice (hopefully for the right reasons). It's not just what you do because your daddy can't afford to keep feeding you, and you have kids because you want to, and not because there's no birth control and you need bodies to help on the farm. I know people genuinely loved their kids, but life's circumstances had to have made them pretty damn hardcore. You couldn't be an emotional puss and make it back then. The concept of worrying over damaging your child's psyche was crazy talk. Kids were not treated like princes and princesses. Their schedule never came first. If you did something you knew damn well you weren't supposed to do, you likely got your ass tore up, and nobody thought of callin' the cops. Your parents' love meant raisin' you to be successful on your own. Off on a tangent again ...

Here's the same couple about 35 years later. I love that he has on overalls and a 'suit coat' over it. And the cigarette, of course. I notice the weirdest things, like how prominent the curve of his right thumb is in both pictures. And doesn't she look like the kind of grandma that you could just hang out with all day makin' and eatin' biscuits?


This pic below is my granddaddy's parents. (The same granddaddy that used to have the epic baller-as-hell pig pickins.)


This pic cracks me up for obvious reasons. Not exactly sure when this pic was taken, but they were married in 1934. They were not in a band. I have no idea what was goin' on when they posed like this. My mama says they always reminded her of Archie and Edith Bunker from All in the Family. And Mama says she always remembers her grandma sayin, "John Brown it!"

I look at pictures like these and along with the stories that I've been told by my Meemaw and Granddaddy and my other family members, I try to picture what they were really like. What they would think of me now. Would they be proud? Would we be anything alike? What would they think of this blog post? Am I way off as far as what their life was like? What would they think of the man I chose to marry? Would they be mortified if they heard Outkast? Mortified that somebody would pay $5 for coffee from Starbucks that smells like a skunk? Would my great grandmothers wear Spanx or thongs? I image their reaction would be like Caro's in the Ya Ya Sisterhood.


What about y'all? Do you know a lot about your ancestors? Have many pictures? What were they like? Are you still in remotely the same area as where they lived when they were here? I'd love to know!


Lindsay @ Delighted Momma said...

What a beautiful couple they were are YOU two are! Such a cool post. I am actually in the process of finding out all my ancestry..so cool to find out where we came from.

Ani Danielle said...

I love looking at old family pictures and hearing my great-grandmother tell stories from when she was younger! Sometimes I spend hours just imagining what it was like to live back then... Great blog by the way -- very insightful!

xo Ani


Kayla Lynn said...

i really just love everything about this post and i agree with you to a T girl!!! xo

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

Great post.

I was fortunate enough to know a great great grandmother, three great grandmothers (one of whom I was extremely close with and lived until I was 17), one great grandfather, and all of my grandparents. My Pop died when I was three, but up until two weeks ago I have had my other three grandparents my whole life - 35 years.

I have always asked all of them everything about family members that came before them that I didn't know or didn't know as well. I love going through old family photos, and I have a ton of them.

We all still live in the same area as my great grandparents, and mostly in the same as my great greats. It's funny when you think of life in terms of what it was to them, and to be a kid to them, versus what it is to us and to be a kid now. Kids are running the world, and I don't think we're better off. There is something to be said for not being able to be an emotional puss. It serves you well throughout life.

Meredith said...

this is a great post. when i was born, both my grandmothers parents and my grandfathers dad (my great grands) were living. I vaguely remember them, but love to hear stores. B and I are both interested in our lineage and we have thought about having a family tree on display at our wedding. All of my family (both sides) still live with in 10 min of each other and I can trace back both sets in the area I grew up in for many generations.

Paula said...

Love this post. Like you, I wonder what my great great grands would think of me and my life. Some of then would probably be happy I finally got some balls and quit letting people run over me...others would probably be offended at my potty mouth that tends to go along with those balls at times :)