Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sharing Memories: A Summer in Paisley

         Thank you to Lorine McGinnis Schulze over at Olive Tree Genealogy, who has an ongoing series, since 2009 about Sharing Memories.  She says, "We all want to find information on our ancestors and are overjoyed to find an ancestor’s diary or journal. But what about our own memoirs? It's important as genealogists that we not forget about writing our own story. We may think writing about ourselves is boring or egotistical but stop and think how excited your descendants would be to find a journal or dairy that their great great grandmother (you) wrote."

          Lorine has been posting a topic every Sunday since December 8, 2009, which gives me lots of food for thought and writing. In addition, there are no rules, you can jump in when you want, choose any topic that takes your fancy, write when and what you want to write -- no rules.    My kind of series,  since I dinna seem to do to well under hard and fast rules.
          For this inaugural  piece I am going back to a prompt from Week 1 of 2012, "A First Childhood Memory."    Although I have earlier childhood memories, this particular one is so vibrant in my mind, it begs to be told.

         The summer before I started school, my fifth summer, wrapped me in the most wonderful memories.  My dad was charged by the Zuckerman Farms to open a potato market on some virgin land in Paisly, Oregon. I dinna know where the potato land was, nor do I now.  Just not important to me, but what I remember was the wonderful summer we lived on the John Withers' ranch.  We stayed in the old homestead house, which was then an  overflow accommodation for family and visitors. I remember an old fashioned sink with a flower-patterned curtain to hide the plumbing and dishwashing pans and supplies.  One time I was talking to my mother about the Wither's ranch, and I mentioned the "little tiny windows."  She laughed, "You're right, Joannie, the kitchen window looked down over the pond and it was made up of lots of little panes of glass  --- some very old and wavy."  We were both surprised that I remembered that detail of the old homestead house.
         Sometimes mother would take me up to the Big House where the John Withers family then lived.  I remember the smell of the oiled wood floors, and probably oiled furniture as well.  I don't remember John Withers or his wife, but I do remember Mrs. Latta.  She was Mrs. Withers mother.  She was round and soft and liked to hug.  I liked to be hugged.  The usual treats of cookies and lemonade, paled in comparison othe the greatest treat of all.  From someplace upstairs (we never went up the stairs), she said she would find some toys for me to play with.  She placed in front of me a doll, a long forgotten doll  --- one that not been in a child's hands for many, many years.As she placed the box in my hands, she cautioned me that I must be very careful when playing with this doll.   The delicate porcelain doll had her own special box.  She was dressed in a yellowed satin dress,  The dress had lace at the neck and sleeves, and a ribbon and lace belt.  She was the most beautiful doll that I had ever seen --- probably made even more special by the reverent way Mrs. Latta handled the doll.  I never knew who had been the lucky little girl to have such a treasure.  Since then, I have seen a couple of similar dolls, without the old satin, lace-be-decked dress, on eBay.  I thought about bidding once, but decided the doll of mind was all that I needed.
          For my first six years, I was brought up as an only child, surrounded by adults, but that summer in Paisley, I was surrounded by the Withers children and kin.  We played at the pond; ran through the grass; sipped lemonade on hot afternoons; however,  the the greatest memory was of the circus that the Withers kids put on.  There were acrobatic tricks, a dog show(all the dogs were bathed and sometimes filled the roles of lions, horses, and cattle).  A boy had a black hat and introduced all of the acts.  I was by far the youngest, so I was dressed up in a "fancy dress" from the attic and I rode in the circus parade (on a wagon pulled by a dog/horse).  I was the princess or so I thought.  There must have been a quota of interested adults/audience, but that was of little importance to me.  The big kids let me be part of the circus.  I was so proud.
          Such a magical memory.  Seventy years later, on a summer's day, I can still see the pond, the black dress, and kids laughing and playing all around me -- magical.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


  1. This is a gorgeous story Joan capturing your wonderful memories: the treasure of the doll, the smells and the special treat of a summer filled with other children and lots of fun! Thank you for sharing your memories.

  2. Pauleen, thanks for reading this little story. I am thinking that this series will be fun --- and ready made for just writing -- not much research required and perhaps a few pictures here and there. I have never been very consistent on series sorts of posts, but working on it.