Thursday, February 12, 2009
People have no idea what things were like during the Great Depression. They think now if they have to give up cable television, they're sacrificing, but during the depression, there was no money.
Daddy did whatever he could do. Every morning, he'd walk from Linden Street down to the railroad bridge where it cost him a penny to walk across that bridge to get to downtown Cincinnati, where he'd look for work. If he didn't have a penny, he'd hop a train. Sometimes Daddy would sweep floors, haul ice or throw trash. It didn't matter. There was no shame back then in the work a person did; It was all honorable. Sometimes Daddy would make a couple of dollars a week.
Mom worked too. She would take in laundry for people or ironing. She did whatever she could do to bring in money. She worked in Nell Donnelly's store and even owned her own store, but that was later. Mom could squeeze a dollar out of a nickle, but getting the nickle took a lot of ingenuity. I don't remember Mom or Daddy standing in the bread lines, but they might have. Mom always had a pot of beans on the stove, and we ate our fill of jowl bacon.
I helped Mom around the house. Mom would let me scrub the floors or fold laundry. I'll never forget the time Mom had washed the quilts and hung them outside on the line to dry. I brought them inside, folded them and laid them too close to the fire. They went up in a blaze, and Mom screamed and cried, "Reba's burning up. Reba's going to die." I didn't die, of course, because when I saw them burning, I ran outside and down the street. Needless to say, after Daddy put the fire out, he was waiting for me when I came home. Oh, I'll never forget that spanking, and I never made that mistake again.
Christmases weren't like they are today. There was no money, so we would get pennies from Daddy to buy Mom candy, and we'd get pennies from Mom to buy something for Daddy, usually a railroad handkerchief. I remember one Christmas, Buddy got a harmonica and I got paper dolls. Well, Buddy and I got into a fight, and I threw his harmonica into the fire. He just stood there and looked at me. He didn't say word, but I felt so bad about it, that I picked up my paper dolls and threw them into the fire too. Buddy finally said, "Now that was stupid." Yes, it was, and I never got over it.
The Earls lived next door to us. Mr. Earls worked for Baldwin Piano Company in Cincinnati. Baldwin Piano didn't lay anyone off during the depression. They cut hours way back, but they stood by their employees. Anyway, whenever the Earls kids got candy, they always gave us some. Mr. Earls would say, "One for Margaret, one for Millie, one for Buddy and one for Rebie." Whenever they got to go to the movies, they'd take Buddy and me also. We took many a supper in the Earls' home, and they were like family to us.
That's the thing most people today probably can't understand. We live in subdivisions now where children go home and play video games. Back then, we played on the streets. We knew our neighbors and people in the community looked after one another. We depended on one another. We had to because the times would have been unbearable without friends. Everyone was poor, but everyone was proud. We were scarred for life by the poverty, but we all survived.
Reba Webb Goff
February 10, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I'm not 100% certain about the ladies in this picture. You see, the problem is that all the Webb girls looked a great deal alike. I think this is Laura Webb Kittrell and Bertha Webb Buchanan. It is taken at the old home place in Glenmary, Scott County, TN.
I'm guessing it was taken around 1920. The Webbs made all their own clothes, and by the looks of this photograph, the hemlines had started coming up from the ground. I never knew Aunt Laura, and I met Aunt Bertha only once when I was very young.
Legend has it that Aunt Bertha moved her family to Illinois in the 1950s. Apparently, there was some dispute between her husband, Fred Buchanan, and Annie's husband, Doc Beatty, that resulted in Mr. Buchanan being shot by Uncle Doc. I'm told Uncle Doc wasn't one to mess with; He apparently had the law and the southern powers on his side. There is absolutely nothing to prove nor disprove this story, but it's the kind of legend that adds seasoning to one's family history.
I know that Aunt Laura died in the mid-1940s, but I'm not sure when Aunt Bertha died. I know she was still living when Aunt Lucy died in 1978. My mother was the executor of Aunt Lucy's estate, and there was supposedly bad feelings about that. C'est la vie.
Friday, February 6, 2009
This a picture of Lucy Webb (on the right with the bow in her hair) and Martha Webb. Lucy appears to be about 12 here, which would make the date of the picture, about 1915, or thereabouts. It is the only known picture that I have in my collection of Aunt Martha, who died in the mid-1930s.
Martha was born in Glenmary, Tennessee, to my great-grandparents, John "Spoony" Webb and Sarah Hamby Webb, in 1889. Martha was the first daughter and the third child. She married Clarence Hurt, and they had three children, Homer, Eunice and Sarah. Martha was named after John's mother.
Martha died of cancer. Her daughter, Eunice, died shortly thereafter, in the early 1940s, leaving one daughter, Joyce.
Martha is interred in the Webb Cemetery, Glenmary, Scott County, Tennessee.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
This is the last known picture taken of Belle Dodson Grimes McCloud Cole. Belle was born in 1889 and died in 1986. I remember taking this picture, and I think the year was 1980.
Pictured from left to right are Lena Grimes, Lonnie Grimes, Belle, Hubert McCloud and Virgie Belle Grimes Webb. Uncle Lonnie died in 1993. I am not certain of when Uncle Hubert died. Grandma Virgie died in 1996, and Aunt Lena died in 2008.
Monday, February 2, 2009
I love this picture of Grandma Virgie. She is holding my mother, Reba, and my Uncle Buddy. It was taken in the cornfield of the old home place in Glenmary, Tennessee. Buddy was born in March, 1931, and he looks to be under six months old here, dating this photograph to the same year. Grandma would have been 21.
I love the handmade dress and her ankle-strapped shoes. Grandma was always so beautiful to me. She didn't have a gray hair until she was 80, but that isn't a gene I inherited from her.
Grandma hated the winter time and would have hated the ice storm that recently blanketed Kentucky.
Virgie Belle Grimes Webb, b. June 2, 1910, d. Dec. 6, 1997
Sunday, February 1, 2009
John "Spoony" Webb & Sarah Hamby Webb
Grandma & Grandpa Webb
It was cold in Ludlow, Kentucky that winter, 1937. There really wasn't much anybody could afford to do. Every morning, Pop had paid a penny each day for six years to walk across the railroad bridge that spanned the Ohio River. Stepping onto the shores of Cincinnati, he searched for work. The days were long, and Pop did whatever he could to earn money. He swept floors, carried ice, hauled lard, whatever anybody was willing to pay him to do, he did.
Then the floods came. We lived up on Linden Street, so we didn't have flood water in our house, but so many of our friends did. Then Grandma Webb took sick. She came down with pneumonia and died that year. Grandma and Grandpa had moved up here from Tennessee, but there was never a question about where either of them would be buried when it was their time to go. So we boarded a 'troops' train' that carried troops going off to the military. Grandma's casket was in the baggage car bound for Glenmary, Tennessee.
It was cold and snowing, and there wasn't anyway were were going to get Grandma to the Webb Cemetery if we took her to Webb Mountain to be laid out in the parlor of the old home place. A lady in Glenmary let us lay her out in her home at the foot of the hill. I wish I could remember who she was. It was custom that when someone was laid out in the home, someone had to stay with the body at all times; so mom and I stayed up watching Grandma sleep all night.
The next day we had Grandma's funeral. The roads were bad and the undertaker said we couldn't get a hearse up the hill. Uncle Doc, Uncle Jim, Homer and Pop spent the night digging Grandma's grave. I'll never know how they were able to do it with the snow coming down. When Pop came inside the house, his hands were red and nearly frozen. Mom ran warm water over them and applied lineament to ward off frostbite.
The undertaker had the men load Grandma's casket onto a flat wagon, and a mule hauled her body up the hill to Webb's Cemetery. The family walked behind the wagon all the way up the hill. I remember being so scared that Grandma was going to slide off the wagon. The snow was merciless, and the mountain seemed so steep. When they went to lower Grandma's casket into the grave, Uncle Doc fell in! Buddy started to laugh, and Mom reached down and yanked him back to silence. I started crying because I thought Uncle Doc was going with Grandma, and it was bad enough losing her.
After the funeral, we did go up to the Webb farm. Uncle Doc and Aunt Annie were living there then. I remember Aunt Annie made pallets on the living room floor in front of the fireplace for Buddy and me. After everyone had gone to sleep, Aunt Annie came walking through the room, and Buddy reached out and grabbed her ankle. Aunt Annie screamed and woke up everyone in the house. Buddy got his bottom smacked, but Aunt Annie was so timid. It really didn't take anything to scare her out of her wits. She was very kind and gentle.
When we all came back to Ludlow after Grandma's funeral, it was still cold, and we were still poor. The thing was, everybody was poor. Nobody had any "extra" money. Grandpa Webb went back to his house, which was right across from the Baptist Church. Grandma and Grandpa always went to church. Grandpa never went out of the house that he didn't have on a nice pair of pants with good shoes and nice shirt. He nearly always wore a jacket, and he used a cane and sometimes wore a hat. He was a very dignified man, and people probably thought he was better off than he actually was based on how he dressed.
I remember later in the summertime, one time Buddy and I were playing with our friends in the street. I don't even remember what we were playing, but Grandpa came walking down the street. He hollered, "Rebie, come over here. I want to see my grand baby."
Buddy ran over to him, but I was too busy. At first I ignored him. Then I finally, said, "Grandpa, I'm playing." He talked a little bit to Buddy and then he went on back home, and I watched him walk into the house and close the screen door. I've never forgotten that, and I've always felt guilty about it. All he wanted was to see his grandbaby, and I acted terrible to him. I just wanted to play. He never said anything else about it. Buddy and I never talked about it. I was a kid, and kids can be mean. We don't know when we're seven what we'll regret when we're 80.
Grandpa died in 1941. We took him back to Tennessee on a train too. It was nearly a repeat of Grandma's funeral, but we laid Grandpa out in the Webb house; however, we did carry him to the cemetery on a mule-pulled wagon. Mom, Aunt Lucy, Aunt Annie, Sarah, Joyce and I stayed up with the body all night, while the same men who dug Grandma's grave dug Grandpa's. Things were very different then, very different.
Written by Reba Webb Goff
February 1, 2009