Being a middle child, #7 of 14

by Kim on September 14, 2009

My grandparents after they were first married. My grandfather first row on the left, my grandmother in the second row, second from left.

My grandparents after they were first married. My grandfather first row on the left, my grandmother in the second row, second from left.

My grandmother on my father’s side had her first child at age 15, a boy said to have weighed 13 plus pounds. After, her doctor told her she would not have any more children. I guess he didn’t exactly know what he was talking about, since she had 13 more.

My grandfather married my grandmother when she was 14 and he was 39. I hesitate to tell people that because¬† it would surely be labeled child molestation now. But in 1912, there were no classifications of the kind. My grandfather had been married before and had a son who had disabilities. My grandmother was hired to care for him when he and his first wife divorced. My grandmother was put out of her house when her mother died and her father remarried. It made sense for my grandmother to marry my grandfather. There were no orphanages and she didn’t have a home. And he needed a caretaker for his child.

My grandmother was a remarkable woman. She took in ironing and boarders (where did she put them with so many children?), as well as helped with the farm and raised all those children. I have a photo of the clothesline at my grandmother’s house. I can’t even imagine what her daily laundry load was or when she had time to do it. She worked well after all of her children were grown, since her husband was ill for many years. He died at the age of 92 when I was 6 years old. I remember going to visit him and sitting on his hospital bed. He frightened me then.

My father's entire family. My father is in the second row, third from the left.

My father's entire family. My father is in the second row, third from the left.

My father was born on February 2, 1922. He was so proud to be a 02-02-22 baby. He also liked that his birthday was on ground hog’s day. He didn’t have much supervision when he was very young except from his older sisters. He told many stories of his mischievous deeds. His childhood was short though. He started working on area farms during the Depression. He was a strong teenager and worked from daylight to sundown, and brought all the money home to his family.¬† My father was the family jokester, a trait that persisted until the day he died. He needed attention, like most people need water. He simply couldn’t thrive without it. He joined the army during WWII and served for 4 years. He earned a Purple Heart while there. He was injured 3 different times, once requiring a 9-month hospital stay. Fortunately for him, he had 3 other brothers in the European front at the time who could visit him in France while hospitalized.

25 of my 50 first cousins with my Grandmother and Grandfather. I am standing to the left of my grandmother.

25 of my 50 first cousins with my Grandmother and Grandfather. I am standing to the left of my grandmother.

There were so many people on my father’s side that they couldn’t all fit in one household. My grandmother found a park and started a tradition of the annual family reunion. This was great fun when I was a kid, since I had 50 first cousins close to my age. I have pictures of my father holding me at the reunion. He loved that I had red hair and would carry me around when I was a baby during the reunion, unless there was a horseshoe pitching contest going on. There were as many as 300 relatives at these reunions and they still continue to this day, even though all but 2 from my father’s generation are gone. They just had the 60th family reunion. Pie, potato salad and family communion like you can’t imagine.

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