Tag Archives: grandma

2 tablespoons floor

26 Nov

There are some Thanksgiving-related traditions that I just don’t understand. The main one: Putting food inside the turkey to cook it. Turducken? Why? Turbaconducken? Why? Even in-the-bird stuffing — why? (I’m one of those people who doesn’t really like her food to touch on her plate, either.)

Other Thanksgiving traditions I do not like:

  • Bickering among family.
  • Deboning the bird. My mother insists that my high school and college experience working at Kentucky Fried Chicken makes me the perfect candidate for this. She is wrong.

But there are Thanksgiving traditions that I do like. Usually the food. Another blogger was looking for turkey day recipes; here’s one of my favorites for corn pudding. I’m not sure where the recipe really came from, but the copy my mother has was written out several years ago by my grandmother. The recipe calls for flour; after my grandmother wrote it, it called for floor. Every year we joke about scraping up 2 tablespoons of floor.

Corn pudding

  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons floor (flour can be substituted)
  • 1/2 pound cheese spread
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Throw everything together, mix it up and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Or microwave it, which is what I usually do. I usually throw in some onion and green pepper too. Sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top if you’re feeling fancy.

Step away from the yarn

1 Nov

Cooler weather means two things: It’s time to make a pot of chili (done) and get crafty.

I crochet. Or I used to; I haven’t made anything for a few years. I’ve already finished a blanket I started a couple of years ago, and started another.

It’s something of a family tradition, I suppose, although I taught myself how to do it. I have a blanket that my grandmother made for me when I was little. A blanket that my mother made. A few that I have made. When you’ve found the rhythm of a pattern, it can be quite relaxing. (When you haven’t, or when you find out you made a mistake two rows ago that’s throwing off the current count, then it’s frustrating.) It’s also a good way to kill time. I’ve worked on blankets while waiting on an oil change. While talking on the phone. While waiting for friends.

The problem, though, is that crocheting is a combat sport. Bear likes to play with the yarn — but only the yarn that I’m working with. My right arm looks like I was fighting a first-grader armed with scissors.

The family mansion

30 Aug

I’m visiting the family mansion tomorrow.

We didn’t know there was a family mansion. I heard about a Civil War re-enactment (I forgot to warn you about the huge nerdiness that this post will include — sorry about that) and looked it up online. Lo and behold, the re-enactment takes place at Hazel Dell in Jerseyville, Ill. Home to the Fulkerson mansion.

My grandmother’s maiden name was Fulkerson. Lt. Col. William Fulkerson is my first cousin, four times removed, built a mansion. (The “four times removed” things indicates how many generations separate us. Fulkerson died Dec. 3, 1919.)

William Fulkerson started out at West Point; Gen. Robert E. Lee was one of his instructors. He joined the “regular” Army and headed west for the “Mormon Rebellion.” He took a job with a freight company, which brought him back to Missouri. He was a Pony Express rider. He stayed West — what’s now Montana and Wyoming — to survey land. When the Civil War started, he returned home to Tennessee, helped build a militia unit and was appointed captain. The unit became part of the 63rd Tennessee Infantry Regiment, Confederate Army, and Fulkerson was promoted to major. (Fulkerson had brothers, nephews and cousins who fought on both sides of the war.) Fulkerson’s company joined with Lee in 1864, and Fulkerson was promoted to lieutenant colonel. His unit also was with Lee when they surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in 1865.

After the war, Fulkerson and his wife, Cornelia, moved to Jerseyville — to 320 acres that was owned by Cornelia’s father and deeded to the Fulkersons. They built a farm (and brick 14-room house) and named it Hazel Dell.

And that’s where I’m going tomorrow.

A trip to Texas, 1946

14 May

I’ve been working on a family history project, scanning photos, letters and postcards that we found in the basement of my grandmother’s house.

Most recently, I discovered a bundle of postcards and letters my grandmother, Celia Fulkerson, sent home to her parents in 1946 while on a trip from Missouri to Texas with her friend Dorothy Hogg and my grandfather, Grimes Spillman, whom she would marry two years later. I had letters Grandma sent to her parents from De Queen, Ark., and Houston; a postcard she sent to her brother from Lufkin, Texas, another sent to her parents from Houston; and the ticket from her flight home (only $41.11!).

I knew a few things from the letters, but didn’t know why they were taking the trip. Granddad filled in me on that tonight:

Celia and I were married on Dec. 13th 1948. The Texas trip was in 1946. I was in the Merchant Marines and was not assigned duty like the other services. I could go to any port and sign on to a ship. I always chose to sail tankers and saw a lot of the world. The “Russell” mentioned was Russell Bate a high school friend of mine. We joined together. Russell now lives in Chillicothe, Mo. I shipped from Long Beach CA. and New York City but usually from Houston or Galveston Texas. One day I was sitting in a shipping center in Galveston waiting for a ship to be posted that I thought I would like and looked across the room and there sat Calvin Porter from Trenton who I had met in Mo. a few times. We sailed together that trip to Casa Blanca North Africa and became hard and fast friends. Once Calvin, Russell and I all went to New York together to ship out but Russell and I shipped out on different ships and Calvin joined the Paratroopers.

The trip to Texas was when I was going back to ship out. I Bought a Mercury Convertible (I think a 1941 ) to drive to Texas with the intention of selling it there. Celia and her good friend “Dorothy Hogg” (Dot) went along and flew back. I traded the Mercury for a motorcycle and stored the motorcycle until I returned from the trip. Then brought the motorcycle back to Missouri. That trip was a load of Naphtha to Bremerhaven Germany.

Family trivia: Granddad has more names than I can keep up with. His kids never called my him “Dad.” Grandma always called him “Honey,” and my mother, the oldest of three, started calling him Honeyboy — because, well, he was a boy called Honey. It stuck. For years, I thought that was his name. My brother, sister and I have always called him Granddad — Grandpa was my father’s father, although he died in 1982. Granddad’s full name: Woodford Grimes Spillman. He’s gone by his middle name (his mother’s maiden name) since he was a baby; in the past few years he started going by Woody.

More family squabbling

30 Apr

Over the weekend, I went with my mother back to north central Missouri to go through more stuff in my grandmother’s house. (This time, no word of warning about gun-cleaning at the hotel. But someone had pulled the battery out and very carefully propped it on top of the smoke detector.)

On Saturday, they decided to split up the rest of the jewelry — grandma’s wedding rings and a dinner ring, a pair of diamond earrings, a necklace and a few other pieces that, monetarily, weren’t worth a lot. The three — my mother, her sister and her brother — drew numbers to see who would pick first. The order: Sherry, Terry, Mom. (For the record, her name is Barbara. I don’t know why my grandparents got on that rhyming thing for the other two.) If Sherry could have, she would have danced with joy at being No. 1; she’d complained several times that she’d had to pick last before.

So they went through the jewelry.

One of the odd moments of the day: Terry asked his sisters if they would give his wife, Cindy, a cameo ring that was among the jewelry. Cindy likes cameos, and often went to my grandmother’s to help her with things. It was a nice gesture. My mother had no problem with it; Sherry said no, but wouldn’t say why. (I should point out that this is a ring that has not been worn for years.) Finally Sherry said she wanted to give it to my sister, Monica.

What? First, this whole process has nothing to do with the grandkids, which has been made very clear. Second, Sherry was not worried about saving anything for my brother — why just Monica? I didn’t understand it. Mom didn’t understand it. Terry didn’t understand it. Sherry was not willing to share any insight. (I haven’t asked Monica about it.) Sherry finally agreed Cindy could have the ring, but wouldn’t actually give it to her.

On Sunday they actually made progress cleaning out some of the things in the house — but not much. Sherry went through the closets in Grandma’s room, Mom and I hit the basement, and Terry ran back and forth between the two. The basement is full of … stuff. There’s no better word. It’s dark, dirty, moldy and has the distinct basement smell.

There were three trunks in the basement. Two belonged to my grandfather’s relatives; the third was Grandma’s. There were mold-covered photos, letters, baby clothes, my grandfather’s Merchant Marine uniform, baseball cards and books. The photos and letters were boxed, bagged and put in my car. The goal is to de-mold, de-toxify and scan them all in before the kids split them, like I did with the last batch of family photos.

Two big finds that I know of so far: Among the baseball cards, all from 1929, is a Babe Ruth card. And very old love letters to my grandmother …