We all get two of them. Some of us are lucky enough to really get to share our lives with them. I am one of the lucky ones. My parents never strayed far from home, so I was lucky enough to grow up in the same town as both of my Grandmothers. We all lived in Beaumont, Texas and my relationship with them spanned the 1950’s through the 1990’s. Now I rarely would have defined Beaumont and “Lucky” in the same sentence. There were a lot of reasons I chose to stray myself. I remain grateful for the opportunities I have had since leaving so long ago, but there are a few regrets-all involving family ties.
I’ve shared before about NanNaw Zell-that beloved lady who influenced some good onto this rowdy spirit of mine.
But “Lucky” I am. My paternal Grandmother Granny Nannie-was also important to me. I had the esteemed position of ‘oldest’ grandchild, even though there were older cousins far away in California. Their father had strayed. I get it.
Her real name is Nannie Griggs. She grew up in deep East Texas (Newton County). Her family started in Texas before it was really Texas. They had a land grant of some sort comprising 8000 acres, and 40 acres of that original plat is still in the family. They had the grist mill, the saw mill, and all else required for taming the wilds of the Texas woods.
Nannie left the farm for the city. I never knew my real Grandfather, only her second husband. Nannie was an accomplished seamstress. This she passed to me. The summer before 6th grade, I made my entire wardrobe!! I don’t sew at all anymore. Shame on me. She worked in town at Shepherd’s Laundry where she embroidered name badges and sewed uniforms. It would be classified as a sweat shop by today’s standards, I am sure. I recall this building just as I found it in October 2011. When she worked there we would sometimes pick her up from work. All of these windows would be open and no air conditioning. It is a really hot place, not to mention machinery and steam presses working. I never recall her complaining. She also ‘took in’ sewing for others. She crocheted and tatted too. And she always had her little vegetable garden patch too. Just goes to prove you can’t take the country out of the girl I guess. She also dipped snuff. I recall her being able to hit her little spit can from across the room, and never miss! She enjoyed a little nip in her egg nog at Christmas. I wish I had known more of her stories. She was no push over, be assured. She lived a hard enough life, but much easier than some of her counterparts of the times. Another strong Texas woman of pioneer stock who knew how to work hard and how to survive and how to be a part of the family. For all of this, I thank her.