Grandma Mellie's Scrapbook
Copyright © 2001, Michael S. Cole, M.D.

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Grandmother's Apron

    The poem about "Mamma's Apron," by Osie Graves, appearing in the "Over The Ozarks" column, reminded me of my grandmother's apron. She always wore an apron. For Sunday she had a white apron, trimmed in lace or embroidery.
    Her aprons were gathered on a band with long tie-strings. They were long and came to the hem of her dresses. She used her apron to pick up chips and to gather vegetables from the garden; also, to gather eggs.
    My grandmother seemed old to me at 40; however, she was active until her death at 70. She smoked a clay pipe. Sometimes she would have me light her pipe with a coal from the fireplace. She grew her own tobacco. We didn't think anything about older women smoking, as many did.
    She was left a widow with four children. She had 160 acres of land. My grandfather, at one time, had many, many acres of land. He had disposed of all but the 160. We often wondered what he did with the money as there were no banks in the locality at that time. My grandfather was a Cherokee Indian. He came here with his father from Tennessee. He grew up and married a white woman, my grandmother.
    After grandfather's death, about 1880, a judge came and told my grandma that he could get her land in Oklahoma. She told him she had all the land she could farm. With the help of her two sons, they made a good living on it.
    The story of my grandmother's life would have made an interesting book. How I wish I had recorded the stories she related! She said when the Civil War broke out, her father took his family to Springfield for protection. Some of her people lived in Johnson and Newton Counties, Arkansas, and a history of Newton County mentions some of the Cowan men killed in action.
    Referring back to my grandmother's farm, on one 40 [acres] there was an old house in a wooded area. Grandma said it was there when she married. We found pieces of beautiful china around, and noticed that some fresh holes had been dug.
    My cousin and I investigated. We found some queer markings on some of the trees. No one ever knew who came and dug those holes. My cousin and I were very imaginative girls, and pictured a pot of money had been found.
    My son owns part of grandma's old home place. He has built a beautiful home there. It is just a mile from my home. I oftentimes think of the happy times of my childhood.
    I remember that grandma had a dialect we thought was amusing. When someone asked as to her health, she would say, "I'm feeling a little grain better." She used the word hope for help, tote for carry, and poke for a sack.
    When she wrote a letter, which was seldom, she would write, "I take my pen in hand, and seat myself to write you a letter, hoping these few lines will find you well," and so on. She obtained what learning she had from an old blue-back speller. She was a very gracious lady, and always saw to it that we children minded our manners. She always said, "Yes Ma'am" and "Yes Sir" and "No Sir" to her elders.

Mellie Peery
September 8, 1964

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