I want to do something a little different this month. I have become friends with an author who lives in Arizona. David Lincoln Jones was born in Granby just over 80 years ago and grew up in Neosho. He is retired and now lives in Arizona. He published his first book in 2012 titled High Grade. It is a fiction that is based on many true stories passed down in his family.
Last fall when an old home on south Main Street here in Granby burned down I sent him the information about it, as I knew it had once belonged to his aunt and he still has relatives living in the area. As a result it prompted him to write this story of himself and things he remembered about this house and his Aunt Mary. I hope you will enjoy his story as much as I did.
I do want to mention that he has given me his permission to print this short story. Also I would like to mention that I still have a couple copies of High Grade here in the book store and that he is wrapping up the sequel to this story. I am anxious to get my copy and will order a few to sell also.
Since the story is rather long, you might want to save your paper as I will be having it printed in 3 installments. Here is number one:
You Can’t Sleep with Aunt Mary Anymore
The century old home of my Grandmother in Granby burned to the ground last week. Following her death and that of my Aunt Mary, it was in a state of disrepair and in the process of being remodeled when the fire started. The volunteer fire department of Granby, unable to control the blaze, received help from the fire departments of the nearby towns of Neosho and Diamond. Their efforts were to prevent damage to neighboring homes. The burning of that home has sparked many memories.
Six sons and a daughter were raised in that home by my Grandmother, a widow. The daughter remained unmarried and stayed at home to care for her mother There were frequents visits by all in the family to that home. It figured prominently in my early years.
The late 1930’s were a peaceful, quiet time in Neosho, Missouri, located in the southwest part of the state—especially if you were five years old, like me. I knew nothing of the Great Depression, which was coming to an end, or the looming clouds of war on the horizon. My main concern in life was crossing the street to play with a friend.
On December 7, 1941, all the family gathered in that home to listen to the news reports on the event that President Roosevelt later referred to as “a day in infamy.”
One of the great joys of my young life was staying for a few days in that home with my Grandmother
and Aunt Mary. I was doted upon by both.
A half a block from their house was a small grocery store. Aunt Mary would give me some change and watch me to walk to that store. A small note pad, its red cover embossed with the profile of an Indian Chief, cost a nickel. A dime purchased a quarter pound of orange slices, my favorite candy. It was a heady experience to spend that much money just for me. I would fill one of those pads with drawings ons on each visit.
Mama Jones had been a widow since about 1915. She'd moved to the current home following the death of her husband. It was said to be the first two story home built in Granby. There were two bedrooms down stairs, and one huge room upstairs. The six boys shared the upstairs room. The house had no inside plumbing. I was entrusted with the chore of getting the water for drinking and cooking. The water pump was outside, just a few steps off the back porch. I'd hook the pail over the spigot and with several strong pumps produce a flow of water.
Even more exciting was using the outhouse. With no running water in the house, the bathroom was a small building set out on the far edge of the property. At night, before retiring, Aunt Mary would take me in hand and with a kerosene lantern lighting the way we'd wend our way past the weed filled garden to the little house out back. Inside the building was a platform with an oval hole to accommodate one's backside. There was a shelf on which the lantern was rested. It also held an old Sears-Roebuck catalog that provide reading material and paper for cleaning. There was not need to flush when through. At night the light of the lantern shone up through a spider's web and projected on the ceiling, an image of a larger than life spider. One night I witnessed a battle between the spider and a moth—a battle of magnificent proportions.
Upon the return to the house I was ready for the best part of the visit—going to bed with Aunt Mary. We slept in a feather bed, covered by a down comforter. It was cozy and quickly warm, snuggling into the deepness of the mattress. Aunt Mary would tell me stories until I fell asleep.
Next month Installment 2