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01 October 2012

New Series - Pitter-Pat Stories

I'm starting a new series here in honor of the amazing people who have made me who I am. My grandmother recently had a series of strokes. She's getting better, but her mobility in her legs and arm is still greatly reduced. Thankfully the stroke hasn't affected her personality or mind, and she's the same troublemaker that she's always been. Her only surviving sister and life-long best friend, my Aunt Gladys, is suffering from dementia. Both women, despite the cards that life has dealt them, are inspiring and amazing. These two women led fascinating lives and have come through it all no worse for the wear. A touch of dementia and a couple of strokes can't hold them down.

The Troublesome Two-some.
Aunt Gladys on the left, Gram on the right. 
Years ago, Gram and her sister, Prudy (short for Prudence), recorded their life stories on paper for their children and grandchildren to enjoy. When I happened upon them, I instantly wanted to share them here. But Mom told me I couldn't. After Gram's stroke, I convinced her to let me share her life. It's fascinating. And it reminds us of a different world that existed not-so-long ago. 

Aunt Gladys will be 80 soon, and Gram is 82. No one in their family has ever lived past 80, so this a huge milestone. Two years ago, all the family (and I mean ALL ... like 100+ people) got together for a hike to celebrate Gram's 80th. This year, in honor of Aunt Glady's 80th, we're doing the same thing all over again this coming weekend. So now is the perfect time to start sharing their stories. 

This first installment of their story, which I'm calling Pitter-Pat Stories, was written by Prudy. She originally wrote the story about a character named "Sally Ann," but we all know that "Sally Ann" is actually Prudy. 

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Sally Ann sat in her favorite spot, the chimney comer behind the big black cook stove in the kitchen. Although the living room door was right beside her, she could not hear what was really going on behind it or what was being discussed. The doctor, and her father, and the old man, "old Dutch", were all in there with Mother. She could not recall when her mother had ever been so sick as she had been these last two weeks. This was the second doctor who had been to the house. Mother was not getting better and Dad had shut down the mill to be around the house and take care of her. 

She remembered it had been Mother's cherished dream to move out of the overcrowded home in 
which her ten children were born and into the big house on the hill. They had owned the house 
for two years and had repainted and scrubbed it. Dad and the children had labored one spring to 
clean up the lot. Dad scythed and cut and trimmed and the children dragged brush to be piled 
into three huge bonfires. 

It had been March when the family moved in. It was indeed "luxury living" as space went. A 
large center stairway led up to sleeping rooms and a large play room. There was a double door 
parlor and a large guest room, pantry and "clothes press", separate dining room and living room 
down stairs. No one was crowded and Mom and Dad lived there in real happiness for two years. 
Mom felt that she had received the reward long due her for the twenty odd years of poverty and 
drudgery she had put in. Ten children had been born to them in the little house. One had been 
stillborn. Dad had been born there and he had buried his parents from there. Now their oldest 
daughter had married, the oldest son was living independently, and the move to the big house 
had been accomplished nearly two years ago. 

Dad was sawing lumber - a neighborhood job that lasted two years or more. He stayed at 
"camp," a hut at the mill, during school days when they were working hard. Dad usually had 
one man and often a second man or one of the boys helping when he was busiest. He owned the 
mill, run by steam engine power, and a horse used for skidding logs and general purposes. 

The "old grey mare" could skid logs, pull farm machines, or anything she was needed for. She would let the children ride her bareback and she was careful whenever hitched to the "dog cart" or the buggy. We used to use her for the "London Bridge" as we would sing and duck through under her belly and out the other side. She floundered and fought her way through the snow drifts hauling Mom and the little ones in the cutter to the one-room school for the Christmas "exercises" and party. 

The winter of 1938 was just as cold as any other year that the Hotaling fiunily had spent on that hill. The snow was just as deep and getting about in it was usually the main effort for that day. This Friday, the 25th of February, was no exception. 
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