Grandma Lakey (Ella Gertrude (Parsons) Lakey) is definitely the oldest person I remember being around when I was growing up. Born January 29, 1879 near Atlanta, Georgia, she was almost 86 years old when I was born, she was the only grandmother I got to spend any significant time around in my early years. I have a number of distinct memories about Grandma. She was certainly a God fearing woman. She loved to listen to her preachers on the radio. I don’t personally remember her ever attending church, but she would listen to radio preachers pretty much every day of her life from the time she woke up in the morning until she went to bed at night. In the daytime it was mostly preachers who were carried on local radio stations, then at night they would swich radios and pick up some of the big powerhouse stations on the AM dial, not sure exactly where they were coming from, but I believe some of them came out of Texas. and they were on until she got ready for bed, usually a little before midnight. As she got older she became more and more hard of hearing, and the volume on the radios would have to be turned up so loud you could hear pretty much every word being said out in the yard and at the nearby houses. Of course in the summer all of the windows were open because that house never had any kind of air conditioning. Fortunately, she lived “out in the country” and all of the nearby houses were occupied by relatives/decedents that were understanding.
Grandma’s house was on the corner of what is now called Hasbrook road (CR-333) and “Hester Lane.” It was a three room house (you read that right, three room NOT three bedroom) with a tin roof when I was growning up. From my studies, apparently in the past it had a wooden shake roof. The house did not have a solid foundation, instead it sat up on various rocks and chunks of wood. This might sound like it was a rickety old house, but nothing could be further from the truth. That house has been standing on that same foundation since before 1900 and here it is 2011 and it is still standing 110 years later. The ceilings in this house were were high, I am thinking at least 10-12 feet tall at least. There was a kitchen, a living room with a bed in it, and Grandma’s bedroom on the South side. There were four doors leading outside of the house with a tall porch outside every entrance. Actually two of the doors both led to the front porch which ran the full westerly side of the house. Both the door from the living room and the door from Grandma’s bedroom both led to this porch. Then there was a North and South door off of the kitchen. A number of details I remember about the house was the quilting rack than hang from the ceiling in the living room. Grandma was big into quilting in her earlier days and so were the daughters. In the early days the quilt tops were all sewn by hand. There was a central flue that went up the center of the house and there was a wood heating stove in the living room and grandma’s bedroom that tied into this flue, and there was a wooden cook stove in the kitchen that tied into it. The one little characteristic I remember most about that flue was the secret hiding place in it. The flue did not go all the way to the ground, it had a wooden frame that supported it from the ground up to about 6 or 8 feet, then bricks the rest of the way up. Well, I didn’t learn about the hiding spot until I was quite a bit older, probably after grandma had passed away in 1977, but one of the slats that covered the wooden frame could be slid back and it revealed a compartment inside the frame where documents or whatever could be hidden.
Another thing I remember from the early days of being around this house was the cistern on the north side of the house. You see, there was no running water in this house until about 1971-2. There were gutters running all around the house that collected water and carried the water to the cistern outside of Grandma’s window. Then there was an A-frame over the cistern that had a pulley where you would lower a bucket down to get the water. I don’t distinctly remember this, but I am told by cousin Lavon that you had to be really careful when you were lowering the bucket down into the water to keep from stirring up the dirt and debris from the cistern. There was basically a screen door over the cistern that would allow the water to flow down into the cistern but tried to prevent the bugs and leaves and larger debris from falling down into it. Of course, small critters like mosquitoes could always get down in there and they did and of course layed eggs which hatched into mosquito larvae. So sometimes you would have to deal with little squiggly critters in your water, but I really don’t remember this too much.
Some more about Grandma, not sure how old she was, probably in the mid to late 60’s she had fallen and broken her hip, so all the years I knew her she had used a walking stick to get around. Now we aren’t talking about one of those fancy walking sticks that are so common now. For her a walking stick was a wooden mop handle that the mop had been taken off of. I remember many a times her using the walking stick going down to the storm cellar with Aunt Jewell and spending the night down there. But that will be a story for another time. She was afraid of storms, but I don’t believe she was anywhere near as afraid of them as Aunt Jewell.
As a general rule, Grandma was a very quiet spoken person who rarely raised her voice unless one of her daughters (Aunt Emma in particular) was yelling at her. As she got older her eyesight wasn’t that good and I remember people having to read her mail to her. She was fairly sharp witted on up into her later years, especially for someone that rarely left the house other than to go spend the night in a “cave.”
She was a constant snuff dipper, and most of the time would have a little dab of snuff juice dribbling out the corner of her mouth. Of course her kids (that didn’t dip themselves) and grand-kids were always trying to convince her to quit, but just like trying to get a smoker to stop, until they decide to quit themselves it wasn’t going to do any good.
Grandma died in her home on October 15, 1977 at the well lived age of 98 and a half years. There are so many questions I would like to have asked her, but will never have a chance now. In a later post I will talk about some of the interesting history and her early years before I came along.