What the Heck! Old People Don’t Get Married!

Wuppin' Mama0006Cousin Katie got married!  What the heck!  Old people don’t married. An old man and his old, old grouchy mama came to visit.   I was only four in 1932 and got this news, like most of life’s important information, from my favorite eavesdropping post under the table. I pretended to play with my paper dolls as Mama and Katie drank coffee and learned Katie and Johnny were moving to South Dakota. “Glenn makes a hunnerd dollars a month as an engineer for the city. He’s John’s first cousin and we been writin’ since just after John died o’ TB, but o’ course, I could ‘n marry ‘n leave Aunt Ellie. His mama ain’t none too happy, but she can just move in with her daughter if she don’t like it.”

‘How could they just move away?’  Cousin Katie and Johnny had always lived with Aunt Ellie right next to them. Katie was the best grown-up I knew, just a big little girl, full of fun, her blue eyes scrunched up from laughing, fat blonde braids wrapped around her head like a crown.  She always had time for a prank or a hug, never got the blues, and lots of times hid a fat, soft tea-cake back just for me.  ‘What would I do without Katie?’  Most of the time John and Cousin Johnny picked on me, but once in a while Cousin Johnny played with me when John took off with other boys and there was nobody else to play with.  Life was so sad.

Soon we waved “Goodbye.” to the new family pulling out early one morning headed for South Dakota, the happy couple with a picnic lunch between them in the front seat of Glenn’s ancient car. My heart was breaking as my dearest and best friend, Cousin Johnny, swung out a back window by one arm like a monkey, thrilled to be on his way to an exciting new life. A decidedly disgruntled Granny Grump was pressed against the other door with as much of Texas as could be stuffed between her and Johnny. The poor, over-packed automobile struggled under the weight of passengers and Katie’s household goods strapped on running boards and bulging out of the open trunk.  If they survived the trip, Katie wouldn’t be setting up house with all of Granny’s hand-me-downs!

Life goes on. “Well, we can’t stand around feeling sorry for ourselves all day.”  Mama headed for the house and Daddy turned toward the barn, leaving John and me to ourselves.  The two remaining musketeers studied each other somberly before dropping to our bottoms on the high bank overlooking the sandy road Cousin Johnny had just travelled.  One in our misery, we crossed our arms over our bony knees and bowed our tow heads in loss.  I had no way of knowing that with my straight blonde hair, bowed legs, and bare feet, I was a miniature of John, right down to my overalls, cut down and remade from those he had outgrown a few years earlier. I even slipped up and sniffled a time or two without John seeming to notice.  This might have gone on a while had Ol’ Greenie, Aunt Ellie’s hateful old cat not come by to rub on us, already suspicious of abandonment.  We’d long ago learned to hate her habit of snagging us with a claw when she caught in passing Aunt Ellie’s stove, so she garnered little sympathy.  Squirrels overhead chipped their protest at Ol’ Greenie as one eased gingerly down the tree trunk head first toward her, looking young enough to be naïve to the ways of cats. Playing with her, he backed up staying just out of her reach, encouraging her work her way up the trunk toward him.  Teasing her upward, he allowed her to approach him within a hairsbreadth. Ol’ Greenie had to be already tasting the yearling squirrel as he rushed her, knocking her backwards off the tree trunk.  She was stunned senseless as she hit the hard ground, dust rising around her. Hilarity interrupted the our grief as the cat staggered to her feet, shook her head, and took off like a streak under Aunt Ellie’s house.

Laughing till his stomach hurt, John slid down the sandy slope to the road below with me right behind. Sliding till we cut a trail in the bank, looping around racing back to the top to slide again over and over, not noticing Miz Wilson till she walked right up on us with her prissy little dog, Percy. Clearly disapproving of an unladylike little girl carousing in overalls, and ignoring John, she stared straight at my dirty bare feet, stubbed toes, and tousled hair, and pronounced judgment, “Kathleen, you’re going to wear out the seat of your overalls.”

“I don’t care.”  At my casual reply, John flew in the house to tattle on my sassiness, leaving me still unaware of the awful deed I had done.

“Kathleen Gordon Ree Holdaway!!!  You come here right now!!  Realizing I must have done something horrible, I dragged myself to my doom.

Cousin Katie got married! She was old! Old people didn’t married. An old man and his old, old grouchy mama came to visit.   I was only four in 1932 and, as usual got most of life’s important information from my favorite eavesdropping post under the table. I pretended to play with my paper dolls as Mama and Katie drank coffee and learned Katie and Johnny were moving to South Dakota. “Glenn makes a hunnerd dollars a month as an engineer for the city. He’s John’s first cousin and we been writin’ since just after John died o’ TB, but o’ course, I could ‘n marry ‘n leave Aunt Ellie. His mama ain’t none too happy, but she can just move in with her daughter if she don’t like it.”

‘How could they just move away?’  Cousin Katie and Johnny had always lived with Aunt Ellie right next to them. Katie was the best grown-up I knew, just a big little girl, full of fun, her blue eyes scrunched up from laughing, fat blonde braids wrapped around her head like a crown.  She always had time for a prank or a hug, never got the blues, and lots of times hid a fat, soft tea-cake back just for me.  ‘What would I do without Katie?’  Most of the time John and Cousin Johnny picked on me, but once in a while Cousin Johnny played with me when John took off with other boys and there was nobody else to play with.  Life was so sad.

Soon we waved “Goodbye.” to the new family pulling out early one morning headed for South Dakota, the happy couple with a picnic lunch between them in the front seat of Glenn’s ancient car. My heart was breaking as my dearest and best friend, Cousin Johnny, swung out a back window by one arm like a monkey, thrilled to be on his way to an exciting new life. A decidedly disgruntled Granny Grump was pressed against the other door with as much of Texas as could be stuffed between her and Johnny. The poor, over-packed automobile struggled under the weight of passengers and Katie’s household goods strapped on running boards and bulging out of the open trunk.  If they survived the trip, Katie wouldn’t be setting up house with all of Granny’s hand-me-downs!

Life goes on. “Well, we can’t stand around feeling sorry for ourselves all day.”  Mama headed for the house and Daddy turned toward the barn, leaving John and me to ourselves.  The two remaining musketeers studied each other somberly before dropping to our bottoms on the high bank overlooking the sandy road Cousin Johnny had just travelled.  One in our misery, we crossed our arms over our bony knees and bowed our tow heads in loss.  I had no way of knowing that with my straight blonde hair, bowed legs, and bare feet, I was a miniature of John, right down to my overalls, cut down and remade from those he had outgrown a few years earlier. I even slipped up and sniffled a time or two without John seeming to notice.  This might have gone on a while had Ol’ Greenie, Aunt Ellie’s hateful old cat not come by to rub on us, already suspicious of abandonment.  We’d long ago learned to hate her habit of snagging us with a claw when she caught in passing Aunt Ellie’s stove, so she garnered little sympathy.  Squirrels overhead chipped their protest at Ol’ Greenie as one eased gingerly down the tree trunk head first toward her, looking young enough to be naïve to the ways of cats. Playing with her, he backed up staying just out of her reach, encouraging her work her way up the trunk toward him.  Teasing her upward, he allowed her to approach him within a hairsbreadth. Ol’ Greenie had to be already tasting the yearling squirrel as he rushed her, knocking her backwards off the tree trunk.  She was stunned senseless as she hit the hard ground, dust rising around her. Hilarity interrupted the our grief as the cat staggered to her feet, shook her head, and took off like a streak under Aunt Ellie’s house.

Laughing till his stomach hurt, John slid down the sandy slope to the road below with me right behind. Sliding till we cut a trail in the bank, looping around racing back to the top to slide again over and over, not noticing Miz Wilson till she walked right up on us with her prissy little dog, Percy. Clearly disapproving of an unladylike little girl carousing in overalls, and ignoring John, she stared straight at my dirty bare feet, stubbed toes, and tousled hair, and pronounced judgment, “Kathleen, you’re going to wear out the seat of your overalls.”

“I don’t care.”  At my casual reply, John flew in the house to tattle on my sassiness, leaving me still unaware of the awful deed I had done.

“Kathleen Gordon Ree Holdaway!!!  You come here right now!!  Realizing I must have done something horrible, I dragged myself to my doom.

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38 thoughts on “What the Heck! Old People Don’t Get Married!

  1. I love your story!!! I feel like I’m reading what I’m trying to achieve on my blog!! Great stuff is right..you’re an inspiration for me to continue on…thanks for following my blog also, I hope you like my stories from 1967 until…we’ll see 😉 God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  2. Another winner from my favorite story-teller, and I laughed twice as hard because I also got two copies, which was just fine with me. Did I ever tell you my father was sort of the village story-teller, so your tales bring back a lot of memories. Read you later.

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    • Thanks. Will you be telling his stories, I hope? That’s how it goes forward. Some of mine can be traced directly at least from my great-grandfather who was born in 1837, was a Texas Ranger and Confederate Veteran. He was in a union prison camp in Illinois and almost got shot for cheering when Lincoln was assassinated. May try to get that posted tomorrow. Walked home to Texas after the war was over.

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      • I am thrilled to have you reading mine. Be sure to go back to beginning. Reposted a couple of the old one most people never saw. If you see something you want to know more about, let me know. I am writing a book, so I may already have something written or will gladly write it up. Thanks.

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  3. Helen says:

    Hi, I really enjoyed reading the story of Katie (my Mom) getting married. Your Mom’s version is so sweet. I tried emailing you before on your email address but it did not go through, so I hope this does. I hope you keep up telling your great stories.
    Your cousin;
    Helen

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  4. Your stories are fantastic. I love them! One problem on the right side of your blog are other posts and such… and some of the story is hard to read because it goes right over that. Is there a way to fix it? Thanks for the humor in the morning. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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