This Old House

The house you see here is in downtown Franklin, Tenn.–a historic district on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. It was built in 1818 (or thereabouts) and my grandmother lived there from the late 1930s (or thereabouts) until she died in 1976. My mother, aunt and uncle all grew up there.

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The house that’s there today is much different from the one I remember. Instead of the stucco wall you see now, there was a white picket fence. Instead of the busy street and traffic signal, there was a four-way stop. Over the years it has been added onto and the original layout is hard to remember.

We visited my grandmother there often. She was not a cookies and milk kind of grandmother. Cigarettes and cokes were more her style. She didn’t cook and I’m not sure she ever ate anything other than Stouffer’s spinach souffle and lifesavers. She wasn’t big on home decor either (now I know where I got that gene) and the ivy that grew on the bay window in front often found its way inside. One Christmas a pony found his way inside too–he was tied up in the living room–a present for my aunt.

My grandmother was widowed at a young age and left with three children under the age of ten. She didn’t have a lot of money, but in those days you could get by on a lot less.

Here’s a story:

In the years after my grandfather died, my grandmother would take her children to Florida for the winter. She would usually take a maid/cook/babysitter along. Mind you, the trip from Franklin to Florida took days. It was not unusual for her to stop and rent a hotel room in the middle of the day so they could all nap. One year when my uncle was still in diapers, my grandmother decided that she didn’t care for the maid and put her on a bus for home in Chattanooga. That left my mother–all of 10 or 11–in charge of the baby until they got to Florida. My mother knew nothing about caring for a baby and, after one diaper change, asked her mother what she should do with the dirty diaper. My grandmother didn’t miss a beat–“Just throw it out the window.” And that’s what my mother did–all the way to Florida–leaving a trail of dirty cloth diapers all the way to their doorstep in Del Ray Beach.

My grandmother never did remarry, but I think she had her share of admirers. When she died, her children went to the bank to clean out her lock box. Lo and behold there was a small envelope with a diamond ring inside it along with this note…This ring is for my daugher Lucinda…no one knows where it came from, and the mystery dies with me.

Is that great or what? I’ll take stories like that over cookies and milk any day.

15 Comments

Filed under Nostalgia

15 responses to “This Old House

  1. That. Is. Awesome.

    And, might I add, fantastic house.

  2. Great story!

    As an aside, I love the name Lucinda.

  3. Mother

    I am the dutiful daughter who marked the way to Florida with dirty diapers, who carried the BIG valise full of clean diapers into the hotels (no motels) and also the electric coffee perculator needed to heat his bottle. But I must say he grew into a wonderful person – a very successful business man, son, brother, husband, father and grandfather (including 3 yr old quads).
    (Our itinerary was Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Valdosta or New Smyrna Beach)

  4. Julie Fisher

    THESE are the stories that make me wish I were a member of your family. What a wondrous grandmother–what a party!
    Another comment–I love the name Lucinda, too. Hey, Miss Cindy, what do you say–time to change to Lucinda? On the other hand, would a Lucinda drink beer and watch football and entertain evil thoughts about people who park backwards and don’t do right in elevators??

  5. Wow. That is really neat. Of course I’m nosey so not knowing where the ring come would drive me crazy!

    My Great-Grandmother got pregnant with my grandma and the guy took off. (They weren’t married) She raised my grandma through the Great Depression. I bet they both had lots of colorful stories to tell.

  6. little sister

    I have the beautiful ring now. I always wonder everytime I look at it, what could be the mystery. If you knew our grandmother, you would wonder too. She was not the norm for grannies!!

  7. I love it Cindy – Thank you so much for sharing. Please keep telling these amazing stories!

  8. hereinfranklin

    Rass–house is for sale and can be yours for a mere $1.2 million. Come on down.

    Free Man–it’s an old family name–there’s quite a few of us.

    Mother–it’s my favorite story

    Julie–I thought we WERE related???? Besides, your family has some pretty good tales too…remember oldest Godson’s baptism???

    Jen–If you remember any of their stories, write ’em down.

    LS–yeah–but I have Ocelot.

    Cuz–thanks! I’m enjoying your foodie writing.

  9. Older Sister

    She really was the coolest grandmother – so cool we called her by her first name instead of granny or nana or such. Whenever I stayed with her, I had to always take a rest/nap on her bed……….but I discovered she kept her detective magazines under her bed and I would spend an hour looking at them. She also taught me how to play the slot machine at The Globe…………..I told you she was cool!!!

  10. Niece Lash

    I wish I had known her. I’m so proud to be in our family of such great women.

  11. Julie Fisher

    IJt is SNOWING on my computer screen! Is this a great country or what.
    Cindy, I am ever so grateful that we are related. I’ll trade you some of my stories for some of yours. That way we can really be related and really relate, too.

  12. I looooooooooooooove stories like this … I need to come over and hear more … reminds me of sitting at my Grandma’s feet.

  13. Thanks for sharing that story.

    In a relatively short post you were able to transmit your grandmothers personality. Awesome.

  14. Pingback: Heidi and Me « Here In Franklin

  15. Precision Grace

    Wonderful story. So glad I have found this blog.

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