For extra credit in a college history class, I interviewed all four of my grandparents. The next few posts will be from the information they gave me and the papers I wrote in 1975. I can't tell you how glad I am that I did this. When I presented these papers to my grandparents, their own children had never heard some of the following information. I want to pass this on to my children and grandchildren...and all of those Sanders out there.
Effie Jones Sanders--my paternal grandmother
Effie (no middle name) Jones was born November 3, 1904 in Grayson County, Texas. She was one of six children in her family. Effie's parents were farmers and at that time they were considered an average family. But average meant they had a low income. Effie was always accustomed to hard work. She helped work in the fields, milk the cows, and also helped with work in the house. Her family lived in a three room house until 1920 when it burned down. Their home was rented and when they rebuilt, they built a four room home. With so many children, a bed had to be set up in the living room and there it remained all day. When she moved to Wheeler, Texas after she married, she thought it strange that people didn't have beds in the living room because everyone did where she had lived. She lived in the country, one and one-half miles from school and she walked every day. Some days, though, after a rain or snow it was too muddy, so she and her brothers and sisters went on horse back. It was a two or three room school with as many teachers. She quit school in the tenth grade. Her clothes were hand-made since there were no ready-mades available, but even if there had been, they couldn't have afforded it. If a person owned three changes of clothing, he was well fixed. To go shopping in town, they either went by horse and wagon or by train. The fare for train was very inexpensive and they rode it often. Besides, it was much faster and they had more time to spend shopping. The children even rode the train alone.
The family didn't take very many trips because of the responsibilities at home. But when there was an opportunity to go, they went to visit relatives and stayed a week at a time. Usually, this was when there were a lot of relatives getting together and pallets were spread all over the house for sleeping. Each family would have a pallet. Family reunions, more than likely, were for weddings or funerals. Most weddings took place in the home, or the couple went to the Justice of the Peace, the preacher's home, or on a rare occasion, it took place in the church. The bride always had the parent's consent, but the groom's parents sometimes didn't know. It was always proper for the groom to ask the bride's father for the bride's hand in marriage. If the groom wasn't man enough to ask, the bride's parents were hesitant to let the bride go. Funerals, of course, were held in the church with everyone wearing black. Then, the corpse was moved to the cemetery. Sometimes, however, the entire ceremony took place at the cemetery.
For entertainment, young people went to play parties, ice cream suppers, played ball, or went to church. During the depression, if the kids couldn't get someone to give a play party, they would organize a "singing" and they would go to church or to someone's house where a musical instrument was owned and would sing. They would hitch up a wagon and start on their way, picking up other kids as they went. The procedure was reversed on the way home. No party ever lasted past ten o'clock. One time, Effie went on a date when her parents had forbidden her to and she was grounded for a month. This was a harsh punishment because she wasn't allowed to go anywhere. Revival meetings were quite common and everybody went. Sunday night services boasted the largest crowds. Occasionally, married couples and their families would gather at their parent's house for Sunday dinner and make it an all day affair.
People were very neighborly when Effie was young. Her family never locked their doors. When a stranger came to the door asking for food or a bed, he was never sent away, but instead, invited in. Even when the family was gone for a week at a time, the door was left unlocked in case a neighbor needed to borrow something while they were gone. The first car in Effie's community was owned by Mr. McClure. He came by her house and told her dad he wanted to take the kids for a ride to his house. Then Mr. Jones was to pick them up at the McClure's home as he came into town in his horse-drawn wagon. It was terribly exciting to ride in the horseless carriage, with the steering wheel on the right and no doors on its side. People moved out of the way as the car came down the road. Mr. and Mrs. McClure then entertained the children until an hour later when Mr. Jones arrived.
Effie's childhood was hard, but happy. Then in 1924, her happiness increased when she met Millard Murry Sanders at a wedding.
*My personal memories of my grandmother:
We grandchildren called her "Granny." Since both of my grandmothers were called "Granny," my paternal grandmother became "Granny Sanders" to me. She had 20 grandchildren--plus 4 deceased (that I know of). Granny made the best chocolate chip cookies. It seems anytime we'd go there, she'd have some in her cookie jar. She also kept glass bottles of Dr. Pepper in her refrigerator--which we seldom got to drink. My mom wouldn't let us ask for them. My very first memory as a child is of my paternal grandparents. I was probably 2-years-old and my older brother, Bob, & I had gone to spend the night with Granny & Papa Sanders. When it got dark, I began crying--I wanted to go home! Papa threatened to spank me. Bob came and sat beside me and put his arm around me. Granny began trying to comfort me and asked if I wanted to call my mom. That was highly unusual to make a long-distance phone call back then, but we did. Mom promised to come get me the next morning (a 40-mile trip) if I'd quit crying and go to sleep. I did.
There were so many things to do at Granny's house. She had a treadle sewing machine that I loved to go and pump my feet on. Granny was a quilter. Papa built her a huge quilting frame which she left up most of the time in their spare bedroom. My great-grandmother, Effie's mother-in-law, lived with them for years. She would "piece" quilts which Granny would "quilt." My great-grandmother also dipped snuff. So Granny used the snuff jars as drinking glasses. She also had colorful tin drinking cups and green milky dishware which especially stick out in my mind. She had a piano, but we could only play it quietly. I loved the "diamond" (glass) doorknobs at Granny's house! I always wished for some just like it. Papa & Granny always had a huge garden beside their house and it was fun to go see what they were growing. My dad was a big tease and as my Granny began losing her hearing, he would pretend to be carrying on a conversation (with gibberish) because he knew she'd pretend she heard and carry on some kind of conversation...which she did. I loved to pick up her phone because she had a "party line" and I'd listen to what the neighbors were saying on the phone. The older she got, the colder she got. It was hard to stay in her house when we'd go by to visit because she kept her house so warm! She also wore hearing aids on her glasses (which squealed a lot!). I never remember Granny without glasses.
I have many sweet memories of Granny Sanders.