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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Golden Summers

Posted August 7, 2007

What are your favorite memories of spending time with grandparents? What were those golden summer days like when you spent a week or two with Grandma and Pop as I called my mother's parents or Nanny as I called my father's mother.

Nanny lived next door. She was a tall and elegant lady with the sweetest disposition of anyone I have ever known. When I think of her I smell lavender and lemonade. And I can taste her peppery fried chicken, the best I've ever eaten. Her beautiful wraparound porch was a magnet for townspeople who would stop by to share interesting stories on a summer evening of shelling peas, shucking corn and snapping beans.

Nanny shared lots of stories about history including the Revolutionary War when our ancestors, the McDowells of Quaker Meadows, played a key role in the Battle of Kings Mountain. My first childhood sports hero emerged on the screen of Nanny's parlor television set. When Willie Mays blasted a game winning grand slam I was smitten with my first taste of sports hero worship.

Nanny loved church and I can still see her in that lovely blue hat. But she didn't like the liturgy overhaul in the Episcopal Church. And she let the church leaders know it.

My mother's parents, the Bergerons, may have had the greenest thumbs in Charlotte. No one could grow tomatoes and beautiful flowers like Grandma and Pop. The ever cheerful Pop grew up on a farm near Zebulon and loved the smell of rich soil. I can still see Grandma's old stockings out there in the garden holding up those luscious tomato plants.

A canopy of trees shielded their home from the blazing summer sun. Their screened-in front porch was a refuge ffrom the heat and clouds of mosquitoes. Inside I can still taste Grandma's pound cake with the sweetest hint of almond. I can still feel the firm grip of Pop's hand taking me over to the old ballpark where he was a feared home run hitter and the absolute thrill I had as a teenager hitting a home run in the same park during an all star game.

I remember the book case in the den and all of those great books and falling in love with words and the rhythm and cadence of language. And I can still smell Pop's pipe tobacco and the rough feel of his pipe cleaners. I can still hear his hearty laugh. I can still see him hugging Grandma and talking about what a lucky man he was to meet her at a Halloween party many, many years ago.

I could go on and on but I'd like to hear from you and your stories about your grandparents.

35 Comments

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  • bleslie Aug 8, 2007

    This memory came in from Kim:
    The first poster and I had a similar situation. I grew up only knowing my dad's mom. The most special memories I have of her are the Sunday's spent having dinner at her house. She made sure to cook everyone's favorite food, no matter what it was. She'd get up before sunrise on Sunday mornings to start the meal. Sunday's were church and Granny Coach's house. We spent our afternoons exploring the woods, playing baseball and getting into all sorts of mischief. Contrary to what Bobby Cox believes, the best Atlanta Braves coach was my grandmother. If there was a game on, she was watching and cheering. Everyone in the community called her Coach. The grandchildren called her Granny Coach. My precious memories of her are the Atlanta Braves (which I inherited and now pass on to my son) and Sunday dinners with the whole family. Those were the times she was the happiest. :)
    Thanks again,
    Kim

  • bleslie Aug 8, 2007

    Thanks jetset for the sweet note. Gang Gang for gramps. That's unique! I guess a lot depends on how when we as youngsters first pronounced their names.

  • jetset Aug 8, 2007

    Bill,
    I just love reading your blog posts and all the wonderful comments posted by the readers. I can almost picture myself at some of those scenes!! It is wonderful to "go back in time" and pull from memory a (seems to be) simpler way of life. Keep the posts coming. By the way, I called my grandmother and grandfather Ma and Gang-Gang. I had so much fun down at their home during my growing up years. I love to think back on some of the things I did during that period of my life.

  • bleslie Aug 8, 2007

    Cheddarhead, your comment about Papa's deep "Amen" reminded me of my grandfather Bergeron. He was a fine talker but when it came to saying grace before dinner he always talked really fast and we never could quite understand what he was saying. I think it's because my grandmother's food was so good and he couldn't wait to chow down.

  • cheddarhead Aug 7, 2007

    continued: dinner. Papa would always say the prayer with a deep deep AMEN at the end. When we'd come visit grandma was always doing her crossword puzzles in her chair and papa would be eating hard candy and watching Leslie Uggums on some game show I think. He liked her. :0) Grandma would take us to carnivals and ride the upside down rides with us. I remember always hanging on the water pipes in the basement and searching the food cellar to see what good food was in it.
    Grandma and Papa would take us camping at the KOA just a few miles from their house and we got to ride in the camper on the way there.
    Oh, so much fun and I miss them so much and all of our get togethers. We live so far from my parents that my kids don't get to experience the same things I did. That makes me sad.
    Thanks for the memories!!

  • Riverracer Aug 7, 2007

    Reading all these posts have brought back such wonderful memories of my grandparents. I wish I could have one more day with them.

  • sandlizzard12 Aug 7, 2007

    I saw that "softballmom" made mention of the lack of air conditioning. Funny, but we had days like today's temps back then. The cows still had to be milked, watered and fed. All four of my grandparents lived into their late 80's and 90's.And the milk was not pasteurized.

  • sandlizzard12 Aug 7, 2007

    My daddy's parents were Grandma and Grandpa to me. I can still smell the haybarn attic and feel the "haybeds" I used to make.. There were a million wild cats that called the barn home also.Boy, could those kittens scratch whenever I did catch one. The cow stable was a smell of another color. I did learn how to milk a cow and can still taste the "un-omiginized" milk that came with Grandma's cookies.Sunday dinners were some kind of fare. I remember Grandpa and his possum stew (yuck) at the end of the table. I always avoided sitting next to him. My Mom's parents were Granny and Pa to us. They were of Irish descent and still spoke with a brogue. Pa had a BIG tractor he used to ride me around on. I dont know which made more smoke-the tractor or his pipe. The pipe tobacco was sweet smelling. It seems that we always ended up on the porch with a dozen cousins when we visited. Ah.......Good old days? Yes they were.

  • bleslie Aug 7, 2007

    Please try again Teacher-96. We would love to hear your comments.

  • teacher_96 Aug 7, 2007

    oh my goodness, I sat here, read all those posts and cried because my own memories came flooding back. I decided to make my second post and tell about my grandmother, but now the post is gone. The message said, Post is too similar to one of your previous posts; could be a duplicate post. That can't be right since I've only had one other post when we talked about what makes NC unique. :(

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