Grandpa and Granny Beasley

P.O. & Dollie Beasley

circa 1954

"A Tribute to Family"


My fondest memories from childhood came from my relationship with my grandparents. They raised me from the time I was 4 years old until I left home at 18. They were poor by all economic standards, but, they were family-oriented people who lived the only way they knew how. Their doors were never locked and brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, grandchildren and cousins, nieces and nephews were always welcomed in their home.

Although Granny Beasley worked the farm with Grandpa P.O., she managed to  make time for the children, and the Grandchildren.  Granny, herself was the baby of eleven, all of whom survived to adulthood, with several of them living into their 90's and even 100. She, herself lived to see almost 92 years old, while God saw fit to take Grandpa home to heaven in his sixties.   They were married in the 1920s and had eleven kids of their own too, it was just natural for them to be surrounded by children.



We lived in the same little house in the edge of a cotton field just outside of Gideon Missouri as far back as I can remember. The town's ballpark was out in the country across the road from our house and on warm summer nights, if I weren't over there playing ball, we would sit with the windows open and listen to the sounds of summer.  Usually not really saying anything to one another.  Otherwise, we were glued to the Television screen like most families of the late fifties and early sixties. We could get 2  channels o.k. and a third one on clear nights. There was no need for a TV guide. I had all seven days per week memorized.

Now when I smell cotton being ginned or a summer rain, it takes me right back to my Grandpa and Granny Beasley and that little house out by the ball diamond.
 

            

        60 yrs                                                    92 yrs

Granny Beasley


Granny Beasley was the kindest woman I have ever known. I liked to think she never spanked me because I was such a fine young man, but in later years I realized, it was because she didn't have a cruel bone in her body. I just happen to benefit from that character trait, and I am glad for it.  She took care of her sister's children even when she was a young girl herself. She was very close to her family (the Parr family) throughout her lifetime.  I can remember her brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews visiting from Alabama and Arkansas on a regular basis and we go there as often as we could. I'm sure she had her days when nothing went right, but I never saw one in my lifetime. Even when Grandpa P.O. would come home Saturday evening a "little under the weather", she scoffed at him a little and went on back to quilting. Most of my generation owns and cherish a "Granny Quilt". She tried, and may have succeeded, in making one for everyone in the family.  I and my three children each have one.  She so loved the family reunion we have every  year, where we camp for 3-4 days in the foothills of Southeast Missouri.  She would start a couple of months earlier saying she didn't think she was going to make it this year, that it was too hard on her, however she was usually in one of the first few vehicles to take off for the campground every year.  She was there when she was 92. 

Granny Beasley had eleven children, one of which was severely handicapped.  Granny took care of Little Bill at home until he got to be too strong for her to physically handle.  They regretfully  placed in an institution.  I can remember her crying half  way back home after visiting him. She did her very best to care for him and never stopped trying until she finally had him relocated to a nursing home closer to her until he passed away.  She always felt bad about Little Bill's situation, but I know God was proud of her for  her devotion to one of his special children. 

Granny made her mark on everyone in the family with one simple little phrase, "Who's that-a-comin'?".  When someone visited our home, she would meet them at the door with a smile and a "Who's that-a-comin'?".  I'm sure that everyone in the family that knew Granny Beasley has stepped to their own door at home and said those simple words that mean so much to us all.

 

                                                       

                      1939                                                         1964                                           1959                              1969                       

Grandpa P.O.

 

Grandpa P.O. worked every day from sunrise til 5:00pm, because that is when the box plant whistle blew and the Little Rascals came on channel 6 out of Paducah Kentucky.  Saturday he worked half a day and was usually "under the influence" by 2:00pm.  Sunday morning he was up at the same time as he was everyday, around 5:30am, however, his sole purpose in life was to get the "kids" to come to Sunday dinner. He had Granny cooking by 6:30 and me on the telephone trying to convince them they should come and eat with us. I do not remember to this day if we were ever turned down. Granny cooked enough for a small army and Aunt Peg, Aunt Jewell, Aunt Deaner, Aunt Jean, and Aunt Pauline came with arms loaded with food. Sometimes we would have a treat and Uncle Leon and Aunt Leona would come to spend the day. On a typical Sunday, in and around this small farmhouse in Southeast Missouri you could count somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 people, and on Holidays or days when my Uncle Smokey would come home from the service, that little house would swell to busting.

Like I said, Grandpa P.O. worked on the farm almost everyday and had very little time to spend with his children, however, like most grandpas, he found the time to play with the Grandchildren, the more, the merrier. He loved to torment them until he had half of them crying and the other half so wound up, their parents couldn't do anything with them.  I believe that's just the way he liked it!   He never got to enjoy our family reunions, but I am sure that he would have been the first to go and the last to leave had he lived long enough to go.

 

Me and Grandpa P.O. horsing around while Granny watches

He made his sons work in the fields with him as they were growing up to help feed the family, but by the time I came along his attitude had changed a little.  His sons weren't allowed to play ball because they had to chop or pick cotton.  He let me play ball and work in the field after practice.  I told my uncles, "The man that raised you is not the same man that raised me". Because farming is such a hit and miss business, Grandpa P.O. was also a master handyman. He would build porches, add rooms, and do some roofing to supplement his farming income.  When I got old enough to help, I found myself on the rooftops of most houses in Gideon Missouri.  Then after a while he would get the jobs started and I would finish them.  It was his way of teaching me a trade and getting me spending money that he didn't really have.

I can't talk about Grandpa P.O. without talking about pocket knives.  For some unknown reason to me, his generation was fascinated with pocket knives. You had to have at least one in your pocket to trade.  Plus one that was razor sharp.  He would sit with "his generation" on the benches in front of Gibb's tavern and the Commercial bank of Gideon every Saturday afternoon and see who could get their knife the sharpest.  Most of them had no hair on their arms from demonstrating how sharp their knives were. My generation called in "spit and whittle corner".  Funny how each generation passes the time.

Saturdays, Grandpa P.O. would come in at noon from the field and change from dirty overalls to clean overalls, than come out on the front porch where I had the water, soap and razor ready.  I would shave him and he would give me fifty cents spending money.  That got me into the Malden theater to see a double feature, popcorn and a soda. (Try that now).  I still have and use the shaving mug. I suppose it is my way of hanging on to a little piece of him.  My cousin Danny is the lucky one, he got Grandpa P.O.'s last pocket knife. That is a treasure.

I often wondered what our lives would have been like had Grandpa P.O. lived longer.  I know they would have been better for it.  I still miss him.  

 

Grandpa P.O. and Granny Beasley

It's a rare day that I am not reminded of them because there are so many things they shared with me. Granny loved making quilts, putting together puzzles, playing dominos and watching life go by. We'd sit on the front porch swing or at kitchen table and talk  while Granny folded and patted a dish towel until it was perfectly square. In my younger days I remember riding the tractor with Grandpa P.O. for hours on end.  He always had a nickel  or two in his pocket for me, but it was his company I always treasured most.

So many small traditions, foods, interests, and memories came from that little house just outside of Gideon Missouri they shared with all of us. But when you add them all up, what they truly gave us was time, and a legacy of love: a rich heritage of family life passed down from generations before.   I miss them both.



Some of my memories

by

Terry L. Weldon