Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Family History

I have loved spending all day at home today. I didn't do one damn special thing unless you count ironing which I don't. It was just a good day although a hot one. I didn't spend a lot of time outside, just little trips here and there to check for eggs, to give fresh water to the chickens, to hang the clothes, to bring them in.

I did get a most interesting text from my Roseland landlord/friend. Do you remember this post that I wrote a few weeks ago? It was about the Roseland Community Center that they're trying to raise funds for, for restoration and repair. And my friend, Glenn is very involved in this effort and look what he found today.

I'm sure you can't read it but what it says is that in 1959 my grandparents donated the land to the county where the Community Center stands as well as the little park beside it. The building was already there, or at least part of it was, and that, too, was donated. 

Now the crazy thing about this is- I do not recall ever hearing a word about this. And if I did, I have forgotten it. Honestly, I don't think I did. But isn't that amazing? I knew that my emotional roots in Roseland grow deep and wide, nourished by that alluvial river muck but I did not realize that I had such a close tie in family history to that little Community Center which I have such fond memories of. Granddaddy did a lot of care-taking there, I remember that, working on the property and on the dock which served the whole community and where it seems like I spent half my childhood, fishing for catfish that no one could eat and simply sitting and watching the sky and the river move past me letting my imagination flow with it from the Atlantic ocean to the deep jungle of the Sebastian River where spring heads feed it. I swear, that dock is part of why I'm still here today. The dock and the river it sat on. 
And Granny went to meetings there, in the Community Center building and to parties, too, but I swear to you, I had no idea that she and my grandfather had donated all of that. 

I am slain by this knowledge. Just slain. What good, quiet people my grandparents were! They lived in what can only be called a cabin with a complete lack of luxury and Granny wore one of her three dresses every day that I can remember and Granddaddy whacked at palm fronds on tall ladders and planted fruit trees and cut grass and turned compost and split wood and built us a little house of cement and Terrazzo when my mother left my father. He and Granny stepped in to take care of my brother and me when my mother went to Gainesville several summers in a row to get her Master's Degree. And that was not something they had envisioned their retirement to include. 
Trust me. 
I am so grateful to have learned this. 

You just never know, do you? And if not for Glenn I would have gone to my grave not knowing. 

Well. I've had a lot to ponder and today has been a good day to do that. 

And I've just remembered that on my father's side of the family, my great uncle left a large piece of property in downtown Chattanooga for a park and it is there with a brass plaque today. 

He also funded and started The Miller Center which you can read about here. 
Ironically, I listened to a few minutes of an NPR broadcast today in which one of the panel members came from the Miller Center. 

I knew these things, they are family history. I am proud of them. But I did not know about Granny and Granddaddy's contribution to the little community where they chose to live for their retirement. There is no mention of them at all on the property or in the building as far as I know. This is the plaque on the property now. 

Uncle Burkett drove a new Cadillac every year and owned a yacht moored in Palm Beach that he and Aunt Bill wintered in and had a beautiful home on Lookout Mountain, and Granny and Grandaddy drove a 1960 Rambler for years and years and had a little boat that they kept in the boathouse that I think my grandfather built. 

I have a lot of different influences in me, don't I? And I'll tell you this- if given a choice, I would so much prefer to have been left a lot on the Sebastian River and a little old cabin than a yacht that required staff to run and maintain. 
Don't have either, and that's okay too. 

I have all that I want and more. And I know even more strongly than ever that my mother's parents were good people. 

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. So cool! I'm getting caught up here after a few days of catatonic/not doing anything. I miss you.

  2. I've known grandparents like that, too.

  3. Wow! Another explanation as to why you're drawn back to Roseland. I think there should be another plaque saying that the property was donated by your grandparents. As far as I know, my only claim to fame is that a distant cousin was the last horse thief to be hanged in the town square. Sigh....

  4. What a fascinating piece of history! How great to know that your ancestors left a legacy that's still part of a community you love.

  5. This is why I love geneology and family history. You find so many things that make you feel so amazed and grateful and proud.

  6. Just blown away Mary, wow....touching and appreciative for this...


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