Friday, January 27, 2012

A Lifetime of Changes

My great grandmother (Sophie Dollar Friddle aka Mom Friddle) was born either on January 27 or January 28 in 1894.  According to Mom Friddle she was born around midnight on the 27th…and her step grandmother, Lulu, thought she was born after midnight and therefore on the 28th of January – so that was the date that she celebrated as her birthday.  She died the day before my birthday in 1979 on February 8th.  It is hard for me to believe that it was over 30 years ago now.

The little house near Shingletown, TN where Mom Friddle was born.
Mom Friddle grew up in a small house in a holler about two miles from the nearest small town of Shingletown, Johnson Co., TN.  Within three months of her birth, her mother died at the tender age of 21 and Mom Friddle was left to be raised by her grandfather, Alexander Monroe Dollar and step grandmother, Sarah “Lulu” Pearce.  I suspect that she had an idyllic childhood – she had little responsibility and was the adored granddaughter of a woman who never had any children of her own.  I remember Mom Friddle telling me about that house that she grew up in and how she used to walk to town to the store.  I used to think that she meant Mountain City – but now I know that it was the little town at the end of the road that burned down near the turn of the 20th century.  When her grandfather died in 1908, her father made noises about bringing Mom Friddle to live with him and his new family.  She was encouraged by her grandmother to get married to stop her father from stealing her away.  Mom Friddle eloped and soon she was the mother of a young child traveling west to Oregon to join her husband on a train.  (The story of her elopement is a grand story for another time).

When my mother was born, Mom Friddle was still a relatively young woman at 46.  Since I am turning 45 soon, it seems even younger now.  My mother lived just about 100 yards away from her grandparents and spent a great deal of time with them.  Like her grandmother, she was an adored granddaughter who enjoyed the love and attention of her grandparents.  I’m sure Mom didn’t recognize at the time how fortunate she was to be so close to her grandparents – but she certainly did later in life.  Mom Friddle was integral part of my mother’s life and young marriage.  Since my mother’s own mother was still working, it was Mom Friddle who she talked often to and sought advice on a multitude of issues.  My mother said that Mom Friddle taught her a lot of lessons both by words and examples.  One of the most important lessons that Mom took to heart was to always keep some “jingle money” as Mom Friddle termed it.  She meant that my mother should always keep her own money and not be totally dependent on any man.  Throughout my mother’s life, she always squirreled away a bit of money to cover the odd emergency that came up…that was a lesson that came from her grandmother.

Mom Friddle - about 1955
Mom asked her grandmother in the early 1970’s if she wished that she had lived in another time.  Mom Friddle looked at her and replied that she felt that had lived in the most exciting time of human history.  The first time she saw a train, she got on it and road clear across the country.  The first car was also the first time she got to ride in a car.  During her lifetime telephones, radio, and television became commonplace and she had lived to see women get the vote and had seen so many technological advances that it boggled the mind.  When she was a child, man only dreamed of flying and she had seen a man walking around on the moon on television. Mom Friddle said that she didn't know if there would ever be a time of such growth in technology and travel as she had seen her lifetime – from the beginning of flight to going to space and landing on the moon.   It really is remarkable when you thing of the world of her childhood and the changes that she saw in her lifetime – it makes one wonder what changes will occur in our lifetimes and if we will look back in awe just as she did!