Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I've Never Had Green Bean Casserole

Thanksgiving at the Johnson household - circa 1969
I know it is a shocking statement to many: "I've never had green bean casserole" and really it doesn't really bother me.  It doesn't look all that appetizing and I certainly wouldn't want to give up any of our current Thanksgiving favorites.

I never remember a time where I didn't spend Thanksgiving with family.  I realize that I am very lucky and that it might not always be the case.  They are multi generational events with grandparents sharing the table along with aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews.  I can remember during my childhood listening to stories at the feet of my great grandmother's (Sophia Dollar Friddle & Nettie Moody Shearer) and Aunty Jones (my mother's godmother - Glenthora Stranahan Jones).  The three ladies were all of an age.  Mom Friddle (Sophia Dollar Friddle) was born in 1894, Granny (Nettie Moody Shearer) was born in 1890 and Aunty Jones was born in 1889.  They talked about riding the stagecoach to Waha, ID.  Granny lived down by the Snake River on the Joseph plains.  It was a two day trip to Winchester (this drive today takes about 35 minutes) and then another two days to where Granny lived.  Darn near a week to travel between home and the nearest larger town.  Their stories helped me gain a love for history and for family history.  They had memories that stretched back to the 19th century which seemed quite amazing to a little girl in the late 1970's.  The last time I really visited Granny was on Thanksgiving 1979.  Mom Friddle had died earlier that year and it was the first time that Grandma Cappy had her new home in Clarkston.  We spent Thanksgiving at her house that year.  Grandma Cappy was worried about her mother-in-law, Granny, getting too tired.  She insisted that Granny lie down for a nap.  I think Granny probably gave her equivalent of an eye roll...but she gave in and told me to come with her.  I think I was 12 years old.  I laid on the bed with Granny and held her hand.  She called me her "little Betty," because she said I reminded her of my mother when she was a little girl.  I wish I remembered more specific memories of that moment...but it is a sweet memory - laying on that bed and holding her hand while she told me stories and asked me about her life.

I think we only had a few holiday dinners at Grandma Cappy's but everything switched back to our house for Thanksgiving.  My mother (Betty Tannahill Johnson) never went easy on herself or us.  We were all put into action, peeling potatoes, cutting vegetables, doing dishes and setting the table.  Everything had to be just so...Mom didn't want to leave anything to chance.  My grandmother would bring the pies and after they arrived, my grandfather would adjourn to the living room for the easy chair, peanuts and football.  Grandma would sit at the chair at the bar and visit with my mother while she and the rest of us flew around to do her bidding or hide out so she couldn't see us.  That certainly didn't last long :) It wasn't too much longer, in fact the last years Grandma was alive when Mom took the pie duties back because it was too much for Grandma.  Mom did it on her own that first year, but by the next year, she involved me and the year after Grandma died, the pies became my job!  I was 18 years old!

The last year we had Thanksgiving with Mom was just about a month before she died.  We went over to my brother's house and had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Mom insisted that we do our own turkey the next day, so everyone came over to the house for a second Thanksgiving...Mom said that she wanted to the leftovers.  That was the first time I had ever attempted to do that large of a meal on my own.  Usually, I had had Mom's involvement and guidance - but her health simply wouldn't allow her to do too much.  It is funny, I think of that day with a has taken time to change that memory from sad to bittersweet!

We now gather at my brother's house.  My sister in law should have been my mother's daughter.  I see a lot of my Mom in her., especially on the days of these big holiday dinners.  I contribute the pies - the job I have done since I was 18 as well as family salads like Eggnog, Grandpa's Crappy Salad, and the candied sweet potatoes.  The Eggnog is a jelled salad that is a bit boozy and definitely not low fat.  My niece christened what I used to call Dad's salad, Grandpa's Crappy Salad.  It is lemon jello, whipped up with cream cheese and small diced celery.  It is not a family favorite...mostly my Dad - but he deserves a little spoiling.

It is funny, I have seen people list Green Bean Casserole as a staple at their Thanksgiving table...I have never had it.  I have had my share of the canned cranberry sauce...but I usually make it.  It tastes better.  So on this Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I will bake the pies like I have done for 30 years.  I will make the Eggnog that are special to my siblings and I, as well as the salad that my Dad loves.  I suppose you could say that those our Thanksgiving food traditions.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  I think there are some family spirits who are with us and enjoying the sharing of memories, food, and family togetherness!
Aunty Jones (Glenthora Stranahan Jones) and my sister.  Probably around 1982 or so.
My guess is that was at one of our first holiday dinners at our house.  Granny is sitting on the end.  Dad is holding me with Chris and Bub sitting between.  Grandpa Gwen is at the end.
Dad and Grandpa most likely watching football.  Usually a container with nuts in a container between them.  They were comfortable companions.
I have a lot of pictures of my great grandmother - but not so many of the way I remembered her.  This was taken in the early 70's with her children. 
Claude on the left, Mom Friddle, Jack and the Grandma Cappy on the end.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

70 Years Ago Today!

Oliver Richard Tannahill
b. 27 Apr 1912 - Peru, Chautauqua Co., KS
d. 09 Nov 1947 - Near Webb Rd, Nez Perce Co., ID

I have been fairly fortunate in my life that I had my parents and most of my grandparents during my growing up years.  My Mom was not so lucky.  She lost her father when had just barely turned 6 years old.  The memories that she had of him were precious because they were so few.  I know that every years that she was alive, November 9th was a momentous date...because it was the day she lost her father.

My grandfather's name was Oliver Richard Tannahill.  I can make the assumption that he didn't really care for his first name as he never went by it.  Every document I have seen his signature on lists his name as O. Richard Tannahill...even his tombstone has that name.  I have always heard him referred to as it was a bit of a surprise that his actual first name was Oliver.  Richard was twin and his sister's name was Olive Rachel Tannahill...she must not have liked the name either, because she went by Rachel.  My guess is that the Oliver/Olive name came from Richard's uncle, Samuel Oliver Tannahill.  Richard was born in Peru, Chautauqua Co., KS and spent some of his younger years in Pawhuska, OK and moved with his father to Idaho sometime around 1929.  I actually thought that date was much earlier, but that is time frame listed on his death certificate.  My grandmother was actually quite precise on the type of thing.  My mother grew up with a lot of questions in her mind.  Some she asked to her mother and step father (Grandpa Gwen was Richard's best friend), but there were always a lot of "what if's" in her mind.  Grandpa Gwen wasn't the easiest person to grow up with as a step father.  My mother loved him, but there was always her natural father out there to wonder about.  I don't think I have ever heard a negative word about Richard.  He was a hard worker, did everything well that he attempted, he was intelligent, and caring.  Richard was a good friend, son, brother, and uncle.  He was also a beloved husband and father.  My Mom used to say that he was the only one of his siblings who didn't swear, drink or therefore he died at the youngest age. 
I hadn't seen the actual death certificate until recently.  I can see my grandmother's signature listed there as the informant...and it makes my heart ache for her.   Richard was the love of her life...I don't think she ever entirely recovered from his death.  She moved on because she had family to care for...her diaries really show her heartache.  I wrote a blog about Richard's death 5 years ago.  You can read it here:  Daddy's Gone!  Instead, I thought I would share some photos of Richard and his family!

This photo was actually two pieces that we put together.  It had been broken at some point.  I have no idea which one is Rachel or Richard.  Probably taken in 1913 in Kansas or Oklahoma.
My best guess is that this was taken around 1918 or so. This photo includes all of the children of John L Tannahill and Sarah Rachel Kelley. 
Top Left: John Theodore, William Sylvester, Samuel Ward, Earl Sylvanus 
Front Left:  Sarah holding Richard, George Carter, Elvina Amira, John Lyons hold Rachel.

Tannahill siblings at their father's funeral in 1945: 
Top Left:  John Theodore "Ted", William, Richard, & Sam 
Bottom Left:  Rachel, George, & Elvina "Viney"

A couple of views of the twins - I think the top one is around 1925 and the lower one is probably a few years earlier.

The two pictures below are the ones that I have seen my entire life on the wall in mother's bedroom.  These two were framed and in my mother's home while she was growing up and she got them from her mother in 1960.  They are still hanging in our today!

This might be one of my Mom's favorite pictures of her parents.  Probably because that was how she saw them day to day.  Her Daddy in his overalls and fedora and her Momma in her work dress.  This was probably taken not too long before Richard died in 1947.

One of the few complete family pictures.  This was taken in 1945 at John Lyons Tannahill's funeral.  My mother, Betty is the little girl standing while her older sister, Joan is sitting.

Sad to say that everyone has passed away who was in these pictures.  My grandmother died in 1985, my mother in 2005 and her sister, Joan in 2012.  That little family is all gone who were complete until they lost their father 70 years ago today!