Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Remembering Nora Littie Inman Conley on Her Birthday

Earlier this year I wrote some things about my Granny, Nora Littie Inman Conley.  Since today is the anniversary of her birth on May 1, 1889, I wanted to add a few more of my memories of her.

Her water was pumped by a windmill, next to a grape arbor not far from the back door, and piped into the kitchen sink.  She did not have indoor plumbing for a bathroom until a few years before her death although there was an empty room in her house for it.  That meant having to walk a short distance from the house to the outhouse or use a "chamber pot" at night.  I remember the bucket of ashes used to cover the waste and being afraid the neighbor's chickens or something worse might get underneath the outhouse.  Bathing was often done in a basin using water warmed on the stove.

Granny would walk across the street in the evening to spend the night at Mag Knight's house since they were both widows.  When I spent a week or two with Granny in the summer, I would bathe at Mag's house and watch TV with her for a little while before Granny came over.  Granny would always wake up early and leave without waking me up.  One night, after I was asleep, Mag's little dog started barking because there was a rattlesnake in the back yard.  One of them walked across the dirt road to Mr. Battles' house and he came and shot it.  I didn't see it until the next morning and remember it looked BIG and MEAN even dead.
Highway 16 in Cherokee, Texas
 Mag and Bess Sifford had a dry goods store in town.  She let me sell pot holders I made.  Once her niece and I pretended we were mannequins and stood in the empty store windows while there.  That building was later remodeled and became Cherokee's post office.  It is in ruins now but those front windows are still recognizable.  I was able to get this picture of the building by using Google Earth.

Granny had some ceramic dolls about 2 or 3 inches tall with costumes painted on them depicting the dress from various countries.  I played with those and a sack of empty wooden thread spools that made excellent building blocks.  Learning to sew on her treadle sewing machine was a special thrill for me; I was allowed to use it because it did not have a motor.  I made doll aprons from scraps.  She still had a wood-burning stove in the front room when I was in kindergarten because I remember my new walking doll's white shoe got a black mark on it from the stove.  She also had a wooden telephone and a radio that could only get the San Saba station that played very twangy country-western music.  I still smile thinking about the announcer's monotone voice even when he was announcing, "Hurry! Hurry!  Hurry!  Come to the big sale!" 

Special treats were chocolate milk she made for me and poured in a Coke bottle I kept in the refrigerator.  Getting to carry her coin purse with me as I walked down the dirt street to Clyde Yarborough's store to buy a quart of milk made me feel very important, grown-up, and trusted.  I walked that road often to go to Aunt Violet and Uncle Will Conley's and they always wanted me to cover my face and arms so I wouldn't get brown and freckled.  They wore hats, smocks, and gloves when in the sun because ladies took pride in not having skin that looked like those who had to work in the fields.  No matter how hard I looked, I never found any arrowheads, but my brother told me he had found some around there in years past.

Of course the glass candy dish and the cookie jar made of pink Depression Glass held special treats.  The green Depression Glass displayed in a kitchen cabinet with a glass door was so beautiful.  Although she had a refrigerator, she still kept a few things in her wooden ice box and to me it always smelled like cocoanut.  She had jars of pickled pears and peaches stored on the floor in the corner of the kitchen and let me take home a jar one time because I liked them so much.  Another special treat, that now makes me shudder, was eating a butter and sugar sandwich.

In many ways life was much simpler then.  I'm thankful for all the happy memories I have that mean so much to me now.


  1. You have five years on me on the memories, but I definitely remember some of that. What happened to those little ceramic dolls?

  2. I don't know what happened to the dolls. I imagine they were thrown away. When I had my first apartment I asked about Granny's icebox to put in the entryway and was horrified when I was told it was probably hauled to the dump ground.

  3. Melissa has been following your blog as well, and just Saturday she was mentioning this post to me. She said Mother has the dolls and she remembers playing with them as a child also!

  4. That's great! I'll have to ask if she can get them out so I can photograph them next time I see her.