The picture above includes my first cousins – Rose (on the left) and Diane (on the right) – and my Uncle Charlie (in the middle). Even though we are first cousins, I haven’t seen them since we were kids…with one exception. That one exception was when my father died in 1996 at 64 yrs old. Diane, Rose, and my uncles attended the funeral. At that time, my parents were divorced so my father’s new wife handled all the arrangements. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the lines of communication between my father’s side of the family and his children ended when my parents divorced.
When my mother Alice was growing up, wakes were actually held in the homes. When a family member died, the funeral home prepared the body, placed it in the casket, and delivered it to the home. During the wake, friends and family would come to pay their respects. The wake was a celebration of life with food and drink.
My mother remembers her great-grandmother (Laura Washington) and grandfather (Joseph Brown) having a wake held in their home. Based on the time of the funeral, the body would be delivered to the home the day before, and be available until an hour or two prior to the funeral which was held in the church.
Alice Ruth Coleman (left) and Her Sister Elouise Parker (right)
Alice Ruth Coleman, mother of Melzar Williams, was born 20 Feb 1893 in Mobile, AL. She married Ervin Williams, from Mobile, AL, in 1909 at the age of 17 yrs old, and Melzar was born in 1912 (at age of 19 yrs old). They had another child, but he died from pneumonia after only living two months. According to the 1910 census, Alice Ruth and her husband lived with her parents, and by the 1920 census, they lived with Ervin’s parents. She was a laundress, and Ervin was a truck driver for the Grain Mill. Alice Ruth had four sisters and two brothers. Continue reading →
On 19 Aug 2015, I posted 50 Interview Questions. Following is a summary of answers to questions 16-20 from the interview with my Mom. Enjoy!
Do you remember any fads from your youth?Popular hairstyles? Clothes?
Paper dolls, roller skates (clamped on your shoes with a key)
My dolls hair used to be glued on. Over time, the manufacturer changed the hair so it looked like it was growing out of the dolls head. This made all the difference in the world! I could finally wash my dolls hair without her loosing it!
I used to fall asleep with bubble gum in my hair. My mother was constantly cutting my hair to remove the gum. Madame C. J. Walker invented the straightening comb and many ladies got her hair pressed.
Long skirts were in style. My favorite skirt is in the following picture:
Eva Jasper took her granddaughters Alice and Marce to Quitman, MS every summer for about two weeks to visit Amanda Jasper (Grandma Mandy), their great-grandmother. Alice had mixed feelings about the summer visits to Quitman. I think the girls really enjoyed spending time with their grandmother and great-grandmother, but Quitman was so different from Mobile, AL. Quitman was truly the country!
Alice remembers riding the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (GM&O) Railroad to Quitman. The train was like a greyhound bus that made many stops along the way. People could bring chickens, goats or sheep on the train and Alice was afraid of anything with feathers. See the GM&O map below. When Momma Eva, Alice and Marce arrived in Quitman, Grandma Mandy came to pick them up in a horse and buggy.
On 19 Aug 2015, I posted 50 Interview Questions. Answers to questions 1-5 located here. Enjoy the answers for questions 6 through 10 from my interview with my Mom!
What is your earliest childhood memory?
I remember hearing on the radio that the war ended in 1945. We were playing across the street. We used to play across the street with the other kids in the trees and swing off the tree limbs. I was swinging on one of the tree limbs and it broke.
At the time, we just had radio, no television. The radio had murder mysteries acted out by various people.
Describe the personalities of your family members.
Father (Melzar Williams)
My father always worked. I remember him rushing from one job to another.
He sold the timber off his wife’s property in Quitman, MS without her knowledge.
Periodically, he told stories about his time in the Merchant Marines. He joined as a cook and used a recipe to make the food – he became a baker doing cakes, pies, etc. If the recipes didn’t turn out there was so much food that the mistakes could be tossed and you could start over until you got it right. The ship could not dock in New Guinea so the supplies had to be transported to shore.
Daddy Chappy played the trumpet at a lot of the events.
On 19 Aug 2015, I posted 50 Interview Questions. In the past, when my Mom and I discussed her childhood, we really started in the middle of the story. I really appreciated the survey questions because they provided a good framework for capturing family history. In fact, I learned more about my Mom’s environment than I had in the past. I urge anyone in the family history/genealogy business to use interview questions. These questions were awesome!
As promised, following is a summary of the first set of answers from the interview with my Mom. Enjoy!
What is your full name? Alice Lauraetta
Why did your parents select this name for you? Alice was my grandmother’s name (father’s side), Laura was my great-grandmother (father’s side), and great-aunt Etta (father’s side).
Did you have a nickname? No, not when young. In college, they called me Chappy because everyone knew him. Besides, my sister and I went to the same college. She was two years ahead of me in college.
We celebrated my Mom’s birthday on 29 Aug 2015. It was one of the most emotional, precious and memorable experiences I have ever had in my entire life! Our family is truly blessed! We all met in Tampa, FL 27-30 Aug 2015, stayed at a hotel in Ybor, the historic district of Tampa, and celebrated my Mom’s birthday on Saturday night.
Our plans for the weekend were to enjoy our family, reconnect, reminisce and celebrate Alice’s birthday. We had five generations represented in person, and with our stories, we had up to eight generations! It was truly amazing! We had a nice turnout, from our newest member that is 11 weeks old (Andrea Jenea or AJ) to our oldest member, Inell who is 82 years old! We used to have family reunions every other year, but with all the competing priorities in our lives, we stopped having them years ago. In the past, when we got together, we were the kids in my generation, and now most of us are the grandparents!