Thursday, September 4, 2014

I hope you dance

Writer's Workshop, Prompt #2:
Find a photo of your grandmother’s hometown and share it.
My Nana sang like an angel. She baked the most divine pies, and played a mean hand of canasta. She also taught her grandbabies how to say the alphabet backwards.
Nana was a church-going, Bible-thumping, hard-core, up-to-four-times-a-week Southern Baptist. When my Granddaddy moved the clan out to Abilene, her teenage son (my Daddy) had to drive 100 miles roundtrip just so he could spend a Saturday evening two-stepping with his favorite gal. Wouldn't want his mother - nor the ladies at church - to find out that he was a sinner.
No dancing in the Baptist Church. At least not in my Nana's Baptist Church.
She shelled her own pecans and kept chickens in the backyard, especially for Sunday dinner - really a large, Southern-fried, after-church lunch. Even into her 80s, Nana would stride to the chicken yard after company arrived, pick out a plump hen and slaughter it, right then and right there.
Nana spent her early married years as a music teacher. She taught choir over at the local high school. Later, staying home to raise her brood, she made some pretty good money with private piano lessons.
Even though she didn't - wouldn't - dance, music was really Nana's old-time religion. She learned it in the church, and kept it close throughout her life.
Nana honed her teaching skills - which I may or may not have inherited - at Baylor University in Waco. It's a private Baptist college in Central Texas, which also happens to be located in Nana's hometown. Baylor also was the fourth university in the United States to admit women (1887), no minor feat in hard-core, rock-solid, Southern Baptist Waco.
The Superior Snap above was captured sometime in the early part of the 20th Century, I'm told. It's a portrait of one of Nana's music classes at Baylor. According to the annotations on the back of the print, the gentleman in the center of the shot is F. Arthur Johnson, famous enough that I even found him on Google. He apparently was Baylor's Director of Music at the time he - and my Nana - sat for this photo.
I'm unclear about why this is a totally female class. Maybe the women were segregated from the men at this time. Or perhaps none of the male students was musically inclined. In any event, Nana is seated on the second row, fourth from the left.
Whenever I bake a pecan pie or hear Beethoven's "Für Elise" (yes, I took piano lessons from Nana, too), I think about Nana. Soft and Southern, tough but tender - a paradox, really. And I'll bet she's taught St. Peter how to do a little two-step by now.


Brandi (@Fitzysmom) said...

Thanks for sharing your Nana with us! I would love her I'm sure. Old Southern Baptists just make me smile. They're my people.

Stopping by to say hi from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop!

Carol said...

Your Nana sounds remarkable. Killing a chicken, plucking it right there on the spot... wow!

I recently returned from a trip to Europe with my husband and we ran across a couple of eating places out in the country where they served fresh chicken, too. The chickens were running around in the front yard.

Dyanne @ I Want Backsies said...

What a fantastic story! Your Nana was Southern Baptist to the core! I'll bet she subscribed to the same method of shelling pecans as our family does: eat two, put one in the bowl, eat two, put one in the bowl...

Tara R. said...

Your Nana was quite a character. What couldn't she do? Her granddaughter seems to have inherited her teaching gene.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother was from that same era. Singing the alphabet backwards was something she taught her grandchildren too. Wonder if that is coincidence of if that was "a thing" back then. Lovely post.~May

Mama Kat said...

What a sophisticated looking bunch! I hope my grandkids someday have as lovely of things to say about me. What beautiful tribute to her.

De Keimach said...

Thank you for sharing her with us. Isn't it amazing how the small things transport us right back?


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