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Monday, March 2, 2009

A Walk in the Past

Note: Today is Texas Independence Day.

I love history.

I love the stories and adventures that make up the past. I love learning about who I am and where I come from. I love putting stories together, learning about my ancestors and wondering if my personality comes from anyone gone before me.

My parents decided to name me after my grandmother and great grandmother--two women that struggled with femininity and the outside world. Two women that were not accepted by their own families and who strived to keep their heads up, but were not able to always do so. My grandmother, Lucille Frances, and my great grandmother, Myrtle Allie, struggled financially and mentally throughout life and were beat down by it many times...I hope I can succeed in what they were not able.

This is my grandmother, Lucille Frances, a confused mother of three who struggled likely with depression and who gave up all three of her children because she could not care for them. Two were adopted off and the youngest, my father, was sent to live with my great-grandmother where he lived a hard life in an economically depressed Lubbock, Texas in the 1940s and 1950s.

My great grandmother, Allie, worked at a poultry processing plant collecting eggs for distribution which didn't provide financially enough for the family. Allie was widowed twice and struggled to keep the family financially afloat. She was the sole provider for the family. She raised my father in an old boxcar in the country. When my father was old enough, he worked to help support the family and never finished high school.

Lucille eventually tried to come back into my father's life, but when she did it was too late. He had formed a bond with his grandmother and he didn't' approve of his mother's "unchristian" lifestyle. You see, my grandmother had decided that her real love was for women and openly had a new girlfriend which is something that was not acceptable thirty and forty years ago. Her family abandoned her, virtually disowned her, and Lucille ended up in a nursing home a few years later. Visits from family were rare, no one held a funeral for her, she was cremated and buried with her girlfriend's family.

Life was hard for women...I can't imagine walking in their shoes.

Especially my eighth great-grandmother, Rachel, who had an affair with a married man and got pregnant by him. A baby, Johanna, is the result of this affair in 1627. You heard me right, 1627. When word got out that this unmarried woman had gotten pregnant by a married man, the public was furious about this immoral behaviour and decided to publicly punish and humiliate the two.

Rachel was first--while pregnant, she was publicly beaten by men for engaging in sex with a married man. The man she had the affair with, John, bought himself out of public flogging with tobacco! That's right, this man was influential and rich.

The injustice!

I cant imagine what life must have been like for these women. I cant imagine how I would have reacted to life's harsh realities. I cannot paint in my mind what I would do if I had to travel across country just to find a place to live. What would I think if my sister married my husband's brother? What would I do or think if my husband left to fight for the Southern way of life as a Confederate...would I shudder at the thought of never knowing if my husband would make it out alive and help me raise our children? How would I feel if my family was ridiculed for the color of our skin and told to go back to Mexico--even if we weren't ever Mexican?

Probably, I would have smarted back and been publicly beaten. Ask anyone I know and they will tell you that I never have learned to keep my mouth shut.

Could you have walked in their shoes?


Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

Fascinating. How fun that you know so much of your history. It does shape you doesn't it?

Lettie said...

Its amazing to think about women and children as chattel. It seems so barbaric now. It is important to tell your children the story of family good and bad - its the one of the best ways they can hope to learn compassion. Thank you for sharing that.

Karen said...

I love learning about the family that came before me. I also would have had it tough, since I can't seem to keep my mouth shut, either.

It seems that your family stories give you strength and courage. What a blessing to know so much about them.

Candance said...

What an interesting family history and how very sad for your grandmother.

As far as the public beating? Crap, Man, I know a few folks who'd like to schedule one for me right now!

Anonymous said...

How would I feel if my family was ridiculed for the color of our skin and told to go back to Mexico--even if we weren't ever Mexican?

i have a better question: what if as a child you were singled out and told you were a dirty mexican and u can't play with me. what if as a child the only family u knew hated u because u were mixed? the whites ones didnt want u because u were one of "them" and the brown ones hated u because u were a "whitely"...

what if the world was a different place ..but then that would go along with something i have heard time and again "if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, the world would never go hungry".

life is unfair to everyone in one way or another. it is what we do with those challenges that make us better than we were before. it is the choices u make which make u stronger each day. we all have things we must let go of in order to progress to the next level.

peace be with u allie

Rhea said...

Wow, very cool history. I mean, not cool about the public beating and all that, but fascinating.

I can't imagine living back then.

Screwed Up Texan said...

I love learning about my family is fascinating.

the nightingale said...

What a, I can't and would rather not imagine walking a mile in their shoes...:(

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