Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Day I Discovered the Family Bible - Part 3

By the time I was born, my Grandfather Garrison was already 69 years old.  I have no memories of the tobacco farm.  I am not even sure if it was still a working farm.  While growing up, however, I did hear many stories of how they would have to work long hours out in the fields, in the North Carolina heat, getting the tobacco cut and into the barn. They would cut the leaves and take them to the tobacco barn to hang and cure with a wood-burning furnace. Harvesting tobacco was a very hard and dirty job. 

Today, the old tobacco barn is still standing, though in much disrepair.  At one time there were almost half a million tobacco barns in the state but only about 50,000 are still around today.  Oh the stories it could tell! 

The Old Tobacco Barn

My dad was career Air Force, and we traveled all over the world while he was on active duty.  We didn't get back to North Carolina often but when we did, we always loved visiting with family.  The Garrison’s had annual reunions, which were huge and so much fun.  There was usually a big horse shoe tournament, complete with bracket charts to determine the ultimate winners.  Trophies were given and the competition was fierce. 

The reunions were not only an opportunity to see family, and for the grown ups to catch up on things, but it also gave all of us cousins time to spend together, getting to know one another.  And I had a bunch of cousins!  There were thirty some grandchildren and my brothers and I were some of the youngest.   Someone would always step up and organize games for us to play. Some of our favorites were Kick the Can and Capture the Flag.  One year we decided to play Kick the Can as it was getting dark.  That didn’t end well.  Two of my cousins came running around the corner from different directions and ran into each other.  There were some major bumps and bruises.  All lived but lessons were learned.

On one of our trips back to NC, I remember sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, playing jacks.  One of my older male cousins got down on the floor and played jacks with me for a while.  I don’t think he had a clue what that meant to me.  Well, forty some years later I still remember it with clarity so I guess it meant a lot!  These were always great times, but for my family they were few and far between, so we treasured every moment.  

Some times when we made it back to North Carolina, we would barely hit the door and one my aunts and uncles would come get me and I would get to go spend several days at their house with three of my cousins.  I loved those visits.  We always had a great time!  My Aunt, the wife of my mom’s youngest brother, ran a catering business and sometimes I would get to help out on some of her jobs.  It gave me a chance to watch how she worked and she could run circles around all of us.  She was and still is an excellent cook.  We still love going to their house whenever we get a chance.  And an added bonus is, I can walk right across the street and see another one of my aunts, my mom’s second oldest sister.   A true blessing having them both still here and living close to each other.  Grandma and Grandpa have long since passed and, sadly, of their 12 children, these are the only two still living.  

Grandpa and Grandma in their younger years
In later years

Terri's Tidbit for Today:  If you are researching your family, don't forget to use Facebook for finding some clues.  Many times there are genealogical or historical societies in towns or states that have a Facebook page.  I joined one for North Carolina, recently, and listed a brick wall I had hit on one of my Great Great Grandmothers.  Within 30 minutes I had a response from someone who helped me bring down that wall.  Use all the resources you can to help you find some of those allusive family members.  


Todd Hatch said...

Your blog and pictures really bring back fond memories. I remember our visits to grandma's house vividly and the one thing I remember most is that we were always doing something. Whether it be some kind of board game, building a tree fort, making homemade ice cream, digging in the trash pile (I know that sounds gross but it was fun), or just being kids. These were more simple times with no electronic devices distracting you from the things that really mattered, family. I look forward to reading more of your blogs sis. Keep it up.

sage said...

Great memories! Guy Owen, who was from Bladen County and wrote "The Flim-Flam Man" once said that the loss of the wood burning barns brought an end to good storytelling--as the farmers couldn't leave the barns but for short periods of time as they had constantly feed wood into the hearth. So they would chat around the shed, telling stories and lies... My Granddaddy Faircloth cured tobacco with wood until I was 5, then his barn burned and when he rebuilt it put in kerosene heaters. He died when I was 9.

sage said...

Nice memories. That last photo is how I remember my great-grandparents. My mother's father cured tobacco with wood till I was around five. His barn burned down (I remember going over there when it was still burning, but it was all on the ground). Guy Owen, a renown NC writer and author of "The Flim-FLam Man" once lamented the loss of the wood-burning tobacco barns (in which farmers had to "live" at the barn to keep feeding wood, with the decline in Southern Storytelling. I think he's wrong, but it was probably something to be at those old barns and listen to the yarns being spun. Thanks for the memories!