I was looking over my long-neglected blog accessories (yes, do ignore all those pantry, to-do, and other lists. I can’t keep up with the real-life pantry or to-do list, let alone the virtual versions of same.), and saw that I had promised to write some of Gi-gi’s history. Since all my other blogposts are as-of-yet unfinished (yes, there are a couple), why not start a new one? Heh.
Thinking through it, however, I think there are earlier stories that bear telling, and remembering. This blog is also my second brain, see, like an external hard drive. And Gi-gi’s mother deserves some kilobytes.
Grandma Great is what we called her, but for purposes of this story (and any others), I’ll refer to her as Betty.
Betty was born in Scotland in December of 1896. Their family had a dairy farm, which, to this day is still held by relatives. I am not certain if the farm was an uncle’s, or how many people lived and worked there, but there were more people than opportunities. There were also more daughters than sons (hm, wonder where I’ve seen that before?), and some of the daughters were “outdoor girls” and some “indoor.” That is, certain sisters had certain jobs, whether household or farmyard. One of the “outdoor girls” was sick during haying season, and one of the “indoor girls” had to take her place. Betty was one of the younger children at this time. A local fellow helping with the chores in the neighborhood caught sight of this “indoor girl” and determined he would marry her (maybe that’s why they kept her indoors?). This man was among those short on opportunities and decided to go to America where he could make something of himself. His girl’s family was fairly well-to-do and he had nothing. So to America he went. In fact, he came not far from where I live now. He built himself a livestock business, and wrote glowing reports to his girl and her family; the wonderful land, the weather, the opportunities. Streets paved in gold, you know? He wooed not only Betty’s sister, but her parents as well, and before long they set out to follow their daughter’s beau. They came by ship, of course, and were NOT steerage passengers. This was in 1903, I think, and Betty was six.
Mr. Opportunity met them at the dock in New York. He had a minister ready and waiting at a hotel, and before the sun set that day, Betty had a brother-in-law. **I do wish I could know the thoughts of the parents, indeed the bride, at such circumstances. They must have been tired after such a voyage, and certainly could’ve enjoyed some time to take in their new world, and say goodbye to their daughter.** The trip west was almost immediately thereafter, and Betty and her family followed her sister and husband to their new home.
I don’t know the details of their overland journey, or of their ‘arrival.’ They acquired some land – proclaimed by their now-son-in-law as flowing with milk and honey – and began their new life… hacking it out of the sagebrush and lava rock in dry, dusty, miserable conditions. All’s fair in love and war, they say… But yikes.
I have a biography of Mr. Opportunity, published in the ’80s. He’s in our state history books, to be sure, though our branch of the family tree doesn’t remember him with the same accolades. His business thrived, and he was truly a self-made man. I don’t know if he meant to deceive his future in-laws, or if the opportunities he saw truly upped his opinion, but I think they were surprised, to say the least. Betty’s parents made the best of things, however. In fact, the freeway exit sign for the barren area that held (holds?) their homestead bears the same name as the Scottish dairy did, albeit spelled differently. Betty’s grandparents (my great-great-greats) also came to make their home in the area, and several generations are buried in Gi-gi’s city.
Six years after their arrival, when Betty was 12, her mother was bitten by an infected tick, developed spotted-fever, and died.
At this point, Betty was sent back to Scotland to live with a brother and attend ‘finishing’ school.
(To be continued…)