Writers Workshop – February 21, 2013

It’s that time again, and as usual I’m joining up with Mama Kat for the weekly writers workshop. If you haven’t yet, you should head over to her blog and check out her pretty much world famous workshop, all the cool bloggers are doing it. You’ll meet new friends, pimp your blog with some awesome ladies, and get your inspiration on as Kat says! Here is your linky thing:

Mama’s Losin’ It

I am SO excited about this weeks prompts, be cause one of them is to share a photo of a grandparent and tell their story – and boy do I have a story to tell!!! The prompt is:  Share an old picture of a parent or grandparent…who were they back then? The photo is not from the time I will be sharing, but long after the story I will tell took place.

First – the photo:

My Grandmother - Annice Jacqueline Horney Riley Nelson

This is my grandfather, Art (grandma’s second husband), me at about 2, and my grandmother Annice – the subject of this story. Bear with me ya’ll – it might get a bit winded – but trust me this is a GOOD story.

My grandmother was born in 1909. Just at the turn of the century – it was a different time then to say the very least. She was born in a little town called Deep River, North Carolina to Quaker parents – Ralto and Emma. My grandmother had two children, that I knew of, my Aunt Eugenia, and my mom, Patricia.

However, when I started doing my Aunt’s family tree (she was from grandma’s first marriage) I discovered some interesting details about my grandma I never knew.

First of all, by 1930, when my grandmother was 22 she was living Safford, Alabama. Secondly, she was pregnant out of wedlock. Thirdly, there is a chance that she and her future husband, my aunts father were bootleggers.

Yeah… I’ll let that sink in for a second, then I’ll share the story… Ready?

So – I got an email via Ancestry.com last March from a woman who claimed she was the daughter of a woman named Sybil, who my grandmother placed for adoption in 1930. Now, I had grown up all my life believing that my grandmother had delivered two children alive and one still birth. Imagine my skepticism when I discovered this information! I spoke with this woman, Sherrye, at length via email and determined that her story seemed to hold enough water to at least investigate. So, I asked why she believed this story… that’s when I got the shock of my life – and a treasure I could never have imagined. Ya’ll – she had letters… written by my grandmother in 1930 and 1931.

She included photos of the house grandma lived in, and the “filling station” she ran in 1929. I remember well, hearing about the filling station when I was growing up – it was one of the few things my grandmother shared with me.

In these letters, there was a conflict of sorts between my grandmother and her best friend about giving Sybil up for adoption. I get the feeling that her friend Lee and her family were also involved in the liquor trade; I also think that grandma had the baby, and left her with Lee’s family for a time in order to visit her father in Birmingham. It was only after that trip that she finally agreed to give Sybil to the family who raised her. On that trip my grandmother realized that she would never be able to keep the baby, her father would not allow that kind of thing to smear the family name.

But there are other stories that I found fascinating… Such as the fact that at 7 months pregnant my grandmother still had the most beautiful legs ever. I remember her legs, and even at 75 before she died those legs were amazing! She drew attention from many men with them. She ran the filling station while her future husband did the runs for alcohol to Volusia, Florida. When revenuers would come in, or police, my grandmother would hop up on the coke machine – you know the ones – the big old machines with the sliding lids… and she would cross those legs, bat her eyelashes and make the men swoon. Of course being pregnant they wouldn’t dare ask her to get down from her seat, and she surely flirted a bit to distract them… and they never once searched that cooler.

My grandmother went on to marry the man I knew as my grandfather, and have two beautiful daughters. And of course I came along… but yea – my grandma, she was a bootlegger!



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